“The hardest thing for many lecturers is not presenting their lectures through a screen – after all, it’s not as if all students are always paying attention during in-person lectures, either – but the additional effort required because everything is so different. The timetables, the rules for class enrolment, but also adapting the design of your course to online teaching. You have to learn everything afresh, which takes a great deal of energy.”

Everyone wants to do what is best

Brigitte Hoogendoorn
Brigitte Hoogendoorn

“On top of that, most lecturers are highly intrinsically motivated to do what is best for their students and for the quality of their classes, so that is quite stressful. And that’s the dangerous thing. How long can you keep that up? By the way, that’s not just true for lecturers. The people drawing up the timetables are having a hard time of it, as well. They tend to have a highly unique profession, so getting others to do their job or delegating it would be as much hassle as doing it themselves.”

Daily virtual coffee breaks

“In order to support each other, a few places have been created where people can find each other, such as a chat group of which all lecturers are members and where they can ask each other questions. Many ideas are exchanged there. In addition, some departments have established daily virtual coffee breaks where lecturers can have a quick chat so as to be able to catch up with each other.”

Hoogendoorn herself regularly talks to lecturers about how they are doing. “Sometimes it’s a matter of sensing when things are off. If a colleague who is normally quick to answer e-mails fails to respond to one, I will ask them if they are OK.”

Hoogendoorn feels that the Faculty Board genuinely supports its staff and is appreciative of staff’s hard work. “They frequently emphasise that staff really must use their days off to get some rest. Although some people will take that the wrong way. They’ll respond by saying, ‘how am I supposed to take time off when I have all this work that needs to be done?’”

Students must develop a new routine

“I suspect that there will be a reversal at some point. That we will make things less complex and expect students to develop a new routine with respect to doing their coursework. Lecturers run on intrinsic motivation and a wish to do what is best for their students. But there’s a limit for lecturers.”