How are COVID-19 educational disruptions characterized in different settings? What is being foregrounded and obscured -- as problems, and as needed response?


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Nadine Tanio's picture
May 8, 2020

I filled out a TA multiple choice questionaire recently about teaching during pandemic. Did I feel supported in access to remote teaching tools? Did I need workshops on how to run an online discussion, test prep,? etc.

What was unasked and therefore unstated is the trauma students are facing amid an administrative effort to carry on, do our best, and talks about our "Fill-in-the-Mascot" Family. In my class we hear stories of students forced to leave campus and return to unsafe family home environments. Many students lost their on-campus jobs, yet are still stuck in rental contracts, with full tuition fees, and reduced campus services. Many students discovered they were on-call "essential" workers which has played havoc with their health concerns and class engagement. We also have students with COVID19 trying to stay on top of their course workload because they are supposed to graduate this Spring. 

Meanwhile as I talk to students I hear that most of their classes are recorded lectures taught asynchronously. They tell us that they often binge listen to these at 1.5x speed just to get through them. --This is the mode of online learning that Robert Post in his NCA post describes as "effective and efficient" for the "tramission of information." I wonder who isn't he talking about.

In trying to teaching using zoom during the pandemic, Sharon Traweek and I have held synchronous online class discussions. Many students have told us this is their only synchronous class this quarter. We have tried to teach students to think critically in/of zoom as a built environment. To ask what  assumptions, hierarchies, epistemologies are built into our online classrooms. We have struggled to find ways to disrupt those pathways with alternative strategies.

In answer to the question what is being foregrounded and obscured? I think in all the reflection about the future of residential and online learning and about the multiple crisis Universities, as well as the rest of us, are facing; what gets obscured is how important and how difficult it is to teach to students that they must think critically with and about the tools they are given and expected to learn.

Amanda Windle's picture
May 7, 2020

Backchannels Addition to this question:


04 May, 2020