Friday, 25 February 2011

What professors do: Day Five

Day Five, Friday

One of the days when you don't want to get up, when you know form start that it will be awful. I cannot grasp it's Friday already; this week has just vanished.

Still, I have to live through the day.

8:30 At computer, check private email, FB. Read Phil's blog. What strikes me when I read it is how different daily routines are for an American and a British professor. I remember that weird rhythm: you either teach Monday-Wednesday-Friday, 50-minutes sessions or Tuesday-Thursday, 75-minute sessions. The session is over before you have got into the topic. And all those quizzes. But I can write a separate blog on this.
9 Open work email. The chapter author – bless her! - has sent the references. Read through quickly, send both chapters to co-editor. The author wants to read another chapter to make connections – excellent! Email the other author to ask permission. A message from a journalist who interviewed me a couple of weeks ago, with some additional questions. Wish strongly to ask him to go to Hartford, Hereford and Hampshire, but refrain from it and simply ask how urgent it is. A message from a student who has heard about the Matter and wonders whether they can do anything. New paper from Morag. More frantic correspondence.
10 Mid-morning coffee on the patio
10:15 More correspondence on the Matter
10:20 Back to where I was interrupted two days ago. Cannot do anything creative in my state of mind. Start building my online masters course Aesthetic approaches to children's literature for the Autonomous University of Barcelona. I thought it would be easy and quickly done, because I have all the materials from last time, but they have changed the platform, so I sit with a Spanish-English dictionary trying to figure out the various buttons. Let me tell you that a dictionary does not provide correct computer terms. Already last time I had to do a lot of guessing, but regrettably, I haven't saved my own glossary. Search online for a demo. Demo doesn't match the real platform. Cannot find “Delete” button after uploading tons of test files. Get desperate.
12:10 finally start coming to terms with the &$%!!££%!?? course platform
12:15 check email. Apart from more desperate correspondence about the Matter, a message from co-editor with the most recent version of Introduction. Quick read through, to realise that in this final draft we have not complied with our own guidelines (spacing, double blanks, single and double quotes, font size for indented quotes, punctuation inside quotes). This is of course the consequence of our coming from different disciplines. The publisher's house style is equally alien to both of us. Volunteer to fix it.
12:30 lunch
12:45 pay a bill after Staffan's reminder
12:50 resume work with Introduction
13 send Introduction to co-editor. Resume building the virtual course (but have by now forgotten how to do it). I have used many platforms before: Blackboard, Mondo, more than I can remember. As soon as you have learned one, they switch to another. This one is Moodle, which I have used before, but it doesn't help much because they keep developing it and adding new features. Once I have figured out how to do it, it goes relatively quickly, except that I need to check every feature to see whether it works. When I agreed to run this course again I assumed it would be the same platform, otherwise I would have said no. The whole point of a virtual course is that you only have to prepare it once!
2:15 take a short break.
3:15 check email. Page proofs, as usual, urgently. Yet another draft of the Matter paper. Resume work on course. (I realise that I have never blogged about my experience of online teaching. Will do!)
5:50 Have build the core of the course (weekly materials, forums, a few other features) and will call it a day. Check email. A request from a journal to review mathematical picturebooks. Just what I need!
6 Check private email and FB.
6:30 switch off computer and not switch it on until Monday?


Anonymous said...

I took that webcourse of yours in Åbo Akademi and totally loved it. It was one of the best and most useful courses I took while in the university. Thanks a lot! I'm glad you're rebuilding it for Spanish students because I'm sure others will enjoy it as well. :)

And thanks for the blog as well, I've read it for quite a while now. :)


Maria Nikolajeva said...

This is the best reward a teacher can get: somebody remembering a course of ten years ago. Thank you! I am writing a post about online teaching, so look out for it.