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‘I'm really grateful to my fellow lecturers for their help’

Our lecturers had just a week to convert their subjects into online formats. It was an enormous challenge because by no means everyone was involved in remote teaching at Leiden University. As well as being Vice-Dean of Leiden Law School, Ton Liefaard is also a lecturer. ‘I especially want to support our lecturers in the coming period and reiterate our confidence in their capabilities and their hard work.'

This article is part of a series in which our lecturers tell us how they have made the switch to online teaching.

Ton Liefaard is Professor of Children's Rights (UNICEF chair) and has been Vice-Dean of the Leiden Law School since September 2018. This semester he is teaching Enforcement and Monitoring of Children’s Rights in the Advanced LLM in International Children’s Rights.

Ton Liefaard working at home on lectures for his students.
Ton Liefaard working at home on lectures for his students.

Study trip cancelled

‘We've organised our teaching differently: we now work as far as possible live, using Kaltura. Our groups aren't very big, so it works well. Assessment was already planned via papers, and we've replaced the presentation assignment with a vlog assignment. The biggest disappointment is that our study trip to Geneva has been cancelled. Every year we visit UN organisations there, like UNICEF, UNHCR and the UN Children's Rights Commission. None of that is possible now, which is a big disappointment for the students, but also for us as lecturers. Personally, I always find this working visit really useful. I'm considering organising a meeting for our students with representatives from the various organisations via Kaltura.’

Major impact on students

‘We have students from all parts of the world In our master's. Some of them have returned home, and others are still in Leiden or The Hague. It was fantastic to ''see'' them again in the Kaltura Live Room. That's when you realise how much of an impact the corona virus is having on their lives. I found that very poignant.'  

Help from colleagues

‘As well as being a lecturer, I'm also Vice-Dean. My biggest challenge was finding the time to concentrate on my teaching, in among all the other activities. I'm very fortunate in having so much help from my fellow lecturers who had already set up and tested the Live Room. I'm really grateful to them. I'm enjoying working with Kaltura Live Room. It's great that you can show Powerpoints in it, and that, while you're talking, questions can come in via the chat or live. And if you pause and invite a student to put something in the chat, that works really well, too.’ 

Ton’s tip for colleagues

‘Don't be too hard on yourself. Everyone understands that this is an exceptional situation.' 

Different time zones

‘I think it's important to see students face to face, which is more difficult via the computer. Another thing is that it's more complicated having our international students  in different time zones. We recorded my lectures and posted them in the Kaltura environment to make thiings easier.' 

Confidence in the lecturers

‘I'm glad that I'm also working as a lecturer because it gives me a better understanding of what our staff are experiencing. I know there are both positive and less positive experiences. As Vice-Dean, I especially want to support our lecturers and continue to reiterate our confidence in their capabilities and their hard work. We all have the common goal of wanting our students to be able to carry on with their studies, without impacting the excellent quality of our teaching programmes.' 

Editorial: Marieke Epping
Image: Ton Liefaard

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