Director’s Blog

Wishing You an Engaging Quarantine

by | Sep 29, 2021 | Director's Blog

Fall quarter is here at last, and I hope it was a fairly smooth start for all of you. Before I delve into my topic for today, I just wanted to say thank you to those of you who read and reach out to say you enjoy my posts. I really appreciate it! I don’t have a comments section because internet comments sections are where my faith and hope for humanity go to die. So your emails are refreshing, thank you!

A few of you reached out about students in quarantine and how you maintain a discussion-based class. I know we’re all facing challenges with students unable to attend class – and lab folks, I see you, this is a giant problem. More on that in another post. For this one, I’ll offer some ideas for trying to keep quarantined students engaged with in-class discussions. I’m also happy to meet and discuss your class since context always helps me give better advice.

Depending on your classroom, see if these students can join via Zoom. This could be through the class computer and projector or a laptop/tablet that you bring. If students are discussing in small groups, having a laptop that can travel to a group is a better choice. This group could go outside or to an empty classroom nearby so that noise isn’t a problem. Alternately, if you have more than one student in quarantine, they can simply be their own group on Zoom.

Using Zoom isn’t always ideal if you are having a class discussion versus small group discussion, especially if the student is on a laptop versus the class tech. For this scenario, I recommend having them on Zoom but participating through chat, google docs, or another channel you like. This actually works well for the whole class since any student can offer their thoughts without having to speak. But if this divides your attention too much, just open it for the quarantined students, and be sure to check for their responses. Be sure to also share responses aloud with the class so their contributions are still part of the class discussion. Depending on your classroom, you can also livestream the class and have students participate through text instead of having them try to Zoom in.

Office hours can be another space to connect with quarantined students. I know this doesn’t address the discussion part of your class – but if you have more than one student in quarantine, having office hours on Zoom with them as a group gives you a chance to check in with them and follow up on discussions that they didn’t get to interact with very much.

If you have more than just a couple students in quarantine, then it probably makes sense to make the class remote for a few sessions so that everyone can still attend and discuss over Zoom.

I know there’s so much to juggle and a lot of new policies to follow this quarter. Please don’t hesitate to reach out with questions. I’m slowly emerging back on campus like a groundhog poking up its head to see if its safe, so I’m also happy to meet in person. Be on the look out for some faculty discussion sessions on various teaching topics as well as some no-agenda gatherings to just reconnect. I’ll be mixing it up with Zoom events as well as small in-person sessions.

In other news…

What I’m currently reading: I just finished S.A. Cosby’s new novel, Razorblade Tears, and it is an action packed vengeance filled story. It’s not my usual read (it’s quite violent) but reading a Cosby novel is like watching a really good TV show – good characters in a quick moving plot.

Andrea Aebersold

Andrea Aebersold

Director, Faculty Instructional Development

Andrea Aebersold is the Director of Faculty Instructional Development at University of California, Irvine. She earned a PhD in English and was an associate professor of teaching before coming to UCI. She specializes in active learning, evidence-based teaching, and reading mountains of books.