It’s been three months since I defended my PhD thesis, and a lot has happened since then. My thesis corrections were approved, and I submitted the final version and concluded my PhD! At the same time, I officially took up a new role in a new environment, in which I have much to absorb.
My contribution to a book
I’ve also taken an exciting step in research. I was invited to contribute to an academic book as one of the editors, and have submitted my manuscript for one chapter of the book. My former supervisor is the main editor, and it was he who nominated me for the team. I am so humbled to be included in the project. My chapter is not a part of my PhD research, so over the last five months, I have been collecting a new data set, analysing it, and writing.
This was a massive commitment, and not easy to balance with teaching. But this opportunity has given me the direction of my future study, and a platform on which to collaborate with scholars in the same discipline. I feel extremely lucky to have been given this chance, and the support to continue research in an area that I am passionate about.
My manuscript is on the topic of empathy and compassion in telemedicine during the pandemic. I hope to write here soon about some aspects of what I found.
Over the next few months, we will go through the editorial processes, which, of course, will be a first-time experience for me. I would like to engage fully in it and learn from all the team members and chapter contributors.
Challenges in digital teaching
My university is continuing with online lectures for the autumn semester but plans to blend them with face-to-face teaching next year, giving us the prospect of university lecturing returning to normal at some point.
Personally, I have been positive in managing the numerous challenges in delivering online sessions. In my case, some students live in the UK, some in Europe. We lose our internet connection sometimes. Sound quality varies. Many students now turn on their videos, but not all, which is fine for me, but I worry whenever there is no response for more than about five seconds. It’s not easy to facilitate discussions among students. Keeping them engaged is another challenge, and it is already difficult enough in face-to-face teaching.
Because we communicate with each other through ONLY the visual and auditory senses in a virtual classroom, there can be a kind of numbness over whether or not we share understanding. I use Docs during class, as a doc file is much more compact than slides and it is easy to edit, highlight, colour, and draw while sharing the window. I use Jamboard sometimes but rarely use slides now. In addition, I have started sharing after-session notes with students every time we finish a class. When checking their assignments, I am reassured that they have understood. This all takes extra time and effort, and what I can do is to think (and know) about what motivates students to go into ‘learning’ mode.
What I am looking to do now is to:
- have a day off
- bake bread