Moving Forward: Teaching in Uncertain Times

Community Blog on online, hybrid, and F2F teaching during the pandemic

Preparing for Post-Pandemic Teaching

I’m guessing we are all ready for 2020 to be over. Most of us are struggling to figure out how to manage our time and how to troubleshoot WebEx and how to keep our students engaged and how to use iCollege. Even with all the extra work we are putting into reinventing our classes, it’s hard to know how much our students are learning. It’s easy to get overwhelmed and feel hopeless, but we shouldn’t just get through the semester and try to forget 2020 ever happened. 

Most of us at least occasionally think about changing how we teach. We hear our colleagues talk about something they’re doing in the classroom or we read about an interesting approach, but often feel like we don’t have time to try it out. None of us would’ve chosen this way, but here we are in a pandemic and almost all of us are having to radically change how we teach. It’s not ideal, but now might be the time to ask what we are learning that could be useful for teaching next semester and after the pandemic. Asking this question might help us feel like, despite the struggles, the time and energy we are putting into our fall classes is not wasted.        

What is not working? Most of my students clicked on that 22-minute video I made, but only a few of them got past 5 minutes. Looking at the Kaltura statistics only confirmed what I already knew. Maybe I should divide the video into chunks and spread it out with other content or small assignments in between. Maybe I need to cut some content or at least work on not rambling so much in my videos. 

What technology skills am I developing? Many of us are learning how to create effective videos or exploring some of the bells and whistles in iCollege. Maybe you are exploring how to use social media or project management apps. Many effective online approaches don’t require complex technologies, and as we get better at some of these tools, they could make things easier or improve our teaching whether online, hybrid, or in class.

Can I use this material after the pandemic? We are all creating, gathering, and curating course material and developing online assignments. In most cases, these articles, websites, and videos will be just as relevant in a hybrid or face-to-face class. Newfound approaches to discussions or other online assignments we are creating out of necessity might work just as well outside of a fully online class.

Should I start planning my first “flipped” classroom? While the wide use of the term has only been around for a little over a decade, the concept is nothing new. Whether the approach is using online lectures or a textbook, the general idea is to move content delivery outside of the classroom to focus more on active and experiential learning in class. All of the asynchronous content we are putting together for our current classes might prepare us for flipping the classroom after the pandemic, allowing us to use class time for more meaningful discussions, answering questions, working on projects, and problem solving activities. 

Perhaps a more difficult question to ask is what were the problems with how I was teaching before the pandemic? That rambling I was doing in the videos I’ve been creating, I’m pretty sure I do even more of in the classroom. Maybe it’s charming in person. Maybe it’s not. I’ve also heard that students are complaining about the number of discussion posts they are being required to participate in across their courses. Certainly, we need to think about the amount of work we assign. I wonder, though, if many of those students are uncomfortable with having to directly respond to class content because they are accustomed to attending class and zoning out after a few minutes (like with the 22-minute video I created).

brennan • October 21, 2020

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