Notes From the Wasteland No. 40 ‘Here Are Four Things I Do When I’m Teaching Online’

  1. Super-size My Enthusiasm

I have a busy day today. I have lots of teaching to do, all of it online. I reckon that for every one minute of online teaching I have to do I need about five minutes more enthusiasm and this is some calculation, not quite dog years but maybe Zoom minutes. I have to do this otherwise the experience for everyone who enters your classroom is such a bad one and with things being the way they are at the moment, bad online experiences amplify themselves so loudly that they cast a sonic shadow over everything else. There is just no need for anyone to experience this type of class because these type of classes are wholly avoidable.

2. Transform the Ordinary

That’s not to say that my classes are always interesting; I could never make a claim of that magnitude. Some of my classes, most of my classes, are just ordinary at the level of insight and discovery – a suggestion, here, a thought there, a reason for further thinking outlined, somehow – but ordinary can be transformed if we take the time to make the context of the ordinary more compelling. Take the time to make the ordinary more compelling by caring how you describe it. How you let other people experience the ordinary.

3. Care. Really Care. No, Really.

No matter what we do in life we really need to care about it, otherwise what we do in life doesn’t really seem to matter. Now take this concept and expand it to the point where caring takes on a new meaning, becomes something like super-caring, and then apply it to the people you are online with. This is the only duty we have to those we meet in virtual classrooms – we simply have to care so much that our caring becomes something that matters to those we are online with.

4. Don’t Waste People’s Time

I am continually hearing horror stories of people, I can’t call them academics because clearly that’s something they’re not interested in, who fill the entire time they are online with a class by showing them films. Films. And if the class is only fifty minutes, say, then that’s how long they show the film for. And then because most films are more than fifty minutes long, they show the rest of the film in the next class. In this way, all they need to do is to get people to log on and then press Play. One story I heard, the film in question was over three hours long and so, without so much of a blink of the eye, let alone a nod to the poor people in the class, the film began at the beginning and spooled out over three online sessions.

What. A. Complete. Waste.

Of. Someone. Else’s. Time.