We are in unprecedented times. I know that my life does not look the same as it did in March and I know yours doesn’t as well. I have designed all my sociology classes with the chaos of the world in mind and I will teach it them it in mind as well. Here are some things I have done to try and make my classes fit the times:
- All of my classes are online now, and many of you would not have chosen to take my classes online. I would not have chosen to teach them online! I have taught online for more than twenty years and I much prefer teaching in person. I didn’t think I would be teaching online again until my in-person class went online last semester. So, I am aware that many of you are not doing this by choice. I am trying to teach accordingly. This means minimizing the use of technology, keeping things simple, clear, and as easy as possible so that you can focus on learning and not on how to turn in an assignment using Blackboard.
- I know that some of you may not have internet access at home, may not have a computer to take the class, or may have these things and they are not reliable. I have designed the class with that in mind and when I am working on it, I assume that you are on a cell phone and try to keep things simple when it comes to technology.
- I am not requiring any term-long projects that require extensive tracking or create a situation where if you put work off for internal or external reasons you will come to a day when you are forced to cram hours of work in to meet a deadline. I don’t know about you, but extended, long-term focus is not really in my skill set right now. So, I’m going to keep the class in doable chunks. There won’t be any twenty-page papers or exams covering ten chapters.
- Class deadlines will be weekly and will be firm. As I said, I have taught online for more than twenty years and I know that firm deadlines are the best deadlines. If you know a deadline is fixed, you’re more likely to get the work done. If there is wiggle room around deadlines, then it becomes easier to put the work off. However, along with this:
- There will be more assignments than points needed so that if you miss one assignment you can make it up by doing another one. Meaning, if you need to earn 400 points for an A, there will be 450 points possible. So, you can miss an assignment with a problem, but the structure will help deadlines feel serious and less easy to skip.
- We will do a weekly check-in. As an experienced online teacher I know that the way that students fail online classes is not because they fail exams and do poorly on assignments, it is because they drift away and stop logging into Blackboard. This is going to be even easier in these times, so I will be checking in with each of you each week to make sure you’re good to go.
- The part of the class that you normally think of as lecture will be formatted as a podcast. I will record short episodes that can be listened to wherever you are and there will also be a transcript that can be read wherever you are. Audio allows you to hear the class material in different spaces in a way that video doesn’t.
- I will work to to be adaptive as the term progresses depending on what happens in the world, at school, and with you. If something is going on with you, please let me know. I’m here and will help you if I can.
- If you can think of anything I can do to make the class easier for you, please let me know.