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Still Moving Our Course to Remote| Episode 65

by Kevin Patton

Still Moving Our Course to Remote

Special Bonus Episode 65

Bonus Episode

Episode | Quick Take

We lighten our loads and learn to be present with our students as host Kevin Patton continues sharing lessons learned from his own failures and successes in moving from on-campus to distance education. A supportive voice for a troubled time.

0:00:48 | The Emergency Continues
0:07:06 | Sponsored by AAA
0:07:46 | New Skills for New Situations
0:23:05 | Sponsored by HAPI
0:23:53 | Being Present
0:33:49 | Sponsored by HAPS
0:34:29 | Leaner Is Meaner
0:43:10 | More Tips
0:59:27 | Facing the Lion
1:04:17 | Staying Connected


Episode | Listen Now

Episode | Show Notes

Good teaching cannot be reduced to technique; good teaching comes from the identity and integrity of the teacher. (Parker Palmer)

The Emergency Continues

6.5 minutes

Another 19 tips in this episode, adding to two previous episodes on how to quickly move our on-campus course to remote instruction.

Episode 65


Sponsored by AAA

0.5 minutes

  • A searchable transcript for this episode, as well as the captioned audiogram of this episode, are sponsored by the American Association for Anatomy (AAA) at anatomy.org.

AAA logo


New Skills for New Situations

15.5 minutes

If we are using web meeting software or webinars, this gives a great opportunity to develop professional skills for students to carry with them through to their careers.

20: Keep your lab coat handy.
21: Teach students web meeting/webinar skills

  • Communication, Clarity, & Medical Errors | Episode 55 (discussion of professionalism)
  • More on Spelling, Case, & Grammar | Episode 56 (discussion of professionalism)
  • ‘Zoombombing’ Attacks Disrupt Classes (article discussing the importance of familiarizing yourself with the settings in your web meeting platform to avoid intrusive and offensive interruption) my-ap.us/2WGYCHH
    • How to Keep the Party Crashers from Crashing Your Zoom Event (post from Zoom on how to manage settings for safety) my-ap.us/3bwesZY
  • Web Meeting & Webinar Skills (student handout you can use or adapt for your course)
    • Found only in the TAPP app
    • Getting the TAPP app
    • The TAPP app is an easy way to share this podcast
      • Even folks who don’t know how to access a podcast can download an app
  • 5-minutes to a Great Virtual Meeting Experience (Steve Stewart’s video summarizing what he’s learned about doing web meetings. You can share this with your students, too.)



Sponsored by HAPI Online Graduate Program

0.5 minute

The Master of Science in Human Anatomy & Physiology Instruction—the MS-HAPI—is a graduate program for A&P teachers. A combination of science courses (enough to qualify you to teach at the college level) and courses in contemporary instructional practice, this program helps you power up  your teaching. Kevin Patton is a faculty member in this program. Check it out!

NYCC Human Anatomy and Physiology Instruction


Being Present

10 minutes

Being present is always important, but especially now.

23: Be accessible
25: Think about faces. But not too much.
26: Help students navigate campus-wide changes and community resources



Sponsored by HAPS

0.5 minutes

The Human Anatomy & Physiology Society (HAPS) is a sponsor of this podcast.  You can help appreciate their support by clicking the link below and checking out the many resources and benefits found there. Don’t forget the HAPS Awards, which provide assistance for participating in the HAPS Annual Conference.

HAPS logo


Leaner Is Meaner

8.5 minutes

Less is more is a start. But really, even less is even more. And asynchronous is better than synchronous.

27: Even less is even more
28: Forget seat time

reading a book


More Tips

16.5 minute

29: Look at stuff
30: Stay inside your LMS
31: Audio/video feedback
32: Snippet library
33: Wear your customer-service hat
34: Open an office
35: Resist Jedi mind tricks.
36: Build a team

playful and serious


Facing the Lion

5 minutes

37: Face the lion.
38: Cross disciplines
39: I am not alone.


Need help accessing resources locked behind a paywall?
Check out this advice from Episode 32 to get what you need!

Episode | Transcript

The A&P Professor podcast (TAPP radio) episodes are made for listening, not reading. This transcript is provided for your convenience, but hey, it’s just not possible to capture the emphasis and dramatic delivery of the audio version. Or the cool theme music.  Or laughs and snorts. And because it’s generated by a combo of machine and human transcription, it may not be exactly right. So I strongly recommend listening by clicking the audio player provided.

AAA logoThis searchable transcript is supported by the
American Association for Anatomy.
I'm a member—maybe you should be one, too!

Kevin Patton:
In his book, The Courage to Teach, Parker Palmer wrote, “Good teaching cannot be reduced to technique. Good teaching comes from the identity and integrity of the teacher.”

Welcome to The A&P Professor; A few minutes to focus on teaching Human Anatomy & Physiology with a veteran educator and teaching mentor, your host, Kevin Patton.

Kevin Patton:
In this episode, I continue with more tips on how to quickly move our on-campus course to remote instruction.

Kevin Patton:
Yeah, it’s yet another episode focusing on strategies to cope with teaching A&P during the COVID-19 outbreak. This one is the third one. The first one was bonus episode 63B, which I titled Mid-Winter Winterizing of our A&P Course, and which came out a few weeks ago just before things officially hit the fan with this outbreak in the United States. It was sort of, we better get ready for a pandemic set of planning tips and strategies. And that’s still helpful even now that we’re in the thick of things. The second one was bonus episode 64B, which came out a little over a week ago and listed 19 additional specific tips for quickly moving from an on-campus course to a remote environment. I called that episode, Quickly Moving to Remote Delivery: The Musical. And we did have music. A&P teacher and STEM music composer, Greg Crowther graciously sang us three songs to sing along with. So yeah, really was a musical. And now this third episode, which probably won’t be the last…

Read More

Kevin Patton:
Before I jump in to my list of additional tips, I want to clarify a few things. First, you may be listening to this episode way later than when I’m recording this, which means that you are a survivor of the COVID-19 outbreak of 2020. That’s great. Congratulations, you made it through. But you might be thinking, “There’s nothing in these episodes for me,” but you’d be wrong. Most, if not all, of these tips really can help us in the COVID-19 scenario, but they are also useful for any course, any time, any place. Second, if you find even one thing in any episode that sparks an idea for your teaching or is helpful in any way, that’s a win. Remember Kevin’s Law of Professional Development that I first mentioned in the bonus HAPS conference episode way back in 2018? It states that if I learn just one useful thing in a professional development experience, it’s worth it.

Kevin Patton:
I’ve been reading and listening to a lot of advice, often from colleagues who have never even taught online before that, well, just isn’t the best advice in my opinion. So, I’m thinking there will be one thing in this episode that will spark a different way of thinking for you. If in fact you do learn just one thing in this episode or in any episode, will you do me a favor and share it with a colleague? Email, social media, singing it off of your balcony, whatever gets it out there to folks that could use the help. They’re not flying those advertising glimpse anymore, so this is the only way to spread the word.

Kevin Patton:
Third, you probably noticed that I’ve not been providing my usual updates on scientific discoveries in human biology for the last few episodes. Part of the reason is that the big story now, at least, that set of stories keeping our attention right now are about the COVID-19 outbreak. And I guess I could discuss these stories in this podcast, but given the rapidly evolving nature of what we know, and what we think we know, and what we thought we know, but now we know we didn’t know, and given the lag time between planning an episode, recording an episode and then getting it all set up for release, well, whatever I say will be out of date by the time you hear it.

Kevin Patton:
So, what I’m doing instead is putting the top stories in my Nuzzel newsletter, which is a daily update of up to 10 headlines I’ve chosen for that day. Just go to nuzzle.com/theAPprofessor. Nuzzel is, N-U-Z-Z-E-L, so nuzzel.com/theAPprofessor and take a look at some of the past issues. If you think it’s helpful, then subscribe. It’s free by the way. You just need to put in your email address and share that newsletter too if you know someone who may be interested.

Kevin Patton:
Fourth, wow, fourth? This intro is getting longer than I intended. Oh, man, wait a minute. Don’t tell me you’re surprised by that. Okay. The fourth thing that I want to clarify is what experience myself tips are based on. I’ve been teaching A&P in high school, community college, university and graduate courses since 1981. I’ve been teaching web enhanced courses since the 1990s, and fully online courses since 2002. Not only have I informally mentored dozens of A&P professors informally, I’ve taught hundreds of A&P teachers, I guess, in my eight years of teaching in the Human Anatomy & Physiology Instruction master’s degree program. And I transitioned to completely working at home about seven years ago. I finally just started to get the hang of it. So, given all that, I’ve made some mistakes, I’ve made a lot of mistakes, but I’ve also made some wonderful discoveries and I hope you can get something out of my experience that can help you.

Kevin Patton:
Hey, I have lots of tips to share with you In this episode, so we better get going.

Kevin Patton:
A searchable transcript and a captioned audiogram of this episode are funded by AAA, the American Association for Anatomy. You might be looking for images, videos and other resources right now as we transition to new ways of teaching. If you go to the resources tab at anatomy.org and select Anatomy Education Resources, you’ll find a whole list of very helpful tools that you can use now. That’s anatomy.org, then click Resources, then Anatomy Education Resources.

Kevin Patton:
In episode 64B, I went through 19 different tips to help us move from an on-campus course to remote instruction. So, in this episode, I’m going to pick up there with tip number 20. So, tip 20 is keep your lab coat handy, that is if you remembered to bring it home with you, and if not a lab coat, something else that looks nice, looks professional, that can be quickly thrown on over what you’re wearing. And so you can throw it on when you’re in your PJs, or your sweats, and then when you do that, you’re going to look like the professional you are. When you’re going to do a web meeting with your class, making a video forum, answering a video call from a student or a colleague, it’s an easy way to get presentable quickly. But don’t wear that medical mask. Besides being unnecessary and kind of scary, hearing impaired students can’t follow along easily.

Kevin Patton:
And we’re going to talk more about accessibility later, but that’s something to consider all throughout what we’re doing, right? Oh, one other thing related to this, wear pants. You don’t want to have get up from your seat to get something and, “Oops, didn’t mean for you to see that.” Nope, we have enough trouble to deal with right now. We don’t mean that.

Kevin Patton:
Tip number 21. Teach students web meeting and webinar skills. Now, later in this episode, I’m going to chat a bit about whether we even want to do much of this anyway, but I think we’re probably going to want to consider doing some of it. So, if and when we do use web meetings or webinars, it’s a great opportunity for our students to learn a professional skill that they can use in their careers. It helps meet the professionalism objective in my syllabus, something I mentioned back in episodes 55 and 56, when I discussed my expectation of accurate spelling and proper grammar. For those who have the TAPP app, the free app for this podcast, I’ve posted a handout there for students that run them through the basics. You can download and use this as is in your course or you can adapt it as you see fit.

Kevin Patton:
So, some of the advice I give there is, first, always, always, always reboot your computer before a web meeting or making a video. Another thing that’s very important is to protect the bandwidth, that is the amount of data that’s going back and forth from the device. Because these web meetings require a lot of bandwidth, and if you don’t have enough, there’s going to be all kinds of pauses and glitches and odd things happen, and that can really throw off the whole group sometimes even if one user is experiencing those problems. So, in order to protect bandwidth, we want to turn off unneeded programs, close browser tabs that aren’t being used, turn off Netflix and online games and other things that are using data for the whole household, the network, because they’re all sharing that data connection, right? And that includes pausing things that download stuff in the background like Dropbox, or virus scanners and things like that. So, you turn those off temporarily while the meeting is going on then turn them back on afterwards.

Kevin Patton:
Also, have your students wear earbuds or headphones. Now, this might seem unnecessary, but it really solves a lot of distracting echoes and other sound issues like screechy feedback or sounding like you’re in a tunnel. In a large group, these sound glitches can add together and be very distracting. Also, I recommend that my students resolve any issues that they have, anything that’s not working, resolve that outside of the web meeting itself, that is after it’s over.

Kevin Patton:
Now, there’s some steps they can take, I’ll mention in a minute, where they can avoid having those problems ahead of time, but during the meeting isn’t the time to do that. It’s sort of like if you’re giving a lecture in a face to face class and a student, I don’t know, has trouble with, I don’t know, a page falling out of their textbook or something, or their pen isn’t working. You don’t want your lecture disrupted by a student saying, “My ballpoint pen is broken. Can somebody help me?” That’s not going to go well, especially if you have a large class where students feel like that’s an okay thing to do. You can be disrupted all the time, there’s going to be no flow to the story you’re telling and everyone’s going to be very frustrated with that. And the same thing happens in a web meeting when people do that, so you always want to resolve that outside the meeting.

Kevin Patton:
If you’re recording it and having it available for students afterward, then they’re not really going to miss anything by doing that because they can go back and replay that over again. A way to avoid that would be have the students learn how to manage the video and audio settings in the system that they’re using. So, I always do that when I’m joining a web meeting. If it’s a system I’m not used to using, I try to log in a little early, there’s almost always a little settings button. If it doesn’t automatically come up, there’s a button there somewhere, and it kind of walks you through checking your volume, checking your webcam, checking all that other stuff so that you’re ready to go and you kind of know where the settings are, and that includes learning how to mute yourself.

Kevin Patton:
Now, a lot of web meetings and webinars, when a participant joins, they’re automatically muted if the person setting it up checked that box on the setup procedure. And so what that means is they’re not only going to have to learn how to mute themselves, if that’s an option, but also how to unmute themselves. Again, that may not be an option in a certain web meeting where everyone must remain muted, but if you are having students participate, then walk them through that early on, how to mute yourself, how to unmute yourself, so that when they have a question or something to contribute, you’re not going to spend 45 seconds for them trying to figure out what button to press so we can all hear them. Instead, they already know how to do that and they can join in right away, and no one has missed a beat there.

Kevin Patton:
Another useful thing is to have the students check the angle of their webcam, if you’re using video. The webcam works really well if it’s just a little bit above your face, but a lot of people have their webcam way down low, way below their face, and it can really distort their face in ways that sometimes is kind of scary, sort of like when you’re at a campout, you take your flashlight and put it under your chin to tell a ghost story because your face looks scarier that way. Well, you do that with your webcam, you’re going to produce a similar effect. So, if there’s any way possible to get that webcam a little higher. Sometimes when I’m using my laptop that has a built in webcam, and it is at the top of the screen, so it’s as high as it could Be, what I’ll do is I’ll put a couple of books under my laptop so that it’s up even a little bit higher than I normally have my laptop so that I don’t have that weird distorted effect.

Kevin Patton:
Something else that can make a student or any of us look very scary is when our face is too close to the camera. It distorts our face through the operation of that lens. So, the best thing to do is to move as far away from the webcam as we can, and then most webcams have the ability to zoom in, so we move away from the lens to avoid the distortion then we zoom in so it’s only on our face. A lot of people forget to do that. So, in a web meeting, it’s really hard to actually see them. What we see is the room they’re in because three fourths of the view is their room and their whole upper body, and we don’t need that. We just need their face, maybe their shoulders in that so we can see their facial expression because that’s what we zoom in on when we’re conversing to people and that’s what works best in a web meeting.

Kevin Patton:
So, for trying to develop professional web meeting skills in our students, we can go through a few of these very simple things so that it becomes automatic for students when they leave us, they’re already going to be very competent in doing web-based web meetings and webinars.

Kevin Patton:
Another bit of advice that I tell students is to tell everyone in your household what you’re doing. “This is my meeting. At this time, it’s starting in five minutes,” so that they all know that they can cooperate in making that a good experience for everyone. A student’s family may not want to be seen doing dishes in the background, for example.

Kevin Patton:
One tip I heard that can really help with this is that if you do have other folks who could accidentally walk into the shot on the webcam, put some masking tape marks on the floor or some other kind of signal to serve as a boundary that they shouldn’t enter if they don’t want to be seen by everybody else in the class, it’s also a good idea to have students mute or turn off all their other devices, including landline phone ringers. And have a plan for when the dog barks, but the occasional dog bark is going to be expected. It’s just that, some dogs, they just keep barking and they won’t stop and then the student forgets to mute things when that’s happening, or they really have an important point to make and the barking isn’t distracting them because they’re used to that darn dog barking all the time, so they’re going to just go ahead with it, but everybody else can’t focus on what the student is saying.

Kevin Patton:
Well, there’s a really simple trick I learned when I was an animal trainer that works most of the time, almost all the time, and that is using a dog whistle, and this can work for other animals too, by the way. They call them dog whistles, but most animals, this will work on. And I don’t recommend an actual dog whistle, because those are kind of hard to learn how to use, but they have apps for mobile devices that mimic a dog whistle.

Kevin Patton:
And of course, the trick with those is you’ve just turned off your device, so the dog is not going to hear it. So, you have to remember to turn the sound on the device back on, the volume back on, and then have that app, that dog whistle app ready to go if you have a dog that could possibly bark, and then when that dog starts barking, hit that button. And it’s going to hear this sound that nobody else is going to hear, or if they do, it’s going to be a very subtle high pitched noise that they’re going to see or hear, and the dog is going to immediately stop and think, “What was that? That is weird.” And they’re going to stop thinking about that squirrel, or that postal worker, or that leaf blowing across the driveway, or whatever it was, and that can really be a lifesaver.

Kevin Patton:
So, no, not all is lost if a student’s kid walks behind the mother while they’re talking to the class, or a dog barks at the squirrel, we’re all just doing what we can do under difficult circumstances, right? But I think the more professionalism that we can bring to this, the better it’s going to go in so many ways.

Kevin Patton:
Now, moving on to tip number 22. It’s kind of a reflection of tip number 21, because this one is, we too need to learn our web meeting and webinar skills. We need to go a little bit beyond what the students are doing, I think. In my opinion, I want to come across as the professional that they want to model. I want to look like I know what I’m doing as far as possible. Now, I can’t always do that because, number one, I don’t always know what I’m doing. It’s just part of being Kevin and it’s part of being any of us, right, is we don’t always know what we’re doing, and that’s going to be especially true under these particular circumstances. And that’s okay, that’s fine. But I don’t want to just give up on looking professional and in appearing to know what I’m doing, I still want to work at that.

Kevin Patton:
And so, one thing that I really like to work on is having decent sound, and there’s several reasons for that. Some of our students are going to be hearing impaired, a lot of our students are going to be listening on equipment that just isn’t really great. I mean, they’re not going to have great speakers or great earbuds or whatever, and they might have a lot of distractions going on in the background, a lot of noise going on in the background and so on, that’s leaking through into their earbuds.

Kevin Patton:
And so yeah, the better our sound can be on our end, the better it is for everyone. And then we can be that model of professionalism for our students as well. It’s okay to be sloppy, it’s an emergency situation after all, and we do want to come across as our real selves, not suddenly sounding like a new graduate from the broadcasting academy, but we don’t want to come across as totally clueless about proper technique. And most importantly, we don’t want to be any more annoying to students that we already are, intruding into their warm and safe homes to talk about anatomy and physiology. So, it’s even more important for us to use headphones and earbuds than for our students, because that’s going to enhance the sound quality by preventing echoes and other problems.

Kevin Patton:
And it’s especially important for us to think about our background and make sure it’s not too distracting, or even embarrassing. If you’re sitting in front of your bookshelves, you might want to double check and make sure that you don’t have any books there that your students are going to question you about, or that somebody else in your household has stuck on the bookshelf as a really funny practical joke. Double check that because that could really turn out to be a problem for you. And I’ll talk more about the workspace later, but think about the background you’re going to be using for video related stuff.

Kevin Patton:
And by the way, my friend Steve Stewart made a great video called Five Minutes to a Great Virtual Meeting Experience, summarizing what he’s learned about doing web meetings, and you can share this very brief video with your students too. The link is theAPprofessor.org/SteveVideo, all one word SteveVideo. Actually, I was just in a virtual meeting with Steve this past weekend. When my video came up, he kidded me about not wearing any earbuds or headphones, because that’s something that he really advises people for good reason. He was surprised to learn that I can connect my hearing aids directly to my computer with Bluetooth, so I kind of have earbuds I wear around all day. There is an extra tip for you. Hearing aids are your friends.

Kevin Patton:
The free distribution of this podcast is sponsored by the Master of Science in Human Anatomy & Physiology Instruction, the HAPI degree. Besides diving deeply into all the major concepts of both anatomy and physiology and learning a lot about contemporary teaching practice, our HAPI graduates also have a good handle on how to teach online, even how to quickly move from on-campus to online and back. Check out this online graduate program at nycc.edu/hapi, that’s H-A-P-I, or click the link in the show notes or episode page.

Kevin Patton:
Okay. We’re ready for tip Number 23, and that is be accessible. That is be present. This is the first thing I learned when starting to teach online many years ago. When you’re in a classroom, being present is kind of easy, but in the distance course, I have to work at it in a different way. I make sure they see my face and hear me talking. I make sure I reach out to folks who aren’t staying involved in the course. I frequently ask students if I can help them. I’m kind of like the guy in Home Depot on a slow day asking random folks if they can be helped.

Kevin Patton:
Speaking of being present, in bonus episode 64B, I mentioned that a podcast might be a good way to stay connected to students. Well, I mentioned this to my friend Dave Jackson, a former teacher and an award winning podcaster who runs something called The School of Podcasting. And he put together a 20 minute video that can get you up and running with a professional sounding podcast right away. He took all the essential how-to steps and he clearly lays them out in the video. The link to get there is theAPprofessor.org/SOPvideo, that SOP for School of Podcasting. So, it’s theAPprofessor.org/SOPvideo. And you can also find that link in the show notes or episode page.

Kevin Patton:
Believe me, having the reassuring sound of your voice and their ears can really help a student meet the challenges they face and feel connected to you.

Kevin Patton:
Tip number 24. Be accessible. Okay, that’s the same as tip Number 23, but this time I mean accessible in a sling slightly different way. I mean, don’t forget about accessibility issues. Students who have special needs are going to be especially hard hit by our quick and dirty emergency efforts, so let’s do what we can to think about them from the start. For example, consider captioning or transcripting our videos. Now, some meeting software like Google Hangouts Meet provide real-time captioning as you or anyone in the meeting speaks. Like any of these automatic transcribers, it’s not very accurate especially when using terms like carbaminohemoglobin. Okay, maybe that one would work okay because the AI system probably loves the term carbaminohemoglobin as much as I do. But other terms that we use in teaching A&P are likely to get mangled pretty badly. Actually, this can provide for some needed comic relief but it can also be a barrier. So, it’s probably best to get a good transcription out there afterward if a recording of the meeting is to be made available for later study.

Kevin Patton:
Now, if you’re linking to external resources, consider their accessibility characteristics as well. The most frequent kind of accommodation that I’m asked to provide in my courses by far is that constellation of things that affect test taking. These kinds of needs include extended time on tests, a quiet test environment, use of a calculator, stuff like that. Now, I’ve never had to do anything about that because all my students have unlimited time for tests and are taking them at home with access to books, Internet, calculators, or whatever they want to use. Admittedly, I found this approach hard to wrap my head around at first, but I’ve been doing it this way since, well, 2002, which I mentioned earlier, and it works great. Really, trust me, it works great. And even if you don’t trust me, this is an emergency, so why not?

Kevin Patton:
The thing I’ve learned about accommodating for special needs is that, often, it makes my instructional resources even more useful for all students, even those who don’t need any kind of accommodation.

Kevin Patton:
Tip number 25. Think about faces, but not too much. Way back in episode 50, called, Connecting in the Distance Course Special, I talked about how important it is in a distance course for both us and our students to put our faces on our learning management system accounts, our profiles, so that social part of our brain that connects faces to people can click in and help us feel more connected to each other. Likewise, I think that at least the teacher should take every opportunity to have their face either as a still, or even better, as a little video talking head to resources and messages that we’re sending out to students. But I think a lot of us have this mindset that if we or our students are used to face to face interactions, we must try to replicate that when moving online. I think that’s a big mistake based on my experience.

Kevin Patton:
Why is this a mistake? Well, first, it forces students whose lives may not be able to follow a precise schedule to be in front of their webcam, or at least on their device at a certain time. Second, not everyone wants to be seen on camera or heard by voice or both. They can’t help it in an on campus course even though It may be a great burden for them. But in an online course, where they’re expected to be in a video chat or webinar and participate, this could be a big, big hurdle. Now, you and I have had a chance to get over our stage fright as teachers, but even for many neurotypical people, this can be paralyzing. Even for folks like us who are used to it may still fret a bit about how our face looks at the moment.

Kevin Patton:
I, for one, always have to check for pizza stains on my shirt and try to rub off at least some of that layer of pet hair on my sweater. But I know several students on the autism spectrum, for example, who will take a failing grade on an assignment that requires audio or video rather than have to participate. Now, It’s hard for me to wrap my head around that, but I’ve had one of them describe it as if we’re asking them to jump off a sky scraper. They just cannot do it. Also consider that some, possibly many of our students, are going to be sick. If they’re participating at all, they may be doing so from bed and not looking their best, and maybe they can’t even stay with us for more than a few minutes at a time, and they may not be able to talk because they’re having difficulty breathing.

Kevin Patton:
Another reason that this is a mistake, I think, is that we’re not trying to replicate face to face experience. We will not be successful online if we continue to think that way. It’s a whole different thing. And yeah, that’s a hard thing to get used to. And I know you’re not believing me right now, I can hear that from where I am, I can hear that, but you’ll come around. I eventually did. I’m just trying to save you some time, effort and heartache right now. It turns out that relying a lot on discussion forums with just a sprinkling of faces works really well. Think of face to face interaction as a seasoning, not the main dish.

Kevin Patton:
Tip number 26. Help students navigate campus-wide changes and community resources. Like we are, students are going to be overwhelmed by this situation, and they’re going to wonder, “How do I get access to library materials? How do I get access to tutors and other resources in the tutoring center? How am I going to do my academic counseling for the next semester or trimester? What about personal counseling?” I bet there’s an even greater need for that right now compared to before, and there already was a great need for that, and many schools provide, at least, referrals to personal counseling. How are they going to do that? What about health resources, again, especially now? What kind of referrals or advice is the college giving for that?

Kevin Patton:
So, keep up with how that’s all working. And I know that they’re disseminating that information directly to students, but come on, you and I have been doing this for a while and we know that students always don’t look where they’re supposed to be looking. They come to the person who represents the college for them, that is us. They come to us for those answers. And so if we have them ready to go, maybe linked on our website, but also ready to point them to it, it’s going to work better for everyone.

Kevin Patton:
Marketing support for this podcast is provided by HAPS, The Human Anatomy & Physiology Society. Promoting excellence in the teaching of Human Anatomy & Physiology for over 30 years. Of course, the 2020 HAPS conference in Ottawa had to be canceled. But you know what, there are all kinds of regional conferences coming up later on. I’ve been to a lot of these and they’re amazing. If you want to know more, go visit HAPS at theAPprofessor.org/haps, that’s HAPS.

Kevin Patton:
Moving along here, I have Tip Number 27, which is, even less is even more. Now, I mentioned this idea of less is more in bonus episode 64B, but I really mean at this time and I’m going to take it a step further and emphasize that even less is even more because, yeah, I know it’s hard to let go. One thing I’m suggesting is to take that beautiful new remote course that you’ve just built and slash everything in half. Remove at least half, if not more, really.

Kevin Patton:
In one online course I did quite a while ago, I had a weekly discussion and two weekly assignments. It was perfect. Well, in my imagination, it was perfect. In real life, it turned out it was awful. The students were so busy writing their required discussion posts and trying to get those assignments done that, well, none of it was good quality. The Learning going on wasn’t anywhere near where it needed to be. So, I made the discussion biweekly and the assignments biweekly, alternating them so that we’d have a discussion week and then an assignment week, and then a discussion week and so on. That gave them more time to work on their assignments and less pressure to say something important in the discussion. And that has worked great for the past several years. So yeah, cut what you have in half. Do it now.

Kevin Patton:
Students are having a hard time coping with their whole lives right now. They may have lost the job that supports their schooling, their routines and lifestyle have been completely disrupted. They may be sick or caring for sick family members. They may be coping with deaths among family and friends and neighbors. They may be stuck living in an uncomfortable or even dangerous situation. They’ve had to suddenly shift to doing things way differently for most or all of their courses. They may be trying to manage their kids at homeschooling or adjust to working their job, if they still have one, in an at-home mode. Even if none of these things are true, they are still under a great deal of stress. We all are. Our whole society is under stress right now.

Kevin Patton:
As you know, stress affects things like, oh, there’s all kinds of stress effects, disrupted sleep, inability to focus, and all of those things and makes it harder for students to cope with a changed up way of working in our course.

Kevin Patton:
Another thing that gets mentioned too little, I think, but is the big elephant in the room in higher education, a lot of our students struggle with mental health issues on a good day, PTSD, depression, anxiety, and many other conditions that are going to likely be especially hard for them to manage during this public health emergency. And there’s also physical conditions of many types, and addiction, and well, there’re just all kinds of things that students wrestle with all the time that are now exponentially worse for them. The flip side of this that we need to be careful to keep in mind is the teacher side of things, our side of things. Self care is now a much more important issue than it ever was, and it was already very important. Keeping our workload light and manageable will go a long way to helping us cope too.

Kevin Patton:
Another suggestion I have which I learned the hard way when I retired from full-time teaching and became a completely at home worker is to not act like it’s a snow day every day. Get dressed, not necessarily what you’d wear to work, but don’t stay in your pajamas. I wear jeans and a casual shirt, for example, socks and shoes. Actually, I’m wearing western boots right now. I live on a Missouri farm road after all. And I want to stay comfortable, certainly, but I get dressed. Something else I learned is that I should keep a healthy sleeping and eating pattern. The more I stick to a healthy routine, an actual schedule. It starts in the morning with my morning alarm, wakes me up, I do my Tai Chi form. I have my morning smoothie, I play with the dog a little bit, I make some tea, and that progresses in a usual way throughout the rest of the day. The more I do that, the more productive I am and the better I feel, the less stressed I feel. Oh, and I take breaks too, that’s very important.

Kevin Patton:
Now, when I say I get dressed every day, I also mean I shave, I brush my hair, I put on my sunblock, I check my hearing aid batteries, all this stuff I do as if I were going out to work on campus. No, I don’t have to do all that if I’m working at home every day, but if I don’t, then I don’t get as much done, and well, it just don’t feel like my whole self.

Kevin Patton:
Another thing both our students and we can do, not as part of our course, but as part of our self care plan is to keep a journal of our experience of what’s happening in our lives right now, a pandemic journal. There’s a lot of research to show that this can lessen anxiety and help us process our thoughts and feelings and reconcile them with the lives we are now living. Really, it can help us now in real time, and of course, they’ll be valuable to us and our families in the future as well.

Kevin Patton:
Tip number 28. Forget seat time. We’ve all gotten used to this ridiculous formula of having to be in class for certain amount of time every week, certain number of minutes, certain number of breaks and so on, whether we need to or not, and it’s hard to get out of that well established mindset. We’ve been cracking it a bit over the last few years, I think, with more and more online courses, and hybrid courses, and flipped courses and so on, but we’ve not shut it completely. It’s still trying to hang on to us, whispering in our ears to not let it go completely.

Kevin Patton:
One insidious way our seat time demon is trying to cling to us is to whisper the suggestion that we need to meet with students at a point at times, perhaps even with a standard length of time. Resist. Please resist. Asynchronous is better than synchronous. What I mean is, the more independence and autonomy we can give remote students, the more likely it is that they’ll be able to stick with the program, and well, to just cope, cope with life. Students who work in key areas like health care may have changed work schedules, kids or siblings or spouses are not at home. Many of our students just may not be able to make that Wednesday 2.00 PM Zoom meeting. They may have a crying child to comfort, they may be in tears themselves. Heck, we might be in tears at 2.00 PM on Wednesday. The more we have this asynchronous, the less of that sort of problem we have. If we do synchronous meetings, then let’s consider making them optional and consider recording them so a student can go back and experience them at some level later on.

Kevin Patton:
Let’s move on to tip number 29, which is look at stuff. This is a great way to do remote teaching, and that is not to do necessarily our usual lecture or anything, but just to have a real casual chat as if you might with an individual student who came to your office and you want to go over some things with them. And so when I say look at stuff, what I mean is use your webcam, or cell phone, or document camera if you have one, something that you can use to kind of show something to students. And what I mean is, if you happen to have some kind of specimen like a bone or something or a model, anatomical model at home, then use that, but you probably have a whole bunch of books that you can use, books that the student wouldn’t have access to. But all those wonderful anatomy atlases that you have and different things like that, you could use to show things to students, charts, you might have some charts, is a good way to do demos too.

Kevin Patton:
Some of you that are longtime listeners may remember back to episode 13, which was called Playful and Serious is the Perfect Combo for A&P, and in there I related the story of using these little jumping toys which I call phosphorylation frogs, and it’s just a wild and crazy time we have trying to catch up with these frogs that we set them down, they pop up, we set them down, they pop up, and that kind of models what’s happening in our cells with ATP. And we put energy into them to phosphorylate them and then that phosphate pops off, and then we use energy to put it back on, then it pops off. And so that would be something that would be kind of fun to do, and the crazier it gets and the more things go haywire in a demonstration like that, even if it’s on a webcam, can really draw students in and make things memorable for them.

Kevin Patton:
Now, if you’re not going to be using your webcam, and some people have more than one webcam in their household and you can try to figure out how to get both of them going at the same time, but another thing you can do is use your mobile device as sort of a second camera and actually sign in as a separate user. So, you would sign into your classes if you were another student or another instructor.

Kevin Patton:
And so really, you’re up there twice in, if it’s a video meeting, like a zoom meeting, for example, or a Google Hangouts Meet or something like that, and what you can do then is… you can use a bracket or selfie stick or tripod or something or not, but when you’re signed in like that, you can just switch over to being that user and you can hold that over your specimen or your book or whatever, set up in a way you can watch your frogs hop in or out or whatever, and then simply switch back to your regular webcam when you want to face the students and speak to them that way. So, looking at stuff, that can be fun in a remote environment.

Kevin Patton:
Tip number 30. Try to stay inside your learning management system. And what I mean by that is try not to have too many online places that students have to go that are outside your learning management system. And oh boy, I learned this the hard way. I had all kinds of wonderful things I remember in this one course, all kinds of wonderful places they could do, and all kinds of wonderful things they could do there, and the students just had a hard time with it because they just had a hard time figuring out when and where they were supposed to go, they had multiple logins to deal with, multiple passwords to deal with. It was a mess.

Kevin Patton:
So yeah, there’s lots of stuff out there, some of it even free, good, great stuff out there, but try to find a way to make the access to that inside your learning management system so that there’s one place where they go for everything. Now, I know that these days, you can’t always do that, but make an effort to do that. The more of that you can do, the better it’s going to go for everyone, trust me.

Kevin Patton:
Tip number 31. Use audio and video feedback. What I mean by that is many learning management systems have a feature where when you’re responding to a student by a student message or in the grading module or something like that, you have the ability to either record an audio or sometimes even record a video response. If you’re having a student who you really think you need to offer some of that connectivity that being present to, then that would be an option. You do want to kind of double check and see what are the student preferences and what accessibility issues do the individual students have, so that might kind of temper how much of that you do. And when you do it, I suggest keeping it brief, as brief as you possibly can because students are going to turn you off partway if it’s too long. Even if it’s directly specifically to them, they may just not be able to pay attention that long with all this stress going on and other kinds of things going on. But even under normal circumstances, that’s not a good idea, to make it lengthy.

Kevin Patton:
I suggest to be very, very, very careful about asking for video and audio from your students. So, a moment ago, I was talking about providing video or audio feedback to them, but I don’t know if you want them to do that with you. If you do, be very careful, because otherwise, you could end up with hours and hours of rambling video or audio messages that you have to get through, and you have other things to do. This is not good for mental health, trust me, so be careful with that. It’s not a bad thing to do, it’s actually a great thing to do, but be careful.

Kevin Patton:
Tip number 32. Have a snippet library. Now, in past episodes, I’ve recommended keeping a collection of helpful feedback in the form of a list of snippets that we can cut and paste as needed when we’re giving student feedback, and that means either on an assignment, or responding to a message or whatever. That allows us to give students a lot of good information, and maybe even some gentle correction, without taking up a lot of our time writing similar comments over and over on each student assignment. And by the way, if we’re doing that, it’s going to be text based. And so this is another reason to limit the amount of video and audio you do, because if that becomes the expectation of what you always do, oh man, that’s really going to add a lot of time onto your day, whereas using these snippets cuts a lot of time out of your day.

Kevin Patton:
Now, more and more I’ve been using software called Text Expander, which allows me to insert any of those stored snippets with a short abbreviation. I just type a three letter abbreviation or code that I’ve made up and the snippet connected with that code automatically appears right there wherever I was typing, in that email composer, or that chat window, or that grading window. The snippet could be a phrase or it could be two paragraphs carefully explaining how to navigate a learning activity you’ve assigned. It could be a copy of your revised schedule or even the whole darn syllabus. I should say, revised syllabus because I’ve now changed and streamlined my syllabus for this emergency, right?

Kevin Patton:
Now, what this technique does is it makes it more likely that each student will get more feedback from us because we’re being more efficient with our limited time. Another benefit to this scenario hearkens back to a core message I’ve been putting out there, which is to be present to our students. The more they hear from us, especially one on one communication like feedback on assignment or when answering student messages, the more connected to us they feel. And I can tell you, I feel more connected to my students when I can give them more good, solid feedback rather than just a terse line or two.

Kevin Patton:
Tip number 33. Wear your customer service hat. Something else I’ve talked with you about in past episodes is the importance of staying calm in the face of frustrated students just like those brave hearted souls who staff customer service lines all over the world. After I make an angry call to them, they usually respond with their own verbal well rehearsed snippet. “Yes, that must be very frustrating Mr. Patton. I understand why you called and I can help you with that.” Or something like that. Whoosh, all of a sudden my blood pressure drops a few points. My respiratory rate slows, my muscles relax, I feel better. I feel helped. I have a helper now. They’re present to me and they’re going to make sure I’m taken care of. I find that this has been the most productive way to handle student frustration, that is with calmness and kindness.

Kevin Patton:
Now, wait a minute, I need to clarify that. What I really mean is the appearance of calmness and kindness. I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve written a snippy snarky response to a student, a response that could easily be read is very condescending, I’m ashamed to admit. The key is that even though I write it, I always let it sit there for a moment, or two, or 10, then I usually delete that part and use my customer service voice to be calm, and kind, and to actually help them overcome their obstacle. Even if it could have been avoided or it was a result of inattention, I help them work through it. And you know what? The more I practice putting on that calmness and kindness, the more it becomes part of who I am, so I’m going to keep doing it. It helps me and it helps my students.

Kevin Patton:
Tip Number 34. Open an office. Wait, we’re not supposed to do that, we’re supposed to stay home, right? What I mean is set up a designated workspace, if possible, even if it’s just a corner of a room. I find that this helps me focus and be more productive, it also kind of sets a boundary for others in my household that I’m at work when I’m in that space. Even my cats are almost to the point where they get that I’m not going to stop and rub them much, which brings us to tip number 35.

Kevin Patton:
Resist Jedi mind tricks. What I mean by that is, pets, kids, spouses, other household members will not always respect the focus you need to do your job. And I found a few simple tricks that help a little bit. None of them are perfect, but one is, door signs.

Kevin Patton:
I do have a separate room that I work in, and it’s one that’s accessible to anyone, and so sort of an open invitation to stop in and say hi to dad, or, “Hey, what do we want to do about dinner tonight?” And things like that. And so what I do, like when I’m recording, for example, or if I’m in the middle of something that requires real focus, I’ll put a little door hanger outside. I have actually a little set of them. I have a hook at the back of my door with all kinds of them I choose from, says, I’m recording, or I’m in a meeting, or I’m writing, I’m on a writing project or something, and I hang that outside and so then they know what’s going on and not to disturb me at that point.

Kevin Patton:
When my kids were younger, it was kind of hard to do, and it was hard for them to wait, but I did find a technique that really worked well for us, and that is to explain that this is a job and this is how jobs work and that there are times when I cannot be interrupted. So, if they’re old enough to understand, they kind of get it. But they’re very impulsive, and so even though they understand it, it’s not always easy for them to actually be able to control those behaviors.

Kevin Patton:
So, one thing I did is I made a little in and out box, like little in and out tray like you see in many offices, more so in the past than you do now, but a little tray, one says in, one says out. And so they if they have something they need to tell me, then they can write it on a note and then they can put it in… or even draw a picture if they can’t write very well, and put that in my inbox. And then when I take a break, I’ll check my inbox and then I might write a note or draw a picture for them back and I put it in my out box. So, they’ll come and check my out box and, “Oh, dad has responded to my message.” And that makes them feel part of your job, that makes them feel connected, even though you have to temporarily disconnect from them.

Kevin Patton:
Another thing sort of along those lines that we’re doing well with my youngest son is that I would be working and really needing some time to really focus on something and he just couldn’t stay away. And so I made a little table off to the side, and I said, “Well, that is what I’m calling my partner’s desk. You’re my partner when you want to be, and so you can come in here and you can help me write books.” I have a stack of paper there, and a bunch of colored pencils, and all kinds of little things, and so while I was working, he’d be working. I remember one time, he made a book about planets, because that was something he was interested in at the time. That way, you get them working on their thing, and they feel like they’re part of what you’re doing too. And so in a way, you’re still giving them attention without really fully giving them attention.

Kevin Patton:
Now, you can’t do that all day long, obviously, it’s just for little spurts, but there are lots of other things that I’m sure you can come up with that work with the people in your household to help them help you really focus on what you need to be focusing on while you’re working at home.

Kevin Patton:
Tip number 36. That is build a team. Now, I know that’s a very trite expression and so on, but this sort of reflects a suggestion that I made way back in episode nine, which was titled Supporting Returning Learners, and in that episode, I suggest that returning learners should have a meeting with their family and friends and forge an agreement about what’s going to be happening while the learner is in school. What family responsibilities will be changing, what priorities will be different, what roles others have to play in supporting a returning learner going back to school. Problems occur when this is all left unsaid and left un-negotiated and never agreed to by everyone it affected. So, it’s about building a support team from the beginning and agreeing how to handle difficulties as they arise. And this can be a great thing for us now, for our students with their household and broader network, and we with ours. Have a meaning, work things out, agree on how things might change and what we’re going to do when it’s not working and we have to make more changes. So, yeah, build a team.

Kevin Patton:
Tip number 37. Face the lion. Regular listeners know that I happen to know something about dealing with lions. I’ve encountered them as a zookeeper, as an apprentice lion tamer, and as a study safari leader, and I’ve learned that in an encounter with a lion, don’t try to run and hide. You don’t ignore the threat. What do you do? You face the lion. Students want to talk about this pandemic, they want to talk about every aspect of it, not just the human biology part or the public health part, but all of it, the social, political, emotional and economic aspects too. I think we should let them. As teachers, I think that’s kind of our role and responsibility to facilitate that. After all, we might be the only person they know with the scientific training and knowledge to help them sort through what they’ve been hearing. I’m not saying we should spend a lot of time on that, what I’m saying is we shouldn’t just automatically shut it down because we have homeostasis or cardiovascular anatomy to talk about, or maybe even, yes, carbaminohemoglobin.

Kevin Patton:
Probably a good way to manage this is to give it a bit of time. Let it play out at least a little bit and then move on to what you wanted to focus on. Now, at first there’s going to be a lot, or like when there’s a big change in the course of the pandemic or when some other big news happens, but eventually, try to taper it down after that, so you’re not spending a lot of time on it every time you’re meeting with students. So, it’ll be a lot at first, less later on, I think. Facing the lion that is threatening us all, acknowledging its existence and the danger it poses can help defuse anxiety, at least a little, which will then allow us to move on to other thoughts.

Kevin Patton:
Tip number 38. Cross disciplines. The COVID-19 outbreak, that lion lurking in the bushes, can of course be used to help us teach principles of anatomy and physiology, and that might be a good way to rein in some of that anxious chatter and questioning, and help bring it back to what we want to accomplish in our course. But I think there’s another opportunity to take with this, and that is embracing the idea of crossing disciplines, to see science and public health intersect with concepts in psychology, and sociology, and history, and athletics, and fitness, and politics, and economics, in business and even art and literature. I have mentioned in the past that I always start my A&P course with a brief discussion of the interaction of science and society and then I continue that as one of my minor themes throughout the course.

Kevin Patton:
There’s a lot of evidence that this kind of interdisciplinary approach can really help students Understand the core concepts of our course more deeply by showing them how they fit into the whole wide world of ideas. Now, here’s that awful lion of a pandemic bringing us at least one useful gift hidden inside that danger and that grief, an opportunity to learn something powerful.

Kevin Patton:
Tip number 39. I am not alone. We’re all doing this. I know it doesn’t feel that way sometimes because each of us is in our own home, and please stay there. But really, we’re all in this together, trying to figure out what to do, learning new technical and pedagogic skills, trying to cope with a deluge of advice and options coming from our IT department and teaching center. It’s well intentioned but just too much too fast. Friends, let’s continue being there for each other and let’s keep taking care of each other.

Kevin Patton:
I always put links in the show notes and at the episode page at theAPprofessor.org/65. In case you want to further explore any ideas mentioned in this podcast or if you want to visit our sponsors, and you’re always encouraged to call in with your questions, comments and ideas at the podcast hotline, that’s 1-833-LION-DEN, or 1-833-546-6336, or send a recording or a written message to podcast@theAPprofessor.org. I’d love to hear your tips and ideas and experiences during this outbreak, and you know what, so would everyone else. And please, don’t forget to share this episode with your friends and colleagues. Do it now while you’re thinking about it. Direct them to theAPprofessor.org/65. I’ll see you down the road.

The A&P Professor is hosted by Dr. Kevin Patton, an award winning professor and textbook author in human anatomy & physiology.

Kevin Patton:
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