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11/18/2020

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Jake Wright

I've used three main technologies this term for my teaching. For my asynchronous online classes, I've used Discord (a chat-based platform similar to Slack) to approximate class discussion and Perusall (a collaborative annotation app) for students to share insights into the readings. For my hybrid classes, I've used Zoom to bring in students who have chosen to participate remotely.

For Discord, I have channels set up for class discussion, questions about major assignments, off topic chats, etc. Because I have an archive for each week's discussion, I'm up to 24 channels, though only about five get used regularly. Each week, I post some announcements, provide some context for our topic, and pose some questions to start the discussion. Most weeks, I'll also post a YouTube video I've made that discusses the topic generally for some added context.

For Perusall, I have some static guidelines for annotating readings and having students reply to others' annotations.

Discord and Perusall have been huge successes (and I highly recommend checking out Rebecca Scott's brief discussion of Discord on the APA blog today), while Zoom has been a disaster to the point that I will be teaching all of my courses asynchronously next semester. There's lots of excellent research on how to run a hybrid class with platforms like Zoom to great success, but I haven't been able to grok it, to my students' detriment. Given that we're in a pandemic, with all of the increased cognitive load that comes with it, it seems better to abandon what I've struggled with (to the point that it has harmed my students' learning) and embrace/tweak what has worked well.

Rebecca Scott's APA blog on Discord: https://blog.apaonline.org/2020/11/18/chat-based-alternatives-to-online-discussion-forums/

Example of YouTube video: https://youtu.be/7sWYPG9_6gI

Mark Herman

Re. Hybrid teaching:

How to have what is on the instructor’s monitor (e.g., full Zoom gallery, notes, etc.) differ from what is on the classroom’s projection screen (e.g., just slides and active speaker's video):

Key Moves:
-‘Extended Screen’ separating classroom’s projection screen from instructor’s desktop monitor
-Host via desktop’s Zoom + Additional Zoom participant via browser

Picture and detailed "how-to" posted in Teaching Philosophy Facebook group:

https://www.facebook.com/groups/290224531608120/permalink/694501511180418

Z

I'm following Marcus's earlier suggestion and using Flipgrid for students to record videos of themselves talking philosophy, and it has worked great. A couple of people clearly write down a script and read from it but others do it spontaneously and have reported it helpful. I ask them to summarize the relevant parts of the readings, state their own opinion, and provide reasons. So, basically, a mini oral essay but framed in a less intimidating way. I've found it helpful for when they need to choose paper topics. Note though that this did turn out more time consuming than I expected (I thought videos would be 2 minutes, but many students ended up doing 4-5 minutes) and I was only able to do this because I don't have that many students.
I teach asynchronously through a collection of essays. Instead of writing power points, I use Drawboard PDF (a PDF annotation app of Windows). So my videos are me doing close reading with them with a PDF of the text on the screen. I annotate and scribble as I talk, which slows me down. Students seem to like it (judging from mid-term feedback.)

Marcus Arvan

Z: glad you found the Flipgrid tip helpful, and that it seems to be working well! Anyway, yeah the one real issue I have with it is how time-consuming it is. I selected a 2 minute or so limit for them, but still, reviewing all of them for multiple classes takes a long time--and I don't think it's quite sustainable for me, at least not for all of my classes (I had a one-course course release this fall, so my teaching load was a bit lower than it will be in the spring). Maybe I'll use it for one class but not others, or maybe I'll explore a way to not make it so time-consuming (maybe by putting the burden on students to offer to share their response in class rather than vetting them beforehand myself). I don't know. It definitely worked well, but I need to find some way to make the work load with it more manageable if I'm going to keep using it!

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