INVESTIGATION OF DISTANCE EDUCATION IN UNIVERSITIES DURING THE PANDEMIC PERIOD

D. Charidimou, A. Kostas

University of the Aegean (GREECE)
This educational research collects data from the international literature and investigates in depth the Emergency Remote Teaching (ERT), as it was applied in Higher Education Institutions (HEI) around the world, as a basic method of education and evaluation, during the period Covid-19 pandemic. Through meta-analysis and a systematic review of qualitative and quantitative studies we will identify the digital technologies and resources for learning under lockdown and we will present to the academic community the challenges, implications, good practices, and opportunities of ERT. Using global perspectives and experiences we will examine how teaching and learning can continue during the pandemic and we will try to answer the research question "What are the challenges and benefits of the integration of the Distance «e-»Learning (DL) in response to the Covid-19 pandemic in HEI". In this way, we will provide valuable information about changes in learning, in the process of organizing teaching and the role that technology has in this new transformation of knowledge. At the start of the pandemic, each university individually, independently and on the basis of the material infrastructure and available resources, decided to move from the traditional way of Face to Face (F2F) education to online classrooms by designing and organizing courses using exclusively the Internet and utilizing various e-Learning Management Systems, as well as teleconference systems for direct and synchronous communication. In this way, education turned to technology to be able to simulate F2F teaching with virtual learning. Our first basic findings show that the challenges arising from the Covid-19 pandemic and consequently from the demand for social distancing are many. Online learning environment is not just a technical issue but a combination of pedagogical and educational challenge. Furthermore, the absence of traditional socialization and the lack of personal interaction among the instructor and classmates, were some issues that were identified. Although the pandemic crisis is a huge challenge for all education systems in terms of meeting the educational needs of students by subject module and field of study, it also brings new opportunities to modernize teaching and learning, as it has affected the way of thinking and action of all stakeholders in the educational ecosystem and has highlighted several of the advantages of the eLearning and DL, thus reinforcing the need for further dynamic educational design models and the acquisition of new skills. As for the good practices, the online course should be subject-oriented, reduce extraneous cognitive load, improve student performance, and provide meaningful opportunities for learner-teacher interaction. At the same time, it should be possible for students to have open educational resources, and quality multimedia courses. Technology and new teaching methods are changing the way people work and educate, and this results in the proliferation of both products and services. However, despite the availability of a variety of new technologies, the development of quality digital courses and educational materials remains a difficult and certainly costly task and is considered a critical factor in ensuring and improving the quality of educational services.