Professor Colm Fitzgerald, an Assistant Professor in the School of Mathematics and Statistics at University College Dublin (UCD) has come up with a novel approach to delivering lectures online during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Professor Fitzgerald has taken the approach of conducting his Actuarial and Financial Studies lectures from the Wicklow Mountains using a 4G signal from a nearby mast, and is encouraging his students to follow suit and attend their online lectures in a similar outdoor environment. 

Speaking to RTE this week, Mr. Fitzgerald stated that he has “been quite concerned about the well-being of students during online classes. I think if you are a student you are probably not getting out as much as usual.” 

In response, a number of students have followed suit, and decided to attend the lectures in the outdoors, as opposed to the confines of their rooms. Speaking to RTE, one of Professor Fitzgerald’s students, Aisling Lydon, said: “It gives you a bit more structure to your day, rather than just following pre-recorded lectures online. I do really miss the social aspect of college.”

Some students have also taken the opportunity to meet together in small, socially distanced groups to attend the lectures outdoors near UCD, allowing them to bring back the fundamental social aspect of college.

Louise Gannon, one of the students attending lectures in small groups said: “It’s not something I would have thought of doing myself, but I’m really glad Colm came up with the idea. And of course he sets an example by delivering the lectures live from his forest!”

Despite the capricious weather conditions, Mr Fitzgerald is determined to continue this practice. He said: “I sat here a week ago and had some rain gear on, but I was like a drowned rat at the end of it. However, I was just determined to keep going.” 

Such initiatives come ever more relevant with the recent announcement of level 5 restrictions, which place even further barriers on social interaction. Mr Fitzgerald stated the importance of these initiative in times of uncertainty as this – “The problems from online classes are starting to bubble up and I somehow think I need to get more initiatives like this going.”

Adam Doyle – Reporter