“During my lectures I like to move through the lecture theatre, talk to students and ask them questions. I have to be able to get up close to my audience and hold their attention. I’m all about interacting with students. When we had to switch to online teaching, I suffered some sleepless nights initially. I thought: ‘How am I going to do that? I’m definitely not cut out for that.’ But in my end-of-term course evaluations – in which, among other things, I ask my students how they felt about my classes – I generally receive high marks for my online classes. So it would appear that I am in fact able to do them.
“In order to keep things interactive, I use nearly all the tools at my disposal, such as mentimeter and breakout rooms. A while ago I created an image of myself to explain how to measure the distance between the eyes. I use those tools not so much to change the content of my classes but rather to retain my students’ attention, keep things interactive and make classes fun.”
“The hat competition was an idea I suddenly came up with. I wanted to tie students to my lectures with something weird and original. It made perfect sense to do something with hats, because I always wear hats in winter. So for thirteen weeks, I put on a hat or cap for no more than one minute during each lecture, at completely random moments. I told my students that the first person to report at the end of the term which hats I’d worn during the term would win a prize: a chance to pick a hat of their own choosing in a hat shop.
“The moment I put on my hat during the final lecture, several students sent me a list or series of screenshots of all my hats. Some students would watch the recorded version of the lecture if they’d missed the live-streamed lecture. Perhaps they did it for the sake of the competition, but in doing so, they learned about the subject, as well.”
Take it easy
“I’m not doing too badly in the current situation, but obviously, I can’t conclude from that that young people are doing fine, as well. I can tell that medical students are lonely, although the students in medical internships do have a lot of contact with other people. Bachelor’s students are a different story, though. So if I had to give them a message, it would be this: look each other up online. Make the effort to video-call your friends and family more often.
“I also understand that students are worried about falling behind in their studies. But even so, I’d like to say to them: don’t worry. You might be encountering a setback at present, but don’t be afraid it will badly affect your career. I myself didn’t become a medical specialist until I was 43, even though very quick people manage to do that by age 29. What’s a one-year delay in the grander scheme of things? Believe me: life will give you plenty of time. You don’t have to be done tomorrow.”