Universities Promote the Digitization of Teaching in Pandemic Times
The coronavirus outbreak has accelerated the incorporation of new technologies in teaching practice that has moved into virtual spaces.
The pandemic has impacted the way universities perform their teaching tasks due to campus closure, carrying the suspension of face-to-face classes. Starting this 2020 with a fully online academic semester, modifying the programs to conform to this format, is new for most teachers.
Here in the InnovaT project, we wanted to know how partner universities face this situation, from the perspective of Begoña Gros, expert in virtual learning environments, PhD in Pedagogy and professor at the Faculty of Education of the University of Barcelona.
“The pandemic has had a strong impact on all levels of the education system, and digital technologies have become a fundamental aspect of sustaining educational and training activities. Connectivity has been more evident and more visible than ever as an infrastructure that everyone should have access to, to avoid social inequalities,” says Begoña.
As the expert mentions, to continue with lectures, students must have the technological tools and a stable internet connection. However, at the beginning of the pandemic, it became clear that not everyone had the financial resources to opt in, and the universities needed to implement aid strategies, “We started lending computers and modems to students, enabling remote access so that an entire section could have remote lessons using campus computers,” says Vanessa Zadel, professor of Architecture at the University of Lima.
In parallel with students, teachers had to quickly adopt new technologies that they did not use in the classroom, notes the expert, “University measures have shown that the education sector cannot live on the fringe of digital technologies. For decades, we have been talking about digital training for teachers with little success, but perhaps the pandemic is helping to accelerate change.”
In this period, the digital divide between teachers of the same institution has become evident, so universities have intensified their training, “The teachers received additional training in new tools, access to software and hardware. E-learning study had online training sessions for teachers to record videos. A special innovative learning team was created to handle all requests from both teachers and students,” says Liliya Terzieva, an academic at the University of Applied Sciences in Breda.
For the Doctor in Pedagogy, teacher training and digitization means a step forward in continuing to innovate in education, which must be complemented by improvement of the model, “new resources that facilitate the design and follow-up of learning tasks and the tools to implement them, to help students deepen their learning.”
In this line, the professors of our partner universities who have participated in the InnovaT project have been incorporating new active learning methodologies and using technological tools as means to generate collaborative learning and increase student participation in classes, “One tool I learned about in the InnovaT course is “Miro,” a digital whiteboard that helped us run a brainstorming session, take notes, and organize projects. For discussions and votes I also used the “Mentimeter” tool, so all the course attendees participated actively, and then we discussed the results in class,” says Stella Schroeder, a scholar at Piura University.
For Gros, the pandemic has given teachers the impetus to quickly acquire knowledge of new technologies that were pending, and at the same time, it is an opportunity to take the next step that is to reflect on the current educational model. “There is a need to think about training from a much more flexible and ubiquitous perspective, beyond physical or digital space,” concludes the expert.