Pivot 5: Lights, Camera, Inaction

The first thing I did this week was to rewrite a lecture on the history of psychology, not because of anything to do with the pivot, but rather following the recent Black Lives Matter protests I realised that I had significant room for improvement in the way I was presenting the history of our field.

In pivot-related work, I started recording my lectures, or, I should say more accurately, I attempted to start recording my lectures. My first mistake was that I didn’t fully practice the lecture before I started recording. I have no idea why I did this. I always do a full run-through of every lecture I give, usually the night before, I can’t explain why I thought I didn’t need to do this when recording the lectures. I lecture from a script but I have always lectured from a script* so that’s no excuse, maybe the lack of a live audience gave me a false sense of security.

In a nutshell, it was a bit shite and I need to do it again. But, it was a good reminder to try and invoke as many of the cues I would normally have for a f2f lecture to give me the same performance level - for me this is doing a practice run-through, standing up, and putting on a shirt and tie and living my executive lesbian realness fantasy,

We also discovered a flaw in our plan to use Echo360’s Universal Capture to record the lectures. Whilst UC shows both the slides and your face if you’re streaming the video, you can only download either slides & audio OR face & audio. This is an issue because we think it’s really important for engagement particularly at level 1 that they can see our faces but also to reduce their data usage we want them to be able to download the lectures rather than needing to always be online (this also helps us with the watch parties in which we need to stream a video via Zoom and this will be better for bandwidth if it’s a local file). I think this is a real shame because the transcription editor for Echo is SO much better than anything else and it integrates with Moodle very well but, particularly for Level 1, engagement is the name of the game so we’re switching back to recording on Zoom.

The main thing I’ve worked on this week though is setting up the lab activities and Moodle for both Level 1 and my MSc course for the first two weeks of the semester. I’ve worked through all of the slides, asynchronous activities, and Sway tutorials although I haven’t recorded anything yet which has nothing to do with Echo360 and everything to do with not mustering the drive to get dressed and do my make-up.

I’ve also started thinking about what kinds of social activities we can do. I don’t want it to be overkill (for both staff and students) so I thought perhaps something week 2, 6, and 10. Week 2 I’m thinking about doing a staff-student quiz for the entire school and in week 6 a Netflix party with a psychology-related film, again, with the entire school invited. I haven’t quite figured out what to do in week 10 aside from likely cry into my wine but hopefully something will occur.

Finally, I want to end on a positive reflection that came out of talking with my Director of Teaching Niamh Stack. Every year we get nervous. Every year the students are nervous. Every year something goes wrong - we stumble our words in a lecture, a video doesn’t play, there’s noisy building work next door. The mistakes will look different this year but we shouldn’t forget that they’re always there and that generally speaking, the students don’t care about them as long as they see that we’re trying our best. It’s going to be so easy to focus on what goes wrong this year, remember to be kind to yourself.

* Every time I admit that I lecture from a script someone likes to tell me that I shouldn’t and I will sound stilted and it will affect engagement. If you are considering giving me this advice let me save us both some time - I don’t sound stilted, my lectures are great, you do you and I’ll do me!

Emily Nordmann
Emily Nordmann
Senior Lecturer in Psychology

I am a teaching-focused Senior lecturer and conduct research into the relationship between learning, student engagement, and technology.