Hi, all, my name’s Steve Rosenstein. I’ve been teaching at City Tech for the past four years, Binghamton University before that while I was getting my PhD, and at City College before that while I was getting my MFA. I’ve also been teaching online for Monroe College for the past six years, which went a long way toward preparing me for the switch over to all-online, all the time.
I’m finishing my first City Tech summer course, and I have to say that I’ve been tremendously impressed with the level of engagement and attentiveness shown by almost all of the students; after finishing the spring semester online, I was concerned about the continued instability of the current mess having an averse effect on the students’ ability to participate actively and find the means to complete their work. But I’ve been thrilled by how active the students have been, in aggressively completing their assignments, seeking out my assistance, and just being present, during lectures, office hours, and in the discussion forums. So, I’m optimistic for the fall.
In the first week of online classes, I find that the best way to motivate student involvement is to humanize the proceedings as much as possible as soon as possible. So, in the first week’s Content folder, I’ll have various recordings available – a welcome, an introduction/explanation of key assignments, etc. – where they hear me being self-deprecating, but hopefully authoritative enough so they feel like their future is not in the hands of an idiot. After giving everyone a day or two to settle (and resolve whatever administrative/technical issues they may be having), I schedule an online session which functions both as an introduction to course requirements and expectations and a sort of meet-and-greet, and draw their attention to the first week’s Discussion Forum, where they are asked to introduce themselves and to offer a ‘fun fact’ or two about their lives – some opt not to, and most of the facts aren’t all that much fun, but it tends to generate interaction and good will, as well as starting to establish a sense of camaraderie.
A genre of writing I’m come to know well in the past couple of years is the conference abstract. What I love about the genre is there are always strict word counts to operate within, which requires me to be succinct, to be attentive to every word, and provides a great opportunity to clarify what I’m trying to achieve with a conference paper, both for myself and the recipient. The form is somewhat flexible, but some of the common points to be addressed in the abstract include the specific topic to be pursued, gaps in other critical work/critical approaches to the topic that you’re seeking to fill, your methods of research/exploration, and what has been concluded through this research. I learned the form by checking the guidelines of the conferences I wanted to attend, googling a few templates, and then writing, revising, revising, revising, etc.