Distance Teaching

This semester has me occasionally visiting a class (in the role of graduate researcher). I’ve been testing out some exercises I’ve designed on some willing (and some less willing) students in class. This has been a valuable experience for me and very much enjoyed. The occasional time I need to go in for any length of time I have a babysitter. One day recently the babysitter was unable to make it in due to some pressing matters. This was fine. I knew enough in advance that I made certain to prepare my lesson in a way that the students could access it on their own time. While part of what I do is typed out in advance, a part of what I do is also physical and verbal. The internet to the rescue.

Since I’m not the primary instructor for the course (just a visiting researcher) I simply let the instructor know I wouldn’t be in that day and went about recording and uploading a video to one of the various free video hosting sites on the web. I don’t do video often at all. What struck me was how simple all of this was. I wasn’t concerned or confused or dismayed by the inability to attend class that day (and neither was the instructor) — I just used freely available tools as well as I was able in a short amount of time and effectively transmitted important information to the students without leaving the chair behind the desk in my home. Some might say this is the “future” of education. I’m willing to say it is the “partial present” of education. It is already happening. It is only partial (and will only ever be partial) because there is something important about that same time/same place thing in traditional teaching. I believe that. It’s true of theatre too. Same time/same place means something. We gather. It will never go away — but things will certainly change as time goes on. The tools are here: use them.

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