The five pitfalls of all classes can be summed up with the question of how to sustain momentum. Usually we do this by having students in class; now we have to do by not having them in class. One thing that always troubles me is the midterm slump, which can last from the third to the eighth or ninth week, when students arrive exhausted from all-nighters, and sit, glassy-eyed, present physically, mentally absent.
With fewer class periods and more structured activities, I’m hoping students will arrive with definite objectives, ready to engage and move forward on the project we’re all working on.
One of the things we’re tinkering with this class is having a mid-week check in, when homework is due, rather than having it be due the day of class. A week is a long time between classes, homework that isn’t due for a week can get pushed to the end of the to do list.
Another way to sum up the pitfalls is to recognize that multiple contacts and assignments that link and connect can build a resilient online community. Resilient communities are able to withstand disturbance. A class needs to be a web of connections, with multiple points where students can interact, with me, and with each other. The stronger the web, the more opportunities for learning. That’s chaotic, so I’m going to have to be aware that I need to sustain my own momentum, as I build a class that that I hope will be a learning experience for everybody.