Behind-the-Scenes Logistics of Supporting Students’ Work

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SARAH HANSEN: So how did it all work logistically? How did you manage to create all these different individual projects?

ANJALI SASTRY: So that's the downside of this approach. Each project was customized. It's kind of a boutique learning experience in a sense. And one of the things I've learned about trying to innovate when it comes to teaching is you have to be willing to invest a lot the first few rounds-- the first few years you do something. And then over time, you learn how to make it a little more efficient, streamlined, and maybe scalable, and more cost effective.

But this year was definitely a labor of love. So students came to me with all kinds of ideas. And I had open office hours. I have a wiki page where students can sign up to meet with me in 20 minute increments. And I would just set up hours of these meetings every week and sit and talk to students about their ideas, try to formulate some reasonable next steps, really push them to think about how they're using their coursework here and their presence on campus to craft something they couldn't do anywhere else and that spoke to everything else they had access to while they were here.

So that process took a lot of back and forth. Usually, I would meet with students once a week. I opened a shared folder with each of them and would shoot materials that I found into the folder and have them load their drafts, work plans, and other work in progress there. And then I also got into a very quick habit of sending any interesting reading, news article, conference notice directly to the students. So some of them would be getting 10 emails from me a week.

But that really got us going because they could see I was thinking about it all week, and they were too. I learned I had to keep a whiteboard up in my office with each project and each person, because I had over a dozen running, to keep them straight and try to remember who's doing what so that when I saw it-- when I came into the office-- that person would be on my mind, or that project would be on my mind.

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