Online Courses from the Ground Up

So, before I get into this, a personal confession: I’ve been watching a lot of Star Trek the past couple of days.  Well, maybe not a lot, but the moments I can give over to watching television, I give to Star Trek.  I watched Star Trek IV last night, and I forgot how much I enjoyed that movie.  Spock does a mind meld with a whale!  And he gives the Vulcan neck pinch to a punk rocker on a bus in San Francisco!  It’s definitely the kind of movie you couldn’t make after the 80s ended.


“star” by Kiwi Tom is licensed under CC BY 2.0

Anyway, today I started doing some serious thinking about what happens if I need to move a summer grad course I am offering online.  As I was thinking through the changes I’d have to make, I realized that I have to go about this very differently than I have with the current semester.  I’m essentially trying to wrap up a semester online after two months of working with students face-to-face.  We’ve done a lot of work to build a sense of community together, and the online stuff is just a way to work through challenging circumstances.

But teaching an entire course online is a very different animal.  I’ve got to begin with assumptions that we won’t be meeting in person, and opportunities for synchronous work will be quite limited.

There’s also the complication that, although the course is different because it’s now entirely online, I’m still teaching amidst a global pandemic.  And so I’ve got to account for that, too. That means being sensitive to unexpected problems with students completing work, such as broadband issues, child care issues, and so on.

I’ve just started to dive into the problem.  And I feel like I have both more pressing concerns and a bit of a cushion—at the moment, I haven’t been asked to move my course online.  But I’ll run out of time quickly (as well as good options) if I don’t start soon.


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