JoVE in Action: Using Video to Support Community College Biology Courses

Supriya Kamath
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JoVE in Action is a series of blog posts highlighting how STEM educators around the world have used JoVE to support their remote teaching efforts. We hope these stories will be useful for instructors looking for effective ways to deliver their science and lab courses online or in hybrid formats. 


Professor Patricia DeLeon, Professor of Science at Borough of Manhattan Community College

How do you best support students who might enter a science course equipped with different skills or varying levels of background knowledge? For Prof. Patricia DeLeon, who teaches science, using video was key.

“Many of them come from underserved communities so they don’t have a strong background […] in reading, they definitely don’t have a strong background in critical thinking, so I think visual information is very helpful,” said Prof. DeLeon. “Visual information for me is so much better than if I have to read it. When you can see it visually, in color and movement, you absorb more information and you understand it better than just when someone is talking.” 

Prof. DeLeon found JoVE videos to be useful in her remote, 400-level Anatomy and Physiology I course. She selected a variety of videos to help illustrate the topics covered in the lab and lecture components of this course. These included videos about cells, transcription, translation, diffusion, osmosis — processes at the level of the cell — as well as those at the level of the organ system, such as bone tissue, skeletons, and muscular contraction

She provided the videos alongside virtual lab exercises, to give students more background on the lab activity. “[The videos are] very good to illustrate some points to the students,” she said. “It’s another way to let them see the ideas.” 

She embedded the videos into Blackboard, her institution’s learning management system. She explained that doing this was particularly helpful because she could make all the required material available to students in one place; they did not have to go anywhere else in search of the information they needed. 

Prof. DeLeon recommends that even in the case of online courses, it can be helpful for instructors to find time to meet with students virtually. “I meet with them at a specific time and we all work together for lab exercises,” she says. “They have me there, they can ask questions, it’s still a community.” 

Professor Rukmani Kuppuswami, Instructor of Biology at Hill College in Hillsboro, TX

Professor Rukmani Kuppuswami is a full-time faculty member in the biology department at Hill College, a community college in Hillsboro, Texas. When Prof. Kuppuswami and other faculty at her institution developed their remote courses, it was essential to take into consideration students whose finances had been affected by COVID-19. 

Prof. Rukmani Kuppuswami
Prof. Rukmani Kuppuswami

“One aspect that strikes me about this disruption are student finances,” said Prof. Kuppuswami. “Many of the students I serve have jobs that they hold to sustain themselves entirely or partially. My understanding would be that those jobs are either not available at all, or available in a highly severed form.” To meet their needs, Prof. Kuppuswami developed a near-zero-cost online Introductory Biology course for non-majors, incorporating a number of JoVE videos.  

“The bulk of the resources I plan to furnish will be JoVE resources that effectively cover all the objectives and topics for the Introductory Biology course,” said Prof. Kuppuswami of her proposal. Her course will utilize material from JoVE Core: Biology — a video textbook that explains key concepts in biology, using engaging animated lessons and videos of real lab experiments — as well as JoVE Lab Manual: Biology, which has step-by-step illustrations of commonly-taught lab protocols and associated concepts.

Because these resources are provided via Hill College’s institutional subscription to JoVE, students can access them at no cost through the college library database. The chosen videos are to be embedded in Schoology, the institution’s learning management system. 

“My suggestion is that other community colleges facing similar tough times may want to consider adopting JoVE resources for student and faculty use,” said Prof. Kuppuswami. “I have been using JoVE for a few semesters and have found them extremely useful and enriching.”