Skip to main content

Disruption sparks innovation: professors go digital for their students

From left to right: Sarah Haight, Don Plumlee, Krishna Pakala

In response to the university’s day-long exercise holding all in-person classes online on March 13, professors immediately began testing innovative methods to reach their students virtually. Mechanical and biomedical engineering faculty Sarah Haight, Krishna Pakala, Don Plumlee and many others from colleges and departments across campus worked together to create and maintain as much of a “classroom feel” as possible for students.

For example, Pakala synced up tablets and laptops to host his classes, which had the capacity to allow for 300 viewers online and 40 in-person participants:

A group of peer educators also used online platforms to conduct sessions, like student Sam Reed, who teaches machine design and graduate student Nardos Ashenafi, who teaches systems modeling and control. Pakala highlighted their work “going digital” in a Twitter thread:

Nardos Ashenafi, peer educator, teaching systems modeling and control.

Edoardo Serra, an assistant professor in computer science, taught his first online class and received glowing feedback from his students.

Michal Temkin Martinez, an associate professor in the English department, also weighed in on the university’s adaptive approach to prepare for situations where classes must be moved online.

Campus updates on COVID-19 can be viewed at