Instructor Spotlight: Leslie Shade

With classes going online late last year, our educators were thrown headfirst into a brave new world. Students and staff alike are so grateful for our amazing instructors here at the Faculty of Information, and so we at Living the iLife are profiling some instructors whose online instruction have truly stood out to our students this term. 

Every instructor discussed in this series has been specifically nominated by you, their students. 

Dr. Leslie shade is an expert in the social and policy implications of information and communication technologies, and turns her expertise toward considering issues of gender, youth, and political economy. Some of her recent work has included a partnership with the eQuality Project, which aims to shed light on young people’s use of online spaces and the privacy and equality implications of those spaces.

Dr. Shade and a wonderful snowperson! (Photo courtesy of Dr. Shade.)

What has been the most exciting possibility created by teaching online versus teaching in person?

To be honest, I didn’t really deviate that much from how I approach teaching in the classroom, as I was synchronous and my general setup is to prep a slide-deck and run my lectures from that – often deviating from the script 😉  Having said, that, I really enjoyed how students used the chat function in Zoom to ask questions, or they would put in interesting and relevant links to news stories, funny memes, or whatnot, relevant to the lecture…or often, correct my addled memory by looking something up for me and then posting the correct information!

Will this experience of teaching online impact how you approach in-person teaching going forward? 

In some ways… certainly in terms of syllabi content, as last semester I created a variety of options for weekly content – not just textual materials (book chapters, journal articles, policy reports, etc.) but podcasts, video lectures/talks, etc.

How have your students impressed you throughout this process?

The consistent high quality of their critical approach to the issues explored in the course — through numerous assignments and contributions to the course (for instance,  through responses to posted discussion questions or via Zoom chat or in breakout conversations).  Students were awesome in bringing to the class very current policy controversies and issues that reflected course themes.

What is the funniest thing that has happened in one of your virtual classes? 

I’d say it was when my computer completely crashed in the middle of a lecture. I was frantic – restarted the computer and was trying to send students a message from my phone on Quercus. Then I rejoined the Zoom call, and the students were having a great time!, showing off their pets and being very animated! All to say, goofing off can be so necessary to create community.

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