Sunday, March 29, 2020
I've only got 4 online classes under my belt, but I thought I'd share some preliminary thoughts.
Pre-releasing Hypos. I've made one significant change to my teaching approach: I am pre-releasing all hypotheticals that I plan to go over in class. So, this past Friday, I released all the hypos that I plan to use this coming Thursday and Friday. The idea is to allow students time to prepare responses ahead of time and therefore be ready to pipe up with their answers when we meet virtually.
I realize that some teachers have been doing this for a long time. I haven't because I've often been tinkering with new hypos up until the moment before class. And when we do practice multiple choice questions, for example, I think there's value to doing them in class under timed conditions.
That said, I'm really happy with this change and I will likely implement it going forward even when I return to in-person class-time.
The Zoom Waiting Room. I also have a further caution about the "waiting room" feature on Zoom. A few days ago, I noted that I'd inadvertently left the entire class in there. That's something I could learn to deal with. What I can't deal with is that every time a student loses their internet connection (which happens a lot), when they try to rejoin I have to notice that they're in the waiting room and let them out. That's one more distraction that I don't need while teaching.
The Zoom Chat. For my upper-level class, Crimmigration, the chat feature on Zoom has been fabulous. On Friday, we did a virtual tour of a detention facility and a virtual tour of a port of entry. They were filled with fabulous questions. And jokes (that were super on point). Somehow, even with just texts, the chat function created a real sense of community.
For a few semesters, I tried to get students to utilize a twitter hashtag during class (something like #KJS20Crimmigration). It was a tip I picked up at a SALT conference that sounded so promising, but it never worked with me. I couldn't get students to use it. I imagine that if the Twitter thing had worked it might feel like the successful chat function.
Here's wishing all my fellow immprofs great success in this new online world. We can do it!