Monday, March 30, 2020

More Geeky T-Shirts

Before all this mess with the coronavirus came up, I got the chance to wear these two t-shirts to my class when I was teaching resistance/circuits, and when I was teaching magnetic fields. These two are in addition to the other geeky t-shirt that I mentioned last time.

I'm thinking of buying more for a couple of different topics that I will be covering, but who knows when I'll get to wear them again in a class setting. I suppose I can wear them when I run my Zoom class session, but who gets to see the full effect of it when all you want to show is your face.


Tuesday, March 24, 2020

Busy With Online Course Conversion

I'm sure everyone involved in course instruction is facing the same issue. The past 2 weeks have been rather hectic as I rush to reform the course and adapt it to a purely online course. It is certainly more daunting and more of challenge for science courses that have lab components.

I find myself not struggling as much as a few of the other faculty members that had never taught anything remotely or online. I've had some experience in teaching blended or hybrid courses, so I have had experience with conducting either asynchronous courses, synchronous courses via video-conferencing app such as WebEx. So for me, the work involves adapting my material that was meant for an on-site course into something more suitable for an online course.

As for the labs, I already have a collection of "virtual labs" that I had written previously that make use of the various online experiments such as the ones fro PhET, etc. So those actually require only minor rewrites and tweaks and they are good to go.

My main struggle and something that I still find a bit dubious, are the exams. I still do not believe that students will not cheat if they can when doing online tests and exams, no matter how much one tries. This is my main issue with any online courses, the ability to determine if the work was truly done by the student him/herself. I have heard many anecdotal cases where for the same course and same exam, students who took the online version scored significantly higher exam scores than the students who took the exam in class. So make your own conclusion there. I've written my exams in such a way that the questions are somewhat "unique" and can't be easily "googled". But there is no way to prevent the student from having someone else helping or even outright doing the exam for him/her. At the end, there is only so much one can do given the circumstances.

As of now, all I'm trying to do is survive the remainder of the semester with the new workload, and to stay healthy. I wish the same for all of you as well.


Saturday, March 07, 2020

RIP Freeman Dyson

Freeman Dyson has died at the age of 96.

Many anti-academia often used him as an example of being able to do physics without a PhD. But really, how many people are as gifted and as brilliant as he is? He was part of academia, because that was where he worked, and using him as an example is like planning your life as if you'll win a lottery.

Dyson's legacy will go on long after he is gone.


Wednesday, March 04, 2020

2020 APS March Meeting Cancelled

By now, I'm sure those of you involved would have heard the news of the cancellation of the APS March meeting this year due to the coronavirus issue. For those of you who don't know, the APS March meeting is the LARGEST yearly physics conference in the world, attracting more than 10,000 physicists from around the world over a week of intellectual discussion and presentations.

This cancellation is quite unprecedented, because I do not remember the last time this has happened, if it has ever happened. So this is quite a big deal. I'm sure there's a lot of people impacted by this, especially in terms of travel and accommodation cancellations and fees.

No news yet on what will happen to the APS April meeting, which is looming in the very near future.

If you are affected by it, I'd like to hear it. Luckily (or unluckily), I wasn't going this year, so I don't have to deal with the mess.