Diary of an academic in a pandemic. Post 1

I had told the student who would have traveled 2-3 hours to be in my doctoral course that I didn’t do anything on-line at this time, but that lectures were optional. Last week I e-mailed all of them, even the ones in my department, that we are moving to Zoom – provided Zoom can deal with the onslaught of sudden on-line courses. (Last I heard it was struggling, and the parts from China are expected in 4 weeks).

This Saturday I went through some of the tutorials for Canvas on how to move teaching on-line. I’m very happy that the Canvas Support team here has put together a special series of tutorials for doing this, because I was despairing at the thought of wading through irrelevant clips on how to grade, or create groups, or what have you. This made me feel like I at least have some training wheels.

I’m starting seminars on Wednesday for my campus-course. I wrote instructions on Friday, from the perspective of doing it in basically chat threads, with them uploading some small film clips, and having some discussions that way. We will see where we will go.

Before going through the tutorials, it felt like I was embarking on a trek up Mount Everest – Exhausting, treatcherous, and no guarantee of reaching the summing (or coming back down). Now it feels more doable, though I’m sure it will be very muddling.

My original plan had been that I spend the next couple of weeks putting the final touches on my course on experimental method, which I am giving for the first time. The marketing psychology course is stable since a decade, so I was simply expecting to come in once a week to hold seminars.

Now I have to prep that one, and be anxious about how it will work, at the same time as I have to prep the other one so it will be in reasonable shape. Plus, I’m part of the crisis team for the deparment as I’m the director of studies for the research programme. Which also means I have to worry about the doctoral students and in what way this will hold them back, and can other things be done for them? Oh, and, yes, we have the admittance of new doctoral students, I’m on the ethics committee that meets in a week, and I’m section editor for a paper. I don’t have time for a virus!

The Swedish policy is to not close things down in the country. You can’t really travel – both Norway and Denmark have closed their borders, and we have long since said to restrict travel abroad. This is listening to those experts who work on epidemics.

Humans in general seem to just have two attractor points: “Screw it I don’t believe it”, or “run away run away run away” which should be modeled by someone who know agent based modeling.

The government have removed the one day-no-pay day for the sick-insurance to remove the temptation to work through minor sniffles, and we don’t need to have a doctors note for somewhat longer time. Really good way to tip the risk/reward calculations that humans always do. The schools (I have teenagers) are open, but allow distance learning for those that are sick (who have strictly been told to stay home). They have evidently not read their behavioral economics, though, because they are still threatening with lengthening the school year so they can reach the stated goals due to shut down. Remove the threat!

I don’t know what is ahead, but this has rapidly taken over all the thinking.

And, really, we should have a broad study about how academics are coping with massively moving on-line poorly (or not at all) and what it does with stress and performance, but I think we may be too overwhelmed already to design that one well.

About asehelene

... because if I'm in a room with a second person, I want to be reasonably sure I'm the crazier one.
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