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Mats Wallin, KTH Physics

Mats Wallin
Mats Wallin
Published Sep 29, 2020

In period one I teach Thermodynamics for first year Engineering Physics students. While the course work is heavily affected by the corona restrictions, my own aim is to teach as closely as possible to a course version given during a normal year and keep up a good spirit.

The course covers a wide material ranging from general engineering physics techniques to the laws of thermodynamics. The lectures introduce main ideas and techniques and highlight what is important and why I am excited about it so that the students can become excited as well. I teach in the same way as in a regular year with traditional blackboard lectures and notes available in advance on canvas.

This works for me and gives both suitable speed and amount of material covered. The main difference compared to a normal year is that Zoom is used to stream the lectures live in an empty classroom. Nothing is prerecorded. The video recordings of the streamed lectures are posted on a video channel on KTH play. Students participation and question and answer parts of the class are edited out of the posted videos.

Despite being a theorist, I do an experimental demonstration in each lecture, which is fun and appreciated by students but challenging to record on video. I handle all the video recording myself which means lots of extra work. Seeking assistance would probably have been a good idea. I keep the recording method simple and minimalistic with a webcam connected to my macbook. There is a constant struggle with video and sound quality, computer issues, slow upload response, etc. taking up considerable time and focus from the teaching. Despite this the course goes well and the student feedback has been only positive. The thing that I miss most is the excitement and inspiration I get from meeting students in the classroom. I believe this is mutual and I really look forward to returning to normal times. One thing that surprised me is that my Zoom course last spring had an exceptionally good examination result, maybe restrictions led to increased study time. A positive aspect is that experience from this exceptional time will be valuable for future work.