Estimated reading time: 3 minutes, 41 seconds

Reflecting Allowed

Maha Bali’s blog about education

Pivoting My Course for #COVID-19 #pivotonline #covid19syllabus #unboundeq


Estimated reading time: 3 minutes, 41 seconds

I wanted to reflect on some changes I am hoping to do to my course, depending on my students’ reactions to these suggestions.

Obviously, I am one of the lucky ones here. I have learned online for 17 years and have taught online for 10, and I teach digital literacies and intercultural learning…. easy to take online anyway!

I am also among the most overwhelmed people here because I am a faculty developer so my role here is to support everyone else to move online, not just myself, and figuring out how to work from home while my kid also needs to study at home AND then find time to also play and not pull each other’s hair out… well, needless to say, we need a punching bag. Huh. Actually that’s a good idea. I may get a punching bag.

ANYWAY. So here are some ideas for switching things up in the course. Will see what students say (am surveying them):

  • Tackling the topic of Fake news with a COVID-19 angle. Been already doing that informally but now maybe more formally.
  • Assigning one of their digital literacies explorations to doing some modules on learning online- hopefully to help them with all their courses
  • Doing infographics, memes and gifs around COVID-19
  • Doing empathy research on other people’s experiences of this global phenomenon. Could be international folks or others around them like parents, shop owners, friends in other institutions, kids….
  • Doing autoethnographic research on their own experiences and feelings learning online in different courses. Or even focusing on other elements not just the learning aspect. Interviewing each other as well
  • Asking students if they would rather NOT focus on COVID-19 and change topics. They may change their mind at some point

I think that it is good that some people are optimistic about how online learning is now becoming so important and essential. Smugly saying so. I am not in that space.

I am cautiously optimistic.

It could backfire, as poorly designed online learning can be such a turnoff and reinforce stereotypes.

So I don’t think online learning is the “cool kid”, it is “the fashion” and some fashions last long, others are disasters.

The anxiety and stress of this whole global situation and the work/life situation is making me the worst parent I have ever been.

No one signed up to suddenly work from home supporting ppl 20 hours a day while ALSO homeschooling their kid(s) AND taking care of the house… and next week i have all that PLUS teaching. (And we haven’t even talked about what would happen if me or someone I loved got seriously sick. I just had a mild cough and avoided seeing my mom and mom in-law for a while and it was awful. And I haven’t got my head around economic impact of it all)

Now if I wasn’t an experienced online teacher, even with best of intentions, all this could go terribly wrong.

Trying hard to encourage folks to focus their priorities on everyone’s wellbeing and not weird data collection and quality standards that can just, in themselves, make this so so so much worse.

Am thankful for all the caring and generous communities I am part of, in Egypt and all over the world.

Taking care of ourselves and our loved ones and each other comes first. Everything else can wait.

So much respect for the UK who I understand canceled A level exams and will grade students with predicted grades… and universities that will accept this.

I hope more US and international institutions decide on Pass/Fail grading for this semester to relieve everyone’s anxiety.

More than anything, what I want to focus on taking online are certain VALUES I hold and I hope to model for students… rather than any content or learning outcomes you can measure.

So for me it has not been, how can I take my course as is and make it online, but rather… what does my course need to be, for my students, right now, to help them through this? And this might be a moving target, and that is OK.

This post by Mays Imad was really inspiring, as were conversations with other caring faculty here and all over the world.

This approach of rules of 2 by Robin DeRosa and her team at Plymouth has also been amazing. Will use it in a webinar/forum tomorrow inshallah

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