T-minus seven days to online teaching

Some lessons learned today in the project of taking my classes online:

  • If you’re going to be screen capturing in a video lecture, do a very short test lecture first, flipping through all the windows you may show, to make sure you have your font sizes big enough to be legible. If you don’t you’ll end up re-recording a 20-minute live coding session.
  • Don’t get too update if you have to re-record something. It will probably be better the second time through.
  • In general try not to have 20 minute videos. Also, trust your students to forgive you if your first video is too long. Just try to pruning them down into more digestible chunks as you go along.
  • If you are using Microsoft Teams, let go of the need to understand exactly where your files are. The answer is probably “in SharePoint”. Or possibly “in Stream”.
  • You have no idea how loudly you type. (Okay, this is probably just me. I had no idea how loudly I typed.)
  • If you’re confused by the difference between a Forum, a Topic, and a Conversation and how to use them to organize discussion, your students will be confused as well. Time to write up some directions, or at least class conventions. Also maybe generate some sample conversations to get things started. And a test conversation they can use to try things out in.

However, my most important lesson of the day was a personal lesson – in the face of uncertain and stressful times, reminders that you are part of a community that cares for itself and for you as an individual does wonders for soothing anxiety. A friend texted me today from a miraculously well-stocked store, asking if they could pick anything up for me, and arrived later at my house as the bearer of smiles and supplies. It reminded me to take a breath and reach out to others in my network who might need help themselves. It’s going to be so easy to be so isolated in the coming weeks.

So, the teaching lesson here is to remember to help students feel connected to the wider world and to each other and to remember that even if we all aren’t close enough to each other to drop off a bag of groceries, we’re in this together and will help each other succeed.

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