Flipping the classroom: Teaching chemistry in September 2020

Hear from chemist James Harynuk on how undergraduate chemistry courses will look this fall

Katie Willis - 9 June 2020

When it comes to teaching his favourite chemistry course, James Harynuk is focused on the silver linings that have arisen from the COVID-19 pandemic.

This September, Harynuk will be teaching Introduction to Quantitative Analysis (CHEM 211), a foundational chemistry course taken by hundreds of undergraduate students each year. 

“COVID-19 is forcing us to get our acts together and take on this massive amount of work to improve this course for you,” said Harynuk, associate professor in the Department of Chemistry, in a video address to incoming and returning chemistry students. “We are going to realize a goal that I’ve had for this course for a while. We are going to flip CHEM 211. If all goes according to plan, you’ll get a lot more time to pick our brains than students have in previous sessions.” 

So, what exactly should students expect this fall? Harynuk and his fellow instructors will be using an interactive textbook and distance assignments. Some elements—such as labs,—are still in the works. 

“Labs are a big topic of conversation among analytical chemistry professors and lab coordinators from across the country,” said Harynuk. “We’ve all been working really hard to figure out how students can master the physical skills while observing physical distancing restrictions. We are also coming up with plans for how to accommodate those of you who aren’t able to join us in the lab this year, but would still like to take the course.” 

The global COVID-19 pandemic has required a mass migration to the digital world, and post-secondary learning is no exception. As the University of Alberta prepares to continue delivering course content primarily remotely in the Fall 2020, the Faculty of Science has connected with some of our top instructors and scientists to illustrate what the university experience will look like in the Fall 2020 term. While delivery may look different, what remains the same is our strong commitment to an engaging and quality education and experience for our students.

“On behalf of everyone who is working to get this course ready for you this fall, have a good summer, stay safe, and stay tuned for more updates as we get closer to launching the course,” he added.

Hear more about Harynuk’s plans for Fall 2020:


Learn more about how the University of Alberta is preparing to engage students for September and beyond on our Fall 2020 hub. 

Students, faculty, and staff can stay up-to-date with the latest information on COVID-19 for the campus community online.