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8:49am on Friday, 13th November, 2020:

Doubled Up


This bug that's going around threw quite a spanner in the works for my lecture plans.

Normally, I'd give 10 lectures and 10 classes for CE317 and 9 of each for CE217. However, the classes as designed are pretty well impossible without people being in close contact with one another. I might be able to salvage one or two by using online services, but the series is basically wrecked.

I therefore took the decision to convert all my classes to lectures and pre-record the lot. Some 4 or 5 in CE317 are revamped discussion classes without the discussion, in which I talk about a paper but don't ask individual students what they think. There are timetabled Zoom slots in which the discussions can take place if any of the students have something to say: these will either be wildly successful or embarrassing failures (I expect the latter).

Apart from these CE317 ex-classes and one CE217 one, everything else I've had to throw out and replace with new material. This has involved splitting some lectures in two or three and expanding the components, or creating new lectures from scratch. This is very time-consuming. Normally, updating a lecture for the next academic year takes maybe half an hour, with an extra couple of hours for one or two if I decide to throw out old material and bring in new material. This year, maybe a third of what were lectures last year only took me half an hour. The rest took me anything from half a day to three days.

Anyway, yesterday I finished the last one. I now have slides for 38 two-hour lectures. All that remains is for me to record myself delivering them. I'm hoping I'll have most of them in the can by Christmas.

Initial university-wide feedback from students suggests that they actually like pre-recorded lectures. I've also noticed that my final-year project supervisees are doing a lot more work than many have in previous years. It would appear that locking them up in their rooms with nothing else to do increases their productivity somewhat. Of course, what happens when they're allowed back into daylight is another matter.

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