I believe many universities in the world take advantage of technology for better teaching. Whether it be distance learning, homework assignments, remote presentations, etc., very few universities or schools applied online lectures, and non the less almost no university used to offer online examinations before the pandemics. However, in the COVIT-19 situation, all the schools and universities were forced to go online for nearly every single activity previously held in a traditional way. With that said, I want shortly to talk about my experience and benefits from distance learning and home office working.
Benefits of online lectures
There are many benefits if a teacher makes all his/her lectures available online for all students. Not only can the students benefit from such an approach, but also the teachers can. The good thing about the online class is that you can easily record it and make it available even for students that couldn’t ketch the lecture on time. The other opportunity is that teachers can even prerecord lectures and post them online on some video platform and let the students access those videos at any time. This method might require a bit of video editing skills, but it can benefit in the long run. You have to make only one series of lectures and only update small changes from year to year. Of course, this will require much less effort than repeating the same lessons in a classroom every year.
However, because the students are the main subjects why universities exist, online lecture mode is the most significant benefit to make things a lot easier. For example, a student with a part-time job does not have to worry about the working schedule because his boss wants him to work exactly at the time of a lesson. Or if we talk in a full scale of implementing this teaching approach, many students wouldn’t have to leave their parents’ homes or their cities to study in a different town, just because the desired university’s physical location is somewhere far away.
Benefits of online examinations
Besides the practicalities in lockdown and self-isolation times, there are many other benefits to making exams available to take online. Like I mentioned before, so many students can still live at their parents’ houses and yet study entirely remotely in any university in the world. Of course, there are many disadvantages to letting students take exams from home, such as the increased risk of cheating. However, there are workarounds for almost any situation.
Well, not anything can be perfect by having everything online. Like any other online media, universities will then contribute to the real-life social distancing. The same way video games replaced sports activities, and social media replaced hanging out with friends. Not that their online supplements completely replace physical sports activities and social events, but they are reduced significantly since the internet has become the most preferred entertainment medium. Similarly, also, universities could potentially contribute to these circumstances once they become entirely online institutions.
The other significant disadvantage can potentially be the necessity of laboratories. Many different studies require specialized laboratory rooms for individual experimentations, which cannot be held online. However, I have seen many workarounds for such situations, and I am sure that there are good ideas to solve those kinds of problems.
My own experience
As a full-time software developer and part-time student at Technical University in Vienna, unfortunately, I was negatively impacted by the pandemics. However, this was by no mean the problem of my company or the university. The main problem was that we had unexpectedly switched 100% to the home office and distance learning modus, even we were not prepared mentally. My company solved the problem with home office seamlessly, because it is an IT company anyway, and almost all its workers were well trained for home office modus always. But the university struggled a bit, at least from my point of view. However, now that we learn a lot about distance learning and home office work, we can take advantage of this experience. I do not say we should do the same way even when pandemics are gone, but we should take the lesson and use it to our advantage for a better future.
This pandemic situation has proven that taking everything online is not the ultimate solution to a better world. However, it is a fact that we were forced to learn new ways of doing things from home. I don’t want one day to see a completely virtual world. Still, in my opinion, virtualization should be used to make a lot of things more comfortable, more accessible for anyone, and make the world a better place to live for everybody.