All plans fail

But usually not this spectacularly. I’m teaching two courses this term, and had to throw out the syllabus and juggle everything around, so I’m going to be feeding them lectures on YouTube, adjusting the grading, etc., and have just now finished posting summaries to the students online.

Fundamentals of Genetics, Evolution, and Development:


Those two videos lay out pretty much the same thing. The major difference is that genetics has a lab, and no, you can’t come in and do experiments. Even I have been told I can’t! So instead, I’m pulling up old data from previous years, and I’m presenting that to them as an exercise in analysis and summarizing an experiment.

This is no fun, but at least I’m getting a grip on how to carry on.


  1. stwriley says

    Have you thought about using simulators for genetics experiments. While I know that they’re not a perfect substitute for actually breeding fruit flies, they do offer some benefit to students. I’ve used them extensively in my high school classes, since we’re usually pressed for time and can’t really run proper genetics experiments due to that. It’s let me do much more sophisticated work with my students (honors especially) than I otherwise would be able to. For years I’ve used the Drosophila simulator from Virtual Courseware but have also done some work with the Classical Genetics Simulator, which is more complex but also a bit harder to handle for high school students. It’s more oriented to college and graduate level work, so it might prove better for your purposes. Both allow you to set up accounts and keep track of individual student work, as well as letting students gather and analyze data in their own accounts. This might be a solution that allows you to do at least some of the experimental work of these classes, rather than just analysis and summarizing.

  2. says

    Technical concerns. Not everyone can run Flash (my computer hates it), and I’d have to train the students to install and run the simulators. We could do that here in our computer labs, where everyone has a uniform set up, but no, we can’t do that now. We’re really at the point of stripping down to the essentials and compromising on everything.

  3. stwriley says

    Yeah, I operate in a Windows and Chrome environment (because that’s what the high school has for faculty and students respectively) so Flash isn’t really a problem for us. Blame Apple for not being on board with Flash. I can also understand that trying to do this now that you don’t have students on site could be a nightmare. Just thought I’d suggest an alternative that’s worked for me in the past. I’m trying to rework my Environmental Science classes right now for distance learning. Since I stress actual field work as much as possible, it’s been a real joy trying to rework that to accommodate students working alone from home. I’m still able to do some of it, but much of what I usually do is having to be scrapped in favor of lesser assignments. Oh well, that’s the nature of teaching in our new, socially distant reality.