By Stacy Palen
No one knows what this fall semester is going to look like, and it stresses me out!
We might be back in normal face-to-face classes, but we might be back at half-capacity. Or we might be all online. Or we might start face-to-face, and then the second wave will hit, and we’ll have to go online for the rest of the semester. Or maybe we’ll just have to go online for two weeks, when there is a local outbreak. Or we might need to have replacement materials available for students so they don’t feel compelled to come to class when they are sick. Or maybe none of the above, because of the Yellowstone supervolcano, which I hear is currently scheduled for August…just kidding…I think.
In an effort to get control over the things I can control, I’ve started planning my fall courses as both face-to-face and online, in parallel. This means double the work, but given the magnitude of the uncertainties, it feels prudent.
As I have been thinking about this, and starting to organize resources and activities for students, I’ve also started to make a list of the things that are missing, and I’m figuring out how to pull them together.
Over the next few months, I’ll share what I’m doing to get prepared here on the blog. I’ll be making short videos for students about study skills, such as a “How to Read a Textbook” one, as well as other videos introducing and summarizing each chapter of the textbook. There will also be open-ended questions for LMS discussions that I can factor into students’ grades, and there will be web resources, such as “Using the Web” problems, which can also be found at the end of the textbook. And lots of other things that I haven’t thought out fully yet.
Many of us have taught online for a long time, and many of us have an online section; others, however, do not. I know that, for myself, moving four different courses (not just Introductory Astronomy) into the online environment before the end of August is…overwhelming.
I’m sure we are all feeling frazzled and overwhelmed, so let’s be frazzled and overwhelmed together! I hope you’ll share your clever ideas, resources, online or at-home activities, methods for interacting with students, and so on, in the “Comments” section below. Or drop me a line, and you can even guest-write a post about your idea!