THE (NOT SO) LONELY LITIGATOR’S CLUB 20: SNIGDHA NAG: THE LAW LECTURER’S VIEW
It is well known that the constitution of the Club requires us to “encourage and educate the legal profession and public in the importance and rules of civil procedure”. Naturally, therefore, the Club needs law lecturers to help us in this crucial task. To that end Snigdha Nag has agreed to become a member. A Senior Lecturer at The City Law School, Snigdha carries the important responsibility of passing on knowledge of civil procedure to future generations of lawyers.
Where are you working from now?
I am working from home, as the university buildings are closed until further notice. My aged laptop is moving around with me from kitchen table, to sofa, to bedroom. Right now I am writing this from the back garden in Sunny Catford as the bees buzz around, enjoying the spring flowers.
What has been most difficult about working remotely.
Not seeing students face to face. Although I have studied the principles of online learning, any technology enabled techniques I use were always part of classroom teaching. Putting materials “out there” without being able to engage with students directly seems strange to me. Distant, and surreal. I know some of my students live in the same area as me, and yet it feels like they are on the moon! Other difficulties are more mundane: slow PC, slow WiFi… I miss being able to bounce ideas off colleagues and take their advice in person, but the employment law team I work with have been excellent in these difficult times.
What has been your biggest technical challenge?
For the employment law course, we have had to create 18 podcasts from scratch in 5 weeks. Not only that, but without the benefit of the equipment and software we would have had at our desks at work. The initial podcast has to be converted, then uploaded to a server, then provided on the virtual learning environment. It is time consuming and frustrating when things go wrong. I managed to sabotage my own work, erasing the sound from my own virtual large group!
Is there anything (work wise) that you wish you had with you?
A faster PC, for sure! I don’t have a printer, and sometimes I like to be able to cross refer to things. Only having one screen on the laptop can make that cross referring difficult. Marking dissertations without a hard copy is going to be another challenge. I wish I had my podcast recording headsets! I left them in a biscuit tin in my office. So, that’s quite a wish list, right? A new computer, an extra screen, a printer, and a podcast headset. Maybe Father Christmas might come early? I have been a very good girl!
5.What has been the most helpful thing you’ve learned.
I feel I have truly learned about how to deliver effective online learning through genuine student facing experience. Putting the theory into practice has added to my academic practice skills immeasurably. I might have preferred a learning curve less steep, and for the need for this learning to be less sudden, but I have grown as an academic practitioner.
6. Do you think this is going to change the way you work in the future?
What will be happening in Higher Education in the future is still undecided across the sector. The big question is whether face to face teaching will be possible in 2020 at all, or whether January 2021 will be the first actual classes in a university building. But in terms of colleague interactions, online team meetings and team working is a game changer, I think. People don’t have to be brought together in a room for everything.
7.What is the first thing you are going to do when you are out of lockdown?
That’s a big question! I think it depends on what shape the ending of lockdown will take. I would really like to take Him Indoors out for what should have been his celebratory birthday dinner. I also need to see my parents, who are in 12 week isolation. I’d also love to sit down with friends, sharing a bottle of wine…. But practically speaking, I really need a haircut. As you can see from the photo! My hair has dropped any pretence of professionalism. It is too long, too frizzy and untameable!
Whatever you are doing to keep working right now, I hope you are coping well. Look after yourselves and stay safe!