I have been wanting to write about my experience teaching college algebra online, but I have been also very afraid to. And honestly, during the semester, I just didn’t have the energy to properly reflect on things, other than to realize that I hated everything (not really everything, but sometimes it felt that way) I had prepared beforehand. And so I was spending a lot of time creating better materials. And sometimes I think I got swept up and redid things that were just fine the way they were, or at least not significantly better after I redid them.
So my initial reflection as the dust settles is this: it really wasn’t that bad. And by that, I don’t mean it was easy. It wasn’t easy. Holy mackerel, was it ever a lot of work! And I’m not talking about the creating the videos and activities, even. There’s a lot of work that would have needed to be done, even if I had kept the original set of materials I made. People seem to think that I taught online so I could work less, now that I’ve got a baby. Ha! I worked about 55 hours a week. I had a nanny for around 30 hours each week, and then worked whenever M was asleep, and a good chunk of time on weekends. (I do think it will be a lot easier to do it again now that I’ve done it once, though.)
But it wasn’t that bad in the sense that I don’t think I destroyed anyone mathematically. And yes, I was worried that I would. Trying something totally new in teaching is always risky. And it’s easy to teach badly online. (And by “easy” here, I still don’t mean “not a lot of work”. There’s probably still work involved.) Lots of people teach badly online. I had set my goal to provide at least as good a learning experience as the large 300-student lectures, and I think I did that.
Real reflections will come later (naptime is almost over, and I want to wrap this up quickly), but some quick thoughts:
- Putting stuff “out there” is scary. I used YouTube to publish my videos (my university has a system where I could force the students to log in to watch the videos, but YouTube just seemed easier).
- You really don’t realize how often you misspeak until you’re recording everything all the time. And sometimes you don’t catch things even when you’re watching them later.