Please do a bad job of putting your courses online

I’m absolutely serious.

For my colleagues who are now being instructed to put some or all of the remainder of their semester online, now is a time to do a poor job of it. You are NOT building an online class. You are NOT teaching students who can be expected to be ready to learn online. And, most importantly, your class is NOT the highest priority of their OR your life right now. Release yourself from high expectations right now, because that’s the best way to help your students learn.

If you are getting sucked into the pedagogy of online learning or just now discovering that there are some pretty awesome tools out there to support students online, stop. Stop now. Ask yourself: Do I really care about this? (Probably not, or else you would have explored it earlier.) Or am I trying to prove that I’m a team player? (You are, and don’t let your university exploit that.) Or I am trying to soothe myself in the face of a pandemic by doing something that makes life feel normal? (If you are, stop and instead put your energy to better use, like by protesting in favor of eviction freezes or packing up sacks of groceries for kids who won’t get meals because public schools are closing.)

Remember the following as you move online:

  1. Your students know less about technology than you think. Many of them know less than you. Yes, even if they are digital natives and younger than you.
  2. They will be accessing the internet on their phones. They have limited data. They need to reserve it for things more important than online lectures.
  3. Students who did not sign up for an online course have no obligation to have a computer, high speed wifi, a printer/scanner, or a camera. Do not even survey them to ask if they have it. Even if they do, they are not required to tell you this. And if they do now, that doesn’t mean that they will when something breaks and they can’t afford to fix it because they just lost their job at the ski resort or off-campus bookstore.
  4. Students will be sharing their technology with other household members. They may have LESS time to do their schoolwork, not more.
  5. Many will be working MORE, not fewer, hours. Nurses, prison guards, firefighters, and police officers have to go to work no matter what. As healthcare demand increases but healthcare workers get sick, there will be more and  more stress on those who remain.
  6. Some of your students will get sick. Others will be caring for people who are ill.
  7. Many will be parenting.
  8. Social isolation contributes to mental health problems.
  9. Social isolation contributes to domestic violence.
  10. Students will be losing their jobs, especially those in tourism and hospitality.

All of these factors mean that your students are facing more important battles today than your class–if they are even able to access it.

creative E-learning Concept Book and Laptop 3d render

Photo by NosUA from Getty Images.

As you put your class online:

1. Put your energy into the classes that are required for your major or minor or that are required by other majors or minors. Electives and GE classes are an important part of a good education, but we have already decided that what students learn in any one of those courses is not vital. (The exceptions to this are GE courses that are required for a major.) For some of us, this is every class we teach, but for others, we have the ability to choose to focus our attention.

2. Do not require synchronous work. Students should not need to show up at a specific time for anything. REFUSE to do any synchronous work.

3. Do not record lectures unless you need to. (This is fundamentally different from designing an online course, where recorded information is, I think, really important.) They will be a low priority for students, and they take up a lot of resources on your end and on theirs. You have already built a rapport with them, and they don’t need to hear your voice to remember that.

4. Do record lectures if you need to. When information cannot be learned otherwise, include a lecture. Your university already has some kind of tech to record lectures. DO NOT simply record in PowerPoint as the audio quality is low. While many people recommend lectures of only 5 minutes, I find that my students really do listen to longer lectures. Still, remember that your students will be frequently interrupted in their listening, so a good rule is 1 concept per lecture. So, rather than a lecture on ALL of, say, gender inequality in your Intro to Soc course, deliver 5 minutes on pay inequity (or 15 minutes or 20 minutes, if that’s what you need) and then a separate lecture on #MeToo and yet another on domestic violence. Closed caption them using the video recording software your university provides. Note that YouTube also generates closed captions [edited to add: they are not ADA compliant, though]. If you don’t have to include images, skip the video recording and do a podcast instead.

5. Don’t fuss too much about the videos. You don’t need to edit out the “umms” or the postal carrier ringing the doorbell. Editing is a waste of your time right now.

6. Make all work due on the same day and time for the rest of the semester. I recommend Sunday night at 11:59 pm. Students who are now stay-at-home parents will need help from others to get everything done, and that help is more likely to arrive on a weekend. While, in general, I dislike 11:59 due dates because work done that late is typically of lower quality, some people will need to work after the kids go to bed, so setting the deadline at 9 or 10 pm just doesn’t give them enough time.

7. If you use a textbook, your publisher probably has tests that you can download directly into your learning management system (LMS). Now is the time to use them. Despite publishers’ best efforts, these tests quickly float around online, so take a few minutes to add some anti-cheating protections. First, organize questions into test banks and have them fed to students at random. For example, if you want to ask two questions about pay inequity, select 5 of them from the test bank, and have your LMS feed two of them to students at random. This makes it MUCH harder for students to work together, because they will never get the same exact test as a peer. Second, change the wording on the questions so they can’t easily paste them into Google. In example questions, changing the name of the person in the example is one fast way to make the questions harder to locate online.

8. Allow every exam or quiz to be taken at least twice, and tell students that this means that if there is a tech problem on the first attempt, the second attempt is their chance to correct it. This will save you from the work of resetting tests or quizzes when the internet fails or some other tech problem happens. And since it can be very hard to discern when such failures are really failures or students trying to win a second attempt at a quiz or test, you avoid having to deal with cheaters.

9. Do NOT require students to use online proctoring or force them to have themselves recorded during exams or quizzes. This is a fundamental violation of their privacy, and they did NOT sign up for that when they enrolled in your course. Plus, they are in the privacy of their homes, sometimes with children who will interrupt them. It may be impossible for them to take a test without interruption. Circumvent the need for proctoring by making every exam open-notes, open-book, and open-internet. The best way to avoid them taking tests together or sharing answers is to use a large test bank.

10. You have already had some kind of in-class work, I’m guessing, so you do not need to further authenticate their identities on exams. If you are suspicious that a student is cheating–for example, someone was previously performing very poorly on in-class assessments and is now scoring very well, which might make you think that they’ve hired someone else to take the class for them–address that situation individually.

11. Remind them of due dates. It might feel like handholding, but be honest: Don’t you appreciate the text reminder from your dentist that you have an appointment tomorrow? Your LMS has an announcement system that allows you to write an announcement now and post it later. As you put your materials online, write an announcement reminding them of the due date to be released 24 hours before it is due. The morning of, send a note to everyone who has not yet turned it in. (In Canvas and Blackboard, you do this by going into your gradebook and right clicking on the header of the assignment. You’ll see an option to email all students who have not yet completed the work. It takes less than 1 minute if you are already logged in.)

12. Alert them to any material that is not appropriate for children to watch, including minute markers for scenes of violence or nudity. Again, you need to assume that they are doing their work with children in the background.

13. Make everything self-grading if you can (yes, multiple choice and T/F on quizzes and tests) or low-stakes (completed/not completed).

14. Don’t do too much. Right now, your students don’t need it. They need time to do the other things they need to do.

15. Listen for them asking for help. They may be anxious. They may be tired. Many students are returning to their parents’ home where they may not be welcome. Others will be at home with partners who are violent. School has been a safe place for them, and now it’s not available to them. Your class may matter to them a lot when they are able to focus on it, but it may not matter much now, in contrast to all the other things they have to deal with. Don’t let that hurt your feelings, and don’t hold it against them in future semesters or when they come back to ask for a letter of recommendation.

****

This advice is very different from that which I would share if you were designing an online course. I hope it’s helpful, and for those of you moving your courses online, I hope it helps you understand the labor that is required in building an online course a bit better.

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473 thoughts on “Please do a bad job of putting your courses online

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  1. Thanks you SO MUCH for this perspective. I teach at a CC on the edge of the Navajo reservation and everything you said about poor internet/computer access and homelife during a freaking pandemic applies to at least 50% of my students. I’ve shared this post with my whole department.

    1. This article appeals to my natural feelings that have evolved to even more so as the days progress. I teach high school, so their was some logistical difference. But you put to words so much more clearly and eloquently than I could ever hope to. I’m putting up two assignments a week, each at the same time of the week, each due at the same time of the week. More importantl than anything I’m doing academically is running a 10 minute meditation and check in every morning at 10:00. Thank you for saying what I have been feeling.

  2. Andy W.
    Thanks, Rebecca for both your wry title to this blogpost and the realistic balanced advice included.
    My department chair sent this to all her adjunct colleagues along with clear revisions recommended for trimming our courses to fit exactly the challenges you mention. We have great tech support at our community college with folks who are absolutely clear that there is a difference between a prior prepared, distance learning course and a thoughtful, supportive response to crisis that keeps focus on student needs and shared angst.
    I have notified my students that I am rolling out new approaches and heard back from several immediately that they were relieved to know they are not being forgotten and they will let me know (oh boy, will they!) what works for them and what doesn’t.
    They already trust me to listen to their concerns and to meet them where they are as much as possible. You’ve calmed my anxieties and motivated (yes!) me to jump in and be “bad” as I stumble along aspiring to be good for and with my students.

    1. Thanks for the kind words! I’m gratified to hear that your chair send this and that she is specifically caring for adjuncts. So many people in precarious teaching positions are worried now that if they don’t overdo it, they might not be viewed as a “rising to the occasion,” so I think it’s especially important that they feel supported by admin to use pedagogy over technology. As hard as the pivot to remote teaching is, if it’s informed by the same care and connection we offer in traditional classrooms, I think we’ll end up serving them well.

  3. Elementary teacher here, with a student at Carthage, and I get it! So much truth here. Do what’s necessary, while being mindful that you educate “the whole person.” These are really challenging times. Everyone is trying to figure out how to make this work and being stressed out on either end is not productive. Thank you for taking the time and having the courage to share your thoughts with a little levity attached. You are appreciated and this was a really good read.

    1. Thank you for this generous feedback, Tara! Best wishes as you meet the challenges ahead for yourself, your students, and your own child!

  4. I must say I am underwhelmed by this article. The title, of course, is preposterous. But I think much of the advice falls short and is even counterproductive.

    I left the private sector in 2014 and my students (many of whom are low income) are light years ahead of me in terms of technology. And I even have a tiktok account! Most of the professors with whom I work are at least 20 years older than I am, so I find it hard to believe they’re technologically more advanced than their students. Do you have any data to back up this claim? In my first live lecture last night over half of my students were already facile with Zoom, and they sent me links on which digital whiteboard to buy (I didn’t even know that existed, as I was planning to do an old school method of whiteboard).

    Also, what about student input? Rather than recommend a blanket “Do not do synchronous work,” why not determine what your customer needs? I polled my students and they overwhelmingly (i.e., 95%+) wanted LIVE lectures where they could interact with me and their colleagues in real time. Is that more work for me? Absolutely. But it’s what will help my students most so I’m happy to do it. I know most in academia do not view students as their customers. Perhaps that is part of the problem?

    Clearly students, like us, have new and pressing demands, and above all it is important to have compassion given the situation. It is imperative to be understanding and flexible, as your piece wisely advocates. I like your points which emphasize being understanding and taking them and their situations into account.

    I teach business, so for me this is a perfect scenario to teach business and life lessons like “Do the best you can with the resources at your disposal” or “You will always encounter unexpected challenges so you need to be able to adapt” etc. My students and I see this as an opportunity to learn new things and gain new experiences, together and in real time.

    I think that is the lesson we as educators should be taking from this.

    1. Sounds like you have students who are ready to learn in an online setting! That’s great for you. Perhaps the fact that they are business majors makes a difference? I don’t know.

      I don’t see our perspectives as being so different here. I’m advocating that we recognize the resources that we and our students have at our disposal. Some students transitioning to remote classrooms will have a lot, and some will have few. Given that none of them signed up for this, I think we should aim our teaching at those who have few. I don’t think that means lowered standards for what they can learn, just realistic standards of the material conditions of their lives right now. Especially because the next few weeks are hard to predict, keeping everything as simple as possible will serve the most students–and still serve them well. At least, that’s what I think.

  5. Mahalo for your article! I am posting it to our website to help assist Visual Art teachers in their planning of lessons. Very thoughtful and helpful to consider points before creating an online course.

  6. You’re an idiot. Instead of adapting to change you are doing what all educators do and resisting change (which will only hurt students). In this case you are asking people to limit their creativity and ability to adapt because “it’s ok” you’re not capable of doing more? Is that the message that we as educators should receive? Or should the message be rise to the occasion and show students that we are problem solvers and we can adapt quickly to change. We can show our students that we possess the same skills that we are trying to teach them. Change wouldn’t be so scary if educators had been adapting all along, but that’s not the case. This is the worst post that I’ve ever read. As a fellow higher education faculty member I want you to know that your article is circulating as a joke with my colleagues here in CA. Students are more tech savvy than most professors and they prefer flexible and adaptable learning. I can send you numerous articles that attest to the fact that WE as educators have failed to adapt to meet students needs all along. I teach at a community college so I’m fully aware of the challenges with accessing courses. Ironically in a market research report that we conducted most students have unlimited data. There’s about 20% that don’t have unlimited data and those are the students that we need to find technology solutions for but that doesn’t mean resisting the move towards online/blended/flexible learning. Our students have been demanding flexibility through blended/online learning all along…just look at the double digit growth rates of ASU due to its move online, SNHU, WGU and other online institutions. Wake up and use this as an opportunity to change! Stop pushing a message that justifies mediocrity! Now is the time to rise to the challenge and push yourself beyond what you thought was possible!

      1. Market credentials aside, Erin. I think you probably have better things to do than criticize someone who is arguing for realism, not for resisting change. Some of us are grad students, with children at home. Oh yeah and a pandemic. It is helpful to remember to do our best AND to remember that our best week long turn around of completely planned face to face classes into remote instruction is NOT going to equal the time we had to spend building these courses. To attack someone else’s realism, which is helpful, certainly does not set a good example of collegiality in a time of crisis. I hope you treat your students better than you treat strangers you have no reason to argue with. (I said, sound the same thing, but your aggression and derision really hit a nerve). Providing criticism is fine. But I think academia has enough mean-spirited aggression, belittling, self-important people who get their only joy from putting students and other academics down, and it sets a bad example for graduate students and undergrads alike. For once, I wish my fellow academics would act as much better than other people as they think they are.

      2. Also I realize I typed “sound” not “doing”. So, let’s not fixate on typos. Trying to get ahead of the hate here.

      3. Thanks, Will. I appreciate you stepping in here.

        And I’m glad you have models in your own graduate training of civil discourse so that you recognize that the other commenter is out of line. For other students of every level reading these comments, know that the behavior she displayed here is inappropriate and would not be tolerated in a professional setting (regardless of her “market value”) but would be met with an HR complaint and reprimand or intervention.

      4. Did you just, like, challenge me to a push up contest? Seriously, Erin who refuses to actually be identified, turn your energy to a fight for something good, like making sure every student at your university has a laptop with a webcam.

        Your comments just remind me of how lucky I am to have colleagues who can disagree without name calling, try to make others feel insecure (All of California’s professors are laughing at me?—that’s a ridiculous effort to triangulate and a total narc move), or exaggeration.

        Whatever choices you make for your teaching, I hope your students thrive. If I’m wrong and all your students can be successful no matter how many tech burdens you put in their way, that’s great. I’d rather they succeed than that I be proven right in your case. And if they fit the pattern I expect we’ll see in a lot of cases—that they will unfairly struggle if you place unfamiliar and untried tech burdens on them—I hope you’ll find a way to be compassionate.

      5. Will and Rebecca, best of luck. I’ve been online for the past 3 years so there’s been no issue transitioning over the past week. My students do really well in my courses thanks to the adaptive platforms that we use, but thanks for your concern! My rate my professor is also 4.9 so it looks like my students agree. Signing off here!

      6. Also, Rebecca, I do have a few good examples. But, unfortunately, like many graduate students in the humanities, I’ve learned not how I DO want to treat others, AND how I don’t want to be from examples around me.

      7. Rebecca – I largely agree with Erin. I think a post like yours could be grounds for dismissal and would certainly be considered in one’s tenure dossier. I too am a faculty and I disagree with nearly everything you said. I will say this our university linked your post – as that’s how I came across it – in the context of we can and must be better! I am sorry for my negative comments.

      8. What different worlds we all live in! Elsewhere, it’s being shared by chairs, deans, and provosts as encouragement for faculty to remember that they should teach to their actual students, not the students they would be teaching if they were teaching a course designed to be online (and one which students enrolled in as online students).

        If your admins think you can build a class to the standards of an excellent online class in a few days, I’m not sure that they understand the work that such a class involves. I spend about 100 hours building a class, and then to goes through a review process that takes up to six weeks. You can’t do that with a whole university in a few days.

        Can you do the best job you can do, given the situation? Sure—and you should. But transitioning to remote teaching isn’t the same as building an online course for students ready to learn online.

        I question how that could be something to disagree with, and I suspect that when admin insist that faculty and students can just flip a switch to an online class, they are revealing that they don’t have much respect for online classes. If they understood the work involved (and I think most do, or else this wouldn’t have become such a popular post), they wouldn’t ask unworkable solutions.

    1. My concern wasn’t with your teaching ability, as I can’t judge that, I don’t know you. My issue, rather, was with your lack of respect for a fellow academic. We all have a hard road to travel, and supporting each other is important. By which I don’t mean you have to agree, but constructive criticism is much preferred to platitudes of excellence coupled with aggressive misunderstanding. And if you can’t do that, stick to the old adage “if you can’t say something nice…”

  7. Thank you for an insightful, intelligent, and calming article. Evidently, some can’t get past the title? I’m not sure, but as an English professor who is diving in kicking and screaming, but will still dive in, this was highly reassuring. We always do the best for our students, and your response regarding failure hit the nail on the head. If I do more than I’m capable of, I’ll fail. If my students aren’t capable of what I’m asking, they will fail, so we try our best and like always, improve each time. Thank you again! VERY motivational

    1. Thanks! You got the spirit of it exactly!

      Unfortunately, I think too many of us think we’re superheroes–probably because we ARE so competent, driven, motivated, and successful! But we can only do that within the limits of reality. Recognizing that it’s giving up–it’s getting ready!

  8. Rebecca, you make some excellent, empathetic points about teaching students who may be (read: will be) dealing with difficult, unpredictable circumstances. Your clickbaitish title, though, means that a lot of the people who most need this advice will read it or heed it. I really think you should consider modifying the title.

  9. Thanks! This advice is important for me AND my students, who were about to get a ridiculous pile of me proving that I am a team player and technologically adept… I am scaling back and trying to finish the course in the least painful way for all.

    1. Academics tend to be overachievers, so we need the reminder sometimes that we can accomplish our goals without having to run ourselves—and everyone else—ragged! I’m glad to remind folks of that!

    2. Thank you Rebecca and ditto Amy LeFevre.

      This article was sent to us (the ECSU English Department) by our department head. Reading it helped me to take a breath, calm down and reassess how I will run my class online.

      I especially appreciate the reminder to show compassion and flexibility with my students.

      Thanks again

  10. The title keeps me from reposting it, which is too bad because there’s some valuable advice contained in the body. In our minimal attention span world, many On social media would glance at the title and assume that it’s an educator’s call for shirking their duty. That was my initial thought when I saw a colleague’s FB page. Glad I took the time to delve deeper, but I dong think that’s the norm.

    1. If you think the advice is good, consider sharing it on other ways, like by excerpting parts you like and citing the link without including the title.

  11. Although the title shocked me a little, this article is full of empathy for the students and teachers. Lots of take away tips for when there is no corona virus crisis. Thank you!!

  12. My daughter sent this link for my Birthday. I was sitting in front of a Respondus tutorial, completely baffled. It was as if the came out in my office! Thankyou

  13. Some of these are tips for good onliine course building. Some of them simply don’t apply to undergraduate year 1 and 2 classes of course. And who is the “we” that decided that what students learn in electives and GE courses isn’t “vital”? I hope people realize that they don’t have to bend over backwards to produce outstanding online content, but a little effort will be appreciated to make sure students of differing learning needs still benefit from the material.

    1. I didn’t say that GE courses weren’t important. That wouldn’t align with my own experience as a student from a strong liberal arts school or my experience as a professor who teaches a lot of GE courses.

      What I said was that the university has already decided that the content of any individual GE isn’t required. This is why a student can take Intro to Soc or Intro to Psych or Cultural Anthropology or whatever else counts as a social science. Universities and accreditors have decided that SOME GEs are important but haven’t demanded particular ones.

      Even so, these individual courses are foundational for some of the students in them (so our premed students better take Intro to Bio, even though most students in that class won’t need bio in particular for their courses).

  14. Thank you, this is the best piece I’ve read on this whole situation. I linked to it in a blog post, I hope that’s okay.

  15. Ridiculous points that can be easily and soundly refuted by actual experts. Stick to sociology. Be careful; purposefully doing a bad job and refusing to teach your students the best you can will get you fired.

    1. I’m really pleased to share that there are lots of comments here by instructional designers, who I assume are the people you refer to as the “experts” (since my experience teaching thousands of students online doesn’t seem to qualify me), praising this piece for its key point: that if you don’t know what you are doing in building an online class, you should keep it simple. That way, you will do a good job, which is where my advice will lead you.

  16. Great piece of writing Rebeca. Those of us who have designed online courses do understand what you have nicely explained. I am optimist though and see this emergency situation as an opportunity to make the best of it.

  17. Thanks for this extraordinary and much needed perspective. I’ve taught various courses (arts and social sciences) at various institutions, in-person and online for over 15 years and I really appreciate what you are advocating for here, and for sharing this.

    1. Thank you for the positive feedback, Ted! I think those of us who are familiar with online education can provide a lot of assurance for our colleagues diving into remote teaching right now–including the recognition that they don’t have to be tech ninjas to meet the current challenge!

  18. Read the title and was horrified. As professionals we have adapt. This is no time to be pitching a hissy fit about the innate unfairness of our situation. No, students expecting face2face classes didn’t “sign up” for these mandatory online conversions. Yet here we are. Having taught face2face and online for 15 years I am very fortunate to be comfortable in this environment and it pains me to see so many of my colleagues in panic mode. The article strikes me as being written by someone who is well intentioned but clearly upset by this turn of events. But to write ” please do a bad job”? That is bad advice! And, with all due respect, both unprofessional and counter productive. Reading the article was like watching that scene from the movie Network where Howard Beal screams “I’m mad as hell and I’m not going to take it anymore.” Instructors have two choices, do the job put in from of them or quit. Students are expecting us to make the way as easy as possible for them. The problem with having a panic mentality, like the author, is that it spreads like the virus we are fighting. And it leads to resorting to anger because, poor you, you are now in this terrible, unfair fix. So please do a bad job to express your righteous indignation. That’s not an acceptable outcome so…Get over it! Ok, you feel screwed. Take a deep breath, have confidence that you can do it, and then consider the advice being offered to you by your university to get your course online. Realize you have already made it through half the semester and can transfer your content into a usable format with the help of your IT departments. This, hopefully, is a once in a lifetime crisis. You will get through it. But please do a good job of putting your course online. Your reputation is at stake. Your moral values as a human being should not be compromised.

    1. I’m not angry, panicked, upset, resentful, nor do I feel “screwed.” I am not sure what in this blog post would lead you to think that I feel that way. Nor am I fostering that feeling in my colleagues. Quite the opposite: I am saying, ‘You will do your best by recognizing that everyone’s resources are limited, so choose strategies that work within those limitations.” That’s a strategy for success, and I think if folks follow it, they will teach as well as possible.

      [updated to add: I misunderstood the original post, and I’m grateful that the commenter helped me understand it better. As ManofReel later clarified, he did not intend for the second person “you” to mean me, the author, but people in general. I am glad we are more in agreement than I originally thought and appreciate the conversation.]

      1. Think it starts with your title. With so many choices, why that specific usage? Was it intended to be an attention grabber, or to be clever? Major fail — for me. There are several passages that appear to encourage faculty to feel empowered to be angry at this time. For example, your first words are “For my colleagues who are now being instructed to put some or all of the remainder of their semester online, now is a time to do a poor job of it. You are NOT building an online class. You are NOT teaching students who can be expected to be ready to learn online.” Gee whiz. And then you go on…

      2. You didn’t like the title? I can live with that. (And, for me, if I title of a blog post makes me feel “horrified,” I typically skip it unless I have a moral duty to be informed about a topic.)

        If you read through the comments here, overwhelmingly, people say that that first paragraph didn’t make them feel angry–it made them feel empowered to work within their reality rather than setting themselves up for expectations they and their students can’t meet. If most everyone reads that paragraph as providing calm, relief, and assurance but you read it as provoking anger. consider re-reading it.

      3. Nah, I don’t need to reread it. I’m comfortable with my comprehension.Well, if the majority here feel comforted by your article, they trust you. That can be a good thing. Or not. Fortunately, for me I am not affected one way of the other by this online crisis. Even with my face2face classes I put all content online anyway. So i just offered an alternative opinion to the “do a bad job” philosophy being espoused here. As I can see some don’t agree with you, most like your take. It is what it is.

      4. I reread your first response to my comments yesterday and discovered that you thought I was speaking directly to you. That was not the case. “you” = I was speaking to the readers here. Not sure why you thought my comments were directed to you until I read the comments from Erin, who called you an “idiot,” a sentiment I do not share. RPO

      5. Thank you for clarifying–and I’m sorry that I misread in the first place. I’ll update my comments with an edit to reflect this new understanding.

        I appreciate the grace you show here.

  19. Whew! Thank you. I am excited to try new things and take my course online, but I needed a reality check. I hadn’t thought of many of your points. Thanks for taking the time to write this.

    1. Academics do such a good job of rising to the occasion, always giving it our best, and leaning in that we sometimes forget that sometimes less is more. It’s a reminder many of us need!

  20. Brilliant Rebecca, Totally current when we are asked to put quality resources online with 3 days notice.
    THANK YOU!!

  21. Thank you for sharing your wisdom, Rebecca. My teacher friend shared it on her FB, and I just read it before I start planning the transition of my classes online. It helped me shape the direction I want to go.

  22. Thank you for helping people focus on the important things – both the students’ and the instructor’s needs -and for setting the context.

  23. This is great. I have already started encountering the issues you’ve anticipated, and it is day one of restrictions here. Thank you so much for such thorough and thoughtful advice.

  24. I think this is just a nasty and terrible link. shame on you. if you believe in Education then you should believe in adaptation. this is just nonsense….we should do our jobs and help the students learn at any cost

    1. Here is the thesis: if you try to do more than your students are able to do, they will fail. If you try to do more than you are able to do, you will fail.

      Instead of setting everyone up for failure by trying new technologies that you aren’t familiar with and they can’t access, find ways of teaching that students in a high stress situation can actually use.

      Does it help the piece make more sense if I spell that out for you at the start? Maybe to re-read it again with that in mind.

      (And, no, never “at any cost.” We aren’t here to self-destruct.)

  25. Thank you so much for your excellent advice. I’m only getting started learning about online instruction in grad classes, but every single thing you wrote rings true and makes so much sense. I’m sharing it far and wide! (Hope that’s okay!)

  26. Thanks Rebecca, sage advice. BTW, typo: “Your university already [has] some kind of tech to record lectures.”
    Finally, that person Anonymous on March 16, 2020 at 6:56 pm – such vitriol eh? And so cowardly. Of course teachers are doing the best they can to deliver a quality education, while managing an incredibly difficult situation.

    1. Thanks for catching that, Craig! I’ve fixed the typo. And thanks for the encouraging feedback!

      I’m always surprised by people who think both that teachers are lazy. How is that even possible? Like, if I were lazy, wouldn’t I have chosen a job where it was easier to get away with? Where I didn’t have accreditors, students, peers, deans, the media, and state politicians credentialing me, evaluating me, and–with students–literally watching my entire performance?

      I’m going to try to assume that everyone is stressed out. Some of us respond by overfunctioning, some of us procrastibake, and some of us make anonymous hateful comments on well-intentioned blog posts, I guess!

  27. Way to use fear mongering excuses as a reason to steal people’s hard earned money!! You are paid to do a job do it right. Adapt to the situation and quit complaining. The whole beginning of this article is just reasons for you to to provide less effort to teaching at the expense of your students. This is your job it should be a passion, it is your duty to make it the passion of others and assist them in becoming professionals. Your moral compass is off and you should be ashamed of yourself.

    1. I think it’s more fair to student and their tuition money to teach them well in the context they actually face rather than try to introduce high tech solutions that they cannot make work. That’s the point. I’m not sure where you are getting the interpretation you offer here.

      If most everyone else who reads this comes to the same conclusion, you might look at your interpretation and ask where it’s off. I suggest “reading with the grain”—giving the author the benefit of the doubt, finding points where you agree, assuming good intentions. After you’ve done that, you’ll understand the piece better. And if you still disagree, you’ll probably be able to make a better argument than what you’ve made here.

    1. Which schools? While I’m seeing universities promote these ideas now, I did not see these informing policies last week when I wrote it and posted it. But I’m definitely receiving notices now that administrators are using these ideas and citing this document in doing so.

      If you teach at a school that worked within a compassionate framework from the start, that’s great! How lucky you are to have that kind of leadership.

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