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Teaching at a community college.... what did I get myself into?

post #1 of 5
Thread Starter 
This fall I'm teaching three online classes- two at a community college and one at a state university. I've been an online TA before, but it was very informal and somewhat boring. The professor who normally teaches these classes is going on sabbatical, so I get to take over for a semester or two.

The pay is a PITTANCE (I'm doing this in addition to my "real" job) but it will pay for a very nice mid-winter vacation to a tropical destination. I don't even get to be listed as the instructor in the course catalog- I'm just "staff". I'm doing this for the experience and to see if this is something I want to pursue further. This is also supposed to prepare me for a teaching fellowship that I will be doing when I start my PhD in 2011.

Is there anyone else out there who is doing this? Any tips/tricks?
post #2 of 5
Hi, I'm not a teacher, but student who has taken many online classes.

I find that the online classes that seemed most successful were the ones that actually had the all the material lined out since the beginning of the semester. Everything was organized and easy to follow, when there are clear instruction on what to do when and rubric of how everything is graded. There also were interesting, relevant and easily accessible assignments to do (something that grabs my intellectual interest, but not a big project that requires long travel or complicated arrangement), instead of JUST reading assignment of textbook. That's boring. Discussion topics, that is not too easy, not too hard, but interesting and something that can be related to everyday life, were fun. Also, I find it really helpful when there are weekly "deadline" instead of everything due at the end of the quarter. It also gives great flexibility to students, if you can let students drop 1 or 2 weeks' assignment out of 10 or 12.

The most disappointing and boring online classes are when there is no participation whatsoever from the instructor. Some teachers do not participate in online discussion or give any kind of feedback. They just grade stuff and post the grade. There seems to be no "teaching."

What is the subject of this class?
post #3 of 5
Thread Starter 
Thanks for your ideas!

I'm teaching three classes: Wilderness in America, Environmental Humanities, and Introduction to Environmental Conservation. managed to wiggle out of the physical science class that they wanted me to take. Phew!
post #4 of 5
Quote:
Originally Posted by moonyoungi View Post
Hi, I'm not a teacher, but student who has taken many online classes.

I find that the online classes that seemed most successful were the ones that actually had the all the material lined out since the beginning of the semester. Everything was organized and easy to follow, when there are clear instruction on what to do when and rubric of how everything is graded. There also were interesting, relevant and easily accessible assignments to do (something that grabs my intellectual interest, but not a big project that requires long travel or complicated arrangement), instead of JUST reading assignment of textbook. That's boring. Discussion topics, that is not too easy, not too hard, but interesting and something that can be related to everyday life, were fun. Also, I find it really helpful when there are weekly "deadline" instead of everything due at the end of the quarter. It also gives great flexibility to students, if you can let students drop 1 or 2 weeks' assignment out of 10 or 12.

The most disappointing and boring online classes are when there is no participation whatsoever from the instructor. Some teachers do not participate in online discussion or give any kind of feedback. They just grade stuff and post the grade. There seems to be no "teaching."

What is the subject of this class?


Also, I'd like to add that discussion questions where there is more than one (or a few) right answers are better. When the questions are looking for out-of-the book answers and don't draw upon your opinions or person experiences, it gets really boring to answer and even more boring to read your classmates' answers. I've often thought that it must stink to be the teacher, having to read through the same answers over and over---and there's no real dialoge going on between people if a more interesting or deeper question were asked.

I've taken quite a few online classes, and know that you will get MANY silly questions from students, ones that can be found easily in your syllabus, etc. It amazes me that some people who take online classes seem clueless or don't read any of your expectations for them. It would frustrate me to no end if I were the teacher. I find that a 'syllabus quiz' is helpful in making sure that your students are aware of certain important pieces of your class (like how long they should expect it will take you to respond to an email, how many posts are required for each discussion board, and what they should do if they can't get the online drop box to work)
post #5 of 5
Quote:
Originally Posted by mrsfrenchy View Post


Also, I'd like to add that discussion questions where there is more than one (or a few) right answers are better. When the questions are looking for out-of-the book answers and don't draw upon your opinions or person experiences, it gets really boring to answer and even more boring to read your classmates' answers. I've often thought that it must stink to be the teacher, having to read through the same answers over and over---and there's no real dialoge going on between people if a more interesting or deeper question were asked.

The above is true for weekly discussions. But for concise information or specific concepts that you want your students to get, you can make it into interactive assignments. For example, my oceanography instructor would give us a link to a certain website pages (usually comprehensive and informative website supported through government kind of a thing) that included maps and graphs and asked questions that required us to analyze the maps and graphs along with questions that corresponds to the topic of the week. Nothing too hard, but it required me to actually dig for information from text and given links, to answer the questions that were given for that assignment.

Syllabus quiz is a good idea!
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