This week, I've been preparing for a launch of hybrid learning on Monday (weather permitting). Part of that effort has been getting familiar with REVAS: a way to connect students at home as seamlessly as possible with what's happening in the classroom. There will be some seams, I predict. The 'S' in REVAS stands for system, which may be an overly generous name for the combination of tripod-mounted web camera, oversize monitor, and Chromebook. Since any Chromebooks on campus have long ago been pressed into service, I found myself with a deprecated model in the classroom where I teach. It didn't seem to have enough something (memory? bandwidth? stamina?) to stay reliably connected to a video call. In hindsight, maybe that's because I test drove said system during meetings that necessitated having an unseemly number of tabs open. Or maybe, while Chromebooks have their niche, crisis response isn't quite it. At any rate, I scrounged up a newer device to swap in and enjoyed marginally better connectivity.
I kept trying to press my advantage, wondering if there was a hint of speed to be gained by deleting the dozens of user accounts that had aggregated on the device over its years of service. I started clicking names followed by the remove-account sequence and found myself plunging into a whirlpool of memories. So many of those names came with faces I could still picture and stories that left me with some combination of smiles, smirks, eye rolls, and head shakes. At varying spots on the list of accounts, I saw siblings, years apart in age -- another sign that the device on which I was typing was at least a metaphorical graybeard.
This is where the pandemic has relegated me, distant from colleagues and imagining instead trading tales of students' shenanigans with a chunk of plastic and transistors. [Cue eye roll and head shake.]