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T-3 (again): You Can Only Plan So Much

A few days ago, I reached out to the university because my account still hasn't been fully setup for teaching (and it's been 2 months since I signed my offer letter I think). I have no access to the course site or the eLibrary. As I thought the class is about to start in 3 weeks (hence T minus 3 from last week's blog), I reached out to different contacts to troubleshoot this technological issue. In the process of troubleshooting... I then found out that the whole academic year schedule has been modified. Now, it looks like I will start teaching a week later than scheduled, with NO spring break in between.

A week doesn't sound so bad? You might think... but it is indeed a logistical nightmare for me as I have planned all the class activities as well as ... guest speaker invitations which were mostly sent and have the dates locked down.

Feeling a bit down and annoyed, I soon turned this emotion into learning. It is about being flexible and adapt to change. In fact, all the classes I have planned, might not go as planned and the reasons could be anything ... as we all learned from this pandemic. The only thing we could do is keep going and keep our heads up! And remember to breathe!

Aside from this surprise episode of the week, the rest of my week thankfully went as planned. I spoke to three different educators in different capacities. One teaches Innovation in Europe, one teaches an asynchronous Design Thinking class in the US, and one specializes in Instructional Design for adult-learning in corporate America :)

I learned many things from them, from rubric structure to assignment ideas. One very important takeaway from the Instructional Designer is the framework of thinking/planning the course. Here are the steps to structure your teaching:

1. What is the background/profile of the students?

2. What is the learning objectives vs. performance goals?

3. What methods do you want to choose to help your students learn?

4. What is the assessment/metrics you will be using to evaluate success?

During my interview, I did ask about students' background, where the class sits in the program, and what is the main goal/objective of the course. I also listed out learning objectives and what I want the student to takeaway from the course. I also have been exploring different activities for class, especially I know the best way of learning is by doing. Simply reading text won't get you the skillsets you need to apply in the real world. Lastly, I also know the importance of having a rubric. But man, I love the framework. It ensures that I think very clearly through all the "reasons" behind the things I do for the course. Sometimes, it's easy to do things without thinking of the why. But once you take a step back and re-examine your why, you will make sure you take the approach that makes the most sense to you and your audience. In this case, my students whom I can't wait to meet in a month!

Until then, let me do some planning... for the unplanning!

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