Since the outbreak of COVID-19, the move to online learning has affected schools, colleges, and universities worldwide. Professors and students at Business School Lausanne (BSL) have had to quickly adapt to a new way of learning. The classroom has been replaced with the home, and in-person interaction has largely been replaced with face-to-face online learning.
We spoke with professors Dr. Jan Erik Meidell and Claudia Kranefuss, as well as student Giang Do, about their experiences teaching and learning online, and the importance of face-to-face interaction, and here are some of their top tips and experiences.
Keeping the Camera Switched On
All students and teachers must keep their front camera switched on while in an online class at BSL. The small class sizes mean that everyone in the class should be able to see each other and their professor on one screen.
Erik, who teaches courses including finance, investment, and data analysis, explains that this is important because if all of the students can see each other during the class, it “encourages social interaction.” Claudia echoes this sentiment, adding that “we make sure everyone has their screens on. It’s essential that you see your students on one screen, because you need to be able to interact with them.”
How do students feel about the video element? Giang Do, who is enrolled in the bachelor of business administration, observes that she learns better when she can see the professor. “The professor can see our appearance and our facial expression.” She says, adding that as a result, “It’s more connected, so I feel like I learn better.”
Staying Engaged, Online at Business School Lausanne
Student Giang Do emphasizes that it is sometimes harder to focus in an online class. “When you sit at a computer at home rather than in class,” she admits, “it’s easier to procrastinate as there are so many distractions around you.”
This is something that professors have been aware of, and are doing their best to address. Claudia teaches an intensive three-day personal branding and communication course at BSL. She describes the course as ‘very experiential’ and explains that that was one of the main challenges of moving it online.
In order to make the course more engaging, Claudia shortened her course from 12 hours to 8-hour days while teaching online at Business School Lausanne. This would give students less screen time, as “12 hours in front of a screen isn’t very healthy”. As well as this, she made sure that lectures were no longer than 10 – 15 minutes, with regular questions and screen breaks.
Connecting with Students from Home
When Erik asked his students for feedback on online learning, they said that they loved the virtual classes but missed the social side. “Students choose to come to Business School Lausanne for the networking opportunities,” He notes, “so you need to make sure that you still offer that.”
Claudia similarly explains that “it’s not just information gathering.” Teamwork and group work are still essential, so you need to “find ways that they can work together although everyone is in a different space.” She decided to use virtual breakout rooms so that students could work together closely in small groups of three or four students.
Giang Do says that she is keeping up with other students regularly. “During the pandemic,” she says, “my classmates and I are connecting with each other on a daily basis for homework and for studying. I think that’s really important for online studying.”
As a final word, Claudia adds that you have to see online learning as an opportunity because “the professor’s mindset is essential to how well the teaching goes.” Giang has found that since moving to online learning, she’s developed better self-motivation and self-discipline. Erik is also positive that he’ll be using some of his online teaching methods back in the classroom. Starting this fall, BSL will be offering dual-mode teaching, taking the learning of the online face to face classes back into the classroom while still engaging with some students online.
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