Pandemic teaching, round four, now with the Delta variant

I have lots of thoughts about today, our first day into a semester that we’re hoping will be “back to normal” and yet very clearly isn’t. But my main feeling, at the end of it all, is that I actually feel like a teacher again. I suspect that if we had gone all-in on remote teaching, I might feel differently about the past year. But hybrid teaching, with its demands to provide both in person and remote students an equal experience, and the compromises that meant on both sides, left me feeling like I spent as much energy each class … Continue reading Pandemic teaching, round four, now with the Delta variant

Getting back into the flow of the school year

Tomorrow is the start of our Fall 2020 schedule, pushed back a week from our original plan and now fully online for the first two weeks before transitioning to in-person instruction for those students who have returned to campus (or, from an instructor perspective, hybrid instruction as essentially all of us have some number of students studying remotely). I am, on paper, prepared. My CMS is loaded up with day-by-day details about what we’ll be doing so everyone can follow along. I’ve met individually with each student in my intermediate-level course to make sure they have the needed software installed … Continue reading Getting back into the flow of the school year

Wrapping up 19-20, launching into 20-21

As of today, we are one day out from Virtual Commencement 2020, 14 days out from our annual faculty retreat (format TBA!), 16 days out from Matriculation, and 17 days out from the first day of the Fall semester. My to-do list is getting increasingly specific “Revise HW1”, “Add video sharing policy to syllabus”, though with some terrifyingly broad items still remaining like “Determine tutoring format” and “Create lab access policy”. But I did my last trip to campus today to make sure all of the seating and tables in our open social/study spaces are appropriately distanced and hung some … Continue reading Wrapping up 19-20, launching into 20-21

Planning for HyFlex – Initial Thoughts

The announcement was made a couple of days ago that we’ll be back “in person” in the fall, for a revised definition of “in person” that includes knowing some students will still be remote and off campus entirely and some may need to be remote at times, either because they are exposed to the virus or because our classrooms simply cannot accommodate a full class all at once. While this isn’t surprising – it’s the sort of HyFlex model many schools are pursuing right now – now that it is known, we can start digging into the details and making … Continue reading Planning for HyFlex – Initial Thoughts

Spring 2020 Goals, Revisited

Back in January I posted some goals for the Spring semester here, with the intention of revisiting them at the end of the term to see how I did. I was tempted to let myself off the hook, but I did have half a term during which things were relatively normal, and reflection is good, so let’s see how I did. Goal 1: Provide feedback as guidance more than correction in my object-oriented programming course. I think I did pretty well here. I definitely kept this in mind all semester; as I graded I tried to focus on whether there … Continue reading Spring 2020 Goals, Revisited

Adding Check-in Meetings to Projects

One of the things I tried this semester for the first time was adding a mandatory one on one meeting with me for every student where I would review their progress on the final project. Having completed those meetings, I am very glad I chose to do them and think they were a huge contribution to the remote learning versions of my courses. I have mixed thoughts about whether I will continue them for in-person instruction. For my OO programming course, this was a major addition to the course and a big win. I’ve always counted on students dropping by … Continue reading Adding Check-in Meetings to Projects

An Upside to Text Chatting about Code

I’ve slowed down on posting about the remote education situation because now most of the challenges have to do with supporting specific students. While these are still interesting challenges, being at a small school with small classes, any amount of detail about these situations can easily end up revealing personal information. So, take it as given – students are struggling in unique ways and individualized solutions need to be found. I think that’s universal to all of our courses right now. In terms of updates I can make, I noticed a nice benefit to having students use chat for problem … Continue reading An Upside to Text Chatting about Code

Further adventures in adapting to remote learning

I spent a lot of the past two days dithering on whether to keep a day of content in my AI course or to replace it with a “personal working day” to give the students space and time to work on their research projects before we have our one-on-one conferences. I’m sure any of you reading this are yelling at me “personal working day, not more content!”. Which is obviously the right answer. But the lost week of class and the much slower pace once we returned as I let students get accustomed to the new format definitely has me … Continue reading Further adventures in adapting to remote learning

Reintroducing Collaborative Problem Solving

I think it is a good sign that I’m not making new discoveries in online teaching on a daily basis anymore. But, this past week, I finally felt like the students had got used to the general rhythm of watching video lectures, taking short quizzes or posting in the forum, and doing coding activities while I was available for one on one questions. I was hearing the students were starting to miss interacting with each other. So, this past Friday, I got students back working together on coding tasks during class time. I’m not worrying about audio or video – … Continue reading Reintroducing Collaborative Problem Solving

Online teaching, week two, new adventures

Week one of online teaching is wrapped up, and week two is on its way, though with my office and classroom being the same space and also where I spend time hanging out in the evening reading or getting work done, the days are definitely blending together. New adventures for the coming week include: Giving an exam – this is coming up Monday morning and the students seem to feel pretty good about their ability to take an exam from home with the technology available to them. I’ve communicated many times that I’ll be understanding about connectivity glitches and the … Continue reading Online teaching, week two, new adventures