From Class Rooms to Class Zooms: Teaching During COVID Times!

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As some of you who have visited my website and read my bio know, I describe myself first and foremost as a teacher, and every semester, for the last decade, I have invited anyone who is interested to join in my classes. In December 2019, when I posted my last invite, I fully expected to be teaching corporate finance and valuation, in person, at the Stern School of Business at NYU, in the spring of 2020, and I invited people to join in virtually, albeit for no credit. Needless to say, COVID upended my plans, as it has everyone else’s, and we had to move classes online in early March, and spent the last half of the semester, meeting on Zoom Video Communications Inc (NASDAQ: ZM)‘s Zoom, and taking exams online.
As the fall semester approaches, I have the luxury of sitting back and waiting, since I am not scheduled to teach until the spring again. I am thankful that I will not have to deal with the chaos that September will bring to classrooms around the world, in both schools and colleges, but that will not stop me from extending an invite to my classes in the fall.
A Teacher’s Lament
I have been a long time advocate of using technology to deliver classes online, and my first attempts to do so date back to the 1990s, well before the appearance of Coursera, EdX and a host of other online platforms. When classes had to be moved online mid-semester in the spring of 2020, I was more prepared than most to deliver my classes online, having had some experience in the game. As this crisis has stretched from days to weeks, and from weeks to months, my office at home has become a home recording studio, but my updated camera still captures me in shades of dishevelment, and my new microphone cannot completely shut out the sounds of home, from my dog barking at the front door, to Alexa notifying me that a new package has arrived, to the microwave pinging.
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That said, this semester was a reminder, in case I needed one, of how much of what I love about teaching comes from physically being a classroom. Don’t get me wrong! I love what Zoom Video Communications Inc (NASDAQ: ZM)’s Zoom, Cisco WebEx, Microsoft Team and Google Classes have created as platforms, to allow me to teach my classes online, but as I explain in this long-ago session I did on teaching as a craft, there is an element of magic that can show up only in a classroom, and even there only rarely. If you ask me where the magic comes from or how it is created, my answer would be that I do not know, and that if I did, I would bottle it and drink it myself. I am aware, though, when it happens, and it does so suddenly, and in settings and moments where you least expect it, and when it does, there is no experience quite like it. It is the reason that I would not trade in what I do for a living for any other profession in the world, no matter how lucrative the payoffs.
I am sure many of you find yourself working in unfamiliar settings, as you struggle to get your job done from home, and juggle multiple roles (parents, teachers, handymen). I also know that some of you were expecting to be back in school soon and have been disappointed to find out that you will be taking your classes online again. The last thing that many of you may want to do is to add another online task to your to-do list, but just in case you do have the time and the inclination, I thought I would give you a look at the courses that I teach (or have taught) and the platforms that I offer them on, to find a course/platform combination that is to your liking.

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