The alpha and the beta

Homeschooling seems to work better now that we have a system – a system that supposes that each child can use a laptop on their own for 3 hours in the morning. I have no idea how people who are less well equipped than us, both technically and pedagogically, can manage this situation. I am pretty happy to be able to parallelize the kids’ homework and cooking lunch, but it only works because they can be autonomous for about 20 minutes in a row. I have planned recipes that can both be regularly interrupted during the cooking process and still be good when leftovers are warmed on the following day. 

I take this opportunity to familiarize the kids with some basic digital literacy: unzipping folders, structuring folders, naming files, recognizing editable and non editable formats. 

In search of a longer-lasting goal than just getting homework done, I have offered them to learn the greek alphabet. This is one thing where I think I can’t do much wrong and that will only help them in the future.

I have also been wondering about the way to involve grand parents. Calling them every day and asking how they are doing is bound to make people more nervous rather than sooth them. I suggested that the grand father could have a “reading story” date with the kids everyday, via Skype or on the phone.Princess Bride

We are waiting for his feedback on potential candidates from his personal library…

All the follow-up initiatives at my University are now in full swing. One initiative is to get in touch with all our incoming and outgoing Erasmus students in order to make sure we know where they are and what their situation is. The International Office has been doing an amazing job, keeping us Erasmus coordinators in the loop for the essential information. 

Another initiative I value a lot is setting up a solidarity network directed at those who are at risk of a psychological breakdown. From the onset, I have been worried for the students who have to stay in their dorm or in their one-bedroom in the city center instead of going back to their families. This initiative offers them professional help as well as it organizes a solidarity network, encouraging staff and students to share their confinement experience. 

All of the emails I receive from my University are both professional and dedicated – I hear much harsher echos from other Universities and appreciate how instructions and information remain in the realm of what is humanly reasonable.

Still, I read of colleagues who have started virtual classes with 100 students, without having had time to prepare my own classes, and I can’t help but wonder whether I set my priorities right. In my efforts to try to be as inclusive as possible while moving online, I have lost the little time I had trying to figure out what could be the best combination of online pads, one-to-one videoconference, homework, and email feedback that would help the students structure their everyday life without making said life impossible to manage.

At this point, I really miss being able to start and finish something within a couple of days like I usually do. Keeping choirs in suspension, resorting priorities on the fly, and trying to figure out how everyone will get their share of vitamins and physical activity is still a challenge. But so far, the sun is shining.

Anne Baillot

I am a Professor of German Studies at Le Mans Université. My areas of research include German literature, Digital Humanities, textual scholarship and intellectual history.

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