I feel a sense of equality and fraternity with students on screen that you cannot feel standing in front of a group in a lecture theatre.

In this blog, Jim McGeoghegan, Senior Teaching Fellow, Social Work, discusses how he was apprehensive about online teaching to begin with but can now see its benefits…

I have to be honest the thought of online teaching kept me awake at night initially. What if Teams crashes or I press the wrong button and the screen disappears or if the students all disappear whilst I am talking never to be seen again? With face-to-face I can at least detect boredom or apathy and try to do something about it. In this brave new virtual world would I be exposed as the dinosaur I think I am? What does my voice pre-recorded sound like and how many times a minute do I say ‘Ummmm..’?

However, the first session went really well because I realised that many students were as apprehensive as I was about it. We used it as a form of bonding, bemoaning technology with a grim and bitter humour and slating those who invented Microsoft Teams. At the start of the day, online conversations before each session became ways of engaging with people you had never met physically. I have had the opportunity to see students’ children, dogs and cats and living rooms in Technicolor! I feel a sense of equality and fraternity with students on screen that you cannot feel standing in front of a group in a lecture theatre.

There are downsides – humour does not seem to work as well with an internet lag…the punchline is never as effective! I do miss the chats at break times and reassuring somebody who is anxious with a smile and a self-deprecating grimace! I do miss the sense of personal and professional satisfaction at students grasping a debate or concept and turning it into a back and forth discourse where the energy in the room is palpable. I guess I do miss face-to-face teaching but online has its perks and advantages such as not having to brush one’s teeth or shower necessarily before teaching! Not sure how that will work in a small stuffy room with 16 students in future though…

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