Home Office? Is it here to stay?

A while back I decided that Monday would be a good day to post my thoughts for the week because I had Friday and the weekend, but now that we are all still home, the weather is much warmer, and there are so many weekend activities from taking a bike ride, playing soccer with the boy or finishing up all of those little house improvement projects that usually gets pushed back because we are not home for a large part of the summer. In addition to our home projects, I am also teaching two summer courses which keep me busy during the week, as a result, I have no time or the energy to write on the weekends anymore.

I am not complaining I am actually excited to get some of these off my to-do list, it just does not leave a lot of room for writing, relaxing and doing fun activities. So, while doing these projects I thought it would be a great idea to clean and reorganize my study. In a way, I am planning ahead for the fall especially since I am still going to be teaching remotely for the upcoming semester and probably for spring 2021. This is a task I always use to do at the end of the spring semester before going completely digital. Usually, by the end of the year, I had so much paper from teaching that I to recycle it before it took over my home office.

I also wanted to make room for my son in my study as I am not sure how his school year is going to go. The state of Massachusetts has released all these guidelines, but our district needs to see how they can put them into effect. So, we have not heard what school will look like in September. Will the children go to school full-time, part-time/hybrid, or stay online? Therefore, organizing a workspace for both of us that actually works for two people is more important than ever. As I am cleaning, I am taking into account my child’s needs as well as decorating his side to fit his age and not mine without turning the room into a child’s study area. There is quite a bit to do besides buying an extra office chair. I am also adding storage solutions for the boy’s books, paper, folders as well as putting a map on the wall since he loves geography

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and creating a gallery wall to display his art.IMG_5946.jpg

In the back of my mind, I always hoped to share my workspace with my son as he grew older and this pandemic made me want to do it sooner rather than later. In the long run, I think that it will be good for both of us to have a space that is efficient and functional. Somewhere we can go work and then close the door when we are done just in case, we forgot to clean the space. 🤣

Are you making room in your home for a permanent home office? What kinds of changes are you making this summer as you prepare for the upcoming school year?

Katherine

 

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Are you Moving Online??

Did you finally decide to teach your course online? That’s great news!! Transferring your on-campus course to an online course takes a lot of planning and up front work especially in the beginning. Having said that I have had a lot of fun learning  how to design and teach e-courses.  This adventure has made me a better educator and has changed the way I view teaching. So, before you even begin designing a course and putting a course online you need to:

  1. Learn which management system your university uses and take all of the workshops they offer.
  2. Learn all about learning theories and which ones work best in an online environment.
  3. Learn about different types of software that can help you make your course more interesting.

The learning portion will take you at least a couple of semesters to learn and then there is the actual designing and teaching/facilitating part.  So once I learned the how to manage an online course by taking several workshops and a few graduate courses in the Instructional Design department, from which I eventually received my MEd in Instructional Design, I naively set up a course on Blackboard and thought I could teach online… hahaha. Teaching an e-course is a lot different from teaching a face-to-face class. So be prepared, because there is also a lot of trial and error until you find your online teaching style, which let me tell you is quite different from your in-class teaching style. The primary reason being that the dynamics of an on-campus classroom are very different from that of an online one because the students can’t see the instructor and many times they feel all alone as they stare at a computer screen wondering: WHAT DO I DO NOW? or WHAT I AM I SUPPOSE TO DO FOR THE WEEK? etc. Priority number one is to keep the course flowing like you would in a face-to-face class which will in turn keep the students calm and relaxed because once something goes wrong the students will get upset and you will get buried under a pile of emails. In order to alleviate  the anxiety, insecurity, and frustration there are several things an e-learning instructor can do:

  1. Keep the course organized. That can mean something different to each instructor. For instance, I like to have my courses organized by weeks and each week has a dedicated folder that has all of the information students need to know what they have to do for a specific week. This alleviates a lot of the stress students feel trying to find where everything is and what they need to accomplish for the week.
  2. Be consistent. For example, my week begins always on a Tuesday and ends on a Monday. Having the same beginning and ending to the week throughout the semester provides students with the structure they need and that makes them feel more in control, as confidence is key for them to keep doing well in an online course. The other thing that helps is that I have one due date for everything, which in my case is a Monday, the end of our week, so students know when all of their work must be completed and submitted thus allowing them to balance their work week better.
  3. Communicate with students. During the semester I log in at least couple of times a day even on a Sunday since all of their homework is due on Monday night. There is nothing worse than a student asking for help because they are having a technical issue or question on a homework assignment and not being able to find their instructor. Even if I don’t have an immediate solution to a technical problem they always feel better if I respond to them quickly.
  4. Create E-Lectures. In order to guide my students, I design and build my own video lectures. I accomplish that by using Adobe Captivate Captivate 9 logo or Camtasia Camtasia. This type of software allows me to give my students the same kind of lecture without being in class. It also makes the students feel more connected to the course and to me as they hear me speak and explain for example that week’s topic.
  5. Create relevant assignments. As I teach Business Communications I select assignments that have to do with business, but I also like to use themes such as advertising or social corporate responsibility. This makes the students more interested in the course as I keep them wondering what we will be talking about the following week thus making them want to log into the course more often.
  6. Return homework in a timely manner. There is nothing worse than a student waiting too long for their homework assignment to come back with feedback and a grade. I have found that if I don’t return them quickly the students have moved on and even if they receive a low grade they will not revise their assignment. As this is a writing course the objective is to keep students writing and revising their work as much as possible as that is how one improves. Also, not returning the homework within 10 days or so causes the students stress out about their grades. As a result, they start sending emails complaining that they have not received their assignment and that they are worried about their grades which in turn I have to respond to which adds to my workload so I might as well just return their papers sooner rather than later.

 

Katherine