Not ‘Glorified Skype’Breaking News
tags: technology, colleges and universities, COVID-19, remote instruction
The spring semester and its full-throttle move to remote instruction proved brutal for many if not most faculty members. The summer offered little relief, as professors used the time to transition their fall courses to a fully online format or, more time-consumingly, to multiple formats for a range of reopening scenarios.
In light of these ongoing demands, faculty members say they’re working harder than ever to be effective instructors. Many have taken online teaching courses, gotten comfortable with new technology, revamped syllabi and course content, and been more available to students. So it’s disheartening that critics inside and outside academe are questioning the value of a remote education, these professors say.
“Like everyone I know who teaches in higher education -- at all ranks, including graduate students -- I’ve worked countless extra hours this summer to ensure that my fall courses offer the best possible experience for students, and I’ve done all of this without pay,” said Rose Casey, assistant professor of English at West Virginia University. “Like my colleagues, I take teaching seriously, and that means putting in lots of extra time to make sure that students can take courses that are intellectually stimulating without being overwhelming during a pandemic.”
About that uncompensated labor: in preparation for the fall semester, Casey said she’s read widely about online teaching; met weekly with colleagues over Zoom to discuss online pedagogy research, strategies and tools; and overhauled syllabi and teaching materials for her classes.
Even though many of the required readings for her courses will stay the same as before, she said, her assessments and, of course, her teaching will be different. Instead of a few essays making up most of students’ grades, Casey created 10 new, smaller assignments to help students keep pace.
“I’ve totally redrafted my policies, too, to make them more equitable given issues of access that will arise in this sudden shift online,” Casey added. “All of this has taken a lot of time and thought.”
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