Categories
Teaching

Adjusting My Teaching During Our Public Health Emergency

On Wednesday evening, the University responded to public health concerns about the novel coronavirus (SAR-CoV–2) by transitioning all face-to-face lecture classes to virtual instruction. This change affects all my courses. I’m writing about my plans here so my students know what to expect.

First, let me review the new University calendar.

Our Next Few Weeks

The President announced the following change to the University teaching calendar.

  • Next week, (16–20 March) classes will be held as usual, but faculty who are willing to try to teach using more virtualizing (a.k.a., distance learning) are encouraged to do so.
  • The following week (23–27 March) is our Spring Break. Students are on break and faculty will work on transitioning instruction to rely on virtualization tools.
  • The week after Spring Break (30 March–3 April) classes are suspended for students. This week will be devoted to faculty working on virtualizing their courses so we all can meet our courses’s student learning outcomes and our students can finish the semester successfully, ready to proceed with their education.
  • On 6 April, the University will re-open and it will be business as usual except for the virtualization of instruction.

I’d like to address some of the natural questions student might have about all this, but instead I’ll point them to the University’s COVID–19 Information webpage and its COVID–19 FAQ webpage. If you have other questions, feel free to email me.

My Classes Next Week

Starting immediately, I’m adopting an extreme social distancing policy. I will work from home when I can. I will work in my office when I must. I will attend meetings only virtually. By reducing contact with colleagues, students, and the public, I am reducing the chance that I spread the virus. (I am flattening the curve. For the public good, I encourage you to adopt the same policy.

Here’s what I’m planning to do with my courses for the remainder of the semester.

Real Analysis (MATH 351)

In class last Thursday (12 March), we had the benefit of talking about these changes because we met after the University declaration. I’ll repeat it here for everyone’s benefit (including mine). Starting Monday, we are going to:

  1. Continue with class ‘lectures’ at noon on Tuesday and Thursday. Plan for them to continue until 1:15pm as they have been. We will not meet face-to-face, however. Participation in these sessions is expected and will count toward your class participation. Instead, I will establish a Zoom meeting that will be published through our course’s Canvas page. Please take steps to make sure your smart phone or computer has Zoom installed. I will use Zoom to record our ‘lecture’ time so that everyone can access them online later.
  2. Virtualize Student Hours. For each student hour, I will establish a Zoom meeting that will be published through our course’s Canvas page. If you want to meet with me during Student Hours, just join that room.
  3. I will continue to monitor email and text messages from students. I also welcome FaceTime conversations, etc.

After this coming week, you will have a two-week break from me. When you return to the work of learning on Monday 6 April, you will be rested and ready to work hard in our new virtualized course.

We will continue to use Canvas in the way we have to this point. I will use it to post Guided Inquiries, Challenge Problems and Proofs, and other student work.

Our tacic agreement about the importance of academic integrity and my choice to trust my students unconditionially will allow me to send students Foundational Quizzes via email and trust that students will take them without doing anything dishonest.

I am exploring the idea of creating screencasts to demonstrate problem solutions or to capture minilectures that students can watch outside of class. Keep your eyes open for those.

I will review the syllabus to see what revisions must be made in the light of the above changes. Stay tuned for any announcements on that.

If we continue in this way, I think we’ll be able to get through all the course content by the end of the term.

Calculus I (MATH 150)

Starting Monday, we are going to:

  1. Continue with class ‘lectures’ at noon on Monday and Wednesday. Plan for them to continue until 1:50pm as they have been. We will not meet face-to-face, however. Instead, I will establish a Zoom meeting that will be published through our course’s Canvas page. Participation in these sessions is expected and will count toward your class participation. Please take steps to make sure your smart phone or computer has Zoom installed. I will use Zoom to record our ‘lecture’ time so that everyone can access them online later.
  2. Virtualize Student Hours. For each student hour, I will establish a Zoom meeting that will be published through our course’s Canvas page. If you want to meet with me during Student Hours, just join that room.
  3. I will continue to monitor email and text messages from students. I also welcome FaceTime conversations, etc.

After this coming week, you will have a two-week break from me. When you return to the work of learning on Monday 6 April, you will be rested and ready to work hard in our new virtualized course.

For the rest of the semester, we will continue to use Canvas in the way we have to this point.

Our tacic agreement about the importance of academic integrity and my choice to trust my students unconditionially will allow me to send students Student Learning Target Quizzes via email and trust that students will take them without doing anything dishonest. I have not decided if we will use class-time for these quizzes.

I am exploring the idea of creating screencasts to demonstrate problem solutions or to capture mini-lectures that students can watch outside of class. Keep your eyes open for those.

I will review the syllabus to see what revisions must be made in the light of the above changes. Stay tuned for any announcements on that.

If we continue in this way, I think we’ll be able to get through all the course content by the end of the term and everyone will be ready for Calculus II.

Conclusion

Starting on 6 April, I’m going to try to keep our calendar marching forward at a constant and ambitious pace. If you’re like me, you’re more than a little upset about these changes to classes, and it’s hard to imaging what things will be like on 6 April. All of these changes are out of our hands. It’s a global phenomena. All we can do is practice flexibility, adapt, adopt habits that slow the spread of COVID–19, and make the best of it. We’re all coming at this from different places, so let’s help one another and be understanding.