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Johan Åkesson teaching in 2019
Just like the students, the teachers miss meeting in the classrooms, but think that it is better than expected to teach digitally.
Photo: Carina Gran
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The teachers' perspectives on digital lectures

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Direct contact and dialogue. Important parts from the lectures that teachers miss during the pandemic, when most of the teaching is digital.

Lack of interaction and a strange feeling of speaking directly to a camera without response are a couple of common phenomena in everyday life. At least if you are working as a teacher during the corona pandemic.  

Despite of this, the digital teaching is going better than expected. Efficiency and new opportunities are some benefits that are mentioned.  

We ask four teachers at the School of Business, Economics and Law what they think about the digital teaching that they were so rapidly forced into when the pandemic struck last spring.  

 

Katarina Nordblom, Department of Economics  

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Katarina Nordblom
Katarina Nordblom
Photo: Handelshögskolan

What do you think about digital teaching?  

What I like most about teaching is to be able to convey something to the students and arouse an interest in them. Direct communication is important and that part is largely lost with remote learning. This especially applies to teaching in large groups where I experience that the students are much less active than during regular lectures.  

What are the benefits of digital teaching?  

The advantages of recorded material are that the students can return to it and repeat more difficult parts.  

What is the biggest challenge with digital teaching? 

That you do not really know if what you say hits home. Although it is mostly the teacher who speaks during traditional lectures, there is usually an interaction between students and teachers. You have eye contact and there are questions and comments that lead the lecture forward. Whether the lectures are recorded completely in advance or given via Zoom, much of it is lost. 

Apart from the fact that I do not know if I keep the right level for the students, I myself become a worse and less committed teacher when I talk to the computer than to people sitting in the same room as you.  

How can students make the most of digital learning?  

It is difficult to generalize because digital teaching looks different in different courses. Although all lectures may be available on Canvas where you can see them at any time - get into the habit of watching the lectures at the scheduled time. Then it will be easier to really follow the course and you will avoid unpleasant surprises that might arise if you leave everything until the week before the exam.  

 

Johan Åkesson, Department of Business Administration  

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Johan Åkesson
Johan Åkesson
Photo: Carina Gran

What do you think about digital teaching? 

Short answer is: boring and quite difficult! During this time I have gained experience of teaching both in really large groups, up to 300 students, and smaller groups of maybe 10-15 students and the differences are large. One similarity, however, is the lack of natural eye contact and not being able to read body language.  

In the smaller format it has, to some extent, been handled through the ability to at least see everyone through the camera. In the larger format it is nearly impossible. When you can't see the students, it really feels like talking straight into thin air without the opportunity to know how the message lands.  

What are the benefits of digital teaching? 

In the courses I am involved in, we have chosen to record short films about certain elements/techniques and it is much appreciated. It gives students the opportunity to adjust the study pace and listen to certain parts again. Hopefully, we will be able to reuse this in future courses, which is positive for the quality in the long run. 

What is the biggest challenge of digital teaching?  

Partly what I mentioned above but also that the natural meetings with the students during breaks and in the corridors have disappeared. That dialogue is completely gone, and now, when several months have passed, one realizes how much it really means. The relationship with students at Zoom or via other forums does not provide the same opportunity, unfortunately. 

I have also experienced difficulties in getting the students to turn their camera on and to be active in our chat forums.  

Digital teaching does not have to equal monologue, but it risks becoming so if more people do not take responsibility for dialogue. 

How can students make the most of digital learning? 

Avoid falling for the temptation to postpone daily studies just because there is an opportunity to watch recordings afterwards. Follow study instructions and try to be active in the forums that are offered. Learning also takes place between students and I encourage you to be the one who both asks questions and contributes answers and reflections to others. 

 

Nanna Gillberg, Department of Business Administration  

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Nanna Gillberg
Nanna Gillberg
Photo: Francis Löfvenholm

What do you think about digital teaching?  

Now I have started to get used to teaching digitally, but at first it was a strange feeling to look into that little camera on the computer and not have any contact with the participants. 

What are the benefits of digital teaching? 

An advantage is that it is efficient. 

What is the biggest challenge with digital teaching? 

The biggest challenge is definitely to create interactivity and participation. 

In the role of teacher, I have to adapt to the absence of immediate feedback when the direct interaction with the participants is lacking. To access this, I put questions in the lectures and ask the participants to answer live, which breaks the plan that only I speak. Encouraging students to add questions to the chat during the lecture and ensure that these are followed up also creates more dynamism. 

How can students make the most of digital learning? 

A tip for making digital teaching work is to ensure that the same as classroom teaching applies digitally. Emphasize the importance of the participants spending time reading the literature, which is the basis for being able to absorb the teaching. 

 

Mattias Sandberg, Department of Economy and Society  

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Mattias Sandberg
Mattias Sandberg
Photo: Handelshögskolan

What do you think about digital teaching?  

As many have already said: things are going better than expected. But I lack direct contact and dialogue with the students. 

What are the benefits of digital teaching? 

I hope that this can be an eye-opener for outdoor teaching. A method where we could meet but also keep a distance. For student groups, the current situation provides an increased degree of flexibility; to combine studies with other activities. But just like as for the teachers, I think that the distance format suits some students really well, while others long to go back to "normal". 

What is the biggest challenge with digital teaching? 

I think the biggest challenge is that the students lack opportunities of spontaneous interaction with each other. The small talk between the lectures is lost. Maybe the students will find alternative forums for exchange?  

How can students make the most of digital learning? 

To meet each other outdoors regularly for a "walk and talk" where they can discuss the week's lectures.