April 30 Day 53: Commitment Day

May first is Commitment Day. Tomorrow, college-bound seniors are supposed to have pledged themselves (and their family’s money) to the next step in their educational journeys. It’s exciting to think about new horizons, new discoveries, new friends, and new adventures. That first year of college is a chance to reinvent yourself–to leave your mistakes behind, take on more responsibility, and grow.

But will the fall term look the same? The options discussed in Insider Higher Ed’s piece 15 Fall Scenarios range from back to normal to fully remote and everything in between.

Highly residential campuses will have to think very carefully about how to attend to their newly committed first year students. My university is a barely residential campus–but tied financially to a large Flagship State University. Decisions will be made centrally and students on my lovely, urban campus, will be an after-thought.

If it were my decision, I rather like the HyFlex model.

A HyFlex model The HyFlex model is perhaps the most flexible and for many will be the most attractive. It is also possibly one of the more difficult approaches for faculty. In this model, courses would be taught both face-to-face and online by the same instructor at the same time. Students could choose to return to campus or stay home. Those on campus could be assigned certain class slots when face-to-face is an option, allowing the schools greater control of social distancing in the classroom. This model tends to privilege synchronous learning, and to do it well often requires real-time in-class help (a TA or course assistant to manage the online students), an intentionally designed classroom and a great deal of patience from both the students and faculty.

Excerpted from Edward J. Maloney and  Joshua Kim, 15 Fall Scenarios, Inside Higher Ed, April 22, 2020. https://www.insidehighered.com/digital-learning/blogs/learning-innovation/15-fall-scenarios

I have done something similar unofficially for the more than a year. It is easier in well-designed classrooms and requires a no-fear attitude when approaching technology. Give me half my students face-to-face and the other half attending virtually and I will be much happier. Give me all my students face-to-face and I will the happiest.

Screen shot of from Winter 2020 before moving to remote teaching. Three student were in attendance through Zoom. Everyone else was in the classroom. Good times!

So as seniors are committing to unknown fall scenarios, I commit to flexibly addressing whatever fall decision gets made and continuing to build a supportive and inclusive mathematics community regardless.

Feature image Thompson Tower by Mark O Martin.

Published by Jenny Quinn

Mathematician. Mother. Wife. Leader. I am a professor of mathematics at the University of Washington Tacoma. Mother of Anson and Zachary. Wife to Mark. President of the Mathematical Association of America.

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