Virtual Faculty

Distant but more connected than ever

Few months ago, we were all far from imagining the situation we are living today. A deserted campus. In less than a week, the classroom were emptied, the noisy canteens went silent and only the sunrays are still entering the conference rooms of the Maison des Sciences Humaines. Everything seems to have stopped on Campus. However, you just need a few clicks online to realise that our Faculty is more alive than ever and far from being quiet.

Professors, students, researchers and administrative staff, all are taking actions from their homes around the Greater Region to maintain research and teaching. "The transition to distance education is a huge challenge for all of us, but it seems to be working well. We are already seeing great initiatives and great creativity from our teaching staff”, says Georg Mein, Dean of the Faculty.

Tuesday morning, 8 a.m 

It’s on webex that Philippe Poirier, professor of political science, met with his students. "Out of 120 students, 80 attended the online course", he explains, happy to feel the motivation of his Bachelor students. "I have never organised online courses with so many students. The outcomes are very positive. Quickly, they started to interact via the chat of the application and the exchanges were even more dynamic than in the usual classroom .Probably because they felt more confident behind a computer. The questions were also more structured and - I must admit it - my answers too. Being online forced us to be more concise", says the professor. He adds that "Now we have to get used to this new teaching method. You can’t gesture the same way in front of a camera than front of an audience. The gestures cannot be the same as in an audience when you are alone in front of your camera." 

On the student side, the sudden change is  perceived as a bit unsettling. "Everything went so fast, it's a little disturbing. But we have already tested the different applications between us so we are ready for our next courses”, says Master in Secondary Education student Adriana. "The advantage of being stuck at home is that we have more time to read the documents suggested by teaching staffand to well prepare our lessons adds her classmate Juliana.

Collaboration is the key

For lecturers as well as for students, collaboration and mutual aid are the keys. "I will get in touch with my colleagues so that we can share our experiences to improve the next courses", explains Philippe Poirier. Adriana and Juliana on their side, count on the solidarity of their classmates "Our biggest fear is to miss a lesson, an email or a deadline. We use a Whatsapp group where we share all the information received duringclass.

Like every crisis, the one that we are currently going through ismarked by a before and after in whichdistance education will play a major role. "It already gives me ideas for the future. I plan to organise lessons with several remoteaudiences”, shares the professor of political science. The Faculty intends to capitalise on the creativity of itscommunity." We will share all these great initiatives on a site dedicated to e-learning. They will serve all lecturerss, today and in the future. It’s a difficult time, but it’s also an opportunity for education”, concludes Georg Mein.

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