How safe would you feel teaching in-person classes this fall? Why or why not?
I am not feeling very safe. I am healthy, but I do fall in the “at risk” category due to my age. I am more concerned about bringing the virus home to my mother who has underlying health conditions.
What precautions need to be put into place for you to feel safe?
Distancing in classrooms and corridors, sanitizing of public spaces, including elevators, handrails and bathrooms. Wipes and masks available for students and staff.
What were your biggest takeaways from teaching online? If you had to do it again this year, would you be okay with that?
I regularly teach online and want to say that what most of us did this spring was not online teaching; it was emergency remote instruction. When you teach online, the instructor has time to prepare asynchronous instructional sessions or a combination of synchronous and asynchronous sessions. The students are prepared and knowingly seek out online instruction. What we were forced to do was not online instruction. That said, since my graduate courses were already hybrid, the shift to completely online instruction was smooth. Shifting my undergraduate course was not so smooth. Since I had 30 students who were now scattered all over the eastern US, with different schedules and different responsibilities, I decided to shift to asynchronous instruction as I envisioned how difficult it would be to get all 30 students together at the same time for synchronous instruction. I did some small group synchronous sessions and supplemented with drop in office hours on Zoom one or two times a week. In this course, we were able to get through required content, but I found it necessary to eliminate some assignments and activities that I would have normally done simply because I did not want to over load my students with work. Not surprisingly, I’m sure many of them still felt overloaded. The thing about online learning is that it takes a lot more time from both the instructor and the student perspective than does face to face classes. In a face-to-face 50-minute class, the student is supposed to spend about 50 minutes reading or preparing and then another 50 minutes in class. Let’s face it, most students do not spend that 50 minute prep time. So, when they actually HAVE to spend the prep time in order to participate in the online class, they feel it is a lot more work. An online session for a 50-minute face-to -ace course would take about 100 minutes. This is a big shock for many students who have been told, erroneously, that online courses are easy.
What were your thoughts on the email from HR?
I am torn. I could get a note because of my mother’s underlying conditions. On the other hand, I want my undergraduate students to get the best possible experience I can offer them. Since it appears to me that few undergraduate students are well-prepared for online learning, I would rather teach them face to face. I have not yet made my decision about what I am going to do.