DID COVID19 IMPROVE OUR TEACHING?
The COVID-19 crisis has created a shock to most universities in the world. Starting from March 13th all universities in Austria were forced to convert all teaching from face-to-face to online mode without any warning. At the University of Applied Sciences Technikum Wien, some 4000 students are studying in four faculties. The faculty of Computer Science runs two bachelor programs and six master programs. The study programs are either designed as face-to-face or as blended learning programs. In the blended learning programs, around 30% to 60% of teaching already was online before the COVID19 shutdown was coming into effect. Shifting all teaching to online within days is a risky process. A complete online course requires an elaborate lesson plan design, teaching materials such as audio and video contents, as well as technology support teams. However, as there was no other choice, all teachers involved put enormous effort in rapidly shifting their individual courses into a suitable online format. In the present paper, we will discuss in detail the different approaches and their respective advantages and disadvantages. Therefore, the addressed research questions are, “What had to be adapted by the COVID-induced, spontaneous digitalization of teaching? What are the effects of the sudden digitalization?”
In order to answer these questions, insights into the required adaptations for selected courses are given. In addition to the description of the various cases, quantitative and qualitative data on student opinions is gathered using a survey. The goal of this research is to provide recommendations and learnings from this unplanned switch into a fully eLearning-based environment. This paper strives to point out didactical, organizational, as well as technical implications. Considering these implications from both, the lecturers’ as well as the students’ viewpoint, ensures a holistic assessment of the situation.
Our university decided to do everything possible to help students to finish the semester as planned. Teachers had to find a fast way to change their individual teaching from the used face-to-face or blended design to an online format. At the same time, all offices had to be closed and all work had to be done from home.
The following problems had to be solved:
- Course design for online teaching
- Insufficient IT resources at home
- Limited access to library
- No access to specific hardware resources (e.g. gaming lab)
- No or insufficient guidelines lead to many individual solutions (e.g. for video conferences)
- Online exams
- Limited social contacts (e.g. group works)
Many of these problems could be solved to various degrees by highly motivated staff.
The feedback from students showed a variety of reactions. Some of the students feel they learned less, compared to a normal semester. Some students feel there was no significant change. In some cases, the change of face-to-face teaching to online teaching did not work at all; this was probably caused by the inappropriate of course design for online teaching predominantly.
A valuable side effect of this enormous effort in online teaching was a huge increased knowledge among teachers. At the faculty of computer science, many teachers already had personal knowledge in online teaching. This experience helped other teachers to acquire the necessary knowledge rapidly.
The occurring problems, the solutions used as well as the feedback from students will be described in the planned paper.