Today, I begin teaching my class for summer school. Thirty-one students are signed up for ‘The Hebrew Scriptures’ (more than I have for two classes in the fall), so we’re in for quite a wild ride, especially since it’ll be the first time I try to teach a bulk of my class synchronously. I’ll try to record an entry each day that highlights key experiences and lessons (if for no one else other than me)! And yes, you may have recognized I’m cheesy, and I’ll label these entries by a combination of ‘Google Meet’ (Google’s equivalent to Zoom) and the late Marcus Borg’s two books Meeting Jesus Again for the First Time and Reading the Bible Again for the First Time.
I’ll start optimistically. One of the concerns we educators face when going online is that we’ll lose community. This is inevitable. Synchronous classes can help with but not replace this loss. So, I’m experimenting with students taking some of their learning into their own hands in the hope that this isn’t just good pedagogy but also a way of building community. The first approach will be putting students in ‘Cohorts’. I do this anyway but it usually means students sit next to each other and work together/have discussions when the time is appropriate. But now I’m moving those meetings online. Each Cohort has a Cohort leader who is responsible for creating a Google Meet, inviting their Cohort, recording it, and sharing it. In those Google Meets I’ll try to reduplicate small group discussion and activities. Last night one of these Cohort leaders wrote me expressing excitement about the class and asking what days we plan on having these Cohort meetings so that she can send out the calendar invites. So, that seems like a positive first response!
Class begins in about an hour with introductions. We’ll jump right from introductions to materials. Rather than spend synchronous time on the syllabus, I recorded a video explaining the syllabus that my students were required to watch. All of them said they’ve done it, so I hope I made the right gamble there!