Paul L. Caron

Thursday, April 2, 2020

‘A Decidedly Suboptimal Set of Circumstances’: Harvard Law Profs Evaluate Online Instruction

Harvard Crimson, ‘A Decidedly Suboptimal Set of Circumstances’: Harvard Law Professors Evaluate Online Instruction:

CoronavirusHarvard Law School’s transition to remote learning during the coronavirus pandemic has garnered mixed reactions from professors — while some report no significant difficulties in teaching online, others say they struggle to facilitate class participation. ...

Professor Jeannie Suk Gersen, who teaches the course “Constitutional Law: Separation of Powers, Federalism, and Fourteenth Amendment,” wrote in an email that her class was able to transition smoothly to the video conference platform Zoom because of its discussion-based format.

“The Socratic method that I use involves cold-calling students and engaging in questioning and dialogue,” she wrote. “It translates well to an online format: I call on a specific student, they unmute themselves, and we do the same thing that we would be doing in person.” ...

Professor Jonathan L. Zittrain, who teaches “Governing Digital Technology,” ... said he now keeps running notes in order to follow class discussions. “I'm not sure why, but keeping and holding a thread of discussion can be more difficult at a distance than in person, even when we wouldn't normally be using the chalkboard in person,” he wrote in an email. ...

“I couldn't be more impressed by the students' gameness and resilience in the face of a decidedly suboptimal set of circumstances,” John Bowers ’18, who assists in Zittrain’s course, added. “The speed with which they've adapted to – and, indeed, learned to thrive under – the constraints of remote instruction is a wonderful reminder of why I'm so proud to be part of this community.”

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It will be interesting to see how much distance learning becomes a permanent thing

Posted by: Mike Livingston | Apr 3, 2020 2:58:08 AM