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Integrating Online Resources with Assistant Professor Megan Zirnstein

During the COVID-19 pandemic, adapting to remote learning and teaching has become essential at Pomona College. As part of this effort, ITS has encouraged faculty to integrate online resources and platforms into their courses. Assistant Psychology Professor Megan Zirnstein took on this challenge, collaborating with ITS over the fall to add E-Prime to her course for the upcoming Spring semester.

Since the college went online in March, Zirnstein has received feedback from many of her students to help her create a remote learning experience that is both welcoming and engaging. In an attempt to do so, her current classroom environment is composed of numerous helpful technologies; Zirnstein has utilized Slack and for online asynchronous discussions, Zoom for synchronous in-class discussions, and Sakai for centralizing students’ course materials.

In the Spring semester, Zirnstein will be incorporating one more technological platform in her Memory and Language with Lab course — E-prime, an experimental software package. For the last few months, Zirnstein has collaborated with ITS to make E-Prime accessible for students in this combined lecture, discussion, and laboratory course. They will use E-Prime weekly to replicate previous psychology and cognitive science experiments that they discuss in class. Zirnstein hopes her students will benefit from engaging with E-Prime in the Spring, not only for the course’s lab assignments but also for future projects involving laboratory work, such as senior thesis projects, RAISE or SURP projects, and post-graduation work. As of now, Zirnstein is pilot testing her E-prime scripts and resolving issues that arise.

For the future, Zirnstein urges “anyone who has a question about software that they typically would implement in their classes, or who has questions about what software may be able to solve a particular pedagogical need, to reach out to IT.” After learning from her online teaching experiences, she encourages faculty to choose their platforms carefully to minimize complications for students and allot time in their courses to teach students how to use these platforms.

ITS is grateful for the opportunity to collaborate with faculty such as Professor Zirnstein, working to enrich the online learning experience for students during the pandemic. As the college enters another semester of remote learning, ITS is eager to continue helping faculty integrate software into their online courses.