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Teaching Online

At the end of my sixth, two-week training module, the online teaching experience is finally coming into focus.  As it does, I’m trying to compare it to the more usual, face-to-face mode of teaching, which involves

  1. planning
  2. “teaching” (directing classroom activities)
  3. grading and responding to student work
  4. giving one-on-one help to students who seek me out

Any part of this process can be rewarding, but #2 is where teachers tend to be most profoundly engaged.  When a class is going well, it feels like what I imagine surfing to be: moving along in a predetermined direction while making constant, tiny adjustments to turbulence in the water/student body.  In class I am fully absorbed in the challenge of the moment and the outside world recedes.

Teaching online involves little to none of this core activity but lots more planning, responding to student work, and one-on-one conversation.  Occasionally I’ll explain things in the form of a recorded video, but students will rarely be doing their work in my presence.  Here’s the schedule for the introductory unit of Digital Journalism (my first Gantt chart!):

DJ Gantt Chart

On any given day, I’ll be conferring with students by video or chat, and I’ll be reading and responding to their work.  It will feel like teaching in the sense that I’ll be engaged with young minds encountering new concepts.  I don’t think it’s going to feel like surfing, but perhaps there will be other kinds of rewarding experiences.  September is when it will all start to become clearer.  Meanwhile, there’s lots of planning to do.  And fortunately, I really love taking deep dives into the content of courses and deciding how to shape it for students.  For any planning fans out there, here’s the description of the first unit of Digital Journalism.

DJ course intro



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