> I notice some people are holding on-line office hours, only taking e-mail
> from a particular class on two or three specified days per week, for
> example! This seems to work against the very advantages e-mail gives us,
> but does give the teacher a breathing space, or balances out the demands of
> several parts of their workload.
> I'd be interested to know how others of you who have on-line or partially
> on-line teaching are coping with this. Do you sometimes feel swamped or
> have you found good ways to build checks and balances into the
Hoo, boy, Ann, lots to say about this . . . I've often felt swamped. I
find, though, that it's not really the workload, it's managing people's
expectations that are the problem. Nobody really knows the rules out
here, and often the rules are very different than the face to face ones.
(For instance, I have a heck of a time getting students to feel
comfortable calling me at home sometimes . . . and then on the other hand,
I have students who don't like it if I tell them I can't talk when
they've called outside of "office hours.") People sign up for the class
with wildly varying expectations, too . . . some people think they're
getting a correspondence course, and others seem not to notice all of the
course requirements . . . it's very odd. I think that we're in a
transitional period, though, and these problems will ease up.
One of the tricks to managing the whole thing is to lessen people's need
for one-on-one contact with the instructor over issues of process and
other course administrivia so that the instructor can concentrate on
issues of content. To some extent, I've found that this means "dumbing
down" the process -- only having a couple of kinds of assignments, and
regulating the workflow very strictly to two or three repeatable cycles
("week 1: talk about readings, week 2: write a paper," for example).
Again, I think that as people become more familiar with the technology and
as the tools get better, this will probably change.