Go back

Austin Peay professor strives for student success, even using Zoom in a closet at his house

When Austin Peay State University moved spring classes online in response to the coronavirus crisis, Dr. Jiang Li not only had to move three classes online, he had to move his office into a closet at his house.
Dr. Jiang Li works in one of the closets at his house.

(Posted April 16, 2020)

When Austin Peay State University moved spring classes online in response to the coronavirus crisis, Dr. Jiang Li not only had to move three classes online, he had to move his office into a closet at his house. 

“The only thing where I’m struggling a little bit,” Li said during a Zoom call from the closet as a child’s squeal pierced the air in the background, “is I have my small, very confined space in this closet with these toys stuck behind me.” 

Li, the graduate coordinator for APSU’s Department of Computer Science and Information Technology, isn’t the only professor in the house. His wife, Dr. Ling Wang, is Austin Peay’s coordinator for Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages and is teaching three classes for the Eriksson College of Education. 

Li and Wang have the added challenge of keeping their now homebound 4-year-old twins, Kevin and Kerina Li, entertained during the work day. Kevin and Kerina’s preschool closed in response to the coronavirus crisis.

“We try to balance the time so we can take care of the kids and just find the time to put them to sleep, feed them, take them outside,” Li said. “Other than that, we’re just teaching online.”

Dr. Jiang Li talks on Zoom from one of the closets at his house.
Dr. Jiang Li talks on Zoom from one of the closets at his house.

‘My kids will pop up’ 

The children present another challenge to Li: uninterrupted Zoom calls during the day with his graduate students.

“I usually have to meet with students after putting the kids to sleep after 8:30 p.m., although I have done a few during the day,” Li said. “When the kids are running wild outside, they kind of interrupt me and I need to stop to calm them down or to find another activity for them. 

“So, during the day, I told my students, it’s hard for me to schedule because my kids will pop up,” Li added. “But after we put them to sleep, it’s pretty quiet, the whole house is quiet.” 

Li said some of his Zoom sessions with his graduate students go from a scheduled half-hour to an hour and the sessions can last until midnight. 

“It’s inspiring to see students making progress and their continued efforts to achieve their academic goal at Austin Peay,” Li said.

‘They have the ability to succeed’ 

Li teaches three senior-level undergraduate classes and two graduate classes – data mining and a capstone system development class. 

One of the senior classes and the data mining class already were online. Moving the other classes fully online was relatively seamless, and Li dusted off 70 instructional videos he made a few years ago to help in the data mining class. 

“When I set up my class, even though it’s face to face, I had all the components for the online teaching ready,” he said. 

Although some of the undergraduates have asked for project extensions, none of Li’s capstone or data mining students (about 20 students) have complained.

“I believe if they made it this far (capstone-level work), they have the ability to succeed,” Li said. “They’ve already had some pretty tough classes. 

“I know they have their own family issues, but they are very focused,” he added.

To learn more 

News Feed

View All News
april-2024-estes-sgi-national-parks
Austin Peay's Southeastern Grasslands Institute joins National Park Service to restore over 3,000 acres of grasslands

The Southeastern Grasslands Institute at Austin Peay State University is partnering with the National Park Service on an $8.8 million project to restore native grasslands across 35 national parks in the eastern United States.

Read More
Jennifer Lindahl hones her passion for sports journalism at Austin Peay
Jennifer Lindahl hones her passion for sports journalism at Austin Peay

Jennifer Lindahl, a mother of three, found her passion for sports journalism at Austin Peay State University. Despite challenges, supportive professors and a tight-knit community helped her succeed. Set to graduate in May, Lindahl is ready to pursue her dream career.

Read More
april-2024-plant-campus-red-archive
APSU invites public to 25th annual Plant the Campus Red event

Signups are open for Plant the Campus Red, which will take place from 1:30 to 4 p.m. on April 18, starting at the Morgan University Center Plaza. Volunteers will work with the Montgomery County Master Gardeners to add over 4,000 plants to the campus.

Read More