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E-revolution. This effort pays off

Will the Covid19 pandemic permanently transfer education to the Internet?

Covid19 will definitely change the approach to education. The experience gathered from the current events affecting all levels of the entire education sector, will be a turning point in online learning. After the initial shock, everyone starts discovering new tools, their functionalities and the benefits arising from their implementation. When we return to schools and universities, we will probably not forget about them. Unfortunately, those who lack knowledge and tools may discourage lecturers and students from learning in this mode.

Undoubtedly, it was easier for us than for our competitors to switch to remote education as we already deliver 100% of lectures and practical classes online, live, with full monitoring of classes. Only in the last week, our Universities hosted 471 lectures and practical classes online. Lecturers and students exchanged 13,487 messages. It was possible because we had already invested in our own e-learning platform. We have been running professionally prepared online study programs for 6 years. They include Economics, Finance and Accounting, and Management at the Bachelor’s degree level, as well as Finance and Accounting, and Management at the Master’s degree level. We also start a new initiative offering international relations, at Bachelor’s and Master’s degree levels. For years, we have been developing multimedia materials, working on the methodology of distance learning – we constantly ask our students’ opinion how to adapt the materials to their needs and expectations to improve the learning process for them. We also regularly train our staff in this regard. We have ready training materials and our own communication channels. It all helped us to quickly adapt the entire academic community for this sudden change.

How do these 6 online study programs differ from the distance learning that has been introduced for all Vistula students?

Besides the technical issues… everything is different. Preparing a professional program for online studies takes months, sometimes years of hard work of lecturers, graphic designers, editors, communication specialists and IT specialists. It means developing all materials and new forms of teaching from scratch. The main goal is to transfer knowledge to students as effectively as during the face-to-face contact. In the case of other students, we only changed the form – classes instead of being carried out in classrooms, are held in virtual classes. Of course, we use our experience and knowledge, we trained our lecturers immediately and we helped them create new materials, but it is still not the same as full online studies.

Is such education as valuable as classroom-based learning?

Definitely yes, but only if it is properly prepared. For study program authors and lecturers, it means much more effort than traditional teaching. Students receive educational materials in a multimedia version, they also have meetings with lecturers in real time, the possibility of e-mail consultations, access to all university resources. It’s not only a matter of shifting the classic program to the internet. Professional online learning requires a completely new approach, more examples, case studies, quizzes and other forms engaging students in the learning process. Online learning gives students great freedom – they can learn where and when they want, when it is convenient for them, not for the university. Thanks to this, and to the lecturers’ additional contribution, online students often achieve better results than students of traditional mode of studying. The development of online learning materials in principle has to take into account students’ varying needs, e.g., the different needs of visual and auditory learners. Materials prepared in such a way facilitate focus on learning and thus help students achieve better results. This is the only chance to learn effectively for many busy people, managers and those who travel a lot. Introverts can also benefit from this type of learning.

How does online learning differ from traditional learning from the student’s perspective?

Students can study wherever they want and usually whenever they want. They can participate in classes from any mobile devices. It is a huge help for people whose work involves travelling, for those living and working abroad, young parents, people living far from education centres or those who value their own pace of learning. A lot depends on individual personality – there are students who, after all, find it harder to focus outside the classroom, who cannot mobilize themselves. Then they have to be professionally assisted.

Will the University extend its online offer?

Every year we try to expand the offer in line with our students’ suggestions. We have launched the second-degree studies in the field of Finance and Accounting and International Relations from this academic year. Our know-how and available technologies allow us to deliver almost all of the offered study programs in the online formula from October. If needed, we are prepared to begin. E-revolution. This effort will pay off.

Justyna Berniak-Woźny, PhD, Vice-Rector for Education Quality and Internationalization. She specializes, among others in strategic communication and modern forms of education. She is a business trainer and consultant.

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Vistula University in Pultusk

Vistula University in Pultusk

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