International Sport Management and corona, a lecturer’s experience

Corona. Up until three months ago, the main association I had with this word was a nice refreshing Mexican beer on Coronado Beach, California. It now stands for social distancing, self-isolation and teaching from home. That latter is quite a challenge but also a chance to start using the digital teaching materials that have been around for a while.

Corona forces us to stop being ‘old school’

Cats on the laptop

Working online from home. For me that means that both my husband and I do our work on the laptop. I keep busy with my subject of PR for the International Sport Management degree programme. My husband frequently gets Skype calls for his job. My mother from Brazil is staying with us. Our cats miaow frequently for food. If we don’t respond quickly enough, they jump on the laptop: a bad habit of many cats, I know. Our seven-month-old baby practises his vocal cords when he’s hungry and makes happy noises when he’s playing nicely in the living room. Providing live sessions for my students in this situation? They would be continually interrupted and I would find it very hard to concentrate.

Fortunately, I discovered that you can record a PowerPoint presentation in advance; at a time that suits you. I have never used that option before now. Now I am doing so, I am reminded of my former life as a radio reporter. I realise that the world of universities of applied sciences is still ‘old school’. In our private lives, we are all connected via smartphones, tablets and computers. But school is still based on the interaction between lecturer and students in a physical environment. Now we have lost that basis, we have the teamwork of colleagues and students to thank for the fact we can keep the structure of our curriculum intact. We have discovered teaching resources that were already available via Blackboard but that we hadn’t made use of until now.

Increasingly mainstream

Blackboard has many options and interesting features that we are discovering thanks to corona. They could form a great addition to our normal teaching methods. Within a few weeks, online teaching has become mainstream for those who were prepared for it. Giving lessons online is still an obstacle for others. And I expect the way we transfer knowledge will never be the same again after corona.

Ironically, being forced to familiarise ourselves with online teaching has brought us closer together as lecturers. We are usually all really busy on a standard working day. We go from home to class, from one class to the next and then back home. Everyone has different schedules and obligations. It is almost impossible to get everyone together for a meeting. And now? There’s a high attendance rate at our online team meetings.

Only online

When everything is back to ‘normal’, we will continue using online learning. Why would students and lecturers always need to attend in person? To keep the lecturers’ motivation up, we of course need to still do some work on our online learning methods. The feedback from lecturers and students is more than welcome in that regard. We will only increase the use of the online learning options in the coming months. Who knows, we could see a future when I’m surfing on the waves in sunny France while my students surf to Blackboard Collaborate Ultra to get their exams or follow a few extra courses online. That’s the right mentality!

Marcela Hofman-Mourao
PR lecturer in Sport, International Sport Management degree programme