In case any one is interested or very bored, I'm gonna thread my teaching adjustment plans/progress over the next few days. Today is the first day I've had without teaching or meetings since the crisis really heated up in Aus, so it's time to get stuck in. #highered #Corvid19
First up, some context. I'll be talking about two courses that are core to an urban and environmental planning program - Public Involvement & Community Development (PICD), and (Advanced) Development Processes Studio (DPS).
DPS is a double weighted, full day class. Yup, we spend 6-8 hours together in an overly full room, huddled over desks in small groups, reading things on each other's laptops, sharing materials. Not great.
PICD is 3 contact hours in a block, with some lectures/workshops during the trimester but the real focus of in-class time is a series of student-run role playing workshops, where they try out different styles & techniques for community engagement on each other.
PICD also involves participating in events run outside the university, experiencing them and evaluating them for a major assignment.
Neither course follows the lecture+tutorial model, and both draw heavily one experiential, collaborative, relational, and project-based learning. I am supported in PICD by the very excellent @MarkBaileyBsc & @Lana_Hartwig, but I'm there for every contact hour.
So while I can record the lectures I do run (though they are usually pretty interactive, so I might try Collaborate instead) I'm primarily concerned about:
DPS - creating opportunities to support individual project work online & providing regular informal feedback (everyone's currently working on something a bit different), & building a system that supports small group work for when we get to Module 2.
PICD - creating alternatives to both the roleplaying workshops AND the evaluating-public-events task.

I've got a call lined up for tomorrow with learning & curriculum consultants - today, I'm focused on creating a list of options to discuss in that call.
I'm trying to identify the implications of each option. I'm looking for ways to leave space for difference (incl. different risk levels, learning styles, varied access to tech & internet). I'm assessing what original learning outcomes are still possible & which perhaps aren't.
And I'm thinking about about how to manage communication effectively & kindly, not just over the changes as they come thru, but over the course of the trimester. My teaching & communication style leans heavily on individual & small group in-person interaction. I need to change!
I'll keep adding to this thread as I make progress or run into issues. I'm so grateful to the community of educators and learners on here who have already shared so many tips and ideas, who've been so supportive & generous during my public freak out. 💐
Me, trying to stage my "study" for video conferencing
In addition to an email and an Announcement on Blackboard, I decided to make a short video to update students with where things are at. Felt a bit more warm? Human? And I figured that they’re gonna have to make videos now, I thought it’d be good to show that it can be done simply
Getting pretty frustrated with "collaborative" digital learning technologies that still seem to hinge on the idea that the lecture is controlling everything all the time.

How do I let students run things? Facilitate discussions? What tech will let me do this?
So I've got a few different options for student-run virtual workshops, which is great. Thanks so much for the help!

Unfortunately I can't set any of them up yet because I need an answer from IT about merging my co-taught but convened-separately undergrad/masters courses
I asked yesterday, no response. Asked again today, waiting again. I understand that they are completely swamped & that they can't possibly cope with the volume of inquiries (esp given the state of their usual working conditions & restructurings ahem) but I'm kind of stuck for now
So my plans so far rest on a bunch of unjust & incorrect assumptions:
> that all my students have a computer they can use for hours at a time
> that they all have decent internet access
> that they all have, or can access, a mic+camera for when they're facilitating the class
For students who don't have or have to share a computer (with someone else also likely to be working/studying from home), who have slow/expensive internet, who don't have a webcam/inbuilt or external mic, what am I asking them to do?
Go in to uni to access a computer lab? Diminished risk from class-as-usual, but certainly riskier than staying at home. Spending a bunch of $ on data, new gear, at a time when their hospo shifts have definitely been cut?
If they decide they can't manage those costs/risks, and drop my course, they might find themselves no longer a full time student, with centrelink/visa implications.
I'll have to think of a back up to the back up, but at some point too much is being asked of us - staff and students alike.
the emojis in microsoft teams *MOVE* and I hate it
I've a bunch of recently arrived int'l students. Few of them have a strong local network. If they get ill/need to self-isolate, many won't have friends/family they can call on for pharmacy/supply runs, etc. We need to help them find the mutual aid networks in their areas #covid19
So here's where I'm at.
Yesterday I was able to speak to some very excellent curriculum and learning consultants; I talked them through my plans, they had some great suggestions and were very reassuring. One thing they said seems very transferable...
"You're not teaching an online course. You're doing some online delivery because of a pandemic. They're not the same"
"Don't think of it as stripping things back. You've already had to scrap basically everything, so now think of it like what can you add back in".
I'm in on campus for the last time for the foreseeable future - I came in to print some things, grab a few books and my office plants.
I'm printing class rosters with student ID photos on them; I haven't learned all their names+faces yet, and I'm hoping this cheat sheet will help me stay connected with them and maintain/build familiarity as we shift to text-based communication.
Working from home for the next little while! Gonna miss my office tbh
I've had a few emails from students in response to my emails/posts that have asked me how I'm going, wished me luck with the frantic re-design, expressed their hope that the university is supporting me and my colleagues 😭😭
DPS is on Monday. The only way I could think to go about planning for this (normally 6 hour long) class is to revisit what *was* in my plan/studio outline for the week, and I'm moving through each item asking myself:
a) is it absolutely, 100% essential? If no, set aside for now.
b) is there a reasonable way to do this asynchronously, without video/voice/live stuff? If so, do it. If not:
c) Collaborate Ultra or Teams? Which is best for this task?
and finally
d) how do I give feedback?
Regarding my public involvement class - just met with the first group of students who will facilitate a Collaborate session (amazingly, on the topic of 'dialogic space'). They are a phenomenal crew and excellent sports, but there were technical malfunctions all over the joint
One thing I loathe about video conferencing is that I am even more aware of being “looked at” than when I teach f2f. I worry more about what my face is doing and what I look like, and just generally feel embarrassed to be seen. :/
AGAIN finding it stupidly difficult to do something mildly collaborative- i.e. make a table that everyone can edit in the software ecosystem we’re supposed to be using
I’m really tired
like a google sheet would take me two seconds and would work, but the Uni moved away from gmail and onto Microsoft outlook and although what I want to do is technically possible it is WAY more fiddly and time consuming
Okay I'm done. I think. And I think I have done enough to avoid working this weekend, other than responding to (urgent) student emails.

I'm gonna go drink a beer and stare at the ceiling
Got students emailing me apologising for being late with their reading summaries this week - my friends, do not worry. I'm not gonna be deducting late penalties
Today is my first attempt at online activities for my studio session. We'll start off in Collaborate and then head over to Teams for most of the day I think.
I'm a bit nervous, but also, have come to terms with the idea that it's going to be a shitshow.
So far: 1/4 of my students have logged on
Best thing about Collaborate Ultra is that I can mute people's mics for them
We're up to 50%!
So we had about 3/4s by the end, which is awesome. It worked well - I was the only one on video, which was hard, but plenty of students added profile pics, which helped a bit. It was a bit of instructions for the day and lots of Q&A; students interacted with me and each other...
mostly via the chat function but some also used the raised hand + voice function. We had some cute small talk going in the thread before class officially started, which was a nice proxy of our casual studio vibe, and now we're all in Teams working on a small group/paired activity
Also my students are SO NICE TO ME. They are being very warm and very understanding and I'm so so so lucky.
Students are currently working in pairs or teams of three on their assignments, keeping in touch via Teams.
They tag me when they want me to jump in on a small group chat with them to go over assignment questions and stuff. It's working okay?
That is, it's working okay for those actively using the software and it's tools, and feeling confident enough to @ me. That's definitely not everyone.
It's hard/er for me to reach out to the quiet students when I can't actually see them; if they're there or not, if they're just happily working quietly or if they're not sure what they're supposed to be doing and are just sitting about confused.
Morning session done. Gonna have lunch with my partner, who is also working from home indefinitely.

I made short how-to screen recordings for using chat & the class collaborate space in Teams in response to immediate student needs. They are crap quality but happy to share?
One thing to do at the end of today is identify students who didn't participate in any way - didn't join a Collaborate session, or post on MS Teams, or email me. I'm going to try and email/call them directly soon cos it would be so easy for people to fall through the cracks
I'm finding the tempo of MS teams not dissimilar to studio time; students are working in small groups, and so I have a big stretch of time (10-15 minutes) where no one is after my help, then 6 people message at once (of course, they can't "see" that I'm already with someone else)
I'm pleased to see that students are helping each other out, answering questions and troubleshooting, in our main whole-of-class MS Teams thread; again, in studios students learn more from each other than from me, so it's positive to see some of that still happening
It is genuinely astonishing to me how much of regular university business is just carrying on as though shifting our activities online is as simple as changing from one seminar room to another. Stop inviting me to BAU seminars/workshops, etc., it feels callous.
One thing I'm grappling with at the moment is how the changes I've had to make to how I teach has scattered the activity of teaching into tiny pieces, across my week.

#covidunis #highered
I wouldn't say teaching is usually a discrete activity; there's a lot that happens before and after a timetabled class. There's always a lot of emails. But I'm doing a lot more consultation w students outside of class times/consult hours just to support them through the changes
The tech glitches (e.g. with merging courses on blackboard) & switches, has meant that I now have a lot of tiny tasks to do like send students their own work & rebuild submission points, making how-to resources, sending reminders out about all the changes
This kind of scattered work, lots of tiny floating time sensitive tasks, often occurring in different online spaces, is exactly the kind of activity I was struggling with before trimester even began, due to my own (non-covid19) health stuff.
I'm going to miss things. Students will fall through the cracks and I might not even notice until a big assessment item doesn't come through. I don't have the infrastructure set up, or the personal mental/time capacity right now, to be sure that I'm catching everyone #covidunis
My uni used to have these great ppl called student success advisors. They'd check which students hadn't been accessing blackboard or attending classes or who'd missed assessment & reach out. They'd liaise with teachers but had their own systems. God I miss them right now.
Just spent a bunch of money on things to make my office more ergonomic - especially since I'd been borrowing equipment from my partner, who is now also working from home and needs their kit. 4 adults wfh meant we also needed more powerboards, etc. I spent a few hundred bucks.
I'm really glad that I and my co-housemates are able to work from home, we're very lucky, but I'm also a bit annoyed at having to fork out my own $ in order to get the things I need to continue to do my job safely.
Didn't help that Officeworks was very low on a lot of standard wfh items so I wound up with a much more flash laptop stand than I'd otherwise have bought, lol.

And look I did buy myself some nice pens too and a little whiteboard because these things give the illusion of order.
(You will be pleased to know that I went in the middle of the day thinking it would be the quietest time, practiced good hand hygiene, and also picked up some necessary wfh items for some neighbours to save the trip)
I didn't get everything I needed to done today. But I have a better wfh set up (officeworks kit & I moved from my little old school desk to a camping table, which is bigger and a better height, but a bit wobbly), did some essential things for tomorrow's student-run workshop &
made some headway on emails, allocated assignments for marking, checked in with my tutors, had a great class planning meeting w @DrElnazTorabi, fixed up some issue with course readings, did some errands for friends, made lunch for my partner & I, ate it. That's gonna have to do.
First student run workshop via Collaborate Ultra! They were such good sports and worked really hard, and did a great job.
And the participating students were really generous and supportive - good sports all round.

However! One of the facilitator had technical difficulties. Her home internet/laptop set up is not up to the task. The workaround was that she facetimed another facilitator who...
held her up to the screen when it was her turn to lead the activities/discussion. Video in video. Clever, but obviously clunky and not robust. She asked after how she'd be marked, given her technical issues. All I could say was, "generously", because I don't know.
I don't feel like I can reliably distinguish between a 'credit' or 'distinction' or high distinction' right now, when output is determined not just by planning, effort, research, practice, but by the strength of your digital connection - something they cannot control.
I need to make this course a non-graded pass. It's not fair or just or reasonable to pretend that I can mark the same when the activities they're being marked on have changed so much, and when there are so many inequities built in to the system that I can't do anything about.
I just had a MS Teams video chat with the student workshop team for next week - they are going to try something bold and chaotic and I'm so excited
Chaotically, made radio this morning. Then made a little clip for @CityRoadPod. Did a few emails and then attended a training workshop on Collaborate Ultra. It was nice to have a bit of a break from the intense, front-facing teaching stuff. Back in tomorrow.
You can catch the chaos show here: @_cyberbanshee helped me with the playlist and look, there are bangers.
I keep getting emails from students apologising for not being able to complete work on time, for reasons like:
> being evicted
> having to move due to lost job
> being ill
> caring for a seriously ill loved one
> relationship breakdown
> bereavement
> working crisis overtime
There are always students who have difficult things come up for them during the trimester, but this volume, this early on, is unprecedented (ime).
And of course it will only get worse.
Not sure how much longer the "study as usual, but online" approach can continue #covidunis
It's not even 10am yet & it's overwhelming.

Right now I think the most important part of our jobs as educators is pastoral care and support.

Another time I'll articulate this is a political demand; for now it's a bit much & I would really like to just cry about it

can't actually tell if this will help me deal or if this is just giving me some illusion of order, but I'm making a list of students that I need to check in with over the next week, and a few notes about the nature of their particular crisis. #covidunis
Inside my computer there are two folders:
"pictures for presentations" & "memes"

It's too early on in the crisis for the streams to cross, right? Can't embed shitposting as course content, right? Right??
[alt text: a powerpoint slide showing my morning class plan in dot points, beside a picture of a cockatiel's head screaming over the windows 95 "bliss" desktop background]

Online teaching has already broken me

I’m posting the outline for Monday’s virtual studio class as a narrated ppt; I’ll give these same instructions via Collaborate Ultra but for those who can’t make it/have tech issues this vid (also posted just the slides for the low-data crew) should get em up to speed #covidunis
So today is another virtual studio; I'm lacking a bit of energy and feeling a bit glum, and I'm hoping that doesn't bleed into the students' experiences today. I don't feel like I understand the affective dimensions of online teaching yet -
In f2f teaching, I have a better understanding of how our respective moods affect each other, and I feel a lot more confident shaping/intervening in/naming what's going on with the dynamics of the classroom on a given day.
The dynamic of distance & mood of virtual classrooms are opaque to me, and I don't have a real sense of the degree to which we are affected by each other when engaging with these mediums.
oof I am really having an on-the-verge-of-tears kinda day. Is it anxiety, grief, overwork, or lack of sleep?

trick question it's all four
This trimester is gonna ruin me

[Scene] Me, back in the classroom, T1 2021, when I don’t know the answer to a student question

So I'm finding MS Teams really helpful for the part of the where, if we were f2f, students would be working individually or in small groups on their projects-
the class discussion thread is useful for bigger conversations, instructions, re-sharing files or posting reminders/announcements that normally I'd just call out.
And I can give quick feedback on things via the chat function - students can use text, voice, or video, whatever's more accessible to them, and depending on traffic, I can often respond immediately or close to it.
One thing I hate about it tho is navigating to different teams, chats, & pages is somehow not intuitive? I don't know if it's just a bad time to be learning new software or what, but I frequently find myself thinking, 'wait, why am I on *this* page?'

Also OneNote sucks
So some of my students are experiencing hardship as they have lost jobs. Some of my students are experiencing hardship because their job is more demanding than ever and they need to work more shifts than they normally would.
Today, a student messaged me to ask for a short extension because they have had to work a lot more than usual (I'm SO GRATEFUL to them for doing the work they're doing). They asked if they needed to get a letter from their employer to prove it. I said,
"No, I'm happy to take your word for it. Thanks for doing what you're doing! When do you think you'll reasonably be able to submit?"

What are they learning from this exchange?

They're learning how to ask for what they need, and ask their supervisor/boss (me, in this case) for reasonable accommodations to help them manage difficult & unavoidable circumstances. That's a good thing to learn.
We're learning about power, and how power works within large institutions. We're learning about trust and relationships and how those things might help us exist more justly and humanely within these difficult bureaucracies #covidunis
It is certainly true that this student, and other students I have, may "take advantage" of this trust & flexibility I am offering by lying or asking for things they don't need. Firstly, I don't really care. They may not trust me enough to divulge what's really going on #covidunis
and that's reasonable. But secondly, even if someone "takes advantage" of me in the most cynical way, the impact is a slight increase to my administrative workload & delays in returning marks. And while it's true that increased workload sucks, it hardly feels right
to express/manage my frustrations about workload by policing my students & withdrawing trust & compassion, when the real reason why my workload is burdensome is because I've been allocated extra work, & given reduced resources, by my employer. #covidunis
it's true I have more control over what I ask of my students than what my employer asks of me - that's how hierarchical education systems work - but, even as they mount up, student requests for assistance, consideration, extensions, etc. are not the real problem. #covidunis
I also want to acknowledge here that I feel more confident being flexible and trusting here because I am course coordinator, in a permanent position, and while I teach a lot of classes, they are relatively small.
I just think it's worth remembering that sometimes it's easier to get grumpy or bitter or impatient about the requests that we feel we have more capacity to refuse, than the "requests" that are really demands, made by people with power over us. #covidunis
(also, just as a P.S. I hate feeling like a cop anyway, so I just prefer the relational dynamic I have with students when I trust them. It's as much for my benefit as for theirs).
Has anyone at any university been able to convince their exec/administration that they should be allowed to shift their courses to a pass/fail basis?

I'm getting brickwalled and some examples would be really helpful! #covidunis #highered
So this week’s student run workshop is usually run as a comedy of errors - they run the world’s worst public meeting. Instead, they ran a very bad webinar on Collaborate Ultra. It was ... pretty amazing #covidunis
One issue was that normally the joke becomes clear pretty quickly and we all giggle along. It took longer for participants to work it out, because many of the staged mistakes have happened in their hastily thrown together online classes over the last couple of weeks
Further, some of the tech issues weren’t at all staged - they were real.

It was a good opportunity to critically reflect on the affordances and limitations of webinars & similar for online public engagement, but damn I miss f2f teaching #covidunis
not to go all @lifeadvicebot, but I decided to take a gentle stretch class over my lunchbreak (my usual aerials studio is offering online classes). It was geared to addressing some of the damage w-f-h does to our bodies.
It was a privilege - I had the flexibility in my day today for me to take a break when the class was offered, and I didn't need to feed or entertain or care for anyone else. I feel better, but I'm not gonna pretend like this is possible for everyone, or even for me every day.
It's also a bit comforting to take classes with my usual instructor, because she understands the pain issues I have, knows my limitations, and can give me workarounds when I need them.
aaaand now I'm a bit more limber and ready to spend the rest of the arvo re-designing assessment, re-writing tasksheets, and re-creating rubrics. Super fun and not at all demoralizing to re-do work I did in January, in a more hurried way and with a worse outcome! #covidunis
signing off emails to students who are unwell and requesting more time with "take care of yourself" as though that means a damn thing
My video editor keeps crashing this morning and I’ve had it and want to go home

I'm getting good at writing alt text for memes
I’m not currently on a call or recording a video so Scully has decided to take a break from borking
trust your employees. In meetings and town halls, don't filter the chat feed. #covidunis
instead of recording lectures this morning I am instead trying to figure out why my animations don't appear when I try to record narration.
Tech is always talked about in the best case scenario: "look what you can DO! It's just like teaching f2f!!"
a) it isn't
b) the subtext there is "if it works, for you and for every student. It often won't, for one or all of you"
I'm not claiming to be an amazing educator or anything, but I never glitch out the way that these tools all do, I am *much* more reliable and trustworthy - and yet these digital platforms get to be the "future of education" and I get to be their usher. #covidunis
This issue with powerpoint animations in recordings seems common, the answers seem to be to reinstall office which I've done - no change.

This was working last week, ffs.
gosh, a little kindness goes a LONG WAY with me right now; I didn’t realize how much little kindnesses in messages/emails from people was helping me cope with the stress and workload and uncertainty and loss of much of what I love about teaching. Take kindness away and WHAM.
I made a tiktok but I don’t have any friends over there so...

(language warning)
Bad jokes aside - in this week's break from classes I'm hoping to create new assessment outlines for tasks I've had to toss, record a couple of lectures, finalise some paper revisions, and finally get to inbox zero (lol - remember when I was doing that?) #covidunis #CovidCampus
Ugh just frantically trying to finalise lecture recordings for today. Could I finish them tomorrow? Yes, technically. But my hair and outfit would be different and I'm worried? does continuity matter? #covidunis #covidcampus
Also I hate that I can re-record if I say something stupid; makes the whole thing take a LOT LONGER. #covidunis #covidcampus
How long should it take to convert a 9 slide narrated powerpoint into an mp4? Because I've been at this since before 9am
I've been recording short instructional videos this morning in between the neighbour firing up the power tools - I'm actually in the quietest spot in the house and still. Queenslander architecture is not built for this.
Also I have already hit my "seeing my own face" limit for the day and it's not even noon, so even though I have more clips that need editing I'm not sure I can do it today. I know it's silly and petty but I really do find it difficult to bear, and it wears me out #covidunis
I've discovered it's impossible for me to start a video without saying, "Okay! So!"
I'm beginning to get a bit more concerned about the toll this is taking on my health; I live with conditions that cause, among other things, chronic pain, and the pain over the last week has been creeping up, and it's not responding to my usual treatments and meds.
I've been drinking berocca out of my biggest class, which just happens to be a glass stein.

While irl it looks very orange and more like cordial than anything else, I realised today it looks like a beer on the webcam.
*glass. Geez.
Today had a bit of grief in it for me - today's workshop is normally one of my absolute favorites (it's on storytelling), and the degree of honesty and warmth and sometimes startling intimacy that we normally achieved just - wasn't. Couldn't. The students did an amazing job
with the tools they have but the tools can't and don't work for everything. It reminded me of what we're losing out on my teaching and learning this way. I have to remember to compare it to nothing at all, rather than to what we'd normally do, because otherwise it's too sad
But really! The students did an incredible job, and managed to achieve a degree of informality I haven't seen in an online teaching space before, which was pretty neat. #covidunis #covidcampus
But yeah - this is a lonely way to teach & I'm struggling with it. I don't know if it's lonely for students but it's really lonely for me. The silence of muted microphones and frozen profile pics even in a well attended collaborate ultra session is LONELY. #covidcampus #covidunis
Recipe for lols: class planning for tomorrow's DPS studio, opening up the trimester outline, looking at week 8:
> site visit preparation
> field work skills overview/refresher
> field work risk assessment
> groups to check site selection w me
> project planning
What it will actually be
10am: check in - it's been 2 weeks since we last met! How is everyone? (Collaborate Ultra) - outline plans for the day
10:30(ish): discussion of & reflections of pre-recorded lectures and reading materials - questions, general chat (Collaborate Ultra)
11:00 (ish) (allowing for a break): Assignment Q&A, discussion of tasksheets and rubrics.
11:30(ish): Introduce afternoon's activity - project planning & Masters workshop #covidunis #covidcampus
12-1 lunchbreak. All of the above activities will happen on Collaborate Ultra. I doubt we'll get through all of it; I might have to bump the intro to the activity to a post-lunch session. But if not!
1-2: Project planning in assignment groups - available on MS Teams for text/voice/video chat.
2:00: Chat with Masters students about their essays & review their essay questions.
2:30-4:00: independent work in their small groups - MS Teams (I'm visit each group at least once and then am otherwise 'on call' for chat and feedback). #covidunis #covidcampuses
4:00: class concludes, I post a notice on the Teams discussion thread letting them know I'm signing off and leaving a list of tasks/goals for our next studio.

I *don't have a beer* because my zoom exercise class starts at 5pm but after - AFTER! - there will be beer.
Normally this class runs from 9-4. There's no way that most of them can stay 'on' and online that whole time. I try and front load the 'formal' stuff in Collaborate Ultra as I've found there seem to be fewer lag issues earlier in the day. Those sessions are recorded for those who
can't access/get booted/whatever. The MS teams stuff is meant to replicate (lol) me wandering around the studio, peeking over their shoulders looking at partial work, being on call for immediate questions and feedback, working through their ideas with them, being a sounding board
During the time allotted for group work, in class it would be normal for students to structure their time in consultation with me, e.g. going to the library, doing coffee runs, moving to a breakout space, whatever. Their primary responsibility is to their group, then to me.
Some weeks, some groups will spend ages with me, or call me over frequently. Other weeks they might not need much from me at all, and are all happy getting along with it. If I'm worried about their progress, it's easy for me to check in on how they're going.
This will be MUCH HARDER on MS Teams. I can't take an the same organic, responsive, approach. This is the first week of this kind of group work for the trimester - my plan is to have a schedule of 'meeting' times with each group each week, while also leaving lots of time to be
"on call". I'm providing more structured activities (e.g. this week, they're working on their project plans and I will get them to show me their project plans) & that might work as a kind of diagnostic tool to see which groups are active & engaged & which might be struggling
We'll see. #covidunis #highered
It's just about 1:30pm & I've spent my entire day so far addressing technical issues & glitches with submission points, chasing up missing submissions (which could be missing due to tech stuff *or* non-submission), & reaching out to students I haven't "seen" in a while @coviduni
It's important to note that some of this work is standard stuff (following up with students who aren't submitting/attending), but hours and hours of it is extra work caused by the move online - work that wouldn't normally have to be done, or could be done a lot faster.
I've had to re-do almost all my course prep. I'm recording lectures where there are lectures to do, and using class time for discussion and student consultation. The lecture recording hours aren't subtracted from my contact hours, so that's extra work #covidunis #CovidCampus
I had to re-write assignment tasksheets and rubrics - again, new work #covidunis #covidcampus
I'm also consulting w students not only about typical class work, but also helping them with the learning tech (new work), providing pastoral care (more than usual), fielding questions about withdrawing (more than usual), career concerns (more than usual) #covidunis #covidcampus
All this is stymied by my own technical issues - sometimes the software just glitches, sometimes my home internet is too slow, things don't load or upload or download, things need to be shut down and reinstalled and rebooted.
I am working longer hours to re-do or repeat work. I'm working longer hours to produce less. I working longer hours to produce poorer outcomes. I'm working longer hours & most of the joys of the job have been replaced by frustration, glitches, missed/broken connections #covidunis
Also: I'm largely relieved the more surveillance-y parts of LMS are as bad and ineffective and glitchy as they are, but the harried-employee in me is a bit annoyed
There's a level of anxiety, frustration, impatience, and exhaustion that comes I'm finding teaching (and socialising) using these online platforms, where I am always, to varying degrees, struggling to see/hear others. Even when it's "working" it's harder
I'm realising I'm frowning/squinting a lot; my eyes are fine but it's product of having to struggle to focus and catch everything being said down shitty mics, to make eye contact which can't actually be eye contact. It's rare that it all works okay for all participants (in
fact, I'm not sure that it has yet), but even when it mostly works it's a struggle and I'm tired.

[I know some of this is familiar for some people who have sight/hearing/sensory processing issues]
Also: I'm really grateful for the learning advisers & folks experienced in blended/online learning for all their support & advice, BUT that advice (curricular or tech) tends to be based on the assumption that the software/tools/hardware reliably *work*

#covidcampus #covidunis
In weeks 9 & 10 of my studio class, it's typical for me to spend the bulk of the day in collaboration with groups, workshopping with them on their major project. These days are always pretty intense and exhausting but really useful, & I'm able to provide lots of targeted feedback
I thought I'd share some reflections on how I did this small group collaboration and feedback online, and what I've learned so far #covidunis #covidcampus
First, a bit of context. There are 7 groups, composed of a mix of undergraduate (2nd years) and Masters students. I don't have a tutor or workshop assistant, so in class time it's all me. Yesterday we had an all-class Collaborate session from 10:30-12ish, followed by lunch break
then, on to MS Teams for the rest of the day. I was 'live' on mic and camera, then, from 10:30-12 then 1-past 4pm. I was a wreck last night (ate dinner in bed kind of wreck), and honestly am still feeling pretty tired today.
Normally these studios are pretty responsive and organic; I stroll around and wait to be called on, and make a point to visit groups who *aren't* calling on me too. Most groups would have one long-ish feedback session and ask a series of "quick questions" throughout the day
I didn't think I could replicate that online, and I was really worried I'd spend all my time with those groups that have more assertive members and neglect those who are a bit more hesitant about asking for my time. So, instead, I made a meeting schedule. This way I could ensure
there was a dedicated window for each group, and I also thought it would help them to have as many group members online & available f I specified a time slot than if I took a more ad hoc approach. Here's what I learned:
1. Put the time slots out earlier, as in before-class early (I didn't, I made the schedule during the lunch break). More time allows for more flexibility, groups can swap places or whatever as fits the needs of their specific members.
2. Similarly, timetable an extra 'slot' that you can move a group to if they really need another time option and no other group is willing or able to swap with them. If you don't need it, great! You have time to answer some of those "quick questions" coming thru on text chat
3. I gave each group a 20 minute slot, which was generally about right. I ended each slot reminding students that we could repeat this meeting during my consultation hours if they wanted, and that they could still send questions through via text/email. This worked well.
4. I very foolishly scheduled these back to back. Don't do that. Give yourself 5-10 minutes between meetings, and/or a bigger break in the schedule half way through. This way you've got some flexibility if groups run over, and you might even be able to, you know, pee.
5. Relatedly, I need to be more explicit about my needs. When I do this in class, students can see things like me carrying my empty water bottle & will give me a sec to go fill it. They're pretty considerate, often asking if I'm 'right' if they can see
5. (cont.) I've been in a long session with another group, before asking me for help/time. Sometimes students even (bless their cotton socks) ask if they can refill my water bottle for me, or if I'd like them to fetch me a coffee when they're doing their own arvo coffee run
5. (cont.) Online, students don't have the same ability to exercise that consideration and kindness, & I was not clever enough to build rest/breaks into the (intense!) schedule. So I needed to be more explicit. A couple of times I told groups, 'hey is it okay if we start...
5. (cont). 5 minutes late, I just need a bit of a break so I can be sharp when I'm with you', or 'I'm just going to fetch a coffee so I'll be off camera for a second but we'll be able to hear each other' (thanks, bluetooth headphones). But because I'd been silly with the schedule
(see 4), I also had to message the downstream groups affected by me taking breaks. So build the breaks in! *And* be open if you need a little rest. It's intense work, giving on-the-spot feedback on very different projects at different stages of development.
6. Juggle the group order week to week. There's no way I was as sharp and focused with group 7 on the schedule as I was with group 1, and group 1 didn't get to show me their progress on the arvo's task because we were just getting started when I spoke the them. Switch it up.
7. *Do* have prompts. If groups seem quiet/reluctant to share/ask questions it's probably not because everything is fine (probably the opposite). Have questions to ask - I also have non-compulsory activities to support groups that seem stuck find ways in to the task.
8. Finally, if I had a tutor/workshop assistant, I would've asked them to pop in on the groups later in the schedule (not necessarily in a 'formal' video chat but just reach out) to see what they're working on for the arvo, so they could offer suggestions to 'stuck' groups
8. cont. or answer "quick questions", and I would've asked them to, later in the schedule, check in on the groups from early in the schedule to see if they had follow up questions/issues. I think that scaffolding would be really useful.
Okay! Those are my reflections on running online studio sessions where students are working in small groups on project-based tasks, and are in the early problem-defining, scoping, developing-an-approach stage of the work.

#covidunis #CovidCampus
These days I am getting SO MANY MORE emails from students that don't contain clear requests (I need more time with X, can you help me with Y, am I on the right track with Z), but are instead vague pleas for unspecified help and support #covidunis #covidcampus
I'm glad they're reaching out but these emails are stressful, sometimes heartbreaking, and I'm left unclear what is needed from me. The help I offer in the reply feels like throwing confetti out my window on a windy night. No clue if or where any of it's landing.
Feeling a bit chuffed with myself today - I was FINALLY, after weeks of pushing, able to get my Public Involvement course switched to a pass/fail basis, given 3 out of 4 assessment tasks have been seriously affected by COVID19. Grateful to my colleagues who supported me,
relieved that the deep alteration to the course and disadvantage to the students has been acknowledged in a recognisable way, glad I can give the students a bit of a break. yay yay yay. #covidunis #covidcampus
Bit of a tricky week this one - I'm hearing from some students who have been quiet/absent for weeks, who haven't previously responded to my emails and messages, all of a sudden looking to get back into it. Given the remaining tasks in most of my courses are for pairs/groups
I'm trying to balance the returning students' needs/hopes with those of their potential or actual group members. Students with a bunch of individual work to make up generally struggle to contribute to group work, sometimes the groups have moved too far along to accept someone new
But I don't want to turn away anyone who wants to try to finish the course, especially not this trimester. There's not a universal solution - the options I can offer each student in this situation will vary. All options are messy, imperfect, and, tbh, create more work for me
and more things are slipping through the ever widening cracks. I don't know. I'm tired and every day I seem to have a new (generally mild) physical malady, which I'm sure are just related to stress/exhaustion.
Wow, this has been a less than upbeat update of how teaching's going. But this is what this week seems to be. I'm just going to keep trying, try to find options for people, try to find something that's workable on my end and theirs, and go to bed as soon as I can each night.
Here's a consideration for people currently drafting course plans for trimester/semester 2.

Reconsider, if you can, group work. Many of my courses contain a major assignment completed either in small groups or in pairs. I've simplified these tasks where I can but
Many, many more students/groups are reporting issues working with their pair or a group mate. Issues include people not communicating, not completing things by agreed deadlines, saying they can't take anything on for a week or more. And, I mean, no wonder?
It's much easier to offer concessions, extensions, and flexibility to individuals than groups - sure, one student might be overloaded and need more time, but an extension might be disruptive to other members of their team. There's just more interests & needs to try and balance
If group work is definitely necessary, it might be worth letting students form larger than usual groups (e.g. groups of 3 instead of pairs), because that gives them more room to share and negotiate workload & deadlines among themselves #covidunis #covidcampus
I think it's important for us to model and encourage generosity and understanding in group work, creating spaces for people to be honest about their capacities, looking to support rather than punish people who are struggling. But it's hard to be generous and supportive when
you're stressed and overloaded. Build in more of a buffer for them. Yes, under perfect circumstances, that might mean students are doing "less work" than they otherwise would
but if we take into consideration everything else they're doing and balancing and working through with each other, then no, maybe they're not doing less work, just a different mix of work. And if they are doing less, well, frankly, lucky them. #covidunis #covidcampus
I think this is a longer conversation though - how do we design collaborative projects that encourage students in finding ways to be kind with & supportive of each other, instead of encouraging anxiety and policing each other?
The common thing is, right, that some students feel as though they are being taken advantage of by other students. Surely that dynamic is a symptom of a competitive and transactional educational system, where the focus is on outcome (grade) & not capacity/growth?
(students are being taken advantage of, to varying degrees, but their peers are only scapegoats. There's a bigger trick happening. Pay no attention to the exploitation behind the curtain).

so there's that.
So yesterday my studio students had their oral presentations. They present their tactical urbanism project, and get some feedback from their peers and suggestions for improvement ahead of submitting their final report at the end of next week. Students are assessed both on
their group presentation, and the feedback and support they give others. I don't ask questions myself; I find leaving the space to the students works really really well, and that they learn a lot from this approach. I give my feedback via a rubric and written comments
with same day turnaround. How'd it go? Well, overall, they did a great job. We used Collaborate Ultra, students set their own parameters for how feedback/questions would work (mix of chat and hands up + mic usually), they were generous and thoughtful with each other & have made
good progress on their projects so far. A few students reported that they found giving a presentation to the screen rather than f2f more difficult/less enjoyable. Some students couldn't present at all due to tech limitations but worked that out in advance with their group.
EVERY. SINGLE. GROUP. had technical issues of some kind. Sometimes there were issues with their powerpoint, some had audio dropping in and out, for some their media wouldn't work/disappeared. Only a few used were comfortable, able, and willing to use their cameras.
I had given them a bit of a tour of Collaborate Ultra beforehand, and left a sandpit session open for them to practice in, but I don't think more practice would've fixed most of these issues. Also, I should've shown them how to clear raised hands as I think this confused some
and I think the way the hands up function on Collaborate Ultra works is that those who are quick off the mark get priority; it was a bit harder to invite questions from people or switch up the order if we'd already heard from a particular student a bit.
If you've got presentations happening and you're using Collaborate Ultra I'd suggest getting them to upload their presentations before the session officially kicks off (we did this and it worked well), spend a bit more time on the mechanics of question time from the moderator's
perspective, record it if you can in case your internet cuts out and you're meant to be assessing, make sure you've got breaks in the schedule, and be forgiving of technical issues. Emphasise (beforehand!) that the thing you're interested in is how they respond to problems,
not whether or not they occur. Really, that's the more important/transferable skill anyway. I've definitely rocked up to give lectures, seminars, speak at a public meeting or whatever & my presentation/the whole AV system hasn't worked
Practicing pushing on as best ya can, maybe even with a bit of grace, is more important and useful than having a perfect powerpoint or crystal clear sound/video.
hth a bit. #covidunis #CovidCampus
Oh! One final thought - I think maybe it might be useful for some students to get a sense of what these platforms are like on the delivery end. Mine have all been v compassionate anyway but I think it's good for all of us to experience these platforms as different types of 'user'
juuust gonna have a quiet vent here that - my head hurts, my hands hurt, I feel very lethargic, and it's very hard to concentrate. Got some blood tests today to see if anything's up; as it is I think I'm going to be crawling, bloody knuckled and ashen, across the T1 finish line
How am I both hungry and nauseous
Despite feeling very under the weather this week I was able to knock out a few big jobs, which is a relief. That said, my to-do list now looks like a lot of tiny tasks that are very urgent, and they're hard to face.
I suspect there's some health stuff going on; I also suspect that my motivation and ability to focus is being crushed under the weight of working even harder than usual to achieve significantly worse outcomes. #covidunis #covidcampus
welp, I've been asked to estimate how many hours I've spent outside of class time consulting with students. I can add up the meetings which were scheduled and thus in my calendar, but all the messaging back & forth in teams, and ad hoc phone chats?
I mean I guess I could go through and make an estimate based on timestamps but given those chats aren't always synchronous I'm not sure that'll be super reliable. AND IT WOULD TAKE FOREVER. Maybe I should just do it for one week & extrapolate? But not all weeks have been the same
So this Saturday morning I woke up at 5am thinking about marking. Got back to sleep around 6:30. Woke up again an hour later. Had a nice breakfast, but I think the only way to shake the marking anxiety is to do it which SUCKS because it’s a beautiful Saturday & I’d like to garden
Today is the LAST DAY OF STUDIO TEACHING (for me)!

I'm feeling a bit too tired and headachy to feel much excitement or relief yet. And while I'm proud of the job we've done together, that's tempered by shame about the students who left that I wish I'd done more for.
okay so wow. I was expecting the consults today to be quite hectic and intense, gave myself extra breaks and everything Mostly everyone was pretty calm, felt on track, confident it was coming together, maybe had a couple of quick questions #covidunis #covidcampus
It's really great! I'm happy that almost everyone feels confident in what they're doing and how they're doing it a week before the major assessment task is due - that's pretty fab going on their part. There will be some extra consults later in the week but - so far so chill!
I think it does help to schedule their presentation nearly 2 weeks before the report deadline, because it means they have their concept together *and* have received feedback and suggestions (and had the chance to learn from others' projects) with lots of time to spare
but I think mostly this is just a great crew of students who've really made the best of difficult, inadequate, online studios. They worked really hard to find ways to enable their own and each others' learning and I'm so grateful to have worked with them this trimester
At some point I should wrap up this thread - at the moment, though, I'm wading through marking and the mess caused by giving lots of extensions and resubmits etc. I'm hoping to spend today making a big list and getting that mess ordered, to better tackle it this week.
AMAZINGLY I received an automated message saying that the course evaluation surveys have been finalised and the reports are available. UM, no. I have no idea when I'll feel okay looking at those but it's definitely definitely not yet.
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