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“I can’t really get to know my students now”

“I can’t really get to know my students now”

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Archive Alexander Carlo

Alexander Carlo teaches Financing Emerging Markets, a second-year course in the bachelor’s programme International Business, as well as Corporate Finance in the master’s programme. Things have been going well so far, he says, although it feels a bit odd to be talking to a screen all day. Some days, he teaches four Zoom tutorials a day.

The quality of online education is good, says Carlo. “I’m amazed at the range of options Zoom offers. For example, I can ask the whole group multiple-choice or yes-no questions, like, ‘Does capital market liberalisation in developing countries reduce capital flight?’ We then discuss the question based on the students’ answers. It works well.”

Carlo keeps close track of student participation. “Attendance is no longer compulsory because of the crisis, but I want to make sure that everyone learns as much as possible.” What’s interesting is that more students are actively participating in class. Almost all of Carlo’s students attend the online classes he teaches, and shyer students are more active now.

Carlo is also positive about the online lectures. “Instead of teaching a normal lecture, we’d recorded a lecture and hosted a Q&A session later. About a hundred students attended the session and asked good questions.”

One disadvantage of online teaching is that he doesn’t feel like he can really get to know his students now. “It’s difficult to really engage with them through a screen. I also don’t like having to sit at my laptop. I usually walk through the classroom and take notes on the whiteboard.”

He didn’t feel nervous before teaching his first online session of this period. “I already had some experience with Zoom, as the last few tutorials of the previous period and meetings with colleagues also took place online.”

Carlo is from Curaçao, but he stayed in Maastricht. Being quarantined on a tropical island isn’t as good as it may seem, he says. “Curaçao has stricter rules in place than the Netherlands. People have to stay home and are only allowed to go outside twice a week to go to the supermarket. Fortunately, my parents have a garden. We make short calls every day.” Carlo doesn’t have a garden, but he often goes out for a run, to print something at the faculty or to read a book in a quiet spot along the Maas.         

What are these corona-days like for tutors and students? How does it affect their studies and other parts of their life? Observant speaks to one of them every day to give an idea about the virus' impact.

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