And so it begins…

Seedlings sproutingAfter nearly a year of drafting, planning, and creating our online and hybrid courses, we are ready to take the next step: teach them.

We began last year with a group of five intrepid faculty who worked together to design online and hybrid versions of English 101, Composition, and an online version of English 201, Reading and Writing About Texts. This “first generation” was to have piloted their courses this fall and share the lessons learned with a “second generation” of faculty who were to teach these courses in the spring of 2018.

Our best laid plans went awry, however, due to unprecedented enrollment demands at our university. Far more students than we anticipated needed online and hybrid writing courses this fall, so we had to hire the second generation of faculty (five new instructors) over the summer and have them work alongside the first generation to teach these courses for the first time.

The second generation of faculty did not have the luxury of a year to design and build their courses, nor did they collaborate with an instructional designer. This places an entirely different pressure on these new five faculty, so we will be using a learning community model centered on virtual and f2f meetings to support one another as we implement online writing instruction at a scale beyond what we initially prepared for.

Our semester began on Monday, August 28th, so we are three days into it as I write this. Even after all the work I did last year, I felt anxious when I made my course “available” to students. It reminded me of sending my children off to school for the first time and wondering whether I had prepared them well enough for the “real world.” I felt relieved when they came home to tell me they had a “nice” teacher and had made some friends.

Now I am the teacher, and the perspective is quite different. I need to know if my students can learn from me and their peers in this new way of teaching. My colleagues and I still have questions and doubts about how to effectively teach online, but we are also invigorated by the talents all of us bring to this venture and the enthusiasm to get it right. Our goal is to share what we learn from this experience here on this blog.

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