16 December 2021

Student presentations; no need to decide on either virtual or real

In one of my modules, the students are expected to do a presentation at the end of the module. Last year I missed it, due to being on sick leave. So this year was my first covid-affected presentations session of this module. And it looked like it was going to be almost normal! Everyone submitted a slideshow beforehand, and almost everyone showed up. We were all masked, but those doing a presentation could take their mask off, as they were far enough away from everybody else.

Not everybody could be there; there was one woman who had been told to self-isolate. And another one came up to me early on in the day, looking a bit rough, saying that she wasn't feeling too well and whether it was okay if she went home. Of course it was. She did feel she was okay to present, though.

During the first coffee break I tried out the technology with one of the physically absent students. I wasn't quite sure if the students in the room would be able to hear it if the student presenting from home would be talking into the Blackboard Collaborate session (this is the software in which we do our online teaching). But she came through loud and clear! And she could follow everybody else's talks as the camera and microphone in the lecture room were doing a fine enough job. So when it was her turn she just presented like everybody else. She just wasn't physically present!

This was the first time I had a blend of students presenting in person and students presenting remotely, and it worked flawlessly! I was impressed. I'm not sure you could pull that off in any lecture room, but I like how flexible the system is when the technology allows it. I could imagine this is the new normal. I prefer a speaker present in person, but you can't always have that, and this is clearly the next best thing! This 21st-century thing isn't so bad after all…

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