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I’ve noticed lots of advice for professors who are trying to move classes online but I noticed I hadn’t seen any about what this means for students.

As more universities move classes online for the remainder of the semester there are some important things to keep in mind.
I made it through about a week of orientation my freshman year of college before we were evacuated out of state for a hurricane. I had room in the car to pack one bag which ended up being half full of very heavy intro to psych textbooks.
I had never taken a college class before nor taken a class online all in the midst of an extremely stressful situation. Our university had made plans post-Katrina to move classes online in such a situation but it was the first time it was implemented and... it was a nightmare!
I was sharing a tiny hotel room with four other people. We had no money. Frantic parents calling. Shitty WiFi... You get it.
To my memory most of my professors emailed us some readings but otherwise said, we’ll catch up when we get back. Fortunately we were back after a week or so and the world did not end because we missed a week.

This is a much longer, and in many ways more stressful situation.
Between this personal experience and my area of study (emergency management) I start every semester with a mental note of how I could move my classes online quickly.

We call it preparedness not paranoia, thank you.
Obviously every student and situation is different but I think it’s a mistake to think of this as just teaching an online class in “normal times.

So, here are some issues to be aware of.
1. Financial — Students are likely working minimum wage service jobs that may be in flux over the next several weeks. There will possibly be rippling reprocussions for summer jobs and internships.
On the other hand some students are going to have to work MORE than usual.

*waves to all my first responder students*
Many students are reliant on campus based resources day to day — what happens when they can’t access them.…
They may also have to deal with other family members in changing financial situations. Not only will this lead to addition stress but it compounds many other issues below.
2. Internet & tech access — not all students have internet or computers. Every semester I realize I have some students trying to write essays in their notes app or going to starbucks late at night to submit assignments online because they can’t afford internet at home.
If those students aren’t able to leave their house or use the library how will they complete assignments.
3. Uncertain living situations — are students moving off campus? Are they still employed to be able to pay rent? If they’re moving home what are those dynamics like?
4. Caregiving — regardless of where they’re living are they having to take on unexpected caregiving roles? Children and siblings home from school? Taking care of others who have become sick?
5. Sick themselves — there’s a good chance some of your students are themselves going to become sick. Depending on the severity this could derail their entire semester.
6. High stress — many students are going to be finishing the semester with a number of stressors they wouldn’t normally face. Work with them.
There aren’t necessarily great solutions to all these issues but 1. Trust your students 2. Communicate with them 3. Be flexible (especially with deadlines).
Again, this isn’t just like teaching an online class in normal times. It’s important we recognize that and try to adjust as much as possible.
This isn’t a comprehensive list and obviously every student and university are different — just some issues to be thinking about as we figure out how to best navigate this situation.
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