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Disclaimer: this is a tongue-in-cheek post, but hear me out anyway 😀 I realize people are trying to find a delicate balance between health and safety and delivering the best education they can (and I understand some people teach really well online and some haven’t figured it out). I also realize institutions impose restrictions and offer resources and this affects decisions.
Oh, and gentle reminder, that for students, university is not only or even mainly about the educational content in classes. There is loads of social and cultural capital happening in everything outside class. And some of that is really tough to replicate online. But the teaching (for many but not all subjects) is totally doable.
1. You-never-know-what-to-expect-mode: when your teacher can convert f2f class to remote suddenly with an announcement any morning, covid or no covid excuse.
2. I-live-with-someone-vulnerable mode: class stays in person until anyone goes anywhere near a covid case, then we are online for the rest of the semester.
3. I-promise-I-can-teach-this-better-online mode: class is fully online from beginning to end, mainly to avoid uncertainty, but also because the teacher really does teach it better online. Or because of point 2.
4. We-won’t-go-online-unless-it’s-law: professor who hesitates to move a class online unless they themselves have COVID-19. Or they are forced to go online. Perhaps they are not digitally confident or have poor internet. Or their subject is really hard to teach online?
5. I-can’t-go-online-or-my-chair-will-think-I’m-slacking: the person who thinks what their chair thinks of them is more important than their own health and safety and the health and safety of everyone around them. Or they are precarious.
6. I-will-teach-Hyflex-mode: but really they’re not being flexible. They just do not want students to miss class for any excuse, so they stream in person classes, except they assign you which day you are in person and which online.
7. Make-students-choose-mode: when you take this course, you can choose which modality you prefer. Any time. This is true Hyflex. It will also burn the professor out, but it’s ok, because students have choice.
Seriously though. I get why some universities are letting faculty and students make some choices in the moment, but wouldn’t it be cool if students could choose ahead of time if they wanted some of their courses to be fully online from the beginning, so that both faculty and students could plan for that? Anything without a lab component or studio component where a teacher is willing to go online and whether it is because they are good at it or their health or their loved ones’safety depends on it… any of those are good reasons to be upfront about allowing a course to be online from the start. It feel like March 2020 all over again with so much uncertainty, and it feels like… well we can have SOME degree of certainty, why do we have TO NOT have that?