Under pre-Covid circumstances, Automotive students would work side by side taking turns performing lab exercises. Automotive program coordinator Tom Broxholm had an idea last May. How does the Automotive department incorporate team labs while observing social distancing? Tom Broxholm worked with Rich Tidd from IT services to answer this question.
Digital cameras were mounted on articulating arms over each work bench. Students were placed into Zoom Rooms and the lab camera was set to display in the Zoom session the entire time. The students performed the lab using the cameras and wireless headsets to communicate with their partner who was located in the other room watching and discussing the lab. After a series of exercises, (approximately every 30 – 40 minutes) the two students swapped positions. Lab sheets had to be modified to reflect the new format with students swapping positions. Tools, laptops and headsets were all disinfected before each swap.
Professor Broxholm said the lab presented a technology learning curve and some challenges for the instructor and the students, but overall it seemed everything worked well. Professor Broxholm also stated that while this setup may not work for all types of automotive labs, but it appears that lab exercises performed over a work bench seemed to work well. Professor Broxholm also noted that if a student was ill or unable to make it to class one day they could still attend a limited lab through the Zoom connection. As the Zoom host, the professor was able to check in with each team and add instruction over the Zoom connection, minimizing close contact instruction between the professor and the students. Program coordinator Tom Broxholm also stated that the Automotive program has been meeting with students on campus in a hybrid mode since last June and (knock on wood) there have been no reported Covid-19 illnesses from an Automotive student or instructor.