In the IB classes it's business as usual – although of course things are not "as usual" at all. Teaching and studying language and communication classes – the very core of which is all about human connection and interaction – definitely pose a number of challenges in a time when all of us are housebound.
But, luckily (!), thanks to our flexible, positive and smart students, versatile digital tools (ZOOM, Moodle, Educaplay, Quizlet, Padlet just to mention a few), supporting colleagues and employer, and a not insignificant amount of hard work, teaching 100% remotely has been a great and rewarding experience this far.
It is said that constraints drive creativity, and this, if ever, is a time of constraints.
Yet, it is also a time when creativity is flourishing – new ways of carrying out presentations and group discussions, going through various tasks, doing word tests, carrying out development discussions, writing exams and even going for company visits, without leaving the confines of our own homes, have been invented! And, to our great surprise, these new ways have not even been any mediocre compromises – they have worked well and even great, and I honestly feel that we haven't had to lower the bar in terms of quality, versatility of study methods or learning experiences. Therefore, I'm convinced that as far as education and teaching are concerned, these tough times will leave us with many useful ideas and methods for teaching and studying that can be used also in the future.
One additional pro of working remotely: all classes in the same room and no need to spend time on the commute from home to work or from the office to different classrooms = less stress.
A big con: having to prepare my own lunch and taking care of the dishes... And of course, most of all, missing the real life interaction with colleagues and students
Along with more and more restrictions and impending travel bans many of the exchange students were asked to go back to their home countries, among others Maelenn and Aurore had to go back to France, and Iris went back to the Netherlands. All of them still continued the studies at VAMK and they have successfully attended all the classes in the Communication in Business Life course despite being in different countries and in a different time zone. Thanks ZOOM!
Iris working in her home-office.
"I actually haven't really faced challenges during the course and the ZOOM lessons (only once I had a problem with my laptop that prevented me from attending the ZOOM class).
By nature I am quite calm and reserved in groups, but this did not really bother me during the remote lessons.
I felt comfortable and that allowed me to step forward. Because of this I didn't find it uncomfortable at all to present with a camera in front of my nose", says Iris, an exchange student from The Netherlands.
Exchange students Maelenn and Aurore had to return to France after the COVID-19 outbreak.
"I chose to go back home in France because of the coronavirus situation at the end of March. So, I have to work at home and continue to study. I can, like everybody, participate in Zoom meetings, there is just one hour of jet lag", tells Aurore, an exchange student from France.
"The fact that we had to continue our semester in France was a very sad situation but it worked well. With a good internet connection, it is ok. The jet lag has been just an hour, but we had to be careful with the meeting time.
In the last lesson, my camera couldn't work. But in general, it was nice. The class was interesting. VAMK is really a great experience and I will recommend it for the future", thinks Maelenn, an exchange student from France.
Basak who is an international student in the IB programme, stayed in Vaasa.
"The world's current situation and thus, VAMK's online way of teaching provide me to look in a different perspective on the world and made me realize I would like to work from home, and my plans for the future have changed in a good way", thinks Basak.