Kentucky State University professor transforms basement into production studio for online learning

Kentucky State University professor transforms basement into production studio for online learning

Posted on March 24, 2020 in COVID-19 stayinformed

As Kentucky State University transitions to online learning during the global pandemic, faculty have made preparations to help Thorobreds continue to strive for academic excellence. 

Dr. Jens Hannemann, associate professor for computer science, transformed his basement into a production student to better help his students during this unprecedented time. 

“Modern mobile phones are ridiculously good video cameras for this particular purpose,” Hannemann said. “All I had to do was to move everything to my basement and set it up. My wife teaches in the electrical and computer engineering department at UK and we share a home office, so someone had to move out so we could work in parallel on content.”

Hannemann said he already had the infrastructure in place to teach online. 

“One of my tasks arriving at Kentucky State  was to design and implement a dual-credit online course for the introduction to programming and computer science,” Hannemann said. “I took the opportunity to learn how to post some of that content to a Youtube channel, as I’ll use the same platform to host content relevant to all our computer science students.”

Hannemann said faculty in computer science are lucky since so much content already is virtual and remote and distributed teams are quite common in the industry.

“Since we prepare our students for that, at least the upperclassmen already have much of the skills and mindset for remote work in place,” Hannemann said. “It’s much harder for my colleagues who teach freshmen and sophomore classes.”

Hannemann said one challenge of moving all learning online has been organizing the content so students don’t get lost. Another challenge, he said, is keeping students engaged. 

“The content creation is my comfort zone, but my greatest challenge will be to keep my students engaged,” Hannemann said. “I’m not a big fan of giving quizzes and would rather have my students write code and learn by trial and error, but without my presence in the classroom to help them out this will be pretty difficult for them. Quasi-synchronous communication via Slack helps, but only a subset of students have taken advantage of that in the past.”

Hannemann said it’s been a stressful time full of meetings, but the support faculty have given to each other during the preparation sessions has been a great help.

“I really like how all my colleagues are pulling together to help each other and the students during this challenging time,” Hannemann said.