faculty & experts
06 April 2021

Adapting to Teaching Online

Lore Vandewalle is Associate Professor of International Economics. When the pandemic abruptly forced classes to move online, she wanted to ensure that her students would be able to succeed, even if a technological learning curve was part of the process.  

In the spring of 2020, I taught the second half of “Economics of Development” for the Master of Interdisciplinary Studies programme. Courses moved online shortly before I had to start teaching, so I did not have a chance to meet the students in person and the ice had to be broken online!

As most students do not have a background in economics, and as the course is a bit technical, the blackboard plays a crucial role in my lectures.  To imitate a classroom experience, I therefore used my laptop and tablet simultaneously. I shared the screen through my tablet, allowing the students to see my slides, or the graphs and equations I drew in Evernote. I connected through my laptop as well, so the students could see me and connect through the chat (not all the students felt comfortable yet to ask questions directly).

It took a number of practice sessions with the Teaching Assistant to get things right (fortunately, these were not recorded!). She also played an important role during the lectures: as it was not obvious to keep track of the tablet and laptop at the same time, she would signal I have to look at the chat using… our mobiles.

The students were positive about the combination of tools, but the system that has now been installed at the Institute is definitely the better option. It allows the students and professor to see each other, which makes teaching a different experience again.

In smaller classes, students keep their cameras turned on, and in larger groups, they switch on when posing a question. This will allow us to recognise each other when we – hopefully soon – meet again in the corridors!