It sounds like such a good idea.
Take the ‘break’ between the Fall and Spring semesters and make some courses available… students can take a course to either catch up and/or get ahead on something they might need.
So, glutton for punishment that I am, I offered to teach Statistics (Mat 129) over the Winter session. An entire semester of Stats in 26 days.
I’ll tell you, I learned a lot!
One of the best things I did was to be relentless with the workload warnings before the start of the session. Starting in mid-November, I started sending emails to students with a draft course schedule. I was blunt about how much work the course was and the expectations I had. I told students that if they didn’t have 20-30 hours per week to devote to the course, they should re-think their plans. A lot of students dropped from that alone!
What I didn’t quite plan on was my own workload. I was warning students that they really had to figure how Christmas and New Year’s would figure into their workload, and then I find myself with enough family obligations that I didn’t get any work done on the course over those days myself! And now that we’ve reached PAD week and Spring classes start next week, I’m scrambling to keep up with the correcting and feedback.
Being the last part of the course during this week, a good number of students are also struggling. Test 3 was due Monday (yesterday) and I’ve had to add an extra day since a good portion of the class wasn’t finished. But that puts them further behind, since the class technically ends on Friday and the final exam is due on Saturday at midnight. (I suspect that will slide to Sunday, but don’t tell anyone!) So there’s a ton of work for all of us to do this week.
Will I do it again? Probably! I did end up with a great group of students and they’re hard working. I only had a couple of students ‘walk away’ from the course and not finish it. That’s going to be an excellent completion rate for a traditionally tough course, much less in the 4 week session.
I will be even tougher next time on warning students about the workload. It’s not for the faint hearted or anyone struggling with their math skills. Computer skills and access turn out to be really important. A dependable working computer is key, especially since there’s no real time to re-group and find another place to work.
Teaching a Winter class was an interesting experience! Hope my students thought so, too!