Going Online - Part 2
Published by Kim Johnson on 20.04.2020
I don’t know about you, but the past few weeks of teaching have been really hard for me. I am only teaching one class and it is a small group, only 18 students. In addition to the small size of my class, I have experience teaching online. I have created continuing education courses that are completely asynchronous online independent learning classes. I have created courses that have both asynchronous and synchronous components and I have done more webinars than I can count using pretty much every platform that exists. But this past month has been a completely different experience.
In the first week of moving from “in real life” teaching to virtual teaching we had technical problems. I won’t tell you which platform it was, but the university sanctioned videoconferencing platform wouldn’t let more than one student log in at time. We spent a half hour with everyone logging in and getting kicked out until finally the last person who had made 10 attempts (I counted – his name appeared and disappeared 10 times and he kept trying) was on. A half hour of wasted time and frustration. Then a couple people had terrible internet connections so whenever they tried to speak we got the lag and the wahwahwah that one hears with slow internet.
For the next class, we moved to a different platform. I am probably in defiance of my university’s guidance, but I do want my students to show up. We had a guest speaker and his presentation went without a hitch. Yay! Then we had a student led presentation where one of the presenters had a poor connection. I could tell she was incredibly frustrated. It wasn’t her fault and her grade wasn’t affected, but I know that what she learned from the assignment is going to be forever overshadowed by her memory of the technology failure.
In my third week, I ended class early and made individual appointments with my students to discuss their remaining assignments. It is a luxury I have with a small class. The individual sessions have gone well with no technical problems. It is a solution for me, but it only works because I have a small class, and it is late in the semester so we have an established relationship. I know them well enough to be useful. It won’t work for most courses.
I have two more weeks and they are mostly filled with student presentations, so in one way I am off the hook, but in another, I will need to continue with my individual coaching and consultation. The students have so much going on in their lives right now. Some work in health care and are working double time. Some have been laid off from jobs and others who thought they were going to be looking for jobs in the best economy ever find themselves graduating into an environment of 25%+ unemployment. “Um, yeah, Professor, that paper on drug policy is waaaayyy down on my priority list.”
I found some more free resources on teaching online: https://learning.linkedin.com/blog/learning-thought-leadership/suddenly-teaching-online--free-resources-to-help-faculty-affecte?trk=eml-mktg-ldc-20200414-cq420v-19cc-higher-education-teaching-online-campaign&src=e-eml&mcid=6651517651984220160&cid=7010d000001KxsAAAS
You probably have to join Linked-In to access them. While I think this knowledge is helpful, I also think that much of the difficulty we are having now is not our lack of skill, but the terrible burdens our students are facing while they try to close out a semester that started so normally. Those of us with counseling skills will have to dust them off and apply them in class. Good luck and share any teaching tips you have with me. I will share them with everyone.