Be kind to yourself and your students. Everyone is stressed, even if they’re playing cool. That includes faculty. And that’s OK.
Let’s acknowledge that the quality of education will not be as good in alternative formats as it is in the pedagogical model we’ve actually planned for. You will not recreate your classroom, and you cannot hold yourself to that standard. That’s OK as well—we’re just trying to survive.
Do not read on best practices for distance learning. That’s not the situation we’re in. We’re in triage. Distance learning, when planned, can be really excellent. That’s not what this is. Do what you absolutely have to and ditch what you can. Thinking you can manage best practices in a day or a week will lead to feeling like you’ve failed. Additionally, now may not be the best time to try new technology. Stick with what you know and use it well.
Prioritize: what do students really need to know for the next few weeks? This is really difficult, and, once again, it means that the quality of teaching and learning will suffer. But these are not normal circumstances.
- Review upcoming course assignments - are they already available online? Are they clear without any in-person explanation? Are the deadlines realistic without class time to prepare?
- What content will students need that is currently not provided in Cougar Courses? This includes course readings, Course or Media Reserves, films, etc. Please contact email@example.com for any Media Reserves requests and firstname.lastname@example.org for any questions regarding Electronic and/or Physical Reserves.
Communicate, early and often. Stay in contact with students and stay transparent. Talk to them about why you’re prioritizing certain things or asking them to read or do certain things. Most of us do that in our face-to-face teaching anyway, and it improves student buy-in because they know content and delivery are purposeful. It is helpful to tell students that you recognize that this is a difficult and confusing transition and that you are going to make an effort to make your expectations for the remaining course as clear and concise as possible.
If you’re making videos, student viewership drops off precipitously at five minutes. Make them capsule videos if you make them and consider uploading it to YouTube because it transcribes for you. At the same time, of course, think about intellectual property and what you’re willing to release to a wide audience. An alternative is to write your lectures so all students can access them. Use a conversational style and infuse it with your personality.
Consider making your assignment lower or no stakes if you’re unsure about how your assessment will be completed remotely. Get students used to remote assessments with some low- or no-stakes assessments. Then you can do something higher stakes.
Be particularly kind to your graduating seniors. They're already panicking, and this isn't going to help. If you teach a class where they need to have completed something for certification, to apply to grad school, or whatever, figure out plan B. But talk to them. Radio silence, even if you're working, is not an option.
** Adapted from an email from Amy Long, Professor of Communication, Pacific Lutheran University, and Going Online in a Hurry, Chronicle of Higher Ed
Check out Matt Atherton's quick guide on using backwards design to move to virtual instruction. This guide offers a framework to use when considering how to present your content in a virtual environment.