Zero Day: Online Teaching

Well, I survived, and my students survived, and I am now officially teaching online.

I’m also left too exhausted to do much more than a bullet list of events and lessons learned:

  • Every one of my students submitted the assignment due today (originally due last Monday when we returned from break). I am so proud of them and the effort they are putting in right at the start to be engaged.
  • Since last time I installed Java, there is a new version out, and JavaFX doesn’t appear to be part of the install, so many students were unable to do the exercise planned for the day. My first class session was split between helping half my students figure out how text fields work and helping the other half of my students figure out why they couldn’t compile. That was a rough start at 9 am.
  • I had a scheduled advising appointment and a drop-in advising appointment during my office hours. I was able to have a nice conversation in both cases about their goals for their education and some things to think about as they start planning for next year. The meeting with my research student and my committee meeting also went off without any technological hitches.
  • Students really seem to prefer to have their video cameras off during class, even when they have video capability. It’s early days, and I’m worried about bandwidth, so I’m not forcing the issue. Lots of participation through text chat, particularly if we take it out of a group meeting and they can all just individually chat at me more privately. For some purposes, that will work fine, and I’m particularly open to it as we all get our feet under us with the technology and my priority is making sure I’m in contact with them all.
  • To that end, make up a paper grid for each of my classes that lists off student names versus dates, and I’m going to check off for each student any day I hear from them, in any venue. I’m doing a fair bit asynchronously and I don’t want to lose track of anyone – I’m hoping this will make it easy to check at a glance if someone has be quiet for a few days and should be getting an email. Paper will make it much faster for me to mark down a tick mark whenever I acknowledge a chat, reply to an email, read in the forum, etc.
  • I absolutely loath grading electronically. I made it through the pile of programs that came in this morning and typed up my comments as I worked through the code, but my grading brain doesn’t work right without a pen in my hand. My prediction right now is that this is the part of online teaching that I never adjust to. Which is funny because I suspect it’s the part of online teaching that many of my colleagues may have already switched to.

2 thoughts on “Zero Day: Online Teaching

  1. One of my students sent me a video today talking about how her classes are going (I’m using an asynchronous video app called Clipisode, which I like because they don’t have to install the app) and she said she’s in a science class and they are all listening and the professor asked if ANYONE would turn on their video so she wouldn’t feel like she was lecturing to herself. :) The student found this hilarious. I am glad they are enjoying our ventures into awkward new tech-enabled social situations!

  2. It really is fascinating given how often I see students video-chatting with friends while studying around the Tech Center (or used to). I’ve started to experience some network slowdown during the day, though, so I’m beginning to think this is not a bad thing. My plans for connectivity issues are way more focused on supporting students with issues, not what I’ll do if I start having issues.

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