After all of the webinars and workshops and conferences I attended over the summer it is finally time to sit down, write a syllabus, and make pedagogical decisions about my courses.
Easy decision: which textbooks to use. For MAT202 my notes are almost ready to go. I talked about why I chose PreTeXt for this in a previous post. For MAT136, I have chosen to stick with Stewart’s Calculus (8th edition). Previously I had been looking at a number of OER texts, for instance Openstax. But I discovered that most students in MAT136 would have taken MAT135 at UTM (as opposed to being first-year students with credit for MAT135) so students in the class would have Stewart already anyway.
I’ve also settled on using Zoom over BB Collaborate, mainly because I’ve been using it all summer for an independent study course, and it’s been working well. It’s honestly a coin-toss between them, and I actually quite like the fact that in BB Collaborate we can let students pick which breakout room to go into, but generally I find Zoom to be a less clunky experience for everyone and slightly easier to use.
Piazza for student discussions and general community-building is a no-brainer. Though I am still considering opening a Discord server just for people to hang out in lol. But it might be too much work to moderate that (well, people may not join anyway).
The three weekly hours of LEC on the timetable will probably be split into 2 hours actual “class” time and 1 hour of general Q&A. Students will have reading assignments and have to watch videos at home anyway, plus I think making anyone sit through a Zoom class for 2 hours straight is just a bit too much.
Organization is paramount for online courses. So I’ll be placing weekly checklists for students to pace their learning, as well as a permanent Zoom tab on my Quercus landing page for students to have open during in-class time (with links to relevant content for that class: slides, applets, google docs, etc.).
For assessments, in MAT136 we’ll be having more frequent and lower-weight tests. In MAT202 we’ll be doing a math portfolio, thanks to the support of a Writing Development Initiative grant, but also the usual term test and final.
There are still things I’m still thinking about, like tutorials, how often to have pre-class and post-class quizzes, and so on. But I’m glad to have settled on a general flow for the course as of now.