This week has been a long year indeed. My work went from largely on campus and in a business environment, to the corner of my art studio with a blue screen fencing me in. I have been an online instructor for about a decade and my life significantly changed as well. Admittedly, I’m also currently serving as the chair of our academic division, so I have responsibilities beyond the classroom. And all of those things shifted quickly.
The first three days of my week were back to back zoom meetings. I hosted daily check ins with all the faculty in all our programs (about 16 of us in total + interpreters = 18ish online simultaneously). These check-ins were intended to accomplish a couple of things 1) check in with folks and make sure they are doing okay emotionally as we make shifts and shifts continued coming rapid fire for a bit and 2) to acquaint them to the platform and what it could do.
The meetings were primarily in ASL – a majority of our division is signers. This made for some of the logistics being a bit easier with interpreters primarily working into spoken English.
We used the chat feature for communication on some activities, send participants in to breakout groups, back to the main group, and back out again. And then did large group reporting out.
I recorded each meeting and also did a screencapture so that I could make a tutorial of the host controls (I couldn’t figure out how to share my screen to show those things). I used some best practices to show folks how to use the platform and have the communication not be so chaotic – calling on people rather than waiting for volunteers, people raising hands to indicate interest in adding, and using the chat box for some communication.
One of the cool things that happened was faculty from different programs who may or may not have contact normally did – and informally, low stakes – which hopefully will lead to cross-program resource sharing and relationships.
At the end of each session, I also remained available for individual meetings that people may have needed. I used a single breakout room to move to “private” space with them, while the others wanting individual meetings waiting in the main room. Then I would pop back to the main room and get the next person and move them to the breakout room and join them over there. In my estimation, it worked out well – I think people got what they needed, I was accessible, and they lost some of their fear of the unknown from the platform. I will do a follow up survey with them when grades are posted and they have a moment to breath and reflect 🙂