Riga Technical University (LATVIA)
About this paper:
Appears in: ICERI2020 Proceedings
Publication year: 2020
Pages: 10032-10039
ISBN: 978-84-09-24232-0
ISSN: 2340-1095
doi: 10.21125/iceri.2020.2274
Conference name: 13th annual International Conference of Education, Research and Innovation
Dates: 9-10 November, 2020
Location: Online Conference
Although distance education is a concept that has been around for almost two centuries, the way we perceive it today is more closely related with the technological developments the world has experienced during the last several decades. The Covid-19 pandemic of 2020 has “necessitated a dramatic paradigm shift in terms of how we interact with each other”, including the interaction processes in online education as well as education in general. There is no doubt that the spread of Covid-19 created a huge challenge for education systems all around the world, demonstrating which countries and higher education institutions were well-prepared to completely transfer to distance learning and which ones struggled. According to research carried out by Giorgi Basilaia and David Kvavadze, various solutions to continue the education process during the Covid-19 pandemic were introduced by at least 96 countries around the world. The solutions included, among others, the usage of online libraries, TV broadcasts, guidelines, resources, video lectures and online channels. It is also important to emphasize that the spread of Covid-19 was so rapid in most countries that higher education institutions were forced to switch to distance learning almost overnight, not giving academic staff and students enough time for a smooth transition. However, lessons learned during the current pandemic serve as an invaluable tool for identifying the principles necessary for creating/designing distance learning study courses suitable for tackling similar force majeure situations in the future.
Secondly, most of the academic staff today present the basic digital skills needed to function in academic life (managing email and using online learning systems), other additional aspects have emerged as new requisites for being functional in a digital environment. There is now an inconceivable array of apps, online platforms, collaborative digital tools and messaging platforms that are replacing traditional methods of communication and teaching like email and face-to-face meetings, thus the skill level that’s required from academics to keep up with the changes and demand for technology use is higher than ever before. Moreover, global pandemic crisis has raised the issue of the digital skills of academic staff remarkably high, demanding a rapid and proactive response and providing high digital expertise in order to present well-functioning continuous knowledge transfer to students, but that way also highlighting the lack of digital skills for particular part of the academic staff in general and for specific tools, as well as challenges for usage of digital solutions in some specific study areas, thus this paper aims to re-examine the map of digital competences of academic staff in higher education.
COVID19 crisis, e-learning, designing e-courses, digital skills, higher education