More and More Every Day – Rebecca Barrett-Fox, 4/2/20

You’re not working from home. You’re at home, trying to get some work done.

Rebecca Barrett-Fox, Ph.D.
Sociologist, Arkansas State University

Dr. Rebecca Barrett-Fox wants you to do a “bad job” putting your class online. Why does this suggestion make us uncomfortable? It gets to the core of who we are as academics and teachers.

Dr. Barrett-Fox explains what she means by “bad job.”

She’s been teaching classes online for years and is an advocate for solid online coursework. But, she cautions us against launching head-first into learning new technologies, experimenting with new approaches, and demanding too much of our students. “If you do something really hard, poorly, it’s going to hurt your students.”

As an expert on the Sociology of Disasters, Barrett-Fox wants you to remember that your classes are likely not the highest priority in your students’ lives right now. Like many of us, students are juggling working from home while parenting, others have upped their hours at high-risk jobs like healthcare, law enforcement, and stocking groceries. This is a global pandemic. A crisis. A disaster.

As you build your courses, remember: some of your students will get sick. Some will be caring for family members who get sick.

And the existence of one disaster does not guarantee against another. In fact, the town of Joseboro, where her college campus is located, was struck by a tornado in the last week of March, 2020.

Dr. Barrett-Fox demonstrates that one disaster does not guarantee against another.

In her Inside HigherEd article, Barrett-Fox lists ten things to keep in mind about your students as you’re moving your classes online. Things like, they’re sharing technology with family members. Their schedules have changed, and they might not “get” technology like you think they do.

So, to do a “bad job,” she doesn’t mean teach poorly. She means, focus on pedagogy, not technology. She provides 15 suggestions for building your classes. They all essentially say this, “Don’t do too much. Right now, your students don’t need it. They need time to do the other things they need to do.”

Dr. Barrett-Fox encourages you to focus on pedagogy, not technology.

She ends by encouraging us to release ourselves from high expectations. “This is not a normal time. We do not have to behave normally. We need to be compassionate.”

For Dr. Barrett-Fox’s full interview, please see our podcast:

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