The COVID-19 pandemic has affected all areas of public life. The field of education around the world has also undergone changes: in order to protect students and teachers from frequent physical contacts, almost all educational institutions have switched to online platforms.
In order to transfer students to study from home, institutes needed to create special programs for communication. Harvard University coped with this task in two weeks. Even before the pandemic began, they used the Canvas online course platform, where schedules were posted, educational materials were posted, joint work was carried out on projects and entire forums for discussion were created. Harvard also actively used the Zoom platform, the Slack messenger and the independently developed program Socialize Remotely.
To help other universities with a quick transition to online mode, Harvard has a separate section "Recommendations and Tips" on its page. There, teachers of the Harvard School of Educational Sciences posted answers to frequently asked questions, guides to setting up programs, rules of teaching and behavior in electronic classrooms. A section was also created with a selection of sites with films and TV shows, books, concerts and exhibitions, so that students could usefully spend their free time.
Session and exams
As the coronavirus pandemic developed during the reporting periods of study, universities had to find new ways to test students' knowledge.
- Imperial College London held the first online exam for students of the last year of medical school. So that students could not look at the answers on the Internet, the time of the exam was greatly reduced.
- At the University of Edinburgh , all freshmen and sophomores were graded based on average score and coursework. Graduates also had to take online exams.
- And the University of Warwick even created a special website where students could upload files with answers. However, if someone was suspected of cheating, the student had to discuss the answers verbally via video conference.
The most offensive was the cancellation of graduation ceremonies. True, some universities decided to find a way out of this situation.
- Japan's Business Breakthrough University decided to issue diplomas to its graduates with the help of robot avatars. Instead of a face, the robot had a tablet on which a video conference was conducted – students connected to tablets from home and could remotely control the robots.
- And at the University of Michigan , the graduation was celebrated on the last working day of the campus: students had a great time and took some general photos against the background of the stadium, where the graduation ceremony was usually held.
Since all students were sent home from the dormitory, the question immediately arose: "What about those who have nowhere to go?". In order for students to have full access to learning (stable Internet, computer, quiet room), universities together with local students helped to the best of their ability.
- At Harvard, for example, foreigners and students from low-income children were allowed to stay on campus - with the condition that they would keep their distance when communicating and live in different rooms.
- The University of California, San Diego , fully refunded the dorm fee.
- Zhejiang University paid for the Internet for students from low-income families and sent live recordings to those who had traffic problems.
- Students at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology raised money for foreigners who had nowhere to live, and looked for free temporary housing.
It was especially difficult for cultural figures.
- For example, drawing teachers could no longer immediately correct their students and show how to draw a particular object correctly. They had to record several lessons so that students could complete their coursework in stages.
- Those who studied acting, according to the teacher, did not receive a sensory experience, completely losing a live audience.
Few students at home will have their own laboratory or observation room for patients.
- To continue their studies, Amhurst College faculty had to record laboratory tests to explain to students where they should get their data from.
- At Tufts University, laboratory work was replaced by the study of scientific papers and written exams.
- And the Harvard School of Dentistry has completely postponed the course of practical exercises.
The pandemic has forced everyone to move out of the area of our usual learning and transfer to the world of technology. However, this is worth seeing its advantages: all online courses that were held before the pandemic received a new impetus for development and became the object of closer attention in terms of development and improvement.