Since its arrival, COVID-19 has changed the way we interact. For universities and students, this has been particularly challenging.
To avoid spreading the virus, most schools around the world closed their doors and switched to online education. For the first time, students and teachers faced the challenge of learning and teaching remotely.
And although there were difficulties to begin with, university study during COVID-19 isn’t all bad. Here are some of the key aspects.
Using technology to learn
Before the pandemic, internet-based technological devices were used to gather and save information. They served as material storehouses, but not as learning tools.
When classes began to take place via video calls, however, it became apparent that these technologies had the potential to make learning attractive, enriching, and accessible.
Internet devices became vital in sharing and receiving knowledge. And above all, in deepening and supporting learning itself.
Nowadays, teachers can share materials in videos and interactive media, so that their students better grasp what they’ve learnt. Chat and discussion forums are likewise of great help to keep the exchange of ideas going.
Undertaking creative evaluations
At university, written exams en masse are quite common, but evaluating in this way became impossible during the pandemic. That’s why teachers opted for more creative evaluation proposals such as:
- Open-air evaluations
- Critical essays
- Video presentations
- Concept maps
These new evaluation formats promote student interest in exploring subjects, whilst traditional exams focus only on their ability to recall information.
Greater level of commitment
Before COVID-19, at universities it was enough for students to attend class at the designated time to show their commitment to their education. Now, with online classes, attendance alone is not enough.
They need to maintain an active participation expressing their doubts and points of view during the classes, particularly because this is the only way their teachers know they are attentive and interested in the subjects being explored.
Similarly, it is not enough for the teachers to dictate their classes out loud. To maintain students’ attention online, they need to create presentations and share videos and educational resources that generate interest and spark interaction.
Students and teachers, together as a team
It’s clear that online learning requires greater commitment from teachers and students. Therefore, in order to be successful, it’s vital they work together as a team.
From this new perspective, teachers and students have become partners, now sharing the responsibility of achieving quality education.
In times of COVID-19 and online teaching, students can get involved in the learning process, proposing activities and evaluations, participating in classes and giving regular feedback to their teachers. This invites them to play a more active role in their education.
New ways of making friends
Traditionally, coursemates would come together in classrooms every day. The dynamics of online education have, however, made it more difficult to establish this kind of relationship.
That’s why some universities have encouraged online events around entertainment, so that students can get to know each other and make friends. Similarly, teachers have assigned group activities so that students can talk and sympathise with their classmates.
Hygiene and prevention measures at university
As COVID-19 cases drop and vaccination takes place, students and teachers will return to the universities to resume face-to-face education. Nevertheless it will not be as it was before.
Hygiene and prevention measures will have to be maintained, such as the use of masks, handwashing with hydroalcoholic gel, and social distancing. Hydroalcoholic gel dispensers could in fact be installed around different campus spaces to help ensure hygiene.
In the same way, the use of a face mask will be an obligatory requirement to come on campus. We will also see other measures such as:
- Limited capacity
- Frequent cleaning of common areas
- Signage regarding acceptable distancing between people in dining halls, lounges, and auditoriums.
As such, infection between people who have not yet been vaccinated will be reduced, and people’s health will be protected. Studying at university during COVID-19 has definitely undergone great changes, but it is up to us all to turn them into positive experiences.