The start of term is always a nerve-wracking time for me. For one thing, it’s definitely the busiest time of year here in Academic Technology – we’re flooded with requests for course shells, resets, instructor changes, and student enrollments. Plus, this is often the time of year when I’m gearing up to teach another semester of English 1301 or 1302. I’ve been teaching for TAMUC since 2011, but somehow the start of term never gets any less anxiety-inducing.
This semester there’s an added bonus on the pile of things to stress me out about the start of term: I’m part of the Beta pilot for D2L this spring. When Mike suggested that I teach my two English 1302 courses in D2L this semester, I jumped at the opportunity. After all, who wouldn’t want to be on the forefront of the new wave of online teaching here at TAMUC? (Okay, I recognize, a lot of people wouldn’t want to be. That’s okay. I’m typically not one of those people, but I know you’re out there and I support you.) I spent about five hours near the end of last semester cleaning up a migrated course shell, making everything pretty, linking to various external tools, and recreating my assignments in D2L. I even finished my syllabus before it was due – something I almost never get done.
So why, after all this preparation, am I still nervous?
For one thing, it’s easy to get caught up in all the things that could go wrong with the semester. Students aren’t used to D2L. Maybe they’ll miss where to turn in assignments. Maybe they’ll be confused as to how to take quizzes, or find content. Maybe they won’t be able to find the course at all! It’s also easy for me to fall back on old insecurities. Maybe my course design isn’t as good as it needs to be. Maybe my students won’t get what they need to out of this course. Maybe someone else could do this better.
I think, mostly, it’s always a little scary to start something new. Unlike with most of our pilots and projects, this big new LMS is going to affect everyone on campus, and my courses are just the beginning of that. To that end, I want to use this blog as a way of cataloging how my semester is going using D2L. Be on the lookout for posts titled and tagged with “Spring Beta” and we’ll see together how these nerves play out into the semester.