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Published: 21 Apr, 2020 Updated: 22 Apr, 2020, 16:51

“Important to keep things going and motivate the students”

PROFILE Chemistry instructor William Siljebo is quite used to teaching remotely, but has learned a great deal in recent times. He thinks it is important to help students with study techniques, and to schedule time for questioning, problem solving and quizes. The most difficult aspects are exams and the practical handling in laboratory sessions.

Text: Camilla Bergvall

How it teaching students remotely going?

It is going rather well as a matter of fact. I am a little familiar with teaching this way before, since we have process operators via distance, and our technical aids work well in terms of lectures.

Pros and cons of remote teaching? 

One advantage is that you can record what you do, so that students who cannot attend can see the lectures at another time. And all the material that you have done for a year is still there and can be used again.

And a disadvantage is that it takes quite a long time at the beginning, especially the first time if, for example, you want to have better quality and edit your lectures. So, it can be a lot of work from the start, but then it’s smooth sailing, so to speak.

Three tips to other teachers? 

Demonstration labs are excellent to copy straight off. With a wireless headset and a camera, you can do video meetings and lab sessions online, so that the students then have the data and materials to work on their own.

You can also use technical aids, such as a quiz, to keep things going and motivate the students. The most important thing is to help them with their studying techniques and give them varying tasks, because they may be used to a lecture and being told what to do.

Since we don’t typically have such long lectures, it is important to stay in contact with the students, so don’t just set aside time for lectures. Many students prefer to ask questions live, not just in discussion forums, so it is advantageous if there is also time scheduled for questioning and problem solving. Then the students get the opportunity to ask and interact, and it is also much more fun for you as a teacher.

What components are most difficult?

The examination and laboratory session are the most difficult components. In some courses it works to give a home-based exam, but for basic level courses it can be hard, and it is also a challenge to control who actually takes an exam.

A laboratory session with demonstrations can basically work well online, but laboratory sessions that are more about practical handling need to be delayed.

What you have learned during this recent period?

One thing is that we have tested an online exam, and we may not know exactly how to perfect it yet, but we have had the opportunity to try it and it has been very interesting.

And a lab component that I have now run for the first time actually worked quite well. It was little boring for the students, but in the current situation it was still the best option.

William Siljebo
Associate professor