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Last year, teachers around the globe had to adjust their classes in order to be able to continue teaching online. By using virtual whiteboards, knowledge clips, interviews with national and international experts in the form of podcast episodes and co-creation of classes together with students, IIS lecturer Esther Quaedackers was able to make the online Big History lectures and seminars more motivating, engaging and interactive.

Esther's creativity was rewarded: students were enthusiastic, and so was Esther herself. These tools turned out to work extremely well and fit in with a new style of activating teaching, in which the student is stimulated to participate and be involved as much as possible. Now that we are back on campus again, Esther will continue to use these visual and auditory tools.

Copyright: IIS
It is more work than a standard lecture, but for me, as a teacher, it is also more challenging and motivating. I learn a lot from it myself and the different assignments with different tools keep the students on their toes. Esther Quaedackers

Based on students' questions and ideas, the online tools allowed Esther to create new, customised, interactive assignments relatively quickly. Milena, one of the participants of Big History last year, adds: “It was very motivating that we could post ideas and questions on the Canvas discussion board. By posting questions about the things we were curious about, we could have some influence on what the classes were about, and give a little bit of direction. You could also see what others came up with, which gives you ideas of your own. This made me even more engaged in the course.”

For more hands-on advice from both teacher and student perspectives, read the full story here.

This story is part of a series of inspiring case studies of online education during the COVID-19 pandemic, which emerged during focus group discussions within the research project ‘Online and blended education at the UvA’. This research project of the Teaching & Learning Centre offers insight into the experiences of lecturers and students with online (aspects of) education and the strategies lecturers have used to stimulate (online) learning. The stories and reports from this project can be found here.