Hello everyone!  Let’s talk teaching –

As a young instructor, I started teaching on chalkboards and clear plastic acetates.

Since then, I have:

-Seen new computer graphics programs that can make your paper handouts more interesting

-Developed my own website to give students access to these handouts in digital form at any time

-Ditched my website when Learning Management Systems started

-Became overjoyed with the advent of Powerpoint

-Became disillusioned with Powerpoint

-Enjoyed making and posting videos for my students

-And now we have Zoom.  Phew!

As instructors we need to be nimble and adventurous, creative and adaptive, thick skinned when things don’t work out, but mindful enough to pat ourselves on the back when we see the gleam of inspiration and insight in our student’s eyes. Continue reading

Ok, everyone, raise your hand if you have your hands full. (get it? …sorry)

We are all jugglers in life; trying to keep a number of things in the air without letting them drop, but never having enough hands to guide each thing through its entire journey. We decide when an item needs our attention and which we can let fly for a little longer. Hopefully, the time you do get with each will set it up for a long, true flight and not need your constant support and guidance.

Just like the expert jugglers, our tasks aren’t all created equal, and that medicine ball that’s in the mix is always taking more time to control than we want. So what can we do? Not to wax nihilistic, but Sisyphus may suggest to sing “Don’t worry, Be happy” by Bobby McFerrin. OR, we could take a more comfortable, controlling approach to how we handle these tasks. Continue reading

I’ve had several faculty in the last couple of weeks comment to me that students are getting burned out on videoconferencing. I have also experienced a drop-off in students’ willingness to keep their cameras on throughout my class which makes me wonder if they’re: 1) even there or 2) just tired of having to appear engaged (or not bored) for hours upon hours a day. Let’s face it, having a camera in your face during a meeting is pretty exhausting. I like to take a break during some meetings too so I get that my students are probably feeling the same way.

There is another feature embedded in Canvas that may be worth exploring – the Chat room. In Canvas this feature is added by going to Settings > Navigation > drag Chat up to your list of active features at the top, click Save.

I don’t know of too many faculty who use this method to communicate with their students or as a method to allow students to communicate with each other, which is surprising given that chatting or instant messaging is our students’ preferred method of communication. Whether you’re teaching synchronously, asynchronously, remote or online, the Chat feature is one worth exploring for several reasons:

  1. Access – students can send a message when a thought or comment is top of mind.
  2. Engagement – any student in the class can respond which means that even the quiet students are likely to participate.
  3. Security – would-be hackers cannot bomb a Chat session.
  4. Privacy – students don’t have to have their cameras on to participate.
  5. Attendance – if you don’t use the attendance feature in Canvas, Chat may provide a means for collect this information.
  6. Office hours – a very user-friendly environment for quickly answering a student’s questions.
  7. Students like it – an informal survey of students published in The Teaching Professor showed that 2/3rds of students preferred Chat over Discussion Boards.

As you decide what you will carry over to next term, consider giving Chat a try and let me know what you think!

I was heartened to read a recent article published in The Teaching Professor written by OSU’s psychology professor, Regan Gurung, reflecting on what he has learned while teaching during a pandemic that has made him a better teacher.

He states, “Personally, my Emergency Remote Teaching has given way to Temporary Remote Teaching en route to Effective Blending Learning.” He reflects on his attempts to simply “keep the lights on” that resulted in Frankencourses (as Cub Kahn likes to call them), or courses that did neither synchronous nor asynchronous particularly well, and often lead to much more work for the students.

Now several weeks in, Dr. Gurung has found effective ways to build community using technology and no longer uses the term online “lectures” but rather online “classes” that take the face-to-face experience and translates it into shared experiences through screens. Continue reading

The title of this piece specifically does not mention teaching because this topic is of global relevance. Although I will bring this back around to the classroom, let’s reflect for a moment on how flexible our lives have become in the past two months. We’re conducting all of our business online or by phone, talking with representatives of large companies who are not in actual call centers but also at home, homeschooling our kids (I, for one, did not sign up for that), cooking ALL THE TIME, and figuring out how to do it all, together, with the people in our homes who sometimes we enjoy taking a break from.

Continue reading