Teaching Online Beyond Zoom


Teaching online beyond Zoom by Michael Yuen, School of Philosophy

Teaching online can be fun and rewarding. This is how I think it’s possible.

In recent months, I began teaching a first-year philosophy course online. As with many new things, starting was a stressful and daunting experience. To prepare, I interviewed some past students. They repeatedly spoke of the inadequacy of Zoom as a replacement for the lively in-person tutorials and lectures that often characterise philosophy courses, and how teaching over Zoom often doesn’t prioritise student needs. These comments started me off on a search for fun and rewarding ways to teach online beyond zoom. Zoom remains part of the teaching mix for my course. But I use it in a targeted way.

In this talk, I show some—not too time consuming—ways to keep online teaching student-focused by going beyond Zoom.

Here are three examples. (1) My course has informal channels for student questions: an anonymous ‘An Ask Me Anything’ button on the course website and a short ‘Virtual Walk’ after tutorials. These informal channels show the students I am present in the course and allow for interesting discussions to emerge. (2) I encourage the students to engage with the material in diverse ways. To this end, I publish the lectures as a series of videos, detailed slides and mp3s. This way they can listen to lectures while walking, riding or hiking. (3) With the help of ANU’s Education Development Studio, I reorganised the course website so students can expect to see the same structure every week: 6 things including readings, activities, discussions and lectures. Thus, each week, they can know what I expect from them. In turn, this lessens their anxiety and my administration load.

Speaker Bio

Michael Yuen is a Ph.D. Candidate in Philosophy at the Australian National University (ANU). His research focuses on Kantian philosophy and its relevance today, broadly understood, with an emphasis on Kantian epistemology and its connection to our social and political lives.

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