Taught by College fourth-years Isabelle Leavy and Carson Dowhan.
How did you get a passion for cryptozoology?
We took the ExCo when our friends taught it a few years ago. Since their graduation, we knew that we had to keep the tradition alive. The passion starts with a little curiosity, which kicks you into the rabbit hole of cryptids, their sightings, and the story behind them. Anyone could debate all day if Bigfoot exists or not, but the mysteries and secrets behind sightings make it fun to put a story together. Add a little philosophy on the definition of a cryptid, and you have hours of questions.
What does a class look like?
Our classroom is King 106, so we have a massive lecture hall to take advantage of. We’ve only had one in-person class, but we started off with a lecture, videos, student polls, and discussion. For example, we watched a video of a Jersey Devil sighting in 2015 and a clip of hunters running into Mothman. It’s so satisfying to see the excitement in the room especially during the pandemic. We just want to make this course something to look forward to. Students aren’t afraid of speaking up, and it’s fun to get a reaction. It’s a good thing there’s not too many classrooms next to 106, because we get loud!
How are you utilizing technology to make this hybrid? What was your process of reconfiguring your class for COVID-19?
We are recording lectures and posting them for everyone on Zoom. Most of our students are taking the class in-person so there’s not too much workaround. However, we had our first session on Zoom, and that was successful in terms of discussion and participation. It’s very easy to show slides/videos for everyone on the platform, and towards the end of the semester we will have to make that change. Because the lecture hall is so large, we might need another workaround with mic’ing up the entire room. Our Zoomers couldn’t hear the discussion too well at first.
How have meetings gone so far, what have been your challenges and successes?
We’re still learning how to live-capture the lectures so we can accommodate everyone on Zoom. Because this is a course that’s heavy on discussion, it’s challenging to include everyone in these discussions over Zoom and in-person at the same time. I think student participation was a major success — this was something we were worried about coming into the course because classes can be so draining.
Teach me something!
1820, Napoleon Bonaparte’s brother, Joseph Bonaparte, claimed to see the Jersey Devil while hunting in New Jersey woodlands.
Here is a clip of another Jersey Devil sighting: