Don’t perform – connect! This is what our Lecturer has learnt from teaching at a distance
Elisabeth Wulff Sahlén's greatest lesson learned from teaching remotely during the pandemic is how important it is to interact with the students. She explains this as “Don’t perform – connect!” Elisabeth is a Lecturer and teaches English in several of our programmes. She has developed her teaching in various ways after the experiences she gained from teaching remotely.
Can you elaborate on what you mean with “Don’t perform – connect?”
“Well, it’s about creating time for interaction and feedback is more important for learning than delivering fantastic lectures – live in Zoom or recorded.” On campus, it is quite easy to create a relaxed and interactive classroom atmosphere where I can capture the students' understanding. Therefore, one of the biggest challenges with teaching remotely was to create digital seminars with just as much interaction and engagement as in the physical classroom. And where I could build relationships with the students.
Can you give us some examples of what you did to create interaction and give feedback remotely?
Yes, I recorded all my lectures and instead had shorter briefings in Zoom to check that the students understood. Here the students were always active in the chat.
They also got to answer Mentimeter questions and write and draw on the screen during my presentation using an annotation tool in Zoom. With the tool, they can write the answer to a question, underline or put a star in front of the right option. This meant that we had a constant discussion both orally and in writing.
The anonymity with regard to the Mentimeter questions and annotation meant that participation was even better than in the physical room, as the fear of making mistakes decreased. Also, a student who has to formulate their thoughts in writing needs to think a bit more before answering, which helps their learning. I will continue to use this as a supplementary activity also in the physical classroom.
I introduced optional Q&A sessions in Zoom and they were always appreciated by those who participated. So, I have continued with this activity. Students who don't dare to ask a question in a classroom often are braver online, especially if the entire class is based on their questions.
I also had vlogs as an assignment, which allowed the students to develop their oral language skills while I got to know them better at the same time. It was a great success for both them and me, so I will continue with this activity.
How will you teach in the future, now that we are back on campus?
I have already started to combine digital and analogue tools to a greater extent than before, especially during seminars. I also want to develop my teaching towards greater flexibility in time and space, especially by exploring the possibilities of hybrid teaching.
The pandemic has shown that teaching can take place in a variety of places and that some students learn best in their own environment while others prefer being on campus. Teaching that allows greater variation and flexibility (without compromising on interaction, set-up and the teacher's presence) can help students feel more relaxed and thus they can learn better.