Why “Do a Bad Job” Is Not Helpful

So there’s an article going around titled “Please Do a Bad Job of Putting Your Courses Online,” (https://anygoodthing.com/2020/03/12/please-do-a-bad-job-of-putting-your-courses-online/) and as a lifelong student of education (BS in ed, MEd, doctorate in progress in curriculum & instruction), I think I need to say something about this:

The article is, in places, simply wrong. While many of the things in that article are great to think about and to implement, we have a larger social obligation to figure out how to do this well. This is where we, as educators, can contribute: we are not on the front line of virus-fighting; we are more like the peace corps — the effects on us and our students will be much longer lasting and more pervasive. In my opinion as an educator with years of higher ed teaching experience (online, hybrid, F2F, synchronous, and asynchronous) and degrees in instructional technology and curriculum and instruction, there are a few things that we can do to make things easier for us and others:

  1. Stay in touch with your students. While synchronous is, in my opinion, not necessary, the rationale behind it is sound: your students need to connect with you, your voice, or your face (or all three!). Throwing a video onto your News Feed or calling those students who have not logged in is VITAL.
  2. Be available during your normal class times, during your office hours, and as much of the day as is possible. Use your LMS, Remind, Google tools, and anything else you are comfortable with. Don’t limit yourself to what your institution mandates or offers.
  3. Take time, each day, to reflect (even 10 minutes) on what went well. At the end each week, month, of all this, etc., review your notes and make changes.
  4. In terms of your curriculum, instruction, and assessment (which should be focused on your students’ needs right now, not institutional mandates), worry about two things: proficiency with respect to your course competencies / goals / objectives, and student meaning. Be careful to not sacrifice meaning for competency!
  5. Grades should be reflections of levels of student mastery, but let’s be honest: they are often more arbitrary than we care to admit. In a crunch, they matter far less than getting your students through your courses.
  6. Reach out. Connect with colleagues. I saw a meme about how limiting F2F interaction means that we need to use other tools: phone calls (it sucks for me too), texts, social media, etc.
  7. Set limits, and don’t be a martyr. Likewise, don’t be a jerk. Account for mitigating circumstance leading to late assignments, and if you need to err, err on the side of your students.
  8. Be adamant about your life, your health, and so forth, and as you move up on Maslow’s hierarchy, learn to be more and more flexible.
  9. Allow and encourage creativity. Discussion board responses using memes? Yes!

Above all else, live your values, love your students, and care for yourself and your loved ones. And at least try and do a good job.

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6 thoughts on “Why “Do a Bad Job” Is Not Helpful

  1. I think maybe you missed the point of my post.

    I didn’t suggest not doing the things you share here. In fact, I think folks who follow the guidance I give will probably end up doing them.

    I just don’t think today is the day to try to build an online class to the standard of excellent online classes. Putting a F2F class online at short notice is not the same as building an online class for students who are ready to learn online, and if we try that, we will fail them.

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    • You are absolutely correct that it’s not the same, nor should it be. But that doesn’t release us from the responsibility of making the effort to do our best work.

      It’s more than a little bit discouraging to hear fellow educators advocate for doing less than our best That’s not the message I want to send to my colleagues, and it’s definitely not the message I want my students to hear. I get that you’re making a point with your rhetoric, but you are making a whole lot of assumptions about students’ deficits, and that kind of thinking is simply not helpful.

      There is a great deal that we can do to meet the needs of our students — and to figure out what literacies they have and to leverage those for instructional purposes.

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      • I don’t advocate not doing your best. I am saying that what is necessary for a good online class isn’t available to us or our students now. Given that reality, how do we help them learn? It won’t be through high tech solutions that create barriers to their learning.

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      • I see your point, here. I really do. But a few well-placed tutorials and support for folx who need it can go a long way. I hear you that now is not the time to investigate what it means to provide good online andragogy.

        Is there a way that we can work towards less complex solutions together?

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      • For sure! I am really impressed by the generosity I see in online teaching forums, as folks share sources they are already using (especially sources that have been vetted already in high-quality, on-purpose online courses). Some of that likely varies from discipline to discipline. I’m grateful for Teaching with a Sociological Lens.

        And while I’ll complain about the high cost of textbooks all day, some publishers are making things available now for free that are helpful to. In addition to teaching forums, I think contacting your textbook publisher (if you use a textbook) and asking for resources is worthwhile.

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      • I’m impressed as well, and I’ve noticed the textbook resources, and I’m really thankful for that. I’ve been exploring OERs for the past year or so, and there are some fantastic resources.

        I really enjoyed your latest article on quizzes. Resources like that are incredibly helpful. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

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