This morning I continued to think about some issues I've been thinking about the last year:
- Continuing to remove policing from my classroom
- Making changes to the course (particularly online ones) to avoid being overwhelmed the first couple of weeks
- Separating policies from the actual meat of the course
- Making it clearer what the course is about from the get go
- Notice the document is a lot shorter. In part I did this because I pulled the trigger on an idea I've been playing with for a while- separating required policies and requirements from the content of the course. Now it's a separate document that I linked at the bottom of the syllabus.
- This also continues to remove policing from my classroom, and not making it a focus
- The beginning of the document is also (hopefully) easily scanned and understood. I frontloaded the information that students seem to want to know most (readings, objectives).
- I also added a couple of new sections. There's now an overview of how the course functions, what they can expect from me, and tips/behaviors to do well. Then the next thing is the more detailed explanation of the assignments.
- After this is the week by week breakdown of what we're doing.
I've changed this. For a couple of reasons. The first is that in the past students have really liked/appreciated the weekend to finish assignments. The other is that I need to stop working seven days a week. It's not good. I read and grade fast, and while it's commendable that I like getting things back to students by Saturday afternoon, if there's a midnight Sunday deadline and it's Tuesday before they get them back, that's okay. I'm glad that I prioritize getting work back quickly to students. But I also know professors that take weeks to get stuff back. I don't want to do that, but it puts in perspective me taking some stress of myself.
So I'm going to try and not stress over that. I send out three check in surveys (weeks 4, 8, 12) that ask students what they have issues with and how I can help/improve/fix the course. If they choose not to productively participate in those then there's nothing I can do.
I'm also going to encourage students to do this. I made this change for a couple of reasons. One, why am I stressing about this issue if students say they're getting what they need? I mean, that's what matters right? Second, rather than tying myself into notes about this, I'm simply offering another option, pointing out the bonuses of using it, and then letting it go.
The other added question on this survey is how I can make the first couple of weeks of an online course less overwhelming. There's often a dump of information/large learning curve, between the normal course stuff PLUS the online course stuff. So while I have a couple of ideas, I wanted to ask them what ideas they had for making this introduction easier.
This week is a "light" week because their thematic papers are due by midnight Friday and I don't assign work when papers are due. I want them focused on thinking out their ideas, writing, and revising. So I'll answer email questions and give feedback on drafts but there are no assignments to grade.
So that's this week.
It's all downhill from here!