# You Can’t Always Get What You Want

My online “classroom”…before any students show up.

A few months agoI said it was “noble” that some were trying to recreate as exactly as possible in-person experiences online. Multiple weeks into the new semester, I no longer think this is noble. And anyone who is doing a “hybrid” by choice I truly do not understand. I think these moves of mimicking in-person experiences online and going hybrid are done predominantly out of denial. They are done out of fear of the unknown, unfamiliar, and uncomfortable (to the faculty). To be quaint, I just keep saying to myself “Bless their hearts.” To be more realistic, I have to laugh in order not to cry.

Let’s analyze some of these hybrid/in-person-but-online attempts and parallels. First, though, some ground rules. “Hybrid” I am taking to mean $\neg$ (100% of the students complete 100% of the course 100% online). [Yay for $\LaTeX$ compatibility!] Next, let’s assume for simplicity that the students are all roughly in the same geographic location. That they’re either on or near campus, or at the very least all in the same time zone. Because if they’re all over the place, go ahead and start laughing becausenoneof this is feasible, even as a thought experiment.

EXAMS:Again,blogged about this one before. But now I see some are using a hybrid model to go back to paper exams. This could be due to the belief (which I find naive) that students will be significantly less likely to cheat if not on a computer. More likely it’s out of frustration in having to or attempting to learn how to grade and write new content in online portals like Blackboard or WebAssign.

Laughing yet?

Continue the thought experiment. At some institutions, like my own, faculty are discouraged from traipsing across campus during class change. Avoid the high-traffic times filled with students. We are to show up 15 minutes early for hybrid classes, and leave either 5 minutes before the period ends and hightail it, or wait until the next class in our room starts and sneak out then. So now, back to the thought experiment where we’re using this hybrid model with paper exams to create a sense of the “before times.” Which students are going to get extra time on the exam simply because you have to leave the tests unattended to go proctor the other half of the class? Which students are going to get extra time because they’re not in the room where you’re starting to collect? Please don’t mention “honor code”, either: we’re having this conversation in the first place predominantly because you don’t believe students really adhere to that.

Last but not least is the actual grading of paper exams. I started guffawing when I read on Facebook that some academics I know are using PPE to collect exams and then before grading baking the papers in an oven at 300*F for a few minutes to eradicate germs. I mean, as long as you don’t go up to华氏451.， 正确的？还有其他人正在收集学生地址和字面邮寄评估！如果您的考试开始依靠烤箱手套或USPS的效率，那么我将在肢体上出去，并说你应该放弃那艘船。

But this causes quite a few issues. First, of course, is the whole Zoom/Meet breakout rooms concept, creation, and management. The add-ons you may have to install that may or may not work on a given day that randomize the groups and assign rooms. Think of the learning curve and cacophonous fiasco as you have to remind students to mute themselves in this space, but un-mute themselves in this other space. Think of the audio kickback you’ll receive as you move from breakout to breakout. Then there’s calling the groups back and making sure everyone successfully returns to the main room. And these problems are just on top of the usual ones group work creates like “is the group actually working and staying on task?” or “are the members of the group appropriately matched and all contributing?” This is on top of the online issue of “How much bandwidth is used being in one or more video chats for an hour or longer?”

But then, just like with hybrid/online exams, imagine where the students are when they’re doing their group work. If this is a hybrid model and they’re physically in classrooms, imagine them all being on their laptops (battery power, anyone?) and in their breakout sessions. Do all of the students have headphones? Because if they don’t, what’s that room going to sound like with multiple people speaking simultaneously into a laptop microphone while wearing face masks, struggling to listen to others through the same laptop’s speakers? And if they’re not in the classroom, where else would they be? Their dorm, possibly with other roommates who may not even be in class, but rather playing video games? A library, which last I knew was supposed to be a place of peace and quiet? And again, this is assuming the students are in some area devoted to higher education—what if their location is actually less conducive to this work and more disruptive?

From Wikipedia. The Titanic musicians. Do we want to be called heroes for THAT?

Of course, more and more are using the argument that despite all the hassle and craziness of hybrid models, psychologically being in-person, however flawed, could be comforting to the students. Frankly, I think it sounds about as psychologically comforting as hearing classical music play as the cruise ship you paidwaytoo much money to be onsinks. Is it really that comforting being in a room with Xs everywhere to mark where you can’t sit? Is it nice to see people, but only from a distance? You can’t even fist bump your friends! Is it calming to see everyone cover half their face and struggle to be heard through necessary PPE? I’ve had colleagues (broad sense) remark that it’s hard in hybrid to get those students who can’t be in the room to feel a part of the room. I’ve had students remark that it’s pointless being in the classroom because the professor is constantly checking the chat and the screen to make sure the online students are being attended to.

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### 1回应You Can’t Always Get What You Want

1. Cassie Williams 说：

I disagree with your assessment that group work doesn’t work online. I’m doing it quite successfully in all of my (fully online) courses (freshman calc and junior/senior proof class). I’m not saying it’s perfect or as smooth as in person with physical whiteboards, but they talk and work in their groups, and I’ve been impressed with their ability to adapt to a tough situation. If you want to come “visit” my class and check it out, you’re welcome!