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Adapt and overcome

HKR professor pivots from outdoor to indoor in a handful of weeks

Teaching and Learning

By Ian Coultas

Dr. TA Loeffler reconfigured two almost entirely outdoor courses to indoor courses in just five weeks’ time.

Dr. TA Loeffler enjoying her kayak.
Photo: Submitted

How did the professor in the School of Human Kinetics and Recreation do it?

First, she brainstormed with friends and colleagues from seven nations and three continents – connections made from her decades of expeditions literally all over the globe.

With feedback gathered from the group, she spent the next five weeks assembling the materials, digital media and documentaries she would need to teach both Introduction to Outdoor Recreation and Education and Inclusive and Therapeutic Recreation in Outdoor Settings indoors.

Materials gathered at home

She says one of the main challenges was designing practical learning tasks that could be completed by students wherever they were, with whatever materials they could gather at home.

For example, in Introduction to Outdoor Recreation and Education, knife skills is a key aspect of the course. While some students might not have a carving knife at home, she figured they would likely have a paring knife.

“I witnessed some of the good things that COVID-19 did to all of us.” — Dr. TA Loeffler

And if they didn’t have access to a stick of wood, they could substitute with something in their fridge, like a carrot.

The situation wasn’t ideal, but Dr. Loeffler took lemons and made lemonade.

“Even though I was quite sad that students had to forgo the traditional offerings of the two courses, I witnessed some of the good things that COVID-19 did to all of us,” she said. “Students involved their parents, cousins, siblings, nieces and nephews in their practical learning sessions.”

She says she has even read some of the “finest writing” she received in the students’ papers thus far in her teaching career.

“The students worked hard. I worked hard. And other than not having a pandemic and getting to teach the courses in typical fashion, I’m very pleased with my and the students’ pivot to make the best of a very hard situation for these courses.”


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