This week many higher education faculty are cobbling together online courses as we transition to virtual delivery for the sake of social distancing. Some folks resent having this transition foisted on them. For reasons I won’t review, some people are suggesting (or perhaps only fantasizing about) doing an intentionally inadequate job of course creation with minimal effort as a form of resistance. I understand their feelings and their politics, and I support the goal of self care in a time of crisis.

Unfortunately, a sloppy job only damages students. That’s costly collateral damage for protest in my book. So I wrote this post in reply to a blog post that had some good advice about course construction even if I disagreed with its spirit.

  1. A global pandemic is NOT the hill on which to fight the battle over online education. Protesting this urgent push to fully online classes in order to protect the face-to-face experience smacks of privileged entitlement. Thousands of instructors, many of whom are precariously employed, already live in the online teaching world. The face-to-face classroom cannot serve as the last bastion of an ancient academic experience. Those teaching jobs are few and far between /already/.

  2. If you want to fight neoliberal university power grabs, there are dozens of other ways you can do it on a daily basis after your courses are posted, starting with helping the generally invisible labor that traditionally teaches the online coursework and that has developed considerable expertise that could help us through this crisis. Ironically.

  3. Students, our reason for existing, will be cheated, not just as customers, but as people who deserve our expertise, compassion, and presence – even just our virtual presence. And it’s our job. We’ll get paid to be present, virtually, unlike thousands of unemployed or laid-off workers who are not being paid.

  4. Students, who depend on higher education today to shore up their financial precarity in an economy that no longer sustains them, need to finish the semester. They have to follow rules about hours, accreditation, financial aid, and life. A functional class is part of the infrastructure of their success. Their failure is costly collateral damage for such high-minded protest.

  5. College students, who live in a halfway house between adolescence and adulthood, look to us as mentors and role models for how to handle a crisis and how to survive, not to mention how to act with professionalism and integrity. The message here needs to be to do the best we can with what we have under the circumstances we’re experiencing. With love, compassion, and presence.

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