Finding our online routine
Lecturer of digital media & technologies in education, Bob Reuter decided to analyze his own teaching experience on his blog. He writes: "This will be a good opportunity for myself to document and reflect upon my own experiences and actions of remotely teaching students, while I normally meet them in rather small groups and interact with them rather personally". Agnès Prüm, Study Programme Director in the “Bachelor en Cultures Européennes”, has found with the help of students how to best adapt her courses. “We have done several tests and worked with the student representatives to make online courses as pleasant as possible for everyone. It is very important to chat with the students because it is much more difficult to read "the mood of the class" through a bunch of webcams, she explains.
Online courses are going well, but professors must remain careful. “Technology can act as an unwanted tool of exclusion and we need to be aware of this and try to mitigate or erase these effects right from the start”, notes Reuter on his blog post, explaining how one of his student had technical difficulties to connect to one of his video conference. An observation shared by Agnès Prüm. “New problems arise in this unprecedented situation. For example, some of our international students have returned home and now find themselves in a different time zone”.
Fortunately, we don’t lack of solidarity. “One of the student spontaneously started to write short summaries of the activities that we were collectively doing in our live session in order for the other student to be able to follow what we were doing. That was quite a heart-warming moment”, says Bob Reuter. “We exchange a lot with colleagues and share our ideas and experiences. Some of us are less comfortable with technology, so it's important to support each other", notes Prüm.
Although physically distant from their students, the two lecturers both feel their need for other forms of proximity. "It's our role as university teachers now to also support our student emotionally" writes Bob Reuter. “Our students are at the turning point towards adulthood. For some, this crisis has forced them to take major decisions, by themselves, for the first time.In the absence of ‘right or wrong’, this is not an easy task.”, explains Agnès Prüm.
Three weeks, and how many more? No one knows the answer right now, but we all hope to continue to witness the positive initiatives and surges of solidarity we’ve seen lately.