Juraj Dobrila University of Pula (CROATIA)
About this paper:
Appears in: INTED2021 Proceedings
Publication year: 2021
Pages: 4149-4158
ISBN: 978-84-09-27666-0
ISSN: 2340-1079
doi: 10.21125/inted.2021.0846
Conference name: 15th International Technology, Education and Development Conference
Dates: 8-9 March, 2021
Location: Online Conference
Recently e-teaching has become a fast-growing and developing reality in higher education worldwide. Despite similarities between them, didactical features of online lectures differ in many ways from those in face-to-face teaching. Online teaching requires adaptation of methods and techniques that “e-teachers” and “e-students” need to acquire and deliver, striving for the same learning outcomes. The quality of teaching, its methods and techniques determine advantages and disadvantages of the teaching process and of the online education. Due to the COVID-19 outbreak in Spring 2020, Croatian higher educational system abruptly switched from face-to-face teaching to the online variant. The main issue was that all the courses that had initially been conceptualised and implemented only as face-to-face, had to adjust to an online form that had previously not been envisioned. Relying on their previously acquired information and communication competences, as well as on their abilities to learn, teachers and students had to adapt to the new situation.

This research, focussed on students’ point of view, had two objectives:
1) to explore the didactical methods used in the online higher education, and
2) to compare students’ experiences of online and face-to-face education, specifically depending on their level of adjustment to online education.

The sample comprised 272 university students, and the online questionnaire was administered in June 2020. The first objective was tackled with students’ assessments of how vastly various teaching methods and techniques had been employed in the online courses in the March-June semester and how useful they found them. Answers showed that teachers had (almost) always used the audio channel and showed presentations. Then, in descending order, they had used e-mails, chat, other material from Internet and camera. Highly similar order was kept when students assessed the usefulness of those methods. Students reported that they had mostly taken part in lectures, in descending order, by listening, watching, chatting, replying to e-mails and to polls. They found their active participation more useful than it had been practiced. For the second objective students compared online and face-to-face education experience on an 18 items scale, and listed advantages and disadvantages of online education. All students’ answers were compared regarding their self-assessed level of adjustment to online education: not adjusted, adjusted from the start, or adjusted gradually. Students identified many similarities between online and face-to-face lectures, and they were not completely for or against online education. They placed as highest advantages of online education – personal benefits, time-related benefits, and features of the online lecture delivery. When ranking disadvantages, they put delivery of lectures and too many obligations on the top. Then lack of social interactions, technical problems and personal detriments followed. Students with more negative and students with more positive experiences with online education differently accentuated its advantages and disadvantages. Students with better adjustment assessed online education more positively. It can be concluded that online lectures delivery in this research managed to resemble the face-to-face variation a lot. Students are almost polarised in their preferences towards online education, but they identified a great need for improvement of the online lectures delivery.
Advantages, disadvantages, online education, face-to-face education, higher education, adjustment to online education.