Martin Ebner, Head Of Technology, Graz University of Technology
The wake of the pandemic has shifted the education world from campuses to a digital landscape. In our university, online teaching has been prevalent for the past two years but not widely adopted. We expected the whole teaching paradigm to shift in the far future of 2030 or later. Instead, it happened overnight, and we weren't ready for it. The monumental task of migrating from 'occasional' online education to a hundred percent online teaching was a difficult challenge. It was also a significant trial for students and teachers to adapt to a new digital reality abruptly.
However, with challenges comes great opportunities. The 'new norm' provided us with the prospects of improving our teaching methods. The university also repurposed hardware equipment and software that enabled us to rethink and reshape educational methods as a whole. In addition, we provided teacher re-education programs to help them understand all aspects of online education. All these efforts helped our teachers differentiate online and offline teaching and strategize better methods of online instruction.
With more than one and a half years of experience, our teachers strive for quality in online teaching. Our university provided us with top-notch hardware equipment for video conferencing and software tools like chat-bots and easy-to-use examination portals to deliver such excellence. We have a dedicated team of professionals and learning management systems to assist teachers and students.. Integrating such vital components into our teaching methods enhances our learning experience design to evaluate whether student learning goals are met.
"Online teaching will continue to impact the way education and educators work, and we should take measures that prepare us for this future"
Though the pandemic throttles online education as the way forward, it may not be the go-to solution for every teaching outcome. As educators, it is critical to understand and analyze the benefits, challenges, and disadvantages of online teaching. But in disadvantageous situations, for instance, if we consider the past decades of teaching, interactive sessions were vital as they helped students better understand their subjects. Also, learning is a social process that promotes more involvement with their peers and curriculum. But with online education, the result might not be the same. Perhaps, we can use an alternative hybrid approach, where subjects that require interactive sessions are conducted in offline classrooms at the university. Another additional aspect is align with the state regulations for online education.
Additionally, we are concentrating on the area of higher education of professionals. The pandemic has influenced a new wave of digital learning, especially for working professionals between 35 to 50 who cannot attend regular classes. In this regard, online courses are of great interest in this age group. So, based on data analysis, our university hosts digital dashboards for this age group to keep their course schedules, learning goals, and events. These features have helped us immensely in the digital landscape. I believe the future trends in educations would take place more on the digital premise. Over the past years, international students had to travel and stay abroad for higher education in foreign countries. Online education can perhaps change the scenario and provide a digital landscape where anyone can study anywhere and only come to the university for hardware training or examinations. Online teaching will continue to impact the way education and educators work, and we should take measures that prepare us for this future.