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)
3 Research Unit for Inland Development, Polytechnic of Guarda (UDI-IPG) and Centre for Tourism Research, Development and Innovation (CiTUR) (PORTUGAL)
4 Research Unit for Inland Development, Polytechnic of Guarda (UDI-IPG) and Health Sciences Research Centre, University of Beira Interior (CICS-UBI) (PORTUGAL)
About this paper:
Appears in: INTED2021 Proceedings
Publication year: 2021
Pages: 6224-6229
ISBN: 978-84-09-27666-0
ISSN: 2340-1079
doi: 10.21125/inted.2021.1248
Conference name: 15th International Technology, Education and Development Conference
Dates: 8-9 March, 2021
Location: Online Conference
In March 2020, the face-to-face model of higher education classes was suspended in Portugal due to the pandemic COVID-19, which forced all educational institutions’ shift to online learning solutions. This scenario posed enormous challenges to institutions, teachers, and students, in order to allow the continuity of teaching activities in the period left for the conclusion of the 2nd semester of the academic year 2019/2020 from home, in confinement, in which students typical classroom teaching models were not viable. Aware that education could not stop, the unexpected situation forced the institutions to react quickly to continue to fulfil their mission. Distance learning methodologies, supported by information and communication technologies, were adopted very quickly, and soon the learning went from the face-to-face to the virtual environments, in fact as shown [1, p. 2], “After the identification of the first outbreaks of COVID-19 in Portugal, on March 16, about two million students were away from schools and universities. However, this did not mean classes cancelled, but suspended or adapted to a new online reality, a reality for which most educators and teachers were not prepared.”

In this context, the authors of this article, all professors of higher education in Portugal, lived this reality very near and, after about a month of face-to-face classes, started to work in a scenario entirely mediated by technology. With synchronous and asynchronous classes, guidance, and tutoring, the main concern was always to support students and minimize the impacts that the abrupt interruption of teaching activities could cause. Thus, this article describes a curricular unit’s experience, of a practical and laboratory nature, included in the 2nd year communication undergraduate program. Seventy students were enrolled, mostly female. The course started on February 10, 2020, at the beginning of the 2nd semester, and from March 12, it became an e-learning modality. At the end of the semester, on June 5, a questionnaire was applied, and a small focus group was conducted to try to ascertain the students’ perceptions about the experience they had lived.

Considering the number of students who attended classes initially, still on a face-to-face basis, and those who continued to attend during confinement, five students, were identified who never attended classes or developed the proposed activities from the moment the unit curriculum has moved to the e-learning regime. The results obtained reveal that the students adapted well to the e-learning modality, with the classes entirely at a distance. Many revealed that it was sometimes challenging to manage time because they were always at home in the same environment. The vast majority managed to overcome the difficulties of accessing specific software because Adobe has allowed access to temporary licenses. In terms of technical difficulties, only one student could not complete the proposed tasks within the defined deadlines for having hardware problems. The majority referred to temporal flexibility in terms of the positive aspects, mainly because they are not limited to the class’s time and space.

[1] Moreira, J., Henriques S., Barros D., Goulão, M., Caeiro, D. (2020). Educação digital em rede: princípios para o design pedagógico em tempos de pandemia. Edição Universidade Aberta 2020, Coleção Educação a Distância e E-Learning, n.º 10. ISBN 978-972-674-881-6.
Students, Higher Education, Lockdown, COVID-19, e-learning.