“Last year, my lecture started just when the first lockdown was announced. So that gave me no more than a weekend to convert my lectures into an online format. What was funny – at least I can laugh about it now – was that the course was about stress and anxiety, so I experienced first-hand what the lectures were about.

“It’s a year later and my lectures for this course are still online, but I’ve decided to do them live. Recording lectures is no fun for students and the same goes for me. Even though we’re still using Zoom, I have more interaction now that my lectures are live, and I can see students’ reactions to my lame jokes. My next course starts in November and I’m really hoping we’re back on the campus by then.”

Connecting with student experiences

Matthias Wieser in Erasmus TV

“In my lectures, I always try to find a way to connect with things students identify with. If I’m talking about anxiety disorders in the classroom, I’ll show clips from a popular Netflix series about someone who has an anxiety disorder. I hope that using this approach makes my lectures more appealing and the topics more recognisable for the students.

“Even before COVID-19 I was aware that the subject matter covered in my lectures could be distressing. Some students realised they had the symptoms being described, so that’s something I try to keep in mind. Before the pandemic I would always say: ‘You know where to find me. Let me know if I can help you with anything, my door is always open.’ As we all know, you can’t say that during a pandemic. So in my lectures, I incorporate a lot of information about where to find professional help, both here at the university and outside of the university.

Spotify playlist

“I think students really appreciate that I’m doing more than just transferring knowledge. I also show an interest in their personal situation. During the online lectures, I try to create a sense of community using Spotify. Every week I ask students to add a song to the collaborative playlist that fits in with what we’re talking about. For example, if we’re discussing panic attacks, they look for songs about how you deal with a panic attack.

“For every lecture, I play the collaborative playlist on Zoom 10 minutes before we start or during the break. Even though it’s just a playlist, the feeling of creating a compilation together with your classmates forges a bond.”

Concerts and festivals

“I also sometimes worked in the weekends or evenings before COVID-19, but now it’s gotten worse. I live alone so it feels like all the days blur together. Sometimes you don’t even know what day it is. That’s why I enjoy going to the campus on Mondays for the livestream.

“I miss my social life the most. I’m a serious music fan and normally I used to go to concerts all the time. The last music event I attended was Grauzone, a festival in The Hague. I’m really looking forward to being on the festival grounds again and enjoying the performances of amazing musicians.”