Clarksville, TN – When Austin Peay State University (APSU) moved spring classes online in response to the COVID-19 Coronavirus crisis, Dr. Jiang Li not only had to move three classes online, he had to move his office into a closet at his house.
“The only thing where I’m struggling a little bit,” Li said during a Zoom call from the closet as a child’s squeal pierced the air in the background, “is I have my small, very confined space in this closet with these toys stuck behind me.”
Li, the graduate coordinator for APSU’s Department of Computer Science and Information Technology, isn’t the only professor in the house. His wife, Dr. Ling Wang, is Austin Peay State University’s coordinator for Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages and is teaching three classes for the Eriksson College of Education.
Li and Wang have the added challenge of keeping their now homebound 4-year-old twins, Kevin and Kerina Li, entertained during the work day. Kevin and Kerina’s preschool closed in response to the coronavirus crisis.
“We try to balance the time so we can take care of the kids and just find the time to put them to sleep, feed them, take them outside,” Li said. “Other than that, we’re just teaching online.”
‘My kids will pop up’
The children present another challenge to Li: uninterrupted Zoom calls during the day with his graduate students.
“I usually have to meet with students after putting the kids to sleep after 8:30pm, although I have done a few during the day,” Li said. “When the kids are running wild outside, they kind of interrupt me and I need to stop to calm them down or to find another activity for them.
“So, during the day, I told my students, it’s hard for me to schedule because my kids will pop up,” Li added. “But after we put them to sleep, it’s pretty quiet, the whole house is quiet.”
Li said some of his Zoom sessions with his graduate students go from a scheduled half-hour to an hour and the sessions can last until midnight.
“It’s inspiring to see students making progress and their continued efforts to achieve their academic goal at Austin Peay State University,” Li said.
‘They have the ability to succeed’
Li teaches three senior-level undergraduate classes and two graduate classes – data mining and a capstone system development class.
One of the senior classes and the data mining class already were online. Moving the other classes fully online was relatively seamless, and Li dusted off 70 instructional videos he made a few years ago to help in the data mining class.
“When I set up my class, even though it’s face to face, I had all the components for the online teaching ready,” he said.
Although some of the undergraduates have asked for project extensions, none of Li’s capstone or data mining students (about 20 students) have complained.
“I believe if they made it this far (capstone-level work), they have the ability to succeed,” Li said. “They’ve already had some pretty tough classes.
“I know they have their own family issues, but they are very focused,” he added.
To learn more
- To read more about Dr. Li and what he does at Austin Peay State University, go to https://apsu.edu/csci/lij/.
- To learn more about the APSU Department of Computer Science and Information Technology, visit https://www.apsu.edu/csci/.
- To learn more about the Eriksson College of Education and TESOL, visit https://www.apsu.edu/education/.