Well, yesterday was a day. The big news came at the end: the university cancelled all commencement events. Commencement is in mid-May and it’s not just the ceremony on the day, it also features division- and school-specific degree and diploma ceremonies, awards events, class reunions, and a raft of other events, especially for seniors. When I was in college and grad school we didn’t treat the ceremony itself as such a big deal, although most people attended their BA graduations. But in recent years (decades?) the passage from one grade group to another has become more and more celebrated and signified. I don’t blame students for feeling like yet another major milestone has been ripped away from them through no fault of their own.
I’m worried about how this will affect my students’ attitudes to finishing classes, especially seniors. I have a lot of seniors in both classes, and I haven’t heard from them yet (I’ve sent emails but they’ve been uncharacteristically quiet). I spent yesterday collaborating with colleagues and grad students on the survey I mentioned, and we’re sending it out today. TheH and some other colleagues and staff have been testing out our various technological options. We have two video-recording and/or conferencing options, and it turns out the one no one talks much about is the one that works. We have been told to avoid synchronous class assignments and meetings, which makes sense given the way our students are dispersed and our lack of knowledge about their current situations.
On the other hand, we need to be there for them. So it makes sense to have some synchronous events where we can discuss issues in real time. Maybe have more than one session per class, so that students who miss one can join another. But we’ll make them text-based rather than audio- or video-dependent. We’re returning to the good old days of bulletin boards! Denizens of the old AAR boards, I think you’d recognize some of these options. 😉
What else … I spent a huge amount of time on email. I’m also reading so much on screens, I treasure my print ToDo lists. Emailing sometimes feels like typing into the void, especially when you send an email to 50 people and get five responses over the course of the day.Read the rest of this entry »