Life at a distance: week 3

POSTED: April 4, 2020

I worked from home for the third consecutive week. The initial excitement has long since worn off, although I appear to have discovered that I quite like the new method of working, under most (but not all) circumstances.

I began my presentations and workshops in earnest, having spent the previous week preparing and rehearsing. Life online has continued to take up the rest of the time.

Life online

1. I had more tests and experiments with Jutta. We both learned new things, and (also usefully) learned seom things that we could not do in either Zoom or Teams.

2. I had a slew of social meetings on Teams, including one of the Team chat sessions. These all proved more interesting and useful than I expected. It makes a noticeable difference to a morning or afternoon to have twenty minutes in unexpected company, with no specific reason to chat except the desire to do so.

Presentations & Workshops

1. On Tuesday I taught my first session for Structuring Information. This worked as planned, but I felt very glad that I had held the pilot session last week, where we experimented with all the tools, and made sure everyone knew how to work them, and work within them.

2. On Wednesday I did the introductory session to Interactive Storytelling. This had approximately sixty students attending, which led me to realise that Zoom has a maximum number of faces onscreen at any moment.

Teams will only show four faces. Zoom will show twenty five. In both cases the images shift from time to time according to who speaks, and in both cases the rest of the attendees appear in a list somewhere. I did not realise this in time to take a roll-call.

3. On Thursday I led the second session for Structuring Information. I specifically asked about the pace of the sessions; about whether the students felt that the course had started too quickly or too slowly. I got the least useful answer possible: about 40% thought it went too fast, about 40% felt it went too slowly, and about 20% felt it went at the right speed.

I also asked a series of other questions at the end of each session, using Mentimeter to get instant responses. It seems as though nobody has any serious problems with the way the course works online, and some people actually like it more than classes in Arcada.

I have saved all the detailed responses, as both pdfs of the original slides, and Excel worksheets that break down the responses, person by person. I will make them available to anyone who wants them.

The other side of the window

We both noticed that we felt flat on Wednesday morning, which we both suspect stems from the cumulative effects of working and living in the same space.

We also noticed that we have both started having boring dreams. I have had a lot of dreams that, while not directly work related, feature dull repetitive activity, and lots of it. I had a dream in which I had to configure and reconfigure the leads for an old-fashioned switchboard on a vintage submarine that had not surfaced for decades.

Planning and working on the podcasts has proved a continuing pleasure, and enabled me to move my thinking from time to time into related but different areas. Oddly, having something else to do online has helped rather than hindered.

Finally, I have developed definite “no digital” strategies. When I “stop work” the computer stays off until I start working again the next morning. I stop work and, weather permitting, go for a long walk, before coming home for a non-digital evening.