With classes moved online and face-to-face interaction minimized to talking through a screen, students and faculty are searching for creative ways to stay in touch with their colleagues. Since teleportation is not yet feasible, Jennifer Leavey has turned to another channel to connect with her students: YouTube!
On April 1, Leavey published her first edition of the Stay-at-Home Journal Club (SAHJC), a regular series in which she analyzes and explains a recent scientific article in two minutes or less. So far, she has focused on articles about COVID-19, but is interested in discussing a wide range of topics.
“I had been seeing friends and family post links to articles and websites about COVID-19 that varied widely in how much they were based on science,” said Leavey. “I wanted to counter some of the conspiracy theories and give people hope that science would find a way to prevent or cure the disease.”
In the first edition of the SAHJC, Leavey discussed the article “Structural basis for the recognition of the SARS-CoV-2 by full-length human ACE2”. She briefly explained the research’s objective, methods, results, and long-term impacts before ending the video with a smile goodbye. Her calming and positive presence ensures that the videos discussing important topics aren’t intimidating to people that may be unfamiliar with certain vocabulary or concepts.
To find the articles that she covers, Leavey starts with exploring the topics that interests her.
“Usually I get curious about something I read in the news and then I look up peer-reviewed research articles or pre-publication manuscripts,” says Leavey.
For Leavey, the SAHJC has served several purposes. Researching articles encourages her to explore fascinating scientific research, while creating video allows her to promote continuous visual and verbal contact with others.
“I have been teaching online and I feel so much better when I can see my students faces,” says Leavey. “I really miss being in the classroom and seeing everyone and having discussions about science. I hope watching these videos can help people feel more connected.”
Leavey has published seven videos to the SAHJC and has already felt the positive impacts of using visual media to connect with others. She hopes to create more while working and is encouraging anyone interested to get involved in the SAHJC. Leavey says that people interested can ask questions in the comments of her videos, share the videos with friends, or even create their own videos.
Collaboration and Community
The goals of collaboration and building strong relationships are prominent in Leavey’s life. Though physical distance separates her from her peers, Leavey is making the most of her time at home while by intentionally and meaningfully connecting with friends.
“Last night I went on a 'walk' with one of my colleagues from work,” says Leavey. “We just had a phone call while we were each walking around our neighborhoods and it was great! We got a little exercise, shared an experience, and talked about our classes. It was a lot more satisfying than a BlueJeans meeting for me.”
Whether she’s teaching in the classroom or through a screen, Jennifer Leavey’s passion for learning is tangible. The Stay at Home Journal Club is educational, energetic, and enchanting, and is a prime example of Leavey’s steadfast support of her students and colleagues.
Watch the latest episodes of the Stay at Home Journal Club, and learn how to get involved in the project.
By: Grace Pietkiewicz