Florida State University teaching assistants are working on transferring class materials online as the university switches to distance learning in an effort to reduce the spread of the corona virus. This comes as FSU is moving to distance learning for the rest of the spring semester.
The move is posing challenges for professors and teaching assistants. Jonathan Lubin has taught online classes before, so other TAs are asking him for advice. One of the issues Lubin discusses with them is burnout. He says students will likely be flooding their teachers' email inboxes with questions and he recommends TAs set a specific time to read emails and announce those hours to their students.
However, burnout is just one of the hurdles teaching assistants could face. Lubin says most of his lessons can be seamlessly transferred online, but converting class exercises and group projects will be more difficult.
"Not everyone is going to be there at the same time," Lubin says. "People might not have the right internet access. The applications we use like Zoom might not be accessible on other types of phone operating systems... So how can we make sure we hold a normal class?"
For less tech-savvy teaching assistants like Adela Ghadimi, there's also a learning curve.
"It's been difficult just thinking about how to restructure my course because it's a very applied class. It's very activities based. It's very practical. So trying to think of how to convert a group conversation piece... and still, get my point across—that part has been difficult... let alone then also trying to learn the technology," Ghadimi says.
Ghadimi says she'll have to make video recordings of herself teaching, and worries it might be challenging to hold a student's attention and keep her class interactive.
"For me, it's really difficult because I would have had to start from the beginning of the semester and structure this course entirely [differently] from the beginning," Ghadimi says.
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