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« New series: COVID-19 teaching transition -- Fritz McDonald on the basics of teaching online | Main | Tips For Moving Your Course Online (Guest-post by Mary Beth Willard) »



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Re: whoever shared this

After the post you say: "This advice is very different from that which I would share if you were designing an online course"

But the point seems to be: we're not designing online courses here.

We're being asked to transition an in person course to an online course.

Importantly she notes:

" You are NOT building an online class. You are NOT teaching students who can be expected to be ready to learn online."

So your disagreement seems to fundamentally miss the point



I think he's just highlighting that this advice is for transitioning to online courses, not for courses that are built from the ground up online. I mean, why would he even share the post if he didn't already know that it's not advice for general online course design?



That's still Barrett-Fox speaking. She's not disagreeing with herself; she's noting that the advice she's giving is different than the advice she would give in a different situation.


OP: oops I thought that was a separate commentary.

My B

Feel free to remove my post.


Hmm, well, I think it depends on your situation:

1. Doing a bad job could very much influence your teaching evals, and those matter for some people.

2. For many, even if they haven't developed this particular course online, they might be in a position to teach it online in the future. In that case, (depending on one's situation) it might make a lot of sense to spend time on it as you can use it again in the future.

3. For me, personally, I just can't feel good about myself teaching half-assed. It creates a lot of anxiety for me to go into a class that way. So I think the mental health stress for me of following such advice would outweigh the pros.

4. As for synchronous work, I think it might depend on the type of course. The way my class is set-up, with persons assigned specific dates for in class activities that require the participation of the class, I would have to change many major assignments to do asynchronous work. First, this would mean that kids in the same class have different assignments. Second, kids who already prepped for these assignments would have wasted their time. Third, the amount of work I would need to do to revamp the course content would defeat the purpose of the original point of the post, i.e. to not put much time and effort into things.

Marcus Arvan

Hey Amanda: I'm not sure the author of this piece is actually advocating doing a bad job (I think the title is a bit misleading). Rather, I think their piece is more charitably read as implying that if you try to do a "really good job" at online teaching (viz. best practices for online courses)--deviating far from what one is currently doing (e.g. experimenting with new technology you and your students may have little experience)--then it's likely to be self-defeating: you won't do a good job. You'll do a *bad* job.

Conversely, I think the author is implying that if you don't radically change what you are doing (i.e. doing a "bad job" of online teaching), you're actually more likely to do a good job for your students.

For what it is worth, this is my own planned approach. I am NOT going to use Zoom or any other fancy tech that I have no experience with. I am almost certain that if I tried, it would be a disaster for both me and my students. Sure, maybe in the long-run I should learn how to do that stuff (if, for instance, the COVID crisis stretches into the next academic year), but for now my plan is to keep things minimally different than I currently do them: I'm going to post Powerpoint lectures online (as I currently do), but with a voice-over recording of how I would lecture in class. I plan to upload it to YouTube as well so my words are transcribed. Other than that, I'm just setting up some discussion boards and requiring students to contribute a little bit each week--just as my current participation component requires. Other than that, I plan to do very little different. Students will submit assignments online, and take their exams timed online. That's it--that and online office hours (which I have set very clear and proscribed expectations regarding: I am *not* going to answer detailed student emails around the clock, any more than I would sit in my office holding office hours 24/7 if we were still meeting in person).

I cannot predict how it will go--but at least I know how to do all of that stuff pretty well. Getting into the weeds on learning Zoom with large groups, etc., are simply not things that I think are worth the trouble for me or my students right now. I sincerely think that kind of stuff would be likely to be a disaster.


Hi Marcus,

Well, I thought I was trying to be charitable as the author starts the post with, "I'm absolutely serious." That seems an odd turn of phrase to use if you meant something different than what your title suggests. In fact, I think that phrase is used in particular, when you say something controversial and so people might think you are not serious, and yet, you want to assure them that you *are* serious.

It sounded to me like she was saying that at this point in the semester, and with the busy lives we and our students lead, no one cares if you put much time into teaching. So don't put much time into teaching. That's how I read it.

Regardless, the post seems very aggressive from my perspective. It is one thing to suggest that often first time online teachers think zoom will help when it actually won't. And so therefore, you should consider if using zoom is really best for your circumstance. I'm sure in many cases it is not. But it is a bit much to say "DO NOT" do anything. We all have individual circumstances, and they do not all require the same measures. This is bland and obvious, but the post comes off as very opposed to circumstantial differences. Or it does to me, anyway.

What you are doing sounds great for you Marcus. As I said, it depends on circumstance. I have both experience with zoom and online teaching. I think zoom works best for me. So I'm doing it.

Marcus Arvan

Hey Amanda: okay, that’s fair. I stand corrected. I guess I was being overly charitable.


Ha, well better to err that way than the other way :)

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