The Problem of Dialogue in Online Teaching and Learning During the Coronavirus Pandemic


  • Jan Ketil Simonsen Deparment of Social Anthropology, NTNU
  • Astrid Syvertsen Department of Global Public Health, Karolinska Institutet, Sweden



The covid-19 pandemic lockdowns of university campuses have been a catalyst for remote online teaching and learning. The lockdown forced teachers and students to transpose, adopt and adjust on-campus face-to-face classroom interaction to online interaction. In departments that did not have any previous experiences with distant learning courses, online teaching and learning was a novel field of interaction, with none or few institutionalised norms and codes of conduct. It is a culture in its making. Based on teachers’ and students’ experiences from an undergraduate course in ethnographic method, which consisted of lectures and debate-style seminars, we discuss the challenges we faced with dialogical teaching when the entire course went online. Online teaching and learning behaviours are relational phenomena involving social relations between students and between students and teachers, university policies and data protection regulations, digital communication technology, and an online classroom that stretches into peoples’ private spaces. Anticipating a future with blended learning we recommend that teachers and students join forces to develop an online culture of academic exchange, and that departments develop institutional memory on the possibilities and limits of remote online teaching.