Campus News

‘Behind the Blue Special Edition’: Not On the Syllabus - UK Faculty Discuss Challenges, Successes of Online Spring

photo of faculty member talking to student via Zoom
Assistant Professor David Stephenson conducts an online class on virtual reality in his house on March 24, 2020.

LEXINGTON, Ky. (June 15, 2020) — This week, the University of Kentucky will unveil plans for a fall 2020 semester restart. The plan is based on concept plans developed by three teams of faculty, staff and students and refined with input from the full university community.

On a previous episode of Behind the Blue, we spoke with three students who shared their experiences from a spring semester in which the UK campus was forced to close and move classes to an online format due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. Though the goal is to return this fall to in-person classes on the UK campus, planning and consideration will be made in case an outbreak of the novel coronavirus once again forces UK to close for the semester.

On this week’s episode of ‘Behind the Blue’, we talk with three UK faculty members to get their perspective of the unexpected shift to an all-online format, tips for making the online experience more productive, and advice they might give to other faculty or students if we’re once again faced with a “virtual semester.”

Lou Hirsch is a lecturer in the Department of Plant Pathology and the director of Undergraduate Studies of Agricultural and Medical Biotechnology and Agricultural Individualized Curriculum in the UK College of Agriculture, Food and Environment.

Renee Kaufmann is an assistant professor in the College of Communication and Information, specifically in the School of Information Science.

Darshak Patel is a senior lecturer of economics and the director of Undergraduate Studies at the Gatton College of Business and Economics.

Mentioned in this episode is the University of Kentucky’s Center for the Enhancement of Learning and Teaching (CELT), which provides extensive support to faculty in adapting their classes to an online learning environment. For more about CELT and their work at UK, click here.

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For questions or comments about this or any other episode of "Behind the Blue," email or tweet your question with #BehindTheBlue. Transcripts for this or other episodes of Behind the Blue can be downloaded from the show’s blog page. You can watch a video version of this podcast here.

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The University of Kentucky is increasingly the first choice for students, faculty and staff to pursue their passions and their professional goals. In the last two years, Forbes has named UK among the best employers for diversity, and INSIGHT into Diversity recognized us as a Diversity Champion four years running. UK is ranked among the top 30 campuses in the nation for LGBTQ* inclusion and safety. UK has been judged a “Great College to Work for" three years in a row, and UK is among only 22 universities in the country on Forbes' list of "America's Best Employers."  We are ranked among the top 10 percent of public institutions for research expenditures — a tangible symbol of our breadth and depth as a university focused on discovery that changes lives and communities. And our patients know and appreciate the fact that UK HealthCare has been named the state’s top hospital for five straight years. Accolades and honors are great. But they are more important for what they represent: the idea that creating a community of belonging and commitment to excellence is how we honor our mission to be not simply the University of Kentucky, but the University for Kentucky.