Land Use and Natural Resources Training Goes “Remote”

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COVID-19 has changed business as usual for everyone, including how we deliver education. At UC Davis Continuing and Professional Education (CPE), our Land Use and Natural Resources classes have long been a go-to resource for the professional development of the region’s land use planners, environmental scientists, consultants, lawyers and more. Our in-person, day-long courses are a convenient option for training and peer-to-peer networking. But faced with sudden shutdowns, we, like everyone else, had to quickly adapt—moving our face-to-face instruction to a format that would ensure the safety of our students and instructors, while also delivering the same quality academic experience people expected.

“Almost overnight, we had to reinvent the way we delivered our courses.”

“It was a huge challenge,” said Monica Jackson, director of CPE’s Planning and Sustainability Program. “Almost overnight, we had to reinvent the way we delivered our courses. Everyone, including our staff, instructors and students, had to adjust.”

In conjunction with our Online Education department, we worked quickly to shift to online offerings, coordinating with instructors to record pre-set lectures and providing training on how to run class discussions in a virtual environment. In our new, “remote” learning format, students have a day to watch pre-recorded lectures, before participating in a live Q&A with the instructor and fellow students over Zoom. Students also have one final day to re-watch lectures for maximum retention or turn in an assignment.

While the classroom environment does provide a unique opportunity for personal interactions, Brent Gibbons, co-instructor for the Redesigning the Zoning Ordinance course, still found the experience of teaching online to be valuable. “You’re still able to connect with students,” Gibbons said. “And there’s a lot more flexibility.”

“We’ve always wanted to reach a wider audience with our program,” said Jackson. “Given the success of our shift to remote learning, we plan to continue offering online versions of our courses, even after we return to in-person instruction. We look forward to providing our students with more options to pursue their training and continuing education needs.”

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