Pedagogy in the Time of an Epidemic (Penas, 2020)
1. Be kind to yourself and your students. Everyone is stressed, even if they’re playing cool. That includes faculty. And that’s OK.
2. Let’s acknowledge that the quality of education will not be as good in alternative formats as it is in the pedagogical model we’ve actually planned for. That’s OK as well—we’re just trying to survive.
3. Do not read on best practices for distance learning. That’s not the situation we’re in. We’re in triage. Distance learning, when planned, can be really excellent. That’s not what this is. Do what you absolutely have to and ditch what you can. Thinking you can manage best practices in a day or a week will lead to feeling like you’ve failed.
4. You will not recreate your classroom, and you cannot hold yourself to that standard. Moving a class to a distance learning model in a day’s time excludes the possibility of excellence. Give yourself a break.
5. Prioritize: what do students really need to know for the next few weeks? This is really difficult, and, once again, it means that the quality of teaching and learning will suffer. But these are not normal circumstances.
6. Stay in contact with students, and stay transparent. Talk to them about why you’re prioritizing certain things or asking them to read or do certain things. Most of us do that in our face-to-face teaching anyway, and it improves student buy-in because they know content and delivery are purposeful.
7. Many universities have a considerable number of pedagogical experts on academic technology that we have only been dimly aware of until yesterday. Be kind to these colleagues. They are suddenly very slammed.
8. If you’re making videos, student viewership drops off precipitously at five minutes. Make them capsule videos if you make them. And consider uploading to to Youtube because it transcribes for you. Do not assume your audio is good enough or that students can understand without transcription. This is like using a microphone at meetings—it doesn’t matter if you don’t need it; someone else does and they don’t want to ask. At the same time, of course, think about intellectual property and what you’re willing to release to a wide audience.
8b.) YouTube transcript is ACCESSIBILITY. Students can download the transcript in plain text format for traditional notes, or you could do that download for them as supplement to your video content.
[FYI, Our ADA specialist said the transcription provided by ZOOM is better than YouTube.]
9. Make assignments lower or no stakes if you’re using a new platform. Get students used to just using the platform. Then you can do something higher stakes. Do not ask students to do a high stakes exam or assignment on a new platform.
10. Be particularly kind to your graduating seniors. They're already panicking, and this isn't going to help. If you teach a class where they need to have completed something for certification, to apply to grad school, or whatever, figure out plan B. But talk to them. Radio silence, even if you're working, is not okay.