Wow! Is it really week 6? It seems like just yesterday I was lamenting over week 3. So why haven't you hear from me since week 3? That's easy: I'm stinking busy!
The past three weeks have been a balancing act and in some respects, I seem to be on the losing end. I have 20 students between two sections for College 3 and it seems as if the workload is heavier than it was last time I had 20 students. The grading for this class is extremely time consuming and at times, tedious. Don't get me wrong, I love what I do for this class. It's just that when I'm in a time crunch, it's hard to enjoy the process.
Meanwhile, only about half of my English 1102 class is on board. This keeps grading at a minimum, but it almost seems harder to work with fewer students. I put so much mental energy into re-orienting myself to what's going on in the class, only to have a few assignments to grade.
There's been quite a learning curve here, even though I've been teaching online for five years at other colleges. The actual course I'm using was laid out differently than how I typically put classes together, which perhaps makes a difference in how students approach the class.
For example, typically I organize the class by week; whereas, this class is arranged by projects. It seems like a no-brainer to enter each project and complete the steps, and yet, it isn't happening. I think some of this may be because if a student gets behind, he or she gets lost. I thought I headed this off with an "Assignments" tab that lists all the assignments that need to be complete, but since I'm not seeing the results I'm expecting, I have to take into account that students might not be getting it.
Another thing I'm considering is that at College 1, online classes are a way of life and students tend to take them every term, so they have more experience. At College 3, I'm working with masters-level students, so they're just more academically mature.
At College 2, however, it seems like most of my students do not have experience with classes that are exclusively online. Couple this with the fact that most are transfer students trying to get the class "out of the way at the local community college," and that pretty much equals: Care about this class? Not so much!
I sent out an email last week expressing my concerns about the lack of work I was receiving and magically those blessed green boxes started to appear in the grade book, so it's becoming apparent who is serious about the class and who is wasting tuition money.
Summer school is tough.
Shortened classes are tough.
Online classes are tough.
Combine the three: crazy/tough.