Teaching from Home

Determined to follow the public health advice and work from home I decided to set up a blackboard in my study so I can do lectures online. I find the blackboard shows up better on camera than a whiteboard and using this arrangement allows me to stand up while I deliver the material, which I find much more comfortable than sitting down.

I’m fortunate of course in having enough space to do this. Not every University lecturer can do this.

The bit you see on the board was the start of my second Engineering Mathematics lecture to first-year students. I had asked the students at the end of Lecture 1 to think about the Laplace Transform of f(t)=t and began Lecture 2 by going through the necessary integration on the board.

Today I have three lectures – another Engineering Maths and two Advanced Electromagnetism to give so the board will be more extensively used. I just hope my internet connection stays up!

P. S. Playing back today’s videos I have discovered an optical defect in the Panopto system that makes my hair look grey.

P.P.S. Three lectures in an afternoon (12-1, 2-3 and 4-5) is quite hard work but at least I had breaks between them!

7 Responses to “Teaching from Home”

  1. There’s a lot to be said for backboards, slows the lecturer down and makes the maths real. That said, I hope the image is bigger in zoom? What I see on the board is f(t)exp -(squiggle t)dt (squiggle greater than zero), which come to think of it does remind me of maths-physics lectures as a student!

  2. I share your preference for a blackboard, Peter, not least because it slows me down substantially and means that I’m not pinned to the spot. The feedback I’ve got from students re. use of the blackboard (for these ) has been very positive. As Cormac says in the comment above, they like to see the maths worked out line by line in real time rather than being presented as a fait accompli on a PowerPoint slide.

    They also seem to prefer scribbles on the blackboard to digitised writing on a tablet, despite my chronically bad handwriting. When it got really illegible, I dropped gifs of equations onto the blackboard for clarity.

    • telescoper Says:

      Yes, if you present a calculation or derivation as a slide it looks like a fait accompli that the students are supposed to remember rather than a process they should understand.

    • For those who can’t manage to install a blackboard and don’t have a screen they can write on well, the Covid equivalent of an OHP or visualiser is something like this: https://huehd.com/pro/ . We bought a bunch of these at the start of the academic year and they’ve gone down very well. Staff can write on paper in real time and upload the final versions later.

      I would love to know who decided that all engineers should be able to do Laplace transforms.

  3. Sam Wolfe Says:

    Would you share where you purchased the chalkboard?

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