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University Viva, in Zoom

By: Ilias Tsagas

About The Poem

I am working as a teaching assistant at the University College London. The covid-19 pandemic changed the learning and assessment methods and one of the changes was to run a series of viva exams via Zoom. I was often one of the examiners and started noticing the examiners’ and students’ facial characteristics, specifically during the first part of the exam, when the student was given time to think over an exam question and formulate an answer. I believe this is a detail I wouldn’t have noticed in physical exams. On the contrary, when running an exam online, the main channel of communication is looking (if not staring) at the camera.

The Poem

The student has a minute to think before giving an answer.
Waiting for a minute in quietness
makes the muscles tingle.
Once answering, the time flows.

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