Mar 23
The New Normal: Lessons Learned

It's only Week One of our new teaching reality, but already I'm feeling more comfortable operating in a virtual work setting than I was last week. That's how fast the learning is happening for me, likely for you, and probably for our students, also.

Technology tools are our friends during this time, and our workplace friends and colleagues are our lifeline who will see us through the ups and downs. To that end, today's post focuses on the human side of working from home.  

I've learned a lot, stumbled a fair bit, and gained confidence each time I've reached out for help and solved a problem without a techie down the hall but a colleague just around an online corner. 

Lessons learned

I need the discipline of a routine and a schedule to keep me on track during the day. To that end, I've set up a “morning check-in" chat with my department colleagues via MS Teams. I start the chat each morning, as if I were opening the office door and saying “Good morning!" As others roll in, they join the chat, we check in, share some conversation (maybe a few good GIFs) and then, one by one, check out and get on with our work. It's immediate, informal and fun.

Learning gained

I've already held several meetings by WebEx. I had never used the tool before last Monday, but already I'm comfortable handling business via that channel. My home bandwidth seems a bit wonky at times, so I've learned to shut off the video feature, use only the audio channel and manage my contribution that way. It's a productive way to do business and can accommodate around 20 people at a time, so you could connect with students effectively in smaller groups using WebEx.

Adjustment is unfolding

After almost one full week of working from home, I'll admit that the novelty has already worn off, and I'm settling into this new normal.

Importantly, I know I'm not alone. My colleagues are just a WhatsApp or MS Teams chat away. And there's always email or the phone. Old-fashioned, maybe, but tried and true functional.

This is our new normal. Together, we will define it – and conquer it.

What have you learned in your first week of working from home?


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I agree with you, Amanda - ...

I agree with you, Amanda - it has been a week of intensive learning! Very soon I will make my first attempt at a live Webex class. I'm hopeful that it will work well, but I'm prepared with a backup plan in case it doesn't. I think a good dose of compassion for ourselves and our students is in order right now. It's good to get out of our comfort zone and give these new technologies a fair try, but when the inevitable bumps occur, let's not be too hard on ourselves or our students.
Picture Placeholder: Gail Horvath
  • Gail Horvath
 on 3/23/2020 10:14 AM

The message I received on F...

The message I received on Friday the 13th (ironic huh) was that we were a "go" with online starting the Monday, March 16th.  I have been doing WebEx meetings, classes, posting lecture videos, discussion boards, WebEx office hours for a week already.  Each tool depended on the course needs as I am course lead for two courses and a key support for the third.   Trying to get into a routine but have yet to have a break for more than a few hours since Monday, March 9th.
Picture Placeholder: Maria Vincenten
  • Maria Vincenten
 on 3/23/2020 10:58 AM

Great advice, Gail. Thanks ...

Great advice, Gail. Thanks for sharing. And kudos for trying something new. Some of the things I've learned this week are:

- MS Teams is so helpful to collaborate faster.
- My hubby talks too loud on his calls. We're figuring this out! :)
- A piece of paper inside a sheet protector makes for a nice white board to list the day's schedule for our girls. We work on this the night before so they know what to expect for the day.
Picture Placeholder: Janine Carmichael
  • Janine Carmichael
 on 3/23/2020 11:34 AM

Janine, we started using MS...

Janine, we started using MS Teams in our department last week, too. We have a main channel for everyone and sub-channels for each curriculum group. It's much more efficient than email chains! It may seem daunting at this time to ask people to learn yet another new platform, but MS Teams is very easy to use as a chat channel. It has much more capability than that, of course, but the chat functions alone make it worthwhile.

Maria, I hope you get a break soon! That sounds like a lot.
Picture Placeholder: Gail Horvath
  • Gail Horvath
 on 3/23/2020 11:41 AM

Like all of you, the Commun...

Like all of you, the Community Services faculty are using MS Teams for chats, we are a normally talkative group, so we all knew this would be our Achilles heel of online learning. It has worked really well, and has kept us laughing and enjoying our different presence. We are also starting to use WebEx for classes in Learn, one colleague jumped in with two feet and is having a guest speaker in her class this afternoon, via WebEx on the presenter's smart phone, and the instructor managing the power points on her end - yikes!! As a Doctor of Education (Distance) student, I have to say this is all making me smile, we are practicing what I've been preaching, but will also admit that it is a huge curve for folks who recognize their discomfort with change coupled with the extreme uncertainties we are all living with. Keep up all the great support to each other! :)
Picture Placeholder: Ruth Lindsey-Armstrong
  • Ruth Lindsey-Armstrong
 on 3/23/2020 12:14 PM

I'm learning how important ...

I'm learning how important other humans are to my well-being.  Communities like the FacultyFfridays (now delivered to your INBOX daily!!), are saving me from going STARK RAVING MAD!  Thanks everyone for being my life boat.  I'm getting back to synchronous webex classes tomorrow ... looking forward to it.
Picture Placeholder: Shannon Derksen
  • Shannon Derksen
 on 3/23/2020 1:24 PM

Shannnon, Ruth, Gail and Mar...

Shannnon, Ruth, Gail and Maria:
Thanks so much for reading FF and furthering the conversation with your comments. We have so much to learn from each other -- and such good support to offer each other!
Picture Placeholder: Amanda  Le Rougetel
  • Amanda Le Rougetel
 on 3/23/2020 2:27 PM