One of our longtime favorite blogs at the Digital Humanities Initiative is ProfHacker at The Chronicle of Higher Education. If you look at the group that produces it, you will find some of the great names in Digital Humanities: Brian Croxall, Kathleen Fitzpatrick, Adeline Koh and Ryan Cordell are only a few of the exciting teacher/scholars who post there. If you go all the way to the bottom of the most recent column, on the left, in very faint type (yeah, this is a problem!) you can click “Subscribe” and have new ProfHacker posts delivered via email.
This week we were thrilled to see a post by Anastasia Salter on “Preparing Lectures for Large Online Classes.” Getting these lectures ready is not only time consuming, but can be frustrating and intimidating even for a very experienced teacher. Salter talks about the give and take with students that many of us rely on when we lecture, and the different kinds of information students need when learning online.
Recording these lectures highlights a lot of differences between onsite and online: increased, and more personalized, interactions form some students, and the inability to read what seems like disengagement or vagueness from others when we can’t see them or “read” their faces. Claire Potter, who is teaching the Intro to Digital Humanities online this semester, is only beginning to come to terms with how much the format changes the class and the interactions with the students. But she was also incredibly intimidated by recording the lectures, something she was surprised and unsettled by. One thing that made her feel a little better about it was talking to a colleague who admitted the same thing — and also told her that towards the end of a lecture the computer, which had been balanced on a stack of books, fell off the desk, and she just let it go — on the theory that it might help the students to know that sometimes teachers feel awkward too.