A Story from a History Professor at the University of Manitoba

I am a history professor at the University of Manitoba, and it was amazing how quickly we went from talking about what might happen theoretically to being told that the campus was shutting down.  In my second-year lecture course, I assured students the last time that we met that we would get through all the material for the course, and that we would be flexible and work together and do our best in a crazy and trying time. 

Once I learned that we had to shift to an off-campus mode of learning, I started to record lectures using screencast software.  I set up a makeshift office at a little desk in my kitchen, and recorded lectures in fifteen-minute bursts.  I lugged home boxes of files so that I am able to continue my research at home.  I have been peer-reviewing articles, writing book reviews, and revising my own publications in between marking and communicating with students.  My workspace is often invaded by my kids and cat, my cat making an appearance during one of my recorded lectures, pushing a box of cereal off the counter as I tried to discuss the finer points of the presidency of Ronald Reagan.

I think that the thing that this whole experience has taught me is that content is not the same as instruction.  You can't just hand someone a textbook and tell them to read it and say, well, that's your course.  In the same way, there are all sorts of amazing things available online, but that is not the same thing as being taught a subject. 

I have tried to keep lines of communication open with all of my students.  I know that students are facing a lot of stress and anxiety - I have had students email or call me because they are worried about family members, or ask for extensions because they are working providing an essential service and can't juggle their schoolwork right now.  And we have found solutions to make sure that people can be successful in their work and finish their courses.  Students want to keep learning.  We are working hard to make that happen.