CORONAVIRUS SPECIAL | 14.04.20

#UNAVathome: a new scenario for teaching

The coronavirus pandemic led to the closure of the University campus, but academic activity has continued as planned at the University of Navarra.

For some time, the buildings on campus have been empty. The coronavirus pandemic led to their closure. But academic teaching continued by digital means. Since teaching moved online, over 8,500 students and 1,000 professors have met, interacted and shared their knowledge via their computers.

Through extraordinary effort on the part of the academic community, teaching moved to an online platform, an initiative led by the professors and students but carried out in conjunction with administrative personnel in all Schools and services. IT Services and the Quality and Innovation Unit made the tools required for online teaching available, and helped with teacher training and question and answer sessions.

Tools like the ADI Virtual Classroom, Blackboard, Google Meet, Zoom and Panopto had already been in common use among professors at the University of Navarra, but now they have become a standard resource in everyday activities, to help develop teaching materials and teach classes remotely in all subjects.  Some classes are broadcast live through Google Meet or Zoom; other classes are recorded with Panopto; class notes and recommended reading lists are uploaded to ADI and/or distributed via forums or personal mentoring. The online subject is adapted in line with content-type and student profile. It should be noted that over 25% of the student population at the University is international, many of whom returned to their home countries before the lockdown.

In conjunction with the Schools and other services across the University, the Quality and Innovation Unit has been working against the clock over the last few weeks, including the days before the decision to suspend classes. Since then, they have prepared open access resources, which include tutorials, online sessions and other materials to support professors.

This work is ongoing.  This academic year will finish with remote exams for undergraduate students, and professors are working with the tools and resources required for these final evaluations.

FOUR QUESTIONS FOR GUADALUPE PÉREZ (Quality and Innovation Unit)

The greatest goal we have achieved is ensuring that teaching at the University of Navarra was not disrupted, not even for a minute

1What did the challenge of transferring all teaching online so quickly involve?

The main challenge was to change to a new teaching methodology from one day to the next. Within 24 hours, professors and students moved from the on-campus classroom to having university-at-home, with all the changes that implies in professor-student communication, tools and resources used, teaching methodology; adapting to the new timetable and new physical workspaces, etc. But the greatest challenge that we overcame was that teaching did not stop even for a minute and that from the very first day both professors and students could continue to follow the academic calendar as originally planned.

2What are the main concerns or questions professors have?

At the beginning, the main worry was the lack of knowledge of computer tools and not knowing how to adapt the teaching content to a virtual scenario. For this reason, the first priority of the Quality and Innovation Unit was to organize training sessions for professors and advise them at all times. Now we are already in the second phase: ‘professionalization’. Professors can use some of the tools, but now they want to exploit their full potential: experiment, try new tools, make more teaching videos, etc. The idea of the “new role of the professor” has taken on more meaning: the professor as a mentor, facilitator, guide and content creator.

3What have you learnt from this period?

Without doubt, the great capacity for resilience we have as human beings.  Professors just like students have given 100% to deal with this situation. Now, more than ever, this statement by Victor Frankl seems especially relevant: “When we are no longer able to change a situation – we are challenged to change ourselves.” Many professors have said that this situation has pushed them out of their comfort zone, to try new things, to research new teaching methodologies and use tools that they had never used before. In short, to be more creative, solutions-focused and to adapt to change in record time.

4Do you think teaching will change when this situation has passed?

I believe that some aspects of teaching will change. The first and most obvious is the greater level of knowledge of computer tools and new teaching methodologies, amongst professors as well as students.  We will all be prepared to face new challenges in the future, so we have to see this situation as an opportunity to continue improving the quality of teaching offered at the University.

 

ONLINE TEACHING IN FIGURES

TU&CO, A DIRECT LINE WITH STUDENTS

The lockdown period has underscored the role of the mentor, who meet students ‘face-to-face’ in order to guide them in dealing with academic, professional and personal concerns.  TU&CO Mentors, an advisory-centered program that aims to transversal competencies, has enabled 533 sessions for 308 users, a 156% on normal activity.