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08/11/2020

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the OP

OP here-- thanks, Marcus, for posting this. I imagine that many other people are in the same boat that I'm in.

One other option is to do some mix of synchronous/asynchronous material. I've heard suggestions that consist of prerecording most lectures and using the scheduled class time instead as a discussion/concept-solidifying time. (This is similar to "flipped classroom" models.)

So, my question isn't necessarily about choosing between ALL synchronous vs. ALL asynchronous. There's room to figure out varying portions of synchronous/asynchronous material too. Any thoughts regarding how to balance these two appropriately would also be greatly appreciated!

Michel

I, too, taught asynchronously at the end of the winter semester, and for the summer. It worked OK, although I found it pretty alienating not to have much contact with students (office hour turnout was even more depressed than usual). For the fall, I'm planning to teach mostly asynchronously, but run weekly synchronous discussion sessions. Hopefully that will help me to capture the best of both worlds.

The challenge at my institution is that most of my students (generally 90%+ of my classrooms) are international students from far, far away. Many of them went home to weather the pandemic and cannot return, so there's a big time zone issue; many (most?) of those who stayed are also working; many of them don't have regular computer or internet access, except through their phones (or, in better times, the university computer lab); my (rural) internet is choppy where video calls are concerned; and our class periods are all 3 hours long.

Given those givens, I think it would be too much for everyone to have three continuous hours of fully synchronous instruction. So, as I said, I'm canning the lectures and hosting a weekly discussion session instead, and hoping that will do the trick. I think it will be a marked improvement, at any rate. If I had any upper-level classes or seminars I'd consider running those synchronously, but mine are all intro courses.

yo

I polled students. I am doing one synchronous session per week that will be largely discussion based at our scheduled time for a class that is supposed to meet 3x per week regularly.

I will also upload lecture videos each week and lecture notes.

That option received the most support out of four options I polled the students for.

3 synchronous sessions per week trying to mimic a MWF course seems too onerous on the students and myself given wi-fi issues, student obligations while at home, etc.

Trying to do 3 synchronous sessions per week just seems like pretending like everything is normal except we're just doing it virtually!

And that seems naive to me.

A mix of synchronous and asynchronous seems like the best approach.

Paul Carron

I taught two online summer school classes (last day is today in fact) and we are supposed to meet 5 days a week for 1.5 hours. That's a lot of zoom time for me and the students (many of whom are taking multiple classes). So, I had zoom meetings three days a week. My students are still getting a bit worn out (I just gave them one extra day off). But when I asked them how my class compared to others they are taking, they said that really liked having class time together, even if it was getting old. Several had asynchronous classes first summer session, and they were NOT happy with most of them. It does depend on the nature of the course. If its a textbook and the prof records some good lectures I suppose that can be enough, but when we're reading the Republic and Marx and Nietzsche, we really need time for class discussion. I am actually dreading in person classes with 20 freshman in the fall, masks on and sitting five feet apart. I am not a lecture for 50 minutes prof, I like lots of small groups activity and discussion, and I actually think Zoom is superior in that way over mask to mask...but I'm about to find out!

Prof L

I’m also a very anti-synchronous person by disposition, but will be running discussion sections once per week with zoom break-out rooms, and a little group project. They will want to meet each other and interact a bit. All my lectures will be asynchronous. So, pretty much like everyone else here—I did asynchronous stuff in the spring, but am switching it up a bit now to counteract how isolated students are.

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