Learning to Teach in New Ways

18 May 2020

Professor Morten Ougaard has decades of experience and know-how of educating students in classrooms, but the circumstances of the coronavirus have challenged him to explore new teaching platforms and alter his pedagogy, in order to give the students the best possible teaching.

Providing students with good educations is always important and in the current situation we have to ensure that they are not delayed in their studies and that their qualifications and exam results live up to normal standards,’ says Professor Morten Ougaard, Copenhagen Business School.

In February, Morten Ougaard was almost ready to leave for China, where he was supposed to teach the Business and Global Governance course at SDC for the third year running. However, the coronavirus outbreak happened, and he had to cancel his trip and carry out teaching activities for the Public Management and Social Development students in a totally new way.

I had zero previous experience with online teaching, so this was the first time for me. First off, we had to figure out what technical solutions were available to us and then we had to find out what was possible for the students,’ says Morten Ougaard.

‘You have to get used to the software’

After some weighing up the options of different software solutions, they chose to use a software called Panopto. This program can merge a PowerPoint presentation with a voice recording and turn it into a downloadable video. Each lecture was broken up into 3-4 videos, making it concentrated and easily downloadable, while also signalling to the students that it is even more important than usual that they read and digest the material on their own, Morten Ougaard explains. This was also a way to take into account the time gap and issues with slow internet.

Professor Morten Ougaard teaching from his home office

In the beginning, you have to get used to the software. You spend time extra time preparing, fiddling with the video stuff and editing, but it works fine once you get the hang of it,’ says Morten Ougaard.

Fortunately, assistance from the technical support staff at the Copenhagen Business School allowed him to mostly concentrate on making the pedagogy and course content work within the new conditions, where he would teach from his home office.

Most lecturers are used to, and like to, take the stage and here you just teach from your home office, but 45 minute lectures without interaction with the audience is a bit too long,’ says Morten Ougaard.

In order to give students opportunities to digest the course content further, they were given assignments to hand in and asked to participate in discussions, using a software called Peergrade, where they would also get feedback. Ahead of writing the exam paper at the end of the course, students were also given the opportunity to have online one on one supervision with one of the lecturers running the course.

One way of testing the quality of the teaching was to look at the quality of the exam papers, and overall they were really good. Whether that was down to some of the changes that were made to the make-up of the course or the pedagogy is difficult to say,’ says Morten Ougaard, who has had a positive first experience with online teaching, but also looks forward to going back in the classrooms in China.