Invisible Work

Following on from yesterday’s post, I finished the WebCT site for my senior seminar. Both of the courses I’m teaching this term are pretty complete on WebCT (I just have to review all the rest of my Powerpoints for the 1st year class, tweak or completely revise them to match the changes I’ve made to the syllabus and my approach this time around, and upload those for all the classes past week one).

Still, if you asked to see what I did for work over the past few days, it wouldn’t seem impressive. I’ve created assignments, calendars, pre-seeded the discussion for every class with the opening questions, tweaked or created fresh organizer pages for every seminar with links to articles in databases if they were available, revised the syllabi, etc., etc., etc.

To me, that’s a lot accomplished. However, it lacks the satisfying heft of a pile of papers marked or the ego-boosting effect of a sizable word-count as I work on the next article. Even I have to admit that!

Ah, but there’s method in this madness that makes me anticipate a smoother term ahead. I’m hoping by having front-loaded all this WebCT work to the start of the term that I’ll do away with a lot of the interruptions that crop up when I realize I forgot to upload the latest material to the site and rush off to do so before a class. Worse yet, I sometimes find I’d only drafted the revisions to a Powerpoint file, say, and never completed them, so half an hour before class time I’m frantically editing a file and uploading it to the server!

This time around, I hope that burning the midnight oil on getting my course preps ready as can be before term starts helps me to avoid these mistakes once we’re up and running next week. Because I have a lot of writing that I plan to complete this term, both for work and for pleasure. I’ll do a lot better at that if I’m not frantically working on WebCT or Powerpoint revisions.

5 Responses to “Invisible Work”

  1. heu mihi Says:

    I’m impressed. Here I am feeling good about having my syllabi and a single handout completed, and classes start tomorrow! Perhaps I should spend the afternoon thinking up assignments….

  2. sm Says:

    I’m impressed! It really does sound very organized!

  3. What Now? Says:

    I’ve spent the weekend with a similar theme, trying to get as much prep, assignment creation, etc. done now in order to have a smoother winter and spring ahead of me. Here’s hoping it works for both of us!

  4. Belle Says:

    Thanks for the comment over at my blog on online stuff. See, I’ve always figured that such prep was a good thing, but that came from way back (late 90s) and my R1 PhD place that worked with faculty to get it all done long before it went live. I really admired their program’s commitment to faculty and the online program. Where I am now, the expectations were much lower, and nobody offered any guidance/help in getting it prepped. Heck, I didn’t even know I was teaching it until the first of December!

    I’m pretty freaked about getting it all on before classes start. Our IT person said I just needed the layout and the basics up, and then could go ahead and add the slides, links, etc as the course goes along. Eep.

    Is your course the entire semester? or ‘intensive’? Ours is only eight weeks, and I’m finding that really fast. Next year I shall do this better, but right now it feels like swimming with hungry sharks.

  5. ancarett Says:

    Belle, I have the entire term for my course (no intensive classes here) and I knew a ways back that I was teaching it. I think you need to go easy on yourself, despite the IT person’s thoughts, in getting things up and running. One option that might help is to use the chatroom (if there is one) for an extra set of “virtual office hours” this week (maybe in the evening) so you can field comments, questions or requests early on to figure out what needs to go up there.

    Do the students know the online system well? Is there a good “help file” you can point them to if they’re new to the software? Just having a link to that will probably calm down a few people.