The Perfect is the Enemy of the Good

Many of us university instructors are scrambling to adapt our formerly face-to-face courses into online courses. This, to allow “social distancing” in response to the Wuhan Flu pandemic. Rebecca Barrett-Fox urges us “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 student 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.)

OnlineLearning

She provides a laundry list of DO’s and DON’T’s that are quite sound, including

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

My synopsis:  Prepare “good enough” materials and activities, respect your students’ privacy, give students time flexibility, and avoid micromanagement like the plague Wu Flu.

Tip from the Instapundit, who’s rocking the first TEOTWAWKI of the 21st Century.

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