Remote teaching: It felt like a jump into cold water
Here, Dr Nadia Terrazzini, Senior Lecturer in Clinical Immunology, tells of the trials of switching to remote teaching.
“I feel like I have started a new job. Only last week I was busy working in the lab with my final year students who had to complete the final experiments for their lab projects.
And on Monday morning there I was setting up the laptop that I was lucky to get from the school, in our designed, personal area in a house I share with hubby and three kids (all connected to internet for work and home schooling) and joining a meeting on Microsoft Teams (MT).
It felt like a jump in cold water. I even forgot to switch on my camera at first (sorry team) as I was still hot and flustered after just completing an online PE session with my daughter (PE with Joe Wicks!).
My normal work timetable included two lectures (i.e. four hours teaching) for my Y3 modules and one more for the Y2. So, despite having already provided online lecture material, I thought I would be good also adding recording of the lecture using Mediastream. The difficult part was not recording (I have done it in the past) but finding a quiet time in my busy house. I opted for recording rather than live lectures so that I could still pause/edit when kids were calling me or they come crashing into the room where I work. I now find that the best time for recording is – nighttime!
Until Monday, I had never used MT but it seemed easy enough to join teams and create new ones. I have now 12 teams on my screen (two of which with four more sub teams!), including module/course teams and a ‘kiddies at home’ team, sharing the joys of working while looking after kids!
I am encouraging my students to access the Teams and send module-related questions and I am adding messages, links to university communications (such as access to students grants) and to online resources. But, unfortunately, so far their response has been weak.
I am looking to attend more workshops on remote teaching to get more ideas on what I can do to encourage participation. I may also have to be a bit more patient and wait for students to adapt to the new learning environment.
MT is also allowing me to meet colleagues on video calls, a lot nicer than sending emails. We must not forget the negative impact that losing human interaction may have on us all, we are just at week 1 of lockdown and many colleagues live at home alone. I have had a few MT video calls with colleagues to organise future work and I always feel more cheery after.
So, with classes to prepare and record, online meetings, a paper review (I have received an interesting study coming from Wuhan to review for an Immunology Journal) and extra admin’, on top of managing life indoors with the rest of the family…I am keeping very busy.”
Dr Nadia Terrazzini is Senior Lecturer in the School of Pharmacy and Biomolecular Sciences and from the Centre for Stress and Age-related Disease, and the Centre for Regenerative Medicine and Devices.