I have just finished teaching a four-day course in Strategic Technology and Innovation Management in the BI-Fudan MBA program. This is the second time I teach this way – the last time was in June, where we divided the course up in two two-day modules and everyone was on Zoom. This time about half the students were in the classroom in Shanghai, the rest on videoconference.
Last time I did this, it was an enormous amount of work. This time it was easier – not so much because of routine (though that helps) but because my strategy of building up a library of video classes has helped me reduce the workload in later courses. Normal teaching hours when videoteaching to China is from 0700-1400 Oslo time, which is 1400-2100 for the students. This has meant, for me, that I have had to be in my office (where my fast computer is) at about 0630. So how to bridge the time difference productively?
My strategy has been to have the students work on case analysis in their mornings, and to make 5-minute videos where they present their case analysis. So, when I get up at 0500, I watch their videos, grade and comment on them. Then I get to work, where we start the day with discussing the case. For some of the mornings, I have also asked them to watch videos of presentations (the airline series, in particular). I have also used other videos where the students have either watched them on their computers or on a large screen in the classroom, instead of me talking into the camera. And when I am talking into the camera myself, I have made sure that I capture sound, picture (with a good webcam) and the slides for future videos.
The upshot: I now have about 10 hours of videos which I can reuse. They are decent quality, in English, and will allow me to teach by having the students watch the video, then meet with me to discuss the content. This is much less tiring for both parties – the experience for the students is a presentation (which can be paused, speeded up, and watched when they want to) and a discussion with me, the experience for me is an interesting discussion with prepared and interested students. Having the presentation recorded allows time-shifting, and avoids all kinds of trouble with videoconferencing.
I am a very lazy person, so I have been working very hard to create a library of teaching material which will allow me to work less (or, perhaps, teach more but work the same) in the future.
We’ll see how that works. The students seem to like it. And it would not be China if it did not include a group shot with the professor…