Episode 12 – Teaching a Zen Buddhism Course Online with Student Preferences in Mind with Daigengna Duoer


Gathering data about student expectations and experiences with new technology is essential to developing effective courses to be delivered online during the pandemic. In this interview we spoke with Daigengna Duoer, who taught an online course on Zen Buddhism at UC Santa Barbara this past summer.

Daigengna surveyed her students to evaluate their preferences and comfort with the format and content of the course. In this episode, we hear about some creative and specific ways she created an engaging asynchronous learning experience in a course that was taught entirely remotely.

Some key take-aways? One-on-one zoom meetings to develop paper topics, a preference for asynchronous, but also short, lectures, and being sure to build a course that allows students to focus on topics of real interest to them. 


“74% of my students actually preferred asynchronous. I was really shocked. 0% preferred 100% synchronous formats.” Daigengna Duoer

“Teaching in covid-19 really made me become more aware about how students learn, how they want to learn, what they want to learn, especially when it comes to Buddhism and also Zen, things like this, so they are really technology-oriented, but they’re also very flexible, I think, and they really want relevant information and material and also arguments for their immediate concerns.” Daigengna Duoer

“One of the advantages we have as instructors of humanities courses where we can definitely teach this exciting content, but we can also teach, useful transferable skills through this content to students.” Daigengna Duoer

Links and References  

Daigengna Duoer, UC Santa Barbara, Department of Religious Studies profile 

Daigengna’s Personal Website 

Panopto video recording and sharing software 

Ronald Purser’s book, McMindfulness: How Mindfulness Became the New Capitalist Spirituality 

Hwansoo Kim’s Article, “The Adventures of a Japanese Monk in Colonial Korea: Sōma Shōei’s Zen Training with Korean Masters” 

Joshua Irizarry’s article, “Putting a Price on Zen: The Business of Redefining Religion for Global Consumption” 

Peter Romaskiewicz, Mind Lab exercises article