Going online: it’s not about us

I’ve always felt that a big part of the reason that many unproven teaching innovations gain traction is that they tend to they make the job of teaching more enjoyable. I love teaching laboratory classes because it is quite a social way of teaching. I like to call it “teaching by walking around”, my version of the well-known concept of “managing by walking around”. So I often question my own tendency to run problem-solving sessions instead of lectures. Is it because these sessions ‘work’ or is it because I find them more enjoyable than lecturing.

Indeed, it is quite easy to imagine that a teacher or lecturer is going to be unconsciously biased towards, say, STEM ‘activities’ rather than having to do the challenging job of actually explaining difficult concepts to students.

I thought of this the other day when a few tweets came across my timeline in which academics mentioned how much they missed face-to-face lectures, especially the ‘humanity’ of it. But as someone else tweeted, it shouldn’t be about us; it should be about the students. If it turns out that students express a preference for online lectures*, then we should be open to the idea of online teaching becoming the norm in the future, at least in higher education. It shouldn’t matter how we feel about it.


*And, of course,  if we can show that going online does in fact lead to better learning.

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