Brave New World?

So this has happened. I mean, the coronavirus brewhaha. We’re all scrambling to “work remotely,” some of us with verve and ambition (not to mention self-confidence) and some of us with fear and loathing. We’re learning new tricks, freaking out, getting stir crazy, and treading in liquid fear.

In my role as Director of Faculty Development, I’ve been tasked with helping my colleagues and students to transition to this new mode of interacting. All the pundits say that online teaching is only good with lots of preparation and experience, both of which we don’t have in supply right now (along, apparently, with toilet paper).

I propose that we stop thinking about what we’re doing as “online teaching” and instead think of it as working “remotely” — and that we admit to ourselves that it won’t be as good as face to face. And it shouldn’t be.

That said, we need to make the best of it. We need to use this opportunity to rethink what we’ve been doing, backward (re)design our courses in progress to figure out what’s essential and what we can let go, and focus on maintaining our health, sanity, and learning in this difficult emergency situation.

To that end, I’ll admit that I’m on the same steep learning curve as most of my colleagues, switching to Google Hangout Meets, asynchronous classwork, and altered modes of communication. I’m a little wigged out, too. I anticipate problems. I live in the uncertain future, rather than in the here and now.

So I’m going to revisit this space as a place to connect with you, dear readers, and to try to make sense of what I’m learning at light speed.

Remote Work Uniform

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Laurie MacDiarmid serves as Director of Faculty Development and Professor of English at St. Norbert College, a small Catholic liberal arts college on the banks of the Fox River in De Pere, Wisconsin.

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