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Personal Interaction - What we lost

 

I guess the whole point of all these Covid-19 regulations is to minimize (or eliminate) personal interaction so we don't infect one another. I understand that and I support it, but we humans were not built to live isolated in caves (or in bedrooms, looking at computer screens). College education, at its best, had a lot of personal interaction: professor/student and student/student. Here are some ideas for working around the restrictions:

  • Weekly cohort meetings. Yes, they are required. The group will be you plus me plus four or five other students, and I will come in with an agenda, but this is also a time when we can chat as a small group (wearing masks and sitting six feet apart) about what you are doing.
  • Office hours. My office is so incredibly tiny that there is no way for us to maintain social distancing, so I put "by appointment" in the syllabus. That's because I don't know yet where we can meet, but there is sure to be some place. I'll be on campus Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, and my last scheduled class ends at 11:00.
    • I'm scheduled for three classes in Dauch, back-to-back, and (of course) on different floors, so catching me between classes for anything more than a quick question will be difficult at 9 or 10 AM.
  • Comments on this blog. Find "Post A Comment" at the bottom of each item, and you can get a conversation going. This resource is 100% public, so anyone with a computer can find it.* Because it's so public, I've set things up so I must approve a comment before it appears (to keep out the trolls and the people who want to sell us things). But it's perfectly OK, and a good idea, to talk back.
  • Email. I haven't been too good about responding to emails, mainly because the typical student email in the past has been "I'm sick today." I think the hybrid format will change our attitude toward email, and I already have a feeling that the initial "welcome" email felt really good to most students. Lots of positive response to it.
    • There's certainly nothing wrong with you sending email to one another. An easy send-only way to send something to other students in this course is in the grey menu on the left of Blackboard: Go to "Course Tools" and find "Send Email."
  • Zoom? I'm still ambivalent toward this one, partly because of technical problems and partly because scheduling a required Zoom would be a problem—we have already used up all the available time slots for the cohorts. Perhaps a voluntary Zoom for office hours? If you have an opinion, this would be a good time to try out the "Post A Comment" link below.

* Fun stuff: Because this blog is very public, anyone who can Google can find it. In the past week we've had one reader from the Phillippines, and one who was looking for "St. Louis Nuts and Bolts Manufacturing" (presumably because I'm in the habit of using the term "nuts and bolts" for the basic mechanics of writing and course design).

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