After 13 live sessions, 13 quizzes, 4 problem sets, many hours of video lectures, hundreds of textbook pages, two exams, one big empirical project, and now 14 blog posts, I can say with confidence that everyone involved with my online econometrics class learned a lot this term. Here are the highlights:
- Zoom handled the video conferencing as well as I hoped it would. We had a couple glitches, but we ended up pushing it farther than I thought it could go. Even though they don’t officially support breaking a big group into smaller groups (yet), I was able to do it successfully by moving between multiple meeting rooms.
- I found Canvas to be a big step up from both the Pearson system we used last year and the Sakai system that Yale uses for most of its classes during the academic year. It was easy to put together integrated quizzes, manage assignments and multimedia, and communicate with students. I feel like I’m just scratching the surface of its functionality, and it makes me happy to use a system that doesn’t look like it was developed in the early 2000’s.
- Having students take automatically graded quizzes after every module helped them stay engaged with the video.
- Based on my experience with the midterm and the final, using local testing centers is far from perfect as a way to give exams to remote students.
- Pairing up students early in the term got them working together outside class.
Overall, I thought this class came very close to replicating the experience of my in-person small lecture course. The students weren’t able to ask questions in real-time while they watched the recorded video lectures, but they were able to replay parts they didn’t understand. They could ask any remaining questions during the live sessions, where we also worked through problems together and did most of the interactive things I like to do in a physical classroom.
If you’re interested in reliving all the detail, feel free to comb through the (almost) daily account:
- Day 1: First Lessons Learned
- Day 2: Interactive Problem Solving
- Day 3: Up and Down on Zoom
- Day 4: Making Data Analysis Interesting
- Day 5: Technical Difficulties
- Day 6: Buddies
- Day 8: Using a Physical Testing Center for Exams
- Day 9: Midterm Feedback
- Day 10: Remote Lecturing
- Day 12: Reading Current Research
- Day 12.5: Quizzes with Canvas
- Day 13: Working in Small Groups
- Day 14-15: Review Session and Final Exam