Teaching Philosophy as Online Guide

By Kamalini Ramdas, Department of Geography

The teaching semester has come to an end, and I welcome the opportunity to reflect on my COVID-19 teaching strategies during the long break and how I might do things differently in the semester ahead.

Looking back, I have to say I was fortunate that my classes were small (under 50). This meant I did not have to switch immediately to online teaching. Instead, I could transition slowly and this was important given my lack of online teaching experience.

Frankly speaking, my use of technology for teaching has been limited to basic functions on LumiNUS and its predecessor, IVLE. The gentler transition meant I could develop some simpler tactics that did not require me to learn anything new. I will be sharing some of these tactics during my CAFÉ session (‘Lower Tech’ Online Strategies) on 24 June so do join me then.

When reflecting on this past semester and my plans for next semester, I have found it useful to revisit my teaching philosophy. As a feminist geographer, I believe that the classroom is a ‘generative space’ (Huang and Ramdas, 2019) where educators and students not only learn about the spatialities of gender-based inequalities but are also encouraged to think about how they can advocate for change.

Feminist pedagogical practices are committed to creating a safe space where educators and students can engage in productive but potentially difficult conversations about inequality by being sensitive to their privilege and positionality.

How can I replicate these classroom conversations online? How would I create a safe space? What sort of principles and rules might I need to put in place?

In Semester 2, these were not questions I had even thought to ask. My main concern was how was I going to deliver the syllabus in time if I had to move everything online? I was concerned that taking the debates online might be challenging as I did not know much about online etiquette and felt that I might not know how to control a chat if the discussion got out of hand.

In the coming semester, I want to think more carefully about how to manage chatroom discussions. And how to develop interesting discussion topics that we can productively engage with in a chat environment.

I believe that some students are likely to be more candid while chatting online than they might be speaking face-to-face in a classroom setting. This may also mean that I will have to do more facilitation and moderation. Does the fact that I am not physically there make a difference to how they might behave?

I am also concerned about students who may not have access to technical support and equipment, good Wi-Fi connections or a safe space at home in which to engage in discussion and debate. How can I ensure that those without resources can also participate?

Perhaps pre-recording lectures rather than streaming them LIVE on Zoom is one solution. Students can download these lectures and watch them at their convenience. I have also decided to write-up summary points of chatroom discussions and pose questions that allow me to better direct the learning after the chat discussion.

My key takeaway from this past semester is that going slow isn’t necessarily a bad thing. It is okay to take the time to process and think things though. I hope to take this ‘slow movement’ into my online classroom.



Huang, S. and Ramdas, K. (2019), “Generative Spaces of Gender and Feminist Geography in Singapore: Entanglements of the Personal and Political”, Gender, Place and Culture 26(7-9): 1233-1242.

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