I want to teachDistance teaching at the CUStudents’ viewpoint on distance learning

Students’ viewpoint on distance learning

It is the responsibility of all instructors to verify the extent to which distance learning prepared by them actually works and achieves the intended goals. The feedback below is just an example of a not entirely representative sample of students (it does not include all fields and levels of study at Charles University; in absolute numbers, there were also not many respondents). Instructors are encouraged to remedy this shortcoming by conducting their own research with their own students.

What students often lack

  • Clear information about where and when to participate in a course, especially when different instructors are involved.
  • Synchronous instruction with personal attendance of the instructor at the scheduled times. Students do not consider a pre-recorded presentation with commentary to be full-fledged instruction, and some perceive it as disregard for students. How can students be required to devote their time and attention to something when the instructor is not even present during the scheduled lesson?
  • Instructors arriving on time to distance learning.
  • Instructors adhering to the scheduled times. By not adhering to the set time, instructors expose their students to unpleasant pressure and unsolvable situations where students should already be in another class.
  • Emphasizing what is really important in the materials and what to pay the most attention to.
  • The opportunity to have discussions relating to professional uncertainties.
  • Communication relating to organizational uncertainties.
  • Timely publication of the terms for grading and testing (this even violates the study regulations of Charles University, though it does happen).
  • Answering e-mails on time (at least within two days).

What according to students is unnecessary and problematic

  • Online instruction exceeding 90 minutes without a break. Instruction over two hours is described as agony.
  • Inventing unnecessary homework that was not given during in-person instruction. They overwhelm the already complicated distance learning agenda, and it is usually a reflection of pedagogical ineptness and a failure with respect to instructors. This does not apply, for example, to specific assignments and preparation for future lessons; on the contrary, this is perceived as meaningful and advantageous.

What students often appreciate as good practice

  • When instruction exceeds the scheduled time, they inform the students in advance and give them the option of leaving if they have other responsibilities.
  • Visual contact with instructors who have a camera turned on and directed to themselves.
  • Providing presentations for sharing, ideally before a lecture.
  • Providing video recordings of lectures and links to them in Moodle.
  • Making space for questions, encouraging them, creating a safe space for discussion and clarification.
  • Holding lectures synchronously, “live and in person”, is much more rewarding than providing a pre-recorded version.
  • If it is not possible to stimulate the activity of students and students are called out by name, then at least creating a safe environment – do not reprimand or belittle students, but also welcome wrong answers and peacefully provide explanations. Praise is welcome.

As many interactive elements as possible in instruction – case analyses, quizzes, reflecting on the issues. Not just lecturing!

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