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Business professor ‘doubles down’ to help students thrive in quarantine

by Nov. 23, 2020, 8:30 AM

For finance professor Jesse Blocher, creating an atmosphere for open discussion and interaction is essential to both teaching and learning in his class at Vanderbilt Owen Graduate School of Management. But when the COVID-19 pandemic split his class among those who are able to attend in person and many who are quarantined around the world, Blocher was determined to make learning equitable, even for those in disparate time zones.

Jesse A. Blocher, assistant professor of finance

Blocher teaches one class in person in the late afternoon and then teaches the class again online at 7 a.m. for students currently living in Egypt, South Korea, India and China.

“I have a very discussion-centric class, and I didn’t want online students to feel that their perspectives were not being heard. And for some students, an afternoon class in our Central time zone would have them up in the middle of the night,” he said.

The class Blocher is teaching is Survey of Data Science Applications, a core course for the master of science in data science program offered through the Vanderbilt Data Science Institute.

Visual collaboration software, like Mural, also is helping students share ideas and work together on projects. Information on this technology and other tools and techniques can be found through the Vanderbilt Center for Teaching.

Visual collaboration software, like Mural, is helping students share ideas and work together on projects. (Vanderbilt University)
Visual collaboration software, like Mural, is helping students share ideas and work together on projects. (Vanderbilt University)

“Mural allows the whole teaching and brainstorming process to be more interactive and intimate,” Blocher said. “Ultimately I want my students to engage and learn, and I’m doing my best during this time to make that happen.”

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