Friday, April 3, 2020

Some Notes: Week 1 Teaching Full Distance

A couple weeks ago faculty and students 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% distance for the rest of the spring semester. This past week was our first week back.

It has been an interesting week – frustrating at times sure but I feel like we’ve worked through a lot of the startup problems and overall right now am feeling pretty positive. Here’s a few things I’ve jotted down in no particular order.

1.     The one document instruction tip I wrote about a couple days ago is working very nicely. Students are comfortable being able to go to one place to get the most recent information and I’m not burying them with email.

2.     Making your content mobile friendly is critical. Most of my students are accessing course materials using their phones. We’re using Moodle at Holyoke Community College and the Moodle mobile app works great. Zoom runs nice on mobile.

3.     Live lectures? Recorded lectures? It does not matter. I’ve been recording (see #4) lectures and using class time on Zoom for homework problem review, general Q and A, etc.
4.     I’m recording my lectures on my iPad and posting online. I wrote about how I do this a couple years ago when I was faculty at the University of Hartford. I’m trying to stay two weeks ahead with my recordings in case I get sick.

5.     Live sessions for my circuits class are done using Zoom running on the iPad. The screen shot here is from my circuits class yesterday. Briefly (I’ll write up a post with detail on how to to this over the weekend) I share the iPad screen and launch GoodNotes, a note taking app. I use the Apple pencil to draw circuit diagrams, work through problems etc. Zoom allows sessions to be recorded and those mp4 recorded files can be posted online for student access. Sessions can also be recorded directly on the iPad. GoodNotes allows export to PDF. So during a classroom session I can:

      Write on the iPad screen while talking and recording using the GoodNotes app.
      Save the recording as an mp4 video/audio file either using Zoom or direct on iPad.
      Export my handwritten notes from GoodNotes to PDF.
      Post the mp4 file and also the PDF online for student access.

            Better than a classroom chalk or white board? I sure think so!

6.     Routine is important for us all. I’m meeting with students at the start of each class period and maintaining regular office hours. The tips I posted in an earlier post have also been very helpful.

I’ll be writing about a few of these in detail along with a bunch of other stuff.

Overall at the end of week 1 - I’m sooooo impressed with the way students, faculty, staff – every single person I’ve had contact with at Holyoke Community College has pulled together and really gone to task on this. Flipping a course midstream to distance is not easy, especially for our students. Pile the fear and unknown of COVID-19 on top of that it is all pretty daunting. So far so good!

Thanks especially to all of the great students!!

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