Teaching to the Grid

The two-week suspension of instruction to enable faculty to transition to online teaching ended a week ago Friday. Students returned to class Monday. My first class was Tuesday. It didn’t go well.

For starters, students couldn’t hear me. I have to lean in close to see anything on my laptop. Students watched a closeup of my forehead as I frantically scrambled through settings trying to figure out what the hell was wrong. Students tried to help without success. One day, I’ll laugh about it.

Ended up dialing in. Had to use my phone to talk and my laptop for everything else. Didn’t help that my first online lecture was new to me from slides used by a guest speaker last semester. I stumbled through a few bullet points I probably should have deleted. It’s behind me now.

The sound issue turned out to be a short in the microphone on my laptop. Plugging in a headset solved the problem. Thursday’s lecture went much better. Still, my online teaching doesn’t come close to the live experience.

Decades of experience have honed my ability to teach. Technological advances have made a difference too. Mastering new technology, however, takes time — years in some cases. My final exam is April 30.

Thanks to help from colleagues and tech support, I’ll get through this semester. If the two classes I’m teaching in the fall fill up, I’ll have 200 students — nearly five times as many as this semester. The university has already said summer school will also be totally online.

How much longer this will last is anyone’s guess. While moving my class online has temporarily sucked all the joy out of teaching, I’ll make it work. With all that’s going on right now and the sacrifices so many are making, it’s a small price to pay and the least I can do.