Hi y'all! Long time no chat! This semester has possibly been the weirdest I have experienced for more reasons than one, and it’s not even over yet! Obviously, the coronavirus pandemic is one of them, but to give more context, let’s rewind a bit, shall we?
At the very end of last semester, I was asked to teach my very first online course. What a great opportunity! I was given access to resources another instructor had previously used for the same course, and I had some ideas of my own. I felt like I was in pretty good shape to get everything prepped and ready. But I decided to not do any of the major prep until after Christmas because I wanted to have at least a short break between semesters. At the time this seemed like a good idea, but just a few days after Christmas, I got the news that my dad had unexpectedly died.
To say the very least, I started the semester way less prepared than wanted to, and I was a complete mess. In hindsight, I should have cancelled my classes the first 3 days, but I muddled through them I well as I could. The faculty at WPU were very supportive and offered to help, but how can you ask for more time? That’s honestly what I needed -- more time to process my dad’s death and collect myself. My life at that point felt like a hot, smelly dumpster fire with no extinguisher in sight. (I could write way more about this, but I’ll spare you the details.)
The first several weeks of the semester I was constantly in catch-up mode, creating materials as I needed them for my new preps. (Thankfully, one of my classes was a repeat from last semester.) Slightly before spring break, I was finally feeling caught up, and I drove home to spend break with my mom. Spring break for me was the first week in March. News of the virus had spread at this point, but there hadn’t been many cases in the U.S. yet. After spring break, the virus is spreading much more quickly now, but we head back to class like normal. By the end of that week (March 13), administration has made the decision to move fully online starting March 23. Faculty were given one week to prepare for that shift.
Now here I am, and the end of the prep week, and I’m feeling pretty good! I’ve worked way ahead on my course prep and have it ready to release on Moodle. My school adopted Google Suite, so we are able to use Hangouts and Meet to chat with students or host live lectures. The IT department even came up with a solution to give students access to SPSS off campus. Everything with the shift online has felt like a whirlwind with how quickly changes were made, but I’ve come out on the other side with a positive attitude. For the first time this semester, I feel like I can breathe. (This sigh of relief is only in reference to how I feel about work. I'm worried about the virus, but trying not to be paranoid.)
How has this semester been for everyone else?
written by Jen Blush