Author Archives: Janet Davis

On love and learning

Warning: This post is much longer than usual. It’s the synthesis of current events and some things I’ve been working on internally for years.

Since my early days at Grinnell College, Sam Rebelsky has addressed me as “beloved colleague.” No, strike that: at first he called me “beloved junior colleague.” It was only after earning tenure that I became just “beloved colleague.”  Continue reading

Reflections on recording a conference presentation with PowerPoint narration

In the spirit of technological exchange as we liberal arts faculty learn to teach online, I’m writing to share and reflect on a presentation I prepared using the PowerPoint slide narration feature. I then exported the slides and recording as an MP4 to upload to YouTube.

Here’s a link to the 10-minute conference presentation: https://youtu.be/omqZBn19CV4

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Pre-registration for Fall 2020

What a wild ride this spring has been! As of 9 am this morning, for my colleagues who had grades to submit, the spring semester is finally officially over. We had a lovely Commencement, plus an end-of-year department social and a departmental Commencement reception for students and their families – all online, of course. Congratulations to the class of 2020!

Although it’s been a few weeks since pre-registration for fall, this is the first chance I’ve had to blog about it. Walla Walla was just approved for Phase 2 reopening, our new babysitter started today, and my summer research students will start on Monday.

This spring’s pre-registration was unusually unsettling. While we didn’t change our offerings or course descriptions in response to fall contingencies, course staffing has been an ever-shifting landscape. Our search for a visiting professor was cancelled, along with several other open searches across the College, just as we were about to start our screening interviews. Weeks later, with a strong local candidate, we negotiated to have the search reinstated.

I’m pleased to announce that Cary Gray will be joining us for the 2020-21 academic year after a long career at Wheaton College. (Incidentally, I read his Ph.D. work in my graduate class on Distributed Systems.) With Cary, new tenure-track colleague William Bares, and longtime colleague John Stratton, we will be able to offer a full slate of classes. However, some changes are still forthcoming; enrolled students will be the first to hear. Continue reading

Reflections on five weeks of staying home

Yesterday was a good day. The weather was perfect: not too warm, cool, cloudy, or windy. My daughter and I took a walk in the park and splashed in our backyard pool (5’5″, inflatable). We talked with her babysitter on Google Meet. I spent a couple of hours clearing my email inbox and taking care of some paperwork, while my daughter played by herself in the morning and watched extra episodes of Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood in the afternoon. I sat on the back patio during a long conversation with my closest colleague, and I took a walk during a shorter call with my longtime peer mentor. I wore a new pair of sandals, ordered online from the manufacturer at 50% off after a large retail order was cancelled. My Apple Watch says I got a full hour of exercise (though it also says I climbed 44 flights of stairs, which I know is not true). My husband picked up lunch from a taco truck and cooked Ottolenghi’s shakshuka for our dinner outside by the creek with a bottle of wine. My daughter’s bedtime was easy, and I had a little time to relax before bed.

This morning I woke early, took a shower, and started writing this before I heard the calls of “Mommy!” I’m about to publish as lunchtime approaches. Continue reading

Updates to CS department logistics in the face of COVID-19

Over the last week, I’ve posted my colleague John Stratton’s response to Whitman’s move online, and our departmental plans for teaching and departmental community. John has had to update our plans in light of new College policies forbidding meetings between students and faculty, as well as student access to academic spaces. He has given me permission to share his update here. Continue reading

Logistical response to Whitman’s move online

In my last post, I shared my colleague John Stratton’s response to Whitman’s move to online learning. In this post, I share our departmental response addressing logistical concerns. The major headings: lab access; lab aides, class mentors, and virtual office hours; departmental community; information for current and rising seniors; advising and major/minor declarations; the silver lining.

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