Teaching mathematics at a distance in Africa and Asia

During the current pandemic, teaching conducted within LiU's research collaborations in mathematics, have been changed to distance education. Teachers and students are now finding new ways to cope with this challenge.

Olof Svensson and his students at Universidade Eduardo Mondlane. Olof Svensson and his students at Universidade Eduardo Mondlane. The picture was taken in March. Olof Svensson

Within LiU's research collaborations with Mozambique and Cambodia, teaching during the Corona pandemic takes place remotely. Olof Svensson, senior lecturer at ITN, is currently completing a course in mathematics for students at Universidade Eduardo Mondlane in Mozambique's capital Maputo. The course, Measure Theory and the Lebesgue integral, is part of the newly started Master's program in mathematics.

- During March, I was in Mozambique. When the reports about the Coronavirus started to get more and more serious, I had to go home while it was still possible, says Olof Svensson.

Education on Youtube

During the pandemic, students in Mozambique have to study from home when the university is closed. This has caused problems as internet connection in many places in the country is substandard or missing. Olof Svensson, who initially planned to conduct teaching directly through Zoom, had to come up with new ideas.

- We began to record the lectures. It was done in such a way that my slides and notes could be displayed in the video.

Videos with the lectures were uploaded on Youtube so that the students could view them when possible. The students then photographed their solutions to mathematical problems with their mobile phones and then sent them back to Svensson.

- I then posted new videos where I commented on what they submitted.

Have taught all around Africa

Olof Svensson has previously taught in Tanzania, Rwanda, Kenya and Ghana. During normal circumstances he gives lectures in a more traditional way. The whiteboard is used extensively and the students can present their solutions to various problems during the lecture.

- That is something that i lack in distance education, not getting the exchange and feedback from the students. For example, if a student does not understand a problem, I can explain in a slightly different way.

Hard working students

Since Mozambique has eased the restrictions the students will now finish the course with a written exam conducted at the university. Olof Svensson thinks the distance education has worked well and is not worried that students will fail the course.

- They have worked very hard to try to learn under these conditions. I think it will go well for them, he says.

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