Education
Illustration by René Lapoutre

A sneak peek of your lecturer’s home

‘I don’t want students to see the mess’

Illustration by René Lapoutre
Some show you a white wall, others give you a glimpse into their private lives. Do lecturers consciously think about the backdrop of their online classes? ‘I wanted something different from the bookshelf that most white, male professors have behind them.’
23 February om 15:00 uur.
Laatst gewijzigd op 23 February 2021
om 15:00 uur.
February 23 at 15:00 PM.
Last modified on February 23, 2021
at 15:00 PM.


Door Denise Overkleeft

23 February om 15:00 uur.
Laatst gewijzigd op 23 February 2021
om 15:00 uur.

By Denise Overkleeft

February 23 at 15:00 PM.
Last modified on February 23, 2021
at 15:00 PM.

Denise Overkleeft

Student-redacteur
Volledig bio
Student editor
Full bio

Antenor Hallo de Wolf 

assistant professor of international law and human rights law

‘I get tired of seeing the same screen backgrounds everywhere, so I thought I’d do something a bit different on occasion to make it more fun. Like with Halloween: usually we’d do trick or treat or dress up for a Halloween party. We couldn’t do that last year, so I chose a Halloween background as a kind of substitute. But other than that, I use a programme called Mmhmm for my online lectures. The good thing about that is that I remain visible while I display my presentation. I want the students to see me, and I want to see them, to create the feeling of a more regular lecture.’

Branislava Ćurčić-Blake

associate professor of neuroscience, applied physics and neuroimaging

‘I use a simple white cupboard as my background, because I don’t want students to get distracted by anything behind me. I want them to focus on my facial expressions and the material, and to see my emotions. Non-verbal communication is very important.’

Francesca Giardini 

assistant professor of sociology

‘I chose this plain but colourful wall, because it’s more fun than a boring white background, but is still neutral. I received many compliments on it, so I decided to use it for my calls, too. It’s also different from the bookshelf that most white, male professors have behind them.’

 

Helle Hvid Hansen 

associate professor of computer science

‘I try to angle my webcam fairly high, because my room is a bit messy. I don’t want students to see that. I also sometimes use virtual backgrounds when possible, for privacy reasons.’

Robbert Havekes 

associate professor of biology and neuroscience

‘I don’t shy away from the fact that I’m not in my office, which is illustrated by my cat in the background. Besides, my cat is sometimes like a kid who photobombs: he makes things a bit more lively at a time when everybody is working from home.’

Olga Belousova 

assistant professor of entrepreneurship and small business management

‘In my class everyone is experimenting a bit with their background. One of my students started putting flowers around his webcam. I decided to hang some photographs in the background that I took myself. By using these as a personal backdrop, I open myself up. I think that being vulnerable in front of the students allows them to be more open about their mistakes and vulnerabilities. It creates a bond.’

Marcel Broersma 

professor of media studies

‘I’m sitting in my study. The bookcase behind me may attract attention, but the novelty wears off soon enough. During individual talks with PhD candidates or students, I sometimes take a book off the shelf to show to them. I suppose it’s nice for students to see that we lecturers still read a book sometimes in these busy times. That we are a source of knowledge. But it’s not my aim to radiate erudition. I hadn’t thought of it that way.’ 

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