How do the Freshmen Perceive Online Teaching and Exams?

Anna Urbaničová is from a generation of students who have experienced entering university, teaching, and exams entirely in the online form. The trend of IT technologies in education was getting stronger in the past, but we could do nothing without them nowadays. How did this year's freshmen deal with the whole non-traditional situation?

4 Mar 2021 Filip Opálka

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Anna, you are a first-year student of musicology at the Faculty of Arts, whose first semester you completed entirely online. How did you manage to deal with this non-traditional remote form?

From the start, it was a bit complicated. However, I gradually organized my schedule, according to which I attended online classes, or I played recordings of pre-recorded lectures and performed other assignments. Unfortunately, I have to repeat a hundred times already said - nothing can replace contact teaching. Although most of the teachers tried their best to help us and we could contact them anytime, some uncertainty was evident among the students.

The exam period was much more stressful for me. For example, during the oral examination, a person often spoke for the first time with the teachers who taught the subject, so he did not know what to expect.

The operation of libraries, archives, and other essential services providing study materials has been significantly reduced. Did the teachers try to meet your requirements?

From my experience, I can say that teachers have always led us to a source of information. Some provided us with materials scanned for study purposes. Others advised us where to get the necessary publications. I was thinking about using an e-loans, but in the end, I didn't need it. But some classmates tried it.

However, I am in a field where there are mostly practical subjects, and although the teachers did their best, they, unfortunately, had their hands tied. For certain subjects, I can imagine that for students who had zero previous experience with the issue and had to manage all the practical exercises without the teacher's supervision, such a subject was incredibly demanding.

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Did communication between students and teachers work well for you? And what is your experience with online exams?

Communication was mostly seamless. If complications arose, we contacted the teacher, and he tried to solve everything as soon as possible. However, exams and credits were difficult for other classmates and me, i.e., freshmen in general. Ensuring permanent internet, a working webcam, and sometimes a printer… Many times it has stressed a person more than the exam itself.

Concerning this appears probably the biggest problem I've noticed in some exams. Although MS Teams is great for teaching live, easy to use for teachers and us, especially in my field, it was crucial to ensure the quality transmission of sound samples during exams, which unfortunately was not always successful.

Has this unique situation also affected your mental state in terms of studying?

I feel that I lack personal contact with classmates and teachers. Sometimes I feel lonely in that studying - despite all the teachers' willingness and the help of classmates and other student friends. One has to deal not only with all the news that being a university freshman brings, but also with negative news all around him, demotivation, and disgust from it all.

Can you think of advice and tips on how online teaching can be improved and made more effective by both students and teachers?

Some teachers should evaluate the form of teaching and completing the subject in the future. There are so many options - to have lessons with students in real-time, pre-record lectures with commentary, or upload materials to IS or ELF. In my opinion, something different is suitable for each subject. And if not the students themselves directly, perhaps a university-wide subject survey will give teachers feedback.

Would you find any positives for online teaching?

This may also sound like a cliché, but you can more manageable schedule your time. Since I am also studying at the conservatory together with the university, I can plan my time to pursue everything.

Finally, would you like to advise MUNI study applicants who are just entering the first year, perhaps online again?

Don't be afraid to communicate. Whether with classmates, senior students, or educators. In retrospect, I think that maybe I didn't use the opportunity as much as I could.

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