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Ocean deep, provincewide

Teaching Tuesdays: Danielle Nichols

Teaching and Learning | Remote Life

By Kelly Foss

When the global pandemic began, the Faculty of Science’s Department of Ocean Sciences saw an opportunity.

At far right, Danielle Nichols of the Ocean Sciences Centre helps students with a fish dissection.
Photo: Mike Ritter

The department based in the Ocean Sciences Centre (OSC) in Logy Bay investigated something it wanted to do for a long time: Rework its successful and popular hands-on marine biology program for high school students to a remote delivery option.

“We spent the summer determining how to deliver the modules online and still be interesting to students,” said Danielle Nichols, program co-ordinator and research marketing manager at the OSC.

“A big part of that was our amazing teaching assistants – our undergraduate and graduate students and staff – who are able to connect with participants on a level which, even though the program is remote, is still very engaging.”

She also says transitioning to remote delivery was a unique opportunity for the teaching assistants to be directly involved in curriculum development and delivery.

“It will look great on their CVs. Without their continued involvement, our program would not be a success.”

Hear more from Danielle Nichols in the CITL-produced video below about the centre’s “marine scientist for a day” programming and how staff made the virtual version of the program interactive and engaging for students.

The Avalon, and beyond

The added benefit of creating an online version of the popular program soon became evident – not only were they able to continue offering it to the schools that have participated every year, but, for the first time, the department was also able to include schools off the Avalon.

In fall 2020, the department’s online pilot project included schools from Bay d’Espoir, Stephenville, Pasadena, Rocky Harbour and Grand-Falls Windsor, with plans to grow in the future.

“In addition to providing additional TA opportunities to our graduate students, it’s also a wonderful recruitment tool for the university, the Faculty of Science and the department,” Ms. Nichols said.

Danielle Nichols
Photo: Mike Ritter

“At the moment, the program is externally funded, so growing the program also helps keep it valuable to our external partners and collaborators.”

Teaching Tuesdays is back! For the next six weeks, the Gazette will feature members of the Memorial University community who have adapted to remote instruction and how they are engaging students. Next Tuesday, you’ll meet engineering students Maria Outerbridge and Jeremy Gates, who continued with their greenhouse revitalization project on the grounds of Government House in St. John’s, despite pandemic restrictions.

Check out all the Teaching Tuesdays videos on the Centre for Innovation and Teaching and Learning’s YouTube and Facebook channels.

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