Tuesday, July 28, 2020

Jackson’s 1st birthday!! Looking forward to the video-call I’m sure will come in a few hours.

Am up too early (it’s 3:30 as I write this), feeling the press of the semester’s start in less than two weeks now–and also the need to get calamine lotion on this still-not-gone poison ivy.

Am now feeling much more comfortable with the tech/software I’m needing to use in re-designing this course for fully-remote teaching. I realize that what I’m doing is an approach known as the “flipped classroom,” which I’ve heard about for the past 5+ years, but never felt a need to pursue.

Between narrating brief presentations with PowerPoint, screen-capturing with QuickTime and Canvas’s built-in Studio, and just preparing one-page easily digestible documents/handouts and explanatory pages with Canvas, I’m finding this all invigorating, though time-consuming faaaaar beyond what I’d expected.

The idea is really to put everything online–everything. Rather than planning to “teach” anything in realtime online sessions, I’m putting everything into brief lessons and presentations which students are to access whenever they want. The “synchronous” time will be working together on looking at specific problems, trying to create conversations, etc. The one element I’m very unsure about is when I usually have us all sing together; I’m checking with folks more knowledgable than I, but I’m not sure there’s a system capable of capturing multiple simultaneous audio inputs to create a ‘chorus’. We’ll see; my go-to guy here, Alex Davis, will know best, as he’s been an amazing resource for all things tech.

At this point, I’ve got almost everything set for the “pre-class”; the how-this-course-works, the syllabus with lots of links, the instructions for submitting assignments, the basic layout of the class on the site, and the first few presentations. Hopefully, by the end of today, I’ll be set with what’s needed for the first week or two. Hopefully.

Needless to say, once I’ve got the materials ready to go, there will be the inevitable tech-challenges; lags in connectivity, students who have problems with their providers, can’t navigate the ECU system, etc. Very little will work as planned, of that I’m sure.

But, no matter how all of this works out this term, all of the materials I’m creating will change the way I teach going forward. I’ll undoubtedly re-record things in the future, but when the bulk of this is complete I’ll have a healthy storehouse of materials ready to go. And all of this will make me a more efficient teacher, I think, giving students more ways to access information, and freeing me to give them even more focused time.