Sunday was another work day. My workweek and weekend days have always blended together, but that’s even more true now. We have an extra week of spring break, but all of that is going to go to setting up the last five weeks of classes and everything else that happens in the spring semester. Usually it’s a hectic but enjoyable time, as senior undergraduates get ready to leave, the daffodils, tulips, and cherry blossoms come out, and warm weather beckons.
This year? This Sunday before the normal end of spring break was cold, cloudy, and breezy. We barely broke 40F. I continued working on and adding to my ToDo lists. I Skyped with one of my grad assistants and emailed with the other. I scheduled a phone conversation with my DUS alter ego. He and I have been alternating semesters as DUS for the last two years because for various reasons we weren’t able to appoint someone to the regular three-year term. He’s a good friend and wonderful colleague, so working together has been a pleasure. I wanted to run ideas by him before I took any concrete steps to manage the upheaval in undergrad teaching, which is where most of the upheaval is occurring, at least the most obvious upheaval. We figured out a plan and I’ll work on it today.
He also caught me up on what has been going on at the departmental and divisional levels. Our Arts & Sciences faculty range from people who are extremely proficient at various kinds of teaching technology to those who have never logged into Canvas, our main tech platform. Our Teaching Center is staffed by three people and is completely overwhelmed. I don’t consider myself a technophobe or technologically illiterate but there are plenty of tools I’ve never used, so who knows what the modal level of knowledge is. I guess I’ll find out for my department. And I have to make sure that the grad teaching assistants aren’t falling through the cracks, informationally or otherwise.
I managed to create an account on Qualtrics, which is the university’s survey platform, and I started devising a survey for my students to answer so that we know their situations before finalizing a revised syllabus and course plan. I still have to figure out Zoom, which is the video conferencing platform. And I want to find something like Slack so that department members have a place to talk, ask questions, share information, and so on. There are Slack channels set up by different units in the university, but I don’t think we have an institutional account with them (I don’t even know if we need one). We have something called Microsoft Teams, which may do similar stuff. Something to add to the ToDo list.Read the rest of this entry »