Great evaluation for online teaching

Professor Jørgen Bang-Jensen from the Department of Mathematics and Computer Science had never taught online before this summer when he plunged into an intense course in graph theory, teaching 2-300 Chinese graduate students via Zoom from his home office.

By Birgitte Svennevig, , 8/17/2020

Now the students have evaluated the course, and they are very positive.

Of course, Jørgen Bang-Jensen is happy about that, but it is also good to have gained some experience in teaching without having the usual close contact with the students, he says.

Physically hard for the voice

Actually, Jørgen Bang-Jensen, professor of computer science at the Department of Mathematics and Computer Science, should have been physically present at Shandong University in China to teach the week-long course in graph theory, but due to COVID-19 this was changed to online teaching via Zoom. A colleague from Shandong took care of all the technical aspects, while Jørgen could concentrate on the content.

– Teaching so many people online is one-way communication, so I talked almost all the time. I gave 30 lectures in one week, every day between 8 and 15 p.m. – it was physically hard on my voice, he says.

He wanted to avoid the kind of slide teaching where the teacher jumps from one slide to the other at a pace where the students might give up keeping up.

Cheap drawing program for the iPad

– As a teacher, you risk going too fast when the students do not have the opportunity to comment or ask questions. I also tend to speak fast, and I had to be aware of that.

So instead of slides and speed-talking, he turned to drawing.

– I found a cheap drawing program for my iPad and connected it to my computer. Then the students could follow my drawings live - just like when I draw on the board during physical lectures.

All lessons are recorded on video

Of course, this approach means that you cannot prepare your entire teaching on slides but must have confidence that time and content will fit, even when you "freestyle".

– I was nervous at first, because I have never tried online teaching before - but it went really well and I would definitely do it again.

All 30 lectures have been recorded on video and can now be used by other students, for example as an Individual Study Activity.

– The students can watch the videos on their own, and then we can meet physically afterwards and talk about the content.

Here are some excerpts from the evaluations:

“The way you give your lecture is quite, well, fluent and makes me feel comfortable, it's like you're telling a story, and the story just flows.”

“We find that you are a particularly kind, patient and knowledgeable researcher. We admire your firm belief and meticulous attitude towards scientific research.”

“Your research spirit is an example for us to follow and you are our role model.”

See more about the course