Since the novel coronavirus outbreak and the consequent suspension of classes to prevent the spread of the virus, distance education has become a hot topic in Macao, Hong Kong, and mainland China. Here at the University of Macau (UM), faculty members have been offering online courses to ensure that students keep learning amid class suspension. What preparations did the teachers make and how has the class setting changed?
Group Research on Novel Coronavirus and Related Crime Topics
Xu Jianhua is an associate professor and head of the Department of Sociology of the Faculty of Social Sciences. This semester, he teaches an online course in qualitative research methods to students enrolled in the master’s programme in criminology and criminal justice. Before launching the course, Prof Xu did a lot of preparation and uploaded lecture notes and reading materials to UMMoodle. He also collected pre-class questions from the students. According to Prof Xu, he began using online software as auxiliary teaching tools in 2017 to let guest speakers give lectures to students. ‘In this semester, I continue to invite UM graduates to share their research methods and progress with our current students,’ says Prof Xu. ‘These graduates are now studying at the University of Oxford, Cornell University, and the Australian National University.’ He also recommends authoritative international journals and classic research-related books for students to read online. He requires them to write and upload book reports and their questions to UMMoodle every week.
Basically, each student in his class is required to find a sociology-related topic and conduct research studies in a group setting using qualitative research methods. According to Prof Xu, although class suspension in this semester presents an unusual situation, he does not plan to make an exception to this arrangement. He divides his students into groups of five and each group is required to conduct a research project on a different topic. He says that all students have chosen topics related to the COVID-19 pneumonia or related crimes, including differences between Hong Kong and Macao in terms of the crimes related to the epidemic, discrimination prompted by the epidemic, and the use of big data and surveillance systems during the epidemic. Every week, each group reports the progress of their project, brainstorm ideas, and make adjustments based on Prof Xu’s feedback. The students may also ask him questions on WeChat. Using the screen sharing function of Zoom, the students can present their work to others during class time and participate in group discussions. ‘The online teaching tools provided by UM are not only handy and effective, but also help to smoothen the transition from in-class learning to online learning this semester,’ he says.
For full news, please visit: How Do UM Faculty Members Conduct Distance Teaching During the Epidemic?
Source: Communication Office, UM