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This was a tough semester. For students, for faculty, for staff. For everyone involved in higher education. However, I am convinced that learning happened. While many might not consider this the most rigorous of assessments,  many students in my classes noted in their own reflections, unsolicited, that they were amazed at how much they learned in courses they  took with me this fall semester 2020.

This learning happened despite a compressed semester comprised of two 6.5 week  sessions crammed back to back with one day in between. Students were encouraged to take no more than two four-credit classes each session, but some couldn't help but have more than that, especially seniors who had less choice in what courses they needed take. I heard more stories of stressed out students than ever before in my twenty-three year teaching career. COVID, lack of regular social  interaction, the presidential election, as well as the compressed semester itself all contributed to the angst.

And yet learning happened. I am more convinced than ever that the asynchronous approach to online teaching is the way  to go. Yes, students noted that they missed  in-person classes, but I also heard from many about how Zoom wasn't like in-class either. My students who told me how much they learned in my classes also recognized that the discussion boards allowed us to hear from everyone - unlike in a Zoom discussion or in a face to face classroom. Please do not get me wrong; I can't wait to be back in the classroom again. But rather than teach in a classroom with students physically distanced from each other and masked up, I will continue to design and offer asynchronous classes for the coming semester.

Many people have asked me what I do or how I approach course design, and I have decided to blog about the steps I take to create my classes over December and January. Our semester begins on Monday, February 1. If you or your colleagues are interested but also flummoxed about how to teach asynchronously, feel free to pass these posts on to them, or ask them to sign up on my blog to get my new posts.

I am not saying I have all the answers. But my students were very positive, some enthusiastically so, in sharing their thoughts even when they were not solicited. I think I am doing something right and want to share in case it could be helpful to others. I have benefited greatly from faculty development opportunities that my college has made available. I feel that posting my course design process may help others who were not afforded the chance to learn about online teaching until recently, or at all.

I will be blogging about how I build three classes for the Spring 2021 semester: History of Western Art II, The Art of the Medieval World, and a new class for me, African American Art. I'll be designing them all for asynchronous delivery.

You're most welcome to follow along!

The last time I posted to this blog was the Fourth of July in 2019. Wow. A lot has happened since then, huh? Yeah. A lot.

In 2019, the Art History major was eliminated at my school and only the minor remains. One of my colleagues in the department was let go.  Another retired. I am the last Art Historian standing. Odd that.

And then: 2020. The Pandemic.  I was on sabbatical for the first months of 2020,  but it was still all weird. I wrote a book during the first six months of 2020. It's now being read by peer reviewers. I should  get some  comments back in early  winter. The book, not surprising to blog readers, is about how Division III institutions  can better  support their student  athletes.

Classes have been  completely online since the fall  term began, for me, in the middle of August. I teach them asynchronously (which I will talk about on this blog in future posts).

In the middle of October I joined the Department of History. As I am now the only Art Historian at my college, a colleague who knows me well reached out to ask if I would be interested in teaching in and building a Public History program. And I was. So, we  are now the Department of History  and Art History.  I'll still keep  my office, but I am excited for this new role and teaching these new courses. There are exciting  overlaps between art history  and public history and I look  forward  to exploring them all.

And what about those student athletes? Well, as at many places (Notre-Dame and Clemson not withstanding), there are no sports on our campus this fall. Some of the teams were finally able to start practicing together a few weeks ago. But there are no competitions. Will there be  some games and matches in the spring? I hate to say it, but I'm not  holding my breath.

And I miss them. I miss the players. Zooming with them is not the same. Not Tweeting them Friday nights before their games is sad; it's a ritual I miss. And Saturdays? Oh, don't even get me started on the first crisp Saturday afternoon when  I realized I would not be traveling to campus for a game. It hit me like a brick. I finally watched an NFL game later that weekend, and I found myself stuffing my feelings with wine and Dorito's. It was a sorry sight. I knew the football team had become a big part of my life, but having it gone? It was really and very truly difficult.

So, that's news. I'm craving connection that Zoom can't bring. I'm hoping to use my voice, my words, my blog, to make some new connections and remind everyone who follows this blog that I am still out here, even if it has been radio silence for awhile.

And this is also  to remind everyone that like the football team and student athletes  everywhere, we need to continue to develop and demonstrate the resilience that they show every game, every practice, every season. Even in this crazy year, when they are not playing at all.

Hang  in there, all.

 

 

 

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