University teaching during Corona
I have been a university lecturer for about 5 years now and especially the last year was different. Although the pandemic is probably hitting the students more than the staff, university teaching during Corona is a drag. On the other side, teaching during Corona offered also advantages and the possibility to experiment with 🔗 new forms of teaching and learning. I really wish for the old ways back, but I also wish for some things to stay.
What I miss
So what do I miss? There are several things that changed and not for the better. Foremost, I miss teaching in front of people. I wasn’t always sure that this is something I actually like, but since teaching changed from face-to-face to face-to-screen, I really appreciate the personal contact with the students. It is hard to explain things to people, when you can’t get a reaction. For the most time, teaching to the camera feels like a monologue, instead of a discussion.
I also miss a full and lively university. You meet people on the floors, having lunch with them and knocking on doors of colleagues. A university for me is a lively place with students, staff and visitors in different buildings, institutes and libraries. When I sit at my desk, I like to leave the door open. I do this to invite people to come in, but also to listen to the overall chatter of the university.
I already mentioned it, but I do also miss having lunch with different people. Before Corona, we were getting lunch in varying groups every day. It is a perfect time to talk about something else than your work. You also would learn something new every day. Now, I’ll barely take time for my lunch and it also does not have the same distracting effect, which was a good thing.
What I embrace
Nevertheless, there are also good things happening. First, I do appreciate that teaching staff learn and embrace new methods of university teaching during Corona. Instead of giving the same lecture every single time, people now record themselves and have therefore more time for questions from students. I think this is a good step in the right direction. Asynchronous teaching is something that resonates with todays students way more than classical lectures.
Teaching from home and digital gives you also more time for research. Of course, the first semester was hectic, but after that, teaching became easier and I have now more time to do research than I had before Corona. I kind of hope this can stay this way, when everything will get back to normal. The job of a lecturer and assistant is full of tasks, teaching and talking to students. Besides that, there is normally very little time to really think about something you want to research.
I also like, that teaching from home is way more family-friendly. Due to Corona, everyone is actually home all the time, which gives you more time for joined dinner and other family activities, something that always falls under the table if one or both parents are working.
So in the end there are positive and negative effects on university teaching during Corona. In my opinion, the things I miss will come back as soon as the pandemic is over. The question remains, what can stay from the things I embrace? I do really hope for more flexibility in the future in regard to working from home. Also, I do not want to teach anymore from home, but there are also a lot of tasks, that do not need me going to the university every single day. I definitely think that digital teaching or at least some aspects of it will survive.
Oh, and there is one additional thing I do miss on the one side, but that I do embrace on the other: Travel! I do miss travelling to conferences or similar events, but I do embrace the reduced air traffic! A two-edged sword that is. What do you miss or embrace?