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Remote teaching: Uni community shares impressions after first weeks

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Published on Friday, 27 March 2020

The University of Luxembourg is adapting to exceptional circumstances. Because of COVID-19, the University has canceled all in-class teaching until further notice. Teachers and students are transitioning to remote teaching and learning.

What are the challenges? What are the benefits and opportunities? Teachers and students share some of their experiences.

Uni.lu students shared screenshots of their online classes on Instagram. While it is a new mode of teaching to get used to, many consider it to be an opportunity for technology use in academics. And it certainly contributes to a bit of normality during this exceptional time. Thank you for sharing your experiences.

Well prepared

Robert Reuter is senior lecturer at the Faculty of Humanities, Education and Social Sciences. His research and teaching focus on the strategic use of digital media and technologies in education. The current situation is an exceptional opportunity to put theory into practice. Reuter has moved his classes to online forms of teaching, such as hosting video conferences and uploading instructions and reference materials on Moodle: “I have the impression that we were halfway ready for this crisis, since we have been doing blended learning with our students for years now. It is an excellent opportunity for ourselves and our students to experience learning activities that are fully online, digitally mediated yet socially powered and self-directed with the framework by teacher.” Reuter says.

Student solidarity overcomes technical challenges

Reuter reports that one of his students experienced technical difficulties during a video conference. He was connected but could neither hear nor see anyone. He says: “Technology can indeed act as an unwanted tool of exclusion. We need to be aware of this and try to mitigate or erase these effects right from the start or find post-hoc solutions to avoid them.”

In this case, Reuter had foreseen to record the session and make it available to students afterwards. A gesture of solidarity came from a fellow student in the video conference, who spontaneously started to write short protocols of the live session in order for the other student to be able to follow what we were doing. “That was quite a heart-warming moment. She could have easily focused on our discussion and forget about this ‘mute and blind’ student, but she did not. She showed extraordinary solidarity with someone left behind by the current learning environment and helped him participate (at least a bit more),” says Reuter.

Active participation

Philippe Poirier, professor of political science, meets with his students via Webex. “Out of 120 students, 80 attend the online course,” he explains, happy to feel the motivation of his Bachelor students. “I have never organised online courses with so many students. They participate actively via the chat of the application and the exchanges were even more dynamic than in the usual classroom. Probably because they feel more confident behind a computer. The questions are more structured and - I must admit it - my answers too. Being online forces us to be more concise,” says Poirier. He adds. “Now we have to get used to this new teaching method. You can’t gesture the same way in front of a camera as you can in front of an audience.”

Students and teachers need to step up

Stéphane Bordas, professor in computational mathematics at the Faculty of Science, Technology and Medicine says: “Remote teaching is an excellent opportunity to test digital methods on a large scale that some of us have been using for years. On the whole, the crisis increases the accountability of both students and staff which can only be positive in terms of long-term results.”