Online teaching across time zones

23 April 2020

The use of video for teaching and learning is not new to Senior Researcher Dennis Trolle from Aarhus University. He is course coordinator at the Master’s programme in Water and Environment, where he teaches and coordinates the course ‘Statistics, Modelling and Global Change’.

‘I use the teaching method STREAM where we combine in-class and out-class activities. Therefore, I already had experience with producing video materials for the students. It is a great way to let the students work with the material by themselves in their own pace before we go through it in the class,’ says Dennis Trolle.

Due to corona lockdown, teachers and students are located in different time zones, and with different quality of internet, so Dennis Trolle does not see live broadcasted lectures as an optimal solution. Therefore, the course is based on a combination of literature and more than 110 short video clips with lectures and exercises for the 9 weeks long course, supplemented with online forums, e-mail correspondence and online quizzes.

An online forum functions as a place for informal troubleshooting and is supervised by teachers on a daily basis. If students are stuck with an exercise or have questions, they have a lifeline in the forums.

‘The forums are great because all students can benefit from the answers,’ says Dennis Trolle.

Boost the learning with quizzes

Video material works fine when it comes to recording a lecture, and it is great for software tutorials where the students often have to make a lot of choices and get the settings right to make the most of the software. However, Dennis Trolle obviously sees some issues when the teaching is limited to out-class activities.

‘It can be difficult to find out if the students are keeping up with the material, but we try to use the forums and the quizzes for this purpose. The online quizzes covers the key take aways from the course, and the students can take a quiz as often as they wish and it does not affect their grades. They purpose of the quizzes is teaching and training only,’ says Dennis Trolle.

For some teachers it has been a new experience with digital platforms for teaching, but they have continuous shared their experiences about software packages, the design of quizzes etc. Dennis Trolle hopes that the whole situation in the end has made more teachers aware of the advantages of using different kinds of teaching material to combine in-class and out-class teaching.

Senior Researcher Dennis Trolle records a video lecture from home office.