It’s time to kick bad study habits during the pandemic

I was in scholar for over 20 years as a member of the physics department at Southeast Louisiana University in Hammond, Louisiana. Here, the department is small enough that we can all share the course load, which is quite interesting—it gives me the opportunity to teach a wide variety of courses, from physical science (to non-science majors). science) all the way to quantum mechanics.

In the early years of the pandemic, everyone in the education industry had to adapt, and most of our operations were not conducted in the most ideal environment. At my school, we started by moving all of our classes online using Google Meet. (That’s not very interesting.) This section is supplemented by short video lectures. (I really enjoy doing those things.) Next, we implemented a hybrid model where some students would be in class and some would be online. (This is horrible.)

While distance learning can have some advantages, as a teacher I’ve noticed that we’ve all picked up on some bad habits over the past few years. Have you noticed that after a vacation, when you sit and watch too much football while eating more than usual, you may not be at your normal fitness level? Well, the same can happen with learning.

With exercise, you know that after the holidays, it’s up to you to hit the gym or out to get in shape and feel ready to take on the world. With learning, I think it’s more important to figure out how to actively use the technologies that have enabled us to work remotely instead of relying on them as crutches.


It can be shocking to realize how much power we carry with us all the time. Your phone is not only a powerful computer, but also has a good camera and a bunch of other sensors.

And smartphones often belong to schools: Usable phone to collect and analyze data. For an experiment, students can use accelerometer in the phone to measure the distance traveled by the elevator. Or how about using a long exposure photo to measure the speed of the International Space Station? You can even solve physics problems by generate Python code right on your phoneor use built-in lidar to create a 3D map of a room.

In larger lecture-style classes, the first step in class discussion, I ask students to use their phones to vote on their answers to concept questions. (One of my favorite questions is about the acceleration of a ball thrown at its highest point. A common answer is that since the velocity is zero, the acceleration is also zero—but that’s not the case. In fact, if the acceleration is zero at the highest point where the velocity is also zero, the ball will magically appear to be at rest.)

However, there is one way students use their phones in class that I think is not always a good idea: They take pictures. everything. (Admittedly this has been going on for a while, so it’s not entirely pandemic related.) Now, don’t get me wrong—I also take a lot of pictures. Photos aren’t just a great way to capture memories of your favorite dog; They can also serve as reminders of things we need to do, such as taking pictures of our grocery list. So, what’s wrong with students taking pictures in class of a physical solution or the derivative of an equation?


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