Standing in front of his class in Bartlett Hall, LTC Corey James begins to write a chemistry equation on the board. He has already gone through the administrative details that are required on the first day of a new class. Now, he is teaching the first lesson for cadets in General Chemistry II.
A white mask covers his face as he moves the chalk board up and down to help the full class see the equation he is working through. Eight cadets sit spread out in the classroom with black masks covering their face. Only half the seats are full and purple Xs cover the tops of the other half of the desks marking them as off limits.
As he works through the equation, Class of 2023 Cadet Chloe Zendt pops up on the projector screen in the right corner of the room and her voice comes from the laptop James has positioned so the camera can see the chalk board. Watching the class from her barracks room, Zendt has a question about the work being done.
This is the new reality as the U.S. Military Academy starts a new academic year in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic. The full General Chemistry II class includes 16 cadets, but for each class period only eight will attend in person and the other eight will attend via Microsoft Teams. Then, the next time they will switch places.
“It was easier than I thought, but I prepared a lot,” James said after teaching two courses that include cadets both in person and remote. “The other thing that really helped is the cadets were very professional. They had prepared themselves, so they were paying attention and they were reacting to what I was saying. It was better than I thought. We have some technology we're going to keep working on here, but it was pretty good.” Read more.