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Pajama-Clad Faculty Members to Present at National Conference


WEST WINDSOR – Looking for a comfortable environment to take an intellectually-challenging Biology lab class? Try taking a class in your pajamas.

Rodney Hargis, analyst with MercerOnline, and Biology Professor Ellen Genovesi will present a workshop entitled “Biology Lab in Your Pajamas” during a conference of the League for Innovation in the Community College. The conference, Innovations 2013, will be held in Dallas, Texas, on March 12. With Genovesi just concluding her first semester of teaching BIO106 (Human Anatomy) online, the two thought it was a good time to share what they learned in setting up a rigorous curriculum in an online environment.

"We heard there was a call for proposals, and we submitted," Hargis said. "And you knowwhat? We were accepted. So we decided to give it a shot."

Genovesi and Hargis

Biology Professor Ellen Genovesi and MercerOnline Analyst Rodney Hargis will offer their presentation "Biology Lab in Your Pajamas" during a national conference in Dallas.


Hargis said there were several practical reasons for offering BIO106 online, including cost. He said it costs more than $100,000 just to equip six labs with the anatomical models and microscopes necessary for the class, and currently, Mercer’s labs are at their limits. This doesn’t even count the labor involved in setting up the labs each day.

In an online setting, Hargis said, the costs of equipment, set up, lab manuals for students, and the inevitable costs of replacing broken equipment are no longer an issue.

“It saves everybody all the way around,” he said.

Genovesi noted that the nature of the curriculum also gives busy students, particularly those with demanding jobs, the flexibility to complete their coursework on their own schedule. Last semester’s session had students from throughout the region, and even a student in South Korea.

“My e-mails are going off around the clock,” Genovesi said.

To design the curriculum the two worked with publisher McGraw-Hill, which published the book and lab manual already in use. Through that collaboration, the publisher’s resources were successfully integrated into MercerOnline’s existing platform. It was then a matter of combining technology, teaching, learning, and overall collaboration and apply them to the college’s existing Educational Master Plan.

And now, they will be sharing what they’ve learned with peers from throughout the country.

“We’re extremely excited for this opportunity,” Hargis said.


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