Politecnico di Milano (ITALY)
About this paper:
Appears in: EDULEARN21 Proceedings
Publication year: 2021
Pages: 3511-3519
ISBN: 978-84-09-31267-2
ISSN: 2340-1117
doi: 10.21125/edulearn.2021.0738
Conference name: 13th International Conference on Education and New Learning Technologies
Dates: 5-6 July, 2021
Location: Online Conference
Posing unprecedented and unforeseen challenges to the educational system at a global scale and across all levels, the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic and its persistence served as a powerful catalyst in the innovation of teaching practices, speeding up a process already taking place. This is most evident in online and blended learning, widely applied by universities and teaching institutions to abide by and adapt to lockdown, quarantine, and social distancing regulations.

In many cases, this has been the occasion to revise the pedagogy of the course to accommodate these changes and opportunities, while maintaining or improving the constructive alignment between the intended learning outcomes of the course, the new teaching-learning activities (TLAs), and the modified assessment strategies - or altogether innovating an existing course. A relevant example is the inclusion of active TLAs, to cope with the lack of motivation and involvement that may be commonplace in online education.

A wide array of online teaching tools were explored more extensively than ever before, first and foremost to fill up the abrupt loss of the teacher-student and student-student interaction typical of the physical classroom environment: at present, one of the biggest challenges of online and mixed classes is to maintain the social aspect of the teaching-learning experience.

This work is set in the higher education Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) educational framework. Traditional TLAs are discussed, highlighting the relationship between innovative teaching before the pandemic and how COVID-19 affected them. Afterwards, a focus on several case studies showing how TLAs have changed in the last year highlights the great importance given to the tools and time-management.

Concerning the tools, strengths and weaknesses (both as a whole and in comparison to one another) are pointed out, including the TLAs they are involved in and the pedagogical frameworks they are based on. Regarding the time-management, a comparison of synchronous and/or asynchronous TLAs is here proposed. Indeed, this aspect becomes relevant when the time in the classroom is limited, helping to make the most out of it.

First, the short-time horizon scenario is considered, characterized by mixed classrooms with part of the students in presence and others joining online classes. Then, the changes that may be irreversible are here examined: the shifting toward online courses and open education, together with the shift toward innovative learning practices, that experienced an acceleration in the last years.
Covid-19, teaching tools, teaching-learning activities, innovative teaching, digital technology.