Teaching Modalities for Fall Semester

David Galef offers a facetious look at the different ways of offering courses at U of All People.

August 28, 2020
 
 
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The tireless and very nervous administrative staff at U of All People have put their heads together (virtually) and come up with the following plans for instruction during these difficult, challenging, unprecedented, uncertain and financially unremunerative times.

Face-2-Face: Live “volunteered” students on the campus, kind of distanced in classrooms with no windows. Shielded indirect lighting. HFSA ventilation system that amplifies white noise. Masks required at all times except for respiration. No touching but surreptitiously passed notes are OK. Instructors are self-congratulatory types who see themselves as heroes, those who missed the cutoff for fall opt-outs or people who don’t believe the virus exists.

Face/No Face: Combination of live and online teaching spitballed by remote administrators to regain lost revenue. Teachers address live, huddled-apart students while frantically eyeballing the rest of the class via thumbnail views on laptop. Live students must wear masks and are discouraged from nosers or neck-warmer styles. Online students must be at least half-attentive since they will form the next live group, when the formerly live group retreats to online or astral projection. Instructors are multitaskers used to driving while texting.

Face/No Face Alt: Another combination of live and online teaching, to demonstrate the illusion of choice. Five-minute quarantine chambers before class and Clorox showers afterward. In front of classroom, equal-time use of 3-D holograms in place of physical beings. Once again, half the students will be online, but each assigned a nickname and a cute avatar. Magic tricks to stimulate student interest, including a rabbit emerging from an N95 mask. Instructors may have worked onstage or in the circus.

Online Live: Instructors Zoom with classes after staging dining rooms as home offices with walls of books. Entrance and exit of amusing household pets and small children encouraged, at least one appearance per session. Lecture videos that freeze, interrupted class convo, virtual whiteboard by an instructor inept with a touchpad and breakout rooms that reveal only three students in attendance. Live chat among students who think no one else can read what they write. Instructors may not be wearing anything below the waist.

Online Lag: Uploaded materials and questions not relevant until next month; student posts revealing they missed a month. Discussion board that resembles divergent Twitter threads. Quizzes that test who can google the fastest. Best for truly motivated learners who, in an earlier era, would absorb all they needed from the town library. Instructors record themselves pronouncing all they have to say on the subject, then do the same for family and other obligations.

Bio

David Galef directs the creative writing program at Montclair State University, not, thankfully, at U of All People. His latest book is Brevity: A Flash Fiction Handbook, from Columbia University Press.

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