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Designing effective courses means thinking through the WHAT and the HOW (in that order)

I think most folks have heard by now that the California State University system (in which I work) has announced the intention to prepare for fall classes to be primarily online. I have to say, I am sort of confused why everyone is making such a big deal about this - no matter what your own institution is saying, no instructor who cares about their own mental health (let alone their students) should be thinking we are going back to 'business as usual' in the fall. In my mind, the only sane thing to do is at least prepare for the possibility of still teaching remotely.

Fortunately, unlike this spring, we now have a lot more time for that preparation. Faculty developers across the country have been working overtime since March, and they aren't slowing down now; we are all trying to make sure we can offer our faculty the training and resources they will need to redesign fall courses for online or hybrid modalities. But one big difference between the training faculty needed th…
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Keeping Your Zoom Sessions Secure

By this time, I'm sure most people have heard about "Zoombombing", where random (and sometimes not so random) people will enter a Zoom session and try to disrupt it in various ways (note for trivia enthusiasts: the term was first added to Wikipedia on March 28). Hopefully most people have also heard about the many ways to prevent this from happening. Zoom has taken steps to make things more secure by default but I thought it might be helpful to provide a simple round-up of Dos and Don't that you really need to know.

DO secure your session links by using a password and/or requiring registration. For some events (e.g., virtual happy hours that are open to anyone), I know it's easier to just give out a link publicly, but at least ask people to email you for the password.

DON'T use your personal meeting room for public meetings; use a random ID created specifically for your session. 

DO know who is in your session by:

Enabling the Waiting Room(and then DON’T admit pe…

This is about getting through, not re-inventing your course

As someone who has worked hard to build a lot of interactivity into my courses, I have never been interested in teaching fully online courses, in part because I have felt that the level of engaged interaction could never match that of a face-to-face class (not that there aren't some exceptional online courses out there; I just have a strong preference for the in-person connection). But the current situation is not really about building online courses that are 'just as good' as our face-to-face courses; it is about getting through this particular moment without compromising our students' learning too much. So if you are used to a lot of interaction in your F2F class, here are some options for adapting that interaction for a virtual environment:
[NOTE: SDSU is a Zoom/mostly Blackboard campus so that's how I've written this but I am pretty sure that other systems have similar functionality]

If you use clickers in class to break up what is otherwise mostly lecture: …

Keep calm and keep teaching

I am still trying to figure out why everyone seems to be freaking out but given that they apparently are, we are seeing more and more campuses closing / moving classes online (including my own). If you are among the many instructors who are now scrambling to keep your classes on track, I have some suggestions for dos and don'ts...

DO wash your hands, and DON'T touch your face. Is anyone else feeling sort of appalled at how bad their personal hygiene apparently has been up to now? I'm surprised I don't get sick way more often than I do...DO get good information about COVID-19 in general. The Atlantic, which normally limits the number of articles you can access without a subscription, is giving everyone free access to some of their coverage and it is all excellent.DO check your readiness to use the technology you will need. Some institutions have developed readiness checklists (like this one from San Jose State). In my mind, the two big tech-related questions are:Have you…

A new dimension of empathy

This is part II of the lessons I took away from the Executive Leadership Academy...

The other surprising and amazing aspect of the ELA was meeting the other fellows, many of whom were also women and people of color. Simply being in a room with so many people who are leaders on their campuses, who are deeply committed to diversity and inclusion, and who are not afraid to talk about that commitment in the context of their roles as leaders was a first for me. Again, I’m not sure I can explain it well but I am pretty sure it was the first time I have been in a room where I felt completely accepted, even part of the “in crowd”, not IN SPITE of being a woman of color who cares about diversity and inclusion, but BECAUSE of it. That feeling, in itself, has given me a ton to think about. In particular, I keep wondering: is this what white people (or at least white men) feel all the time, maybe without even being aware of it?

There is a quote I like that goes something like, “When you are accu…

Learning to be an authentic leader

This summer I had the opportunity to attend the Executive Leadership Academy (ELA) at UC Berkeley’s Center for Studies in Higher Education. When I arrived for the first day, I didn’t really know what to expect. I had seen the agenda and knew that I would learn a lot about aspects of higher ed administration that I have not been involved with before (like fundraising, working with governing boards and crisis management); I also figured that at least some of the sessions would not be too new (like recruiting and retaining diverse faculty). I was correct on both counts.

But the most valuable aspect of the ELA was not really in the content of those sessions (though that content was all excellent and I know will prove incredibly useful in the future). The real benefit was in something I had no way of anticipating: hearing the stories and personal experiences of the many speakers who were from minoritized backgrounds. Almost all of the presenters were former Presidents or Provosts and for m…

Fun is in the eye of the beholder

In my last post, I highlighted four criteria one might use to consider what projects and roles to take on. I posted a link to that on my personal Facebook page, with the summary comment, "Realizing that maybe what is missing from my work is fun. Next step is figuring out why and how to get more of it..." A friend pointed out that "If everyone declined things missing the fun element, every RTP committee would be empty, as would most governance" and she is absolutely right. So let me clarify that I don't need everything I do to be fun, and certainly not all the time, as long as at least one of the other criteria are satisfied (i.e., I feel I'm growing, or it's something I feel passionately about, or it gives me a sense of accomplishment).

At the same time, if I don't feel like anything I'm doing is particularly "fun", then that's a problem too. And what I've realized is that while my work with the CTL generally provides a sense o…