What’s on Your Desk? Part I

By Bryan Ling

This term has been a tough one for all of us, having to adapt to online teaching and learning. But for every change we’ve had to adjust to this term, the pressure is up tenfold for our professors on the other side of our screens, scrambling to quickly adapt to their new roles as quasi-Youtube stars with weekly recorded lectures and shuffling class arrangements. Bryan Ling talked to a few LSE professors about their experience with the past Michaelmas Term being moved online. The result is this series, published in four parts exclusively by The Beaver.

Professor Ronny Razin, Department of Economics (EC102, EC302)

B: What’s one item on your desk that you couldn’t go without? What’s the story behind it?

When I started teaching EC102 this year I had a small computer, which was very hard because I couldn’t really see the students and my slides at the same time. One day, I saw my colleague carrying this huge new screen, asked him for details and bought the same monitor. It arrived the next day and by the next live session I had half of the screen for the slides and the other half to see the students as I taught. And that completely changed the game. 

There’s also this microphone I got when I was doing the [LSE online course], which makes me feel like I’m on a radio show! So it’s more informal and fun rather than just me teaching a boring lecture. 

B: How do you record your lectures? Did you have to significantly change your teaching style to adjust to the new medium?

R: I was very lucky, because I was engaged in designing an online course for LSE’s overseas programme before COVID struck, which prompted me to rethink the way I’ve been teaching early on. 

Lectures are always very tense, the lecturer has to finish material and the students have to sit and listen. I think because I was more relaxed for the live sessions, the students felt more relaxed too. So the fact that we moved to teaching online really changed the way I thought about how to deliver a course and probably will in the future as well.

B: Do you have any messages for your students?

I know a lot of students are very stressed from starting university. Many students come from abroad and this is the first time they’re on their own. At LSE especially, people are also obsessed with internships and jobs. So I’d emphasise that doing your first university degree is one of the rarest moments in life, so have fun and experience what LSE has to offer – it’s a lot more than just internships! Try not to be caught up in the moment, thinking that every application is the most important thing in your life. Find ways to treat yourself, and don’t get lost in the stress. 


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