If you are new to online teaching, here are some things that might grate on your nerves. I’m sorry.
1. Your administrators can enter into your digital classroom without notice, without warrant, and without you knowing about it. I’m sorry. It stinks.
2. For good and for bad, there is a digital record of all your interactions with students and your work habits.
3. Some students will need to be taught how to learn. This is always the case, especially when we teach first-year students, but you are likely to have more students who have been away from a classroom for longer. They may not understand expectations, so you have to teach them, kindly.
4. Some students will have weaker tech skills than you, and some will have stronger. This is especially likely to be the case in summer and fall 2020, when I expect we’ll have students who wouldn’t otherwise enroll in an online class enroll in them. Many universities have prep classes (more like tutorials) for students to assess their ability to learn online and prepare for it, so the level of tech savvy I see in my fully online students is relatively high. I think we’ll see a more mixed bag in the next semesters.
5. You will have to handhold more than you think. Students need lots of reminders. “It’s on the syllabus” is an even harder temptation in an online class. Resist it.
6. Much of the work will feel clerical. You trained as a physicist or a art historian, and now you are troubleshooting tech. It can be unsatisfying. This is one reason why I always suggest the least tech-y option.
7. It’s fun to experiment, but don’t do that until you have a good semester under your belt. There is enough that will go wrong when you keep things simple to keep you occupied. Get the pedagogy down before you play with the technology.
8. You will feel like you are teaching each of your students individually at times. Sometimes this is lovely. Often it is tiring.
This painting is called An Old Man in An Armchair and is probably by Rembrandt, according to the people at the National Gallery in the UK. I suspect the real title is New Online Teacher, Week 4.
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