Tawni Tidwell discussed her contribution to the multi-disciplinary course for first-year students, The Art and Science of Human Flourishing. The course covered five domains: self-awareness, well-being, connection, wisdom, and purpose, and also included a contemplative lab focused on discussion. In Fall 2020, the course was fully online with 155 students from Asian languages and culture, psychology, counseling psychology, and educational psychology; they included people of color, low income, and indigenous students (there was a high proportion of the latter from the surrounding geographic area).

Previously, the course was neuroscience-focused and based on Euro-American/Buddhist philosophy. Tawni introduced a biocultural and anthropological lens and brought in more cultural framing and evolutionary context; she also included perspectives on race and gender and cross-cultural dimensions.

Tawni used the CMB honorarium for multimedia equipment and software purchases, including: Camtasia software, Samson Media microphone ([Blue] Yeti microphone also good), external video camera, and external screen setup. The videos she created were integrated with her campus’s Canvas learning management system via the Kaltura video cloud platform. Tawni said she saw significantly increased engagement with topics and class participation (with small group breakouts). Her refashioned course won recognition from her campus IT department for best video lectures.

Lessons learned:

  • 8-15 minutes is ideal length for videos (25 minutes max)
  • Lecturer on a screen maintains students’ attention
  • Bring in themes of the course explicitly
  • Have a small segment not in the video for synchronous delivery (increases class engagement)
  • Had a hard time with background noise (easily picked up in recording)
  • Bring in informal video clips (field excursions video content; increases class engagement)
  • High time investment to transform class to online (five times more time investment than expected)