Don’t tell anyone, but I think the COVID-19 crisis might have made me a better educator.
Over the past 3 months I have taken my fully on-ground, in-person classes and put them completely online, done all my advising and research mentoring virtually, and I think I might be doing the work a little better.
Don’t get me wrong–I miss teaching my students in person and I can’t wait until we get back to some semblance of normal. But normal won’t be this fall, and possibly not even in the spring of 2021, so I decided, as I prep for the fall, to look at my teaching and see what went right this past semester.
1. Variety is the spice of life! I started off slow, but after a few misstarts and mid-lecture melt downs, using a variety of technology made me more effective and creative. Zoom, Screencast-o-matic, Flipgrid, Padlet, Google Docs, and more–I use it all, and that seems to really work.
At the beginning I thought my students wouldn’t want to meet for a full class period. I kept wondering who would want to look at my head for 2 hours. Then I realized that my head is not the issue (at least not for my class)–that the issue is creating a space where we can interact with content in real time.
I use Zoom for class check-ins and short “lectures” where I share my screen and break the class into small groups. Screencast-o-matic is great for doing narration of some short PowerPoints or Google Slides. The important note here is keep it short–virtual presentations should never go longer than 15 minutes and shorter is better. I also loved using Padlet or Google Docs for in-class feedback or quick ideas, especially following a small group breakout and Flipgrid to share great answers to homework or give students a chance to reflect on the material.