Showing posts from March, 2020

Unsolicited Advice: Suddenly Online Teaching?

Fig 1: Empty Tables, Empty Chairs Welp, here you are. You’ve been asked to teach online for the first time. (Probably because of coronoavirus scares.) In a perfect world, you’d have lots of time to conceptualize your class in a whole new way to accommodate the strengths of the online format, providing a powerful educational experience. This is not a perfect world, though (e.g. coronavirus scares), so here’s some quick-and-dirty tips to convert your classroom experience online. Setting Up I: Technology As soon as they hint your class might go online, start exploring your online options. Most universities have a learning management system like Canvas or Blackboard, and maybe you’ve already used it for your face-to-face classes, but explore what bells and whistles you might have missed. You might set up a phone call or consultation with a specialist at your school or just someone you know who has successfully taught online before. Setting Up II: Adjusting Instruction Once you ha

5% Better: A Painless Approach to the Better Planet

This post actually began when I started listening to podcasts about exercising while exercising (Try it--it's remarkably motivating and self-congratulatory) and I came across this one from NPR's LifeKit series. It made me think: we tend to think in such extremes, especially in terms of activities that reflect an identity. Either you are a health nut or a coach potato. An obsessive workaholic or a work-to-live slacker. A rabidly alarmist environmentalist or a climate-change denying eco-villain. But what if I approached my environmental habits the same way I did exercise and eating healthy--not an all-or-nothing proposition, but a series of habits that get me incrementally closer to a better life? Much like living a healthier lifestyle, being incrementally more environmentally friendly starts with recognizing your current strengths and weaknesses and building on that. My household is not the worst. Since living in Austin four years ago, I've become extremely co