Reflections on moving to teaching online

by Harry on May 13, 2020

Nobody knows what will happen with US colleges and universities in the fall, but it’s a fair guess that at least some, probably most, and not unlikely all, teaching will be online. Whatever is online in the fall will be unlike what was online in the spring: on the one hand people will have had a chance to prepare and train; on the other, classes will lack the glue that in-person meetings prior to going online made possible.

I’ll post some thoughts soon about how we might think about going forward in the fall, but for now I’m just assuming that some or much of our teaching will be online. In the spirit that learning about what seems to have worked and what seems not to have worked for different people will help us prepare, here are some reflections on my experience. I’d welcome your advice, but also your reflections on your own experiences!

I taught two classes last semester. One was 150 students, with 2 TAs, the other was 30, no TA’s. Let’s start with the smaller one.

Although it is a 3-credit class, we had 4 full hours (120 minutes) of class time per week. This proved fortuitous: I scheduled 4 hours for 2 reasons. 1) The class involves a group project, and in my experience students find difficulty coordinating out-of-class time to work together, so this provided them with that. 2) The cap was 22 but I anticipated (correctly) that it might be raised to 30 and wanted to be able to meet with them in reasonable-sized groups. So my plan was really that I’d meet them for 4 hours most weeks, but most of them would meet me for only 3 hours most weeks.
[click to continue…]