Friday, April 17, 2020

Hanging Out With Starman - Week 3 Teaching Full Distance

Four weeks ago most faculty and students in the United States went home on a Friday for spring break week.  Over the next few days we were told we were not coming back to campus for the rest of the semester and we needed to get our courses converted to 100% online for the rest of the spring semester. This past week was our third week back.

Another week online. This week I got to hang out with one of my idols – Starman. He hasn’t figured out the answer to life, the Universe, and everything yet but continues his quest.

Back on earth, in the classroom things are settling down a bit and it feels like we’re getting into a groove. Here’s my bullet list for the past week.
  • Email volume has really increased and it has become a real time suck. My comfortable number of unread emails averages around 30 ~ if I’m close to 30 I’m feeling pretty good about it. My inbox right now is sitting at 259 unopened. I clean it out and a few hours later I’ve got another 50 sitting in the box to go through. I’m hoping our students are not having a similar experience but suspect many are. I’m now closing out my email client and only checking it by the hour.
  • The one document instruction tip I wrote about a couple weeks ago continues to work well. Students are comfortable being able to go to the could learning management system (Moodle at Holyoke Community College) to one place to get the most recent information and I’m not burying them with email.
  • I’m locked in on keeping my lecture video recordings between 15 and 25 minutes max. This seems to be working well.
  • I’ve got a set of Apple Airpod Pros and they have been fantastic. I’m using them for just about everything – Zoom meetings, phone calls and video recordings along with the occasional YouTube Curb Your Enthusiasm segment or two.
  • The Apple iPad and Pencil remain exceptional – especially when the Airpods are included. Lecture recording has been easy. I’m thinking about upgrading to a 12.9” Ipad for the extra screen real estate. If you are considering purchasing an IPad for lecture recording I would strongly recommend the 12.9” model. Also get yourself a screen protector for the iPad that adds some texture to the screen when writing with the pencil. I like the Paperlike protector. It gives nice tactile feedback and it feels like you are drawing and writing with a pencil on paper.
  • The Pomadoro Technique I wrote about a couple weeks ago makes a big difference when I actually use it. I’ve had problems with stopping and taking a break, walking away from the computer. I think the email volume increase has had a lot to do about that.
  • Meeting with classes online has been challenging at times. I did not realize how much I rely on body language in the classroom.  I look at their faces on camera and not sure if they are confused, scared, bored, frustrated, lost, upset….. I’m encouraging them to give feedback (negative and positive) and they are. I think this would be a different if we had started the course online – I got to know these students in the traditional classroom and could usually pickup pretty quickly on things just by looking at them.
  • I continue to log my time with Klok 2.
Overall I’m pretty satisfied with the way things are going. I’m still going with supercomputer Deep Thought - the answer to Starman’s question is six by nine, 42.

May the tech remain with you fellow earthlings. Have a nice weekend.

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