Monday, April 27, 2020

Teaching During the Wuhan Virus

We had our spring break in the first week of March. My friend in Ohio was already going to start remote/online teaching. Another friend mentioned that her daughter was coming home on 16th March from her university in Missouri after they decided to go online for the rest of the semester. I was shocked! 

Nothing was going on for us yet at Palm Beach State College. We went back to college after spring break and I was a bit concerned about being there. I took tissue to the class and told my students that they were welcome to sit far away from each other if they wanted (they did not). Classes and labs went on as usual. On Thursday I mentioned to one of my classes that if we do go online then it will be class as usual for us.  And then on Friday we got the email saying that classes are suspended for the next week and we will be going remote/online for the rest of the semester, so we have to prepare our courses for it. 

This was very hastily done. We were to report to college on Monday as usual, but no classes. We had a faculty meeting with our Associate Dean where he answered questions. We all decided as a chemistry department to skip one lab, that was missed during the suspended week, and do videos or dry lab for the next two. We all had only three labs left. After collecting all my notes etc. that day, I left. 

Next day I came back to record two organic labs, one for 1 and one for 2. One of our lab techs helped to record. It felt just strange to be there doing this with the virus hanging around. It took him about a week to send it to me and then I worked on it and uploaded it for my students. They were good in watching it and giving me a good report on it.  Once the labs were over, I was feeling a lot better.  I had to make a final exam for my organic 1 lab. It was interesting to make it on Blackboard. It took me a bit but I think I was able to do a good job on it. And so did my students, they did well on it.

I spent the week of 16th March working on changing the dates for the work due and making new calendars. I had done a lot of work already on making all my lectures online on YouTube, so I did not have to worry about that. I had to sign up for some online testing for my organic because I knew that was going to be hard to test on Blackboard (our learning software). We all had to learn how to use Collaborate, which is to teach a class in synchronous manner. It is a good software.

The college messed up a bit on this. They knew this was coming and could have warned us earlier to get ready so we don’t lose that one week. But I don’t know what they were thinking! Because of their lack of timely action, we lost a week and we had to work extra hard one week to get things ready for the rest of the semester. And then within the next week the campus was shut down. The technology we ordered was put on hold without telling us for more than a week. That was stupid. I had to order a laptop in order to be able to teach my classes. I just cannot do without writing in my classes. Other professors may teach using power points but I don’t. 

The students were very good in adapting the new method of learning and I am grateful for that. There were some minor cheating incidents, which was kind of expected.  Other than that, students were participating more actively in class and came to class more and more on time. Although there were some that I lost due to them having kids at home and their time was divided. 

I will be glad when this semester is done in the next couple weeks. I am sure the students are also just waiting for this to be done. 

The couple good things that came out of this were one, I got to learn some new technology in Blackboard. I got a new laptop; a Microsoft Surface Pro and I am really enjoying using it. The second thing that is really working out is that I finally have a schedule that I like. I go for my exercise in the morning, teach, take a break and teach again and then I am free! It's nice that I am free after 2 pm. Although I still have work to do but I can do it at my own time.

I am very much a homebody and I love where I live so it is not a big problem for me to be working from home. Maybe I am even liking it. Although I don’t think it is good in the long term.

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