So there’s an article going around titled “Please Do a Bad Job of Putting Your Courses Online,” (https://anygoodthing.com/2020/03/12/please-do-a-bad-job-of-putting-your-courses-online/) and as a lifelong student of education (BS in ed, MEd, doctorate in progress in curriculum & instruction), I think I need to say something about this:
The article is, in places, simply wrong. While many of the things in that article are great to think about and to implement, we have a larger social obligation to figure out how to do this well. This is where we, as educators, can contribute: we are not on the front line of virus-fighting; we are more like the peace corps — the effects on us and our students will be much longer lasting and more pervasive. In my opinion as an educator with years of higher ed teaching experience (online, hybrid, F2F, synchronous, and asynchronous) and degrees in instructional technology and curriculum and instruction, there are a few things that we can do to make things easier for us and others:
- Stay in touch with your students. While synchronous is, in my opinion, not necessary, the rationale behind it is sound: your students need to connect with you, your voice, or your face (or all three!). Throwing a video onto your News Feed or calling those students who have not logged in is VITAL.
- Be available during your normal class times, during your office hours, and as much of the day as is possible. Use your LMS, Remind, Google tools, and anything else you are comfortable with. Don’t limit yourself to what your institution mandates or offers.
- Take time, each day, to reflect (even 10 minutes) on what went well. At the end each week, month, of all this, etc., review your notes and make changes.
- In terms of your curriculum, instruction, and assessment (which should be focused on your students’ needs right now, not institutional mandates), worry about two things: proficiency with respect to your course competencies / goals / objectives, and student meaning. Be careful to not sacrifice meaning for competency!
- Grades should be reflections of levels of student mastery, but let’s be honest: they are often more arbitrary than we care to admit. In a crunch, they matter far less than getting your students through your courses.
- Reach out. Connect with colleagues. I saw a meme about how limiting F2F interaction means that we need to use other tools: phone calls (it sucks for me too), texts, social media, etc.
- Set limits, and don’t be a martyr. Likewise, don’t be a jerk. Account for mitigating circumstance leading to late assignments, and if you need to err, err on the side of your students.
- Be adamant about your life, your health, and so forth, and as you move up on Maslow’s hierarchy, learn to be more and more flexible.
- Allow and encourage creativity. Discussion board responses using memes? Yes!
Above all else, live your values, love your students, and care for yourself and your loved ones. And at least try and do a good job.