The semester is over! And I didn’t horribly traumatize my college algebra students!

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.

 

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