HIGHER EDUCATION STUDENTS’ PERCEPTIONS ABOUT THEIR BLENDED-LEARNING EXPERIENCE DURING THE COVID-19 PANDEMIC
1 Superior School of Education from the Polytechnic Institute of Viseu - Centre for Studies in Education and Innovation (PORTUGAL)
2 University of Aveiro - DigiMedia Research Centre (PORTUGAL)
About this paper:
Conference name: 13th International Conference on Education and New Learning Technologies
Dates: 5-6 July, 2021
Location: Online Conference
Abstract:The fundamental role played by scientific and higher education institutions in the creation and dissemination of knowledge in society has led to the creation of a set of rules and procedures for the 2020/2021 academic year meant to stimulate and ensure classroom-based teaching and non-teaching activities, despite all the uncertainty regarding the evolution of the pandemic caused by COVID-19. In Portugal, the government bodies, namely those responsible for higher education, crafted several documents calling for strict compliance with the measures set to prevent and control the transmission of COVID-19. In the classrooms, the physical distance between people has to be guaranteed, and there had to be at least 1 metre between each student. Because of these and other contingencies, distant learning had to be adopted for some teaching activities since it became impossible to accommodate all the students of a given class while simultaneously complying with all the safety conditions defined in the guidelines issued by the Directorate-General for Health.
In the case of the study presented in this article, the multimedia class that was part of the study was too large for the institution's computer rooms, so the students had to be divided into two shifts. The teachers remained in the institution to teach their classes and turned to various digital and technological solutions to support distance learning strategies. Students were present in strict accordance with the safety conditions imposed, which called for a rotating attendance schedule for the students attending face-to-face classes.
Of the 56 students enrolled in the curricular unit, 24 students with a mean age of 20 years answered the questionnaire made available at the end of the semester to share their opinion on the adoption of this blended-learning methodology. Most of the respondents had their laptop and considered that online classes were appropriate for theory classes. The results suggest that students liked the classes taught online, and most of them reported that they were able to follow these online classes just as smoothly as they did in face-to-face classes. Overall, the equipment and the internet connection allowed students to attend online sessions without any problems.
This study's conclusions prove that most of the students did not have difficulties in developing the practical tasks they were assigned during online classes and that they were able to install the software required to attend practical classes in a distance learning environment. Almost all students agreed that the teachers' videos and tutorials were very important to perform the tasks they were assigned, and online teaching proved to be adequate for practical classes. Even though they considered that face-to-face classes improve learning, most of them seemed to like the combination of in-person and distance sessions and agreed that this new teaching and learning modality has helped foster their autonomy. In the respondents' opinion, the institution has provided them with the necessary technical support.
Keywords: Higher Education, Students, Higher Education, COVID-19, Portugal.