If you are quickly moving to remote teaching, I recommend putting your whole course together now rather than doing it week-by-week. It gives students a better sense of what is coming, and it also provides guidance and structure to anyone who might have to teach your class should you fall ill or have to use family leave to care for others.
Making all decisions now will also prevent you from overthinking your work, which benefits your students because it helps you focus on what you already do well rather than experimenting during a time of limited resources and high stress.
Above, Jacob Taanman’s When Teacher’s Back is Turned (1876). This painting reminds me that we need to move quickly to give our students a sense of structure for the remainder of our semester.
Below I share the template I use in my fully-online courses. I’m sharing the portion of it that captures the rest of our semester, starting yesterday (and including spring break, so this might not map perfectly onto your semester). As you review it, keep in mind that this is for an intensive course. I estimate 6-9 hours of watching/reading/listening in this upper level course and 9-12 hours of doing, but students in a lower level course or 15 week semester would do less each week.
To make something similar,
1. Decide on a single due date for all work in your class. Students are juggling brand new work, child-care, and class schedules, and a single due date helps them organize their time. If you put in a bunch of mid-week due dates, you will likely face a lot of missed work–and requests for extensions that you will soon be unhappy to manage. (Note that my last unit is split over two weeks and both have mid-week due dates for draft work. Since this class was always online and students signed up for it knowing that, I feel okay about this but may change to reduce the number of deadlines if needed.)
2. Make all work due at the same time. I recommend 11:59 pm to allow parents to work after children go to sleep.
3. Identify your theme for the week and your learning objectives. Even if you hate the language of assessment, distill what you want them to learn into a sentence or two. It can still be complex, but if you articulate it, the decisions that come next will be easier and students will have a sentence that they can come back to to help them remember what the bigger picture for the week is.
4. Split your thinking into two parts: the content you want them to engage (Watch/Read/Listen To in my template) and what you want them to do. I include estimated time for each assigned text, but that might be too much for you now, and students who are familiar with the course material already (like if they are reading one textbook chapter per week or you are assigning chapters or page ranges in a novel) might not need it. To do is a big category, but the more specific you are, the more confident students will be that they can accomplish what you want them to do. This list should include anything that is graded.
5. Make the work the same each week. You’ll see that only in the last two weeks of the class, when we focus on final projects, do students do something different. Otherwise, both my To watch/read/listen to and To do columns follows a pattern. Each week, students listen to the short lecture (15-30 minutes) introducing the topic from me, read a combination of scholarly articles and journalistic coverage (or sometimes a government or NGO report), watch or listen some scholarly or journalistic videos or podcasts, and watch some primary source videos. They expect to to read/watch/listen to 6-9 different items each week, ranging from just a minute (commercials for a prepping convention) to two-hour long feature length films. Their To do list also follows a pattern: complete a quiz that asks them to engage and synthesize the material they have watched/read/listened to, and use discussion board (DB) to apply what they are learning that week to a historic disaster that they are focusing on all semester and which will be the topic of their final paper. This is also a place where they connect with peers about what they are learning, providing feedback to at least two others each week (and often the same two, so many students self-select into groups of three to support each other all semester, though this is not required).
Even if you can’t build all of this online right now, making the decision now is important because students need to see what is next for them.
|Work is due by 11:59 pm||Weekly theme||Learning objectives||Watch/Read/Listen To||To do|
|3/22||Risk||Risk is manufactured and managed by people with different investments in the status quo.A risk-free world is likely not possible, and though many people push for lowered risk, it, too, comes at a social cost that people must weigh–which means that we contest it.||Video: “Risk” Lecture by Dr. Barrett-Fox [30 mins]
Article: “The Social Construction of Disaster Risk: Seeking Root Causes” [1 hr 45 mins]
Chapter: “Culture and the Production of Risk,” an excerpt from The Social Roots of Risk: Producing Disasters, Promoting Resilience [1 hr 15 mins]
Video: The Big Short [2 hrs 10 mins]
Article: “The 10-Minute Mecca Stampede That Made History” [30 mins]
Article: “5 New Grenfell Fire Reports Detail Multiple Safety Issues” [2 mins]
Article: “Nuclear Testing and the Downwinders” from the Utah Division of State History [15 mins]
Essay: “The Clan of the One-Breasted Women” (15 mins)
|Quiz 2: Risk|
|DB: What were the causes of the disaster you chose? Consider social, economic, physical, etc. as they are relevant. Describe in 1-2 paragraphs of 3-5 sentences each. Respond to at least two peers’ posts using the guidelines on Bb.|
|4/5||Crisis||During an emergency event, people move through four stages: threat, impact, inventory, and rescue. Crisis events provide opportunities for communities to define heroism, but they also expose weaknesses in social systems.||Video: “Crisis!” lecture by Dr. Barrett-Fox [17:30]
Chapter: Excerpt from The Politics of Crisis Management: Public Leadership Under Pressure [60 mins]
Video: The Buffalo Creek Flood: An Act of Man [85 mins]
Reading: Excerpt from “The Politics of Disaster,” from Hell or High Water: Hurricane Katrina and the Color of Disaster [40 mins]
Reading: “The Deadly Choices at Memorial” by Sheri Fink, from the New York Times [60 mins]
Radio broadcast: NPR interview with Finke [6:47]
Article: “‘We’ll Deal with the Consequences Later’: The Cajun Navy and the Vigilante Future of Disaster Relief” [45 mins]
Report: Excerpt from the Tragedy at Waco: New Evidence Examined [approx. 60 mins]
|Quiz 3: Crisis|
|DB: Briefly summarize one eye-witness account from the disaster you chose. If you are unable to find an eye witness account in the peer-reviewed literature, you may use a newspaper account. Describe in 1-2 paragraphs of 3-5 sentences each. Respond to two peers as described in Bb.|
|4/12||Resilience||As a species, humans are strong, smart, and adaptable–and able to change their environments in ways no other animal can, for both good and bad. Resilience–the ability to “bounce back” after difficulty, including disaster–is something we can foster and also something we can undermine.||Video: “Resilience” lecture by Dr. Barrett-Fox [25 mins]
Chapter: “Resilience: Exploring the Concept and Its Meanings” from Designing Resilience: Preparing for Extreme Events [90 mins]
Report: Disaster Resilience Scorecard for Cities, from the UN [2 hrs]
Video: “Children of the Storm” [6 mins]
Chapter: “The Youngest Survivors,” from Children of Katrina [60 mins]
Article: “‘Like a Fish Out of Water’: Reconsidering Disaster Recovery and the Role of Place and Social Capital in Community Disaster Resilience” [90 mins]
Reading: “The Doomsday Preppers Next Door” [15 mins]
Viewing: PrepperCon TV commercials [1 min]
Article: “The Man-pocalpyse: Doomsday Preppers and the Rituals of Apocalyptic Manhood” [90 mins]
Viewing: “The Beginning of the End” on The Jim Bakker Show [15 mins]
|Quiz 4: Resilience|
|What did the community affected by the disaster you chose to do make itself more/less resilient when disaster struck? Describe in 1-2 paragraphs of 3-5 sentences each. Respond to at least two peers’ posts as described on Bb.|
|4/19||Recovery||As a species, humans are strong, smart, and adaptable–and able to change their environments in ways no other animal can, for both good and bad. Resilience–the ability to “bounce back” after difficulty, including disaster–is something we can foster and also something we can undermine||Video: “Recovery” by Dr. Barrett-Fox [19 mins]
Article: “Natural Disasters and Social Conflict: A Systematic Literature Review” [2 hours]
Article: “Women’s Empowerment Following Disaster: A Longitudinal Study of Social Change” [90 mins]
Video: Naomi Klein on her book The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism [1 hr 34 mins]
Reading: Excerpt from The Rise of Christianity [1 hr 30 mins]
Podcast: “Placemakers: Bigger, Better, Greener” (28 mins)
Article: “Why Can’t We Fix Puerto Rico’s Energy Grid?” [15 mins]
Article: “The Last Prom” [10 mins]
|Quiz 5: Recovery|
|How did the community you are studying recover? Describe in 1-2 paragraphs of 3-5 sentences each. Respond to at least two peers’ post on Bb.|
|4/22||Applying What We’ve Learned||We can apply analysis of previous disasters to prevent or mitigate future ones.||Outline of final paper due.|
|4/24||Peer review of at least five peers’ outlines due.|
|4/26||First draft due.|
|5/1||Final draft due.|
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