faculty features

Lara Aknin: What I’m learning about remote teaching

November 17, 2020

In this series we share the reflections of faculty members who are gaining new teaching insights from and about remote teaching. Here’s what Lara Aknin, a Distinguished SFU Professor in the Department of Psychology, had to say.

What she’s learning

“Remote teaching is hard work and I really miss engaging directly with my students.”

Who has influenced her remote teaching style most

“A friend and teaching mentor, Dr. Catherine Rawn, encouraged me to be creative, patient and kind.”

What students have taught her about remote teaching

“Students have shown me the importance of connection and organization. I've been repeatedly impressed by how they’ve found ways to connect with me and each other during the pandemic. For example, I host ‘invitational office hours’ each week where I invite about 25 students from my large (approximately 240-person) class to meet for an informal chat about anything. I did this pre-Covid, but it seems to be extra helpful now, as more students attend and seem keen to connect. I think it helps reduce the uncertainty and awkwardness of reaching out and offers a clear opportunity to those who want it.”

What she’s learning that she will keep doing after the pandemic

“I've started recording a lot of my lessons to provide students with more flexibility. I plan to continue doing that after the pandemic so students can revisit material and/or access it at a time that works well for them.”

Her biggest mistake in remote teaching and what she learned from that

“I assumed most students knew how I organized our course Canvas page, which was our central point of contact. But students quickly made it known that all their instructors were using Canvas in a different way. To help, I made a video of me explaining the Canvas page layout.”

The lesson that took her the longest to learn

“I'm still not sure I've found a perfect replacement for all the in-person contact, laughter and opportunities that I took for granted before the pandemic.”

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