Bringing physical engagement into the online teaching and learning environment

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A new series of videos is now available to UCSC students, faculty, and staff to help offset the increasingly sedentary lifestyle generated by the Covid-19 pandemic.

Organized by theater arts dance lecturer Cid Pearlman, 3 Minutes Moving (3MM) offers easy access to physical engagement with a variety of three-minute movement experiences—presented by accomplished teachers in dance, martial arts, and contemplative movement practices. 

These free videos are designed to promote health and wellness for all body types, and no previous movement training is necessary. 3MM is a project of UCSC Online Education in collaboration with the dance faculty of UCSC’s Theater Arts Department, with support from Porter College and the Santa Cruz Museum of Art & History.

Pearlman explained how this project came about.

“Along with my position as a dance lecturer in theater arts, I currently work as an instructional designer with UCSC Online Education—this is a CARES Act funded position and gives me the opportunity to support faculty bringing their courses online during these challenging and difficult times,” said Pearlman. 

“Shortly after I began working with Online Education, I had a distanced backyard visit with my friend and UCSC dance/theater arts colleague Cynthia Ling Lee. One of the things we talked about was the need to bring physical engagement into the online teaching and learning environment in a way that would reach people who don’t necessarily have a regular movement practice. This sparked the idea of 3 Minutes Moving (3MM).” 

“We spend so much time now in front of our screens and we need to move our bodies. I think three minutes is a short enough amount of time that folks won’t be intimidated to try something new,” she added.

Tapping her network of colleagues in dance, martial arts, yoga, and other related practices, Pearlman reached out to a dozen artists initially, ones that she knew could succeed in the abbreviated format. The series began in January, featuring six artists, and more videos are being added each month through the end of June. 

Pearlman noted that the homemade feel of the 3MM videos is intentional, with each artist creating their own video with whatever technology they have at hand. Some are more produced and edited, while others are shot on phones in one take. 

“What’s important to me is the connection the 3MM artist makes with the viewer—that the person watching feels invited to move,” said Pearlman. “Some movement practices are more contemplative and can be done seated, and others are quite energetic and can be a bit challenging.” 

She added that 3MM is hosted publicly on UCSC Online Education’s YouTube channel and can be accessed by anyone. It can also be imported as a Module into any Canvas Commons course. “Our hope is that faculty in all disciplines will include 3MM videos in their courses and encourage their students to move.”

Pearlman’s campus colleagues have been very supportive of the new project. 

“As a dancer, I have always known the value of a movement practice and how it helps to balance emotional and physical wellbeing,” said Porter College provost and associate professor of theater arts, Gerald Casel. “These 3-minute snippets give us a rich resource for sharing and learning about our bodies, and how to connect more deeply to ourselves—from the slow and cellular to the vigorous and rhythmic aspects of dance practice.”

“We also get to experience a wide variety of movement styles that are often imbued with cultural inflections that highlight the kinetic diversity of expression and possibility for emotional richness,” Casel added.

UCSC Online Education director Michael Tassio noted that after a quarter of remote instruction, there was growing evidence of the impact COVID-19 was having on the physical and mental health of students, faculty and staff. 

“None of us were used to being at a computer for such long periods of time, or to having our interactions with others transposed to Zoom, email, and texts,” said Tassio. “3 Minutes Moving is a small step towards improving mental health by interjecting physical activity into our daily routines. Even if you can't follow each movement, they are sure to make you smile and improve your day.”

3 Minutes Moving is available on demand via UCSC Online Education’s YouTube channel. It is free and available to the public.