Teaching milestones

I have always though of myself as more of a researcher and a perpetual student than a teacher. Not totally uncommon in academia I hear. I have been however trying to pass myself off convincingly as a teacher and an authority figure for over ten years now.

Some important milestones in my path include being a responsible teacher for my first course in Luleå in 2008. It was an online course with students from all over the world which I loved. I lectured in Adobe Connect, uploaded the videos to our LMS, and the students carried out a group work with the help of different digital tools. Teaching like this suited me really well: It was much easier to be confident talking to my computer than to an actual audience. I got really good student feedback for the course, and it boosted my ego as well as my interest in e-learning.

Another important milestone came in 2014 when I started to work in Oulu University, and assisted on my first massive course with around 150 students. I held the weekly tutoring sessions in an auditorium as was the style back then. There was no exercises to hold, it was meant as a place where students can come and get help if they need it. I still remember how awkward that was – It was just me talking to myself trying to get the first year students involved. I swear you could hear the crickets chirp in the background when I asked if there is anything they want help with. I tried a lot to improve it – Read tons about tutoring, designed different activities. But in the end, nobody wants to air out their troubles in an auditorium. I got permission to change a lot in those sessions over the years. First I cancelled the auditorium and instead decided to have office hours. Next I included tutoring over anonymous online chat, and Skype for calls, and implementing discussion boards on our LMS. This way worked much better. Almost nobody ever came on my office hours, but the chat and Skype were a hit where the students dared ask even the smallest questions. I realized that these kind of online technologies can really boost teacher-student communication during mass lecture courses.