T-31: Fall 20

One month from now, we’re back in the swing of things with the start of the Fall semester; that’s when Muhlenberg College welcomes its students back on campus.

Students can take their course load fully online, or with one of the many hybrid classes. There are even brave souls who will teach “mask-to-mask” (because it won’t be face-to-face), with a lot of other restrictions of course to make sure everybody is safe.

Faculty made their own choices on how best to teach their courses this coming semester. No questions asked. I am very grateful I have the opportunity to teach fully online/remote, without anybody needing to see paperwork, because I have none to show. I am still terrified of the virus, it can do a number on healthy young people, and I haven’t been 21 for a while now.

So I thought today was a good day to resume (near) daily posts to share how I am preparing to teach, and then moving through the semester. Just like at the start of the turn to the Covid-Campus with #PandemicPedagogy, over the past few months kind people have put out a lot of information about best practices, design tips for online, asynchronous courses, and how to be there for our students. But even if we work through the entire summer,* it would be impossible to create the perfect course: it takes a few runs to get a course set up well (in non-pandemic times), and there is so much advice it can become overwhelming. What I love to see more of is “here’s what actually happens in my course design” type information. What are the compromises we have to make? What are the constraints you’re working with/against? How are you creatively circumventing limitations imposed by the system you absolutely have to adhere to? In short: what does life in the trenches look like for those of us venturing out into the wilds of online teaching for the first time? And when the semester starts, we can share about how all of our plans work and not work for the students, and how we have to adjust. Good luck!

*I hope you caught a bit of a break. I did take an entire week off in May, and all I did was knit and watch my hummingbird, and do my minimal 25’/day of research or writing. It feels like years ago.

Female ruby-throated hummingbird perched at nectar feeder in late afternoon sunlight, against a blue sky with minimal cloud.
Hummie Ruby-Throated at the feeder on one of her daily visits. She’s been a steadfast companion over the summer, and never fails to bring me a moment of happiness amidst All of This.

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