Last week I was happy to report about the Flow state I have experienced while teaching my 5th group of FLIGBY students. Today, there is even more Flow around us in spite of the “virtuality”… Estonian Business School (EBS) moved all of its teachings to Canvas Conferences as the main online teaching platform 4 weeks ago, without skipping any of the lectures. After having successfully overcome some bigger and smaller technical challenges, currently, the key question seems to be the efficiency of teaching tools and learning techniques.
How to keep students focused and motivated, given the fact that we cannot physically observe, how they are progressing and if their learning tasks are challenging enough to them or just simply boring?
Today, I would like to share some insights into the teaching experience of myself and my colleagues on a wide range of management and entrepreneurship curriculum.
SURPRISES AND SUCCESS
As I was not sure if the content of my online lectures would actually satisfy the needs of my “fresh online students”, I created a Google Forms survey in less than 5 minutes to ask them 3 simple questions –
Which of the tools, used in my online classes, do you consider most suitable?The core survey questions by Marge Sassi
Which of them are not suitable?
How to make the current teaching experience even more rewarding to your?
There were 45 responses in an hour which told me quite an unexpected story – students want both, the online lectures and the online teamwork, LASTING LONGER than in traditional classroom format. In the following figure, the most and least preferred online teaching tools and methods are assessed by the students.
Not surprisingly at all, students like to use polls, decision-making quizzes, and discussion chat sessions. However, students’ online presentations (which are most probably highly appreciated by teachers) are less appreciated by students than any other listed teaching tools. Also, students seemed to be rather picky on different types of team works based on structured templates.
The biggest success of my colleagues during the last week was definitely the arrangement of a competition for “student enterprises” fully screened in real-time online using Canvas Conferences. Not to mention oral law exams using the Wheel of Names as the students could not pick up physically the “exam tickets” which contained the various exam questions. This amazing tool works as a “students’ destiny” – thus it makes the choices (in current case individual oral exam discussion points) for a student based on the previously defined options given by the professor.
Have some fun! Explore this Wheel of Names, right here:
Until recently, the Monday Morning Meetings at our Department of Management started with quite traditional round-table meetings in a rather formal environment. Nowadays, however, we have initiated “the morning cafeteria” instead. Thus, using MS TEAMS, colleagues sit in front of their screens, drink coffee and share their last week’s virtual teaching experiences in a free format. It is not just about keeping ourselves updated, I personally always get a new kick to start a week with a positive mindset and ready to try out new ways of teaching based on my colleagues’ tips and pioneering work. Thus, even though we are physically separated, we still work so closely together, all of us with the same aim: to improve the teaching quality and make this experience for students as enriching as possible. It really feels very empowering, I must admit! Thus, Flow is definitely in the air!
FAILURE OF THE WEEK
I guess something similar has happened to most of our readers too: at least once in a lifetime, you forgot to unmute your microphone during an online meeting/lecture and ask your real cat with a gentle “cat-like” voice if the kitten was willing to play? Nevertheless, what I did this week was mixing up “an online meeting” and “online chat group” as they had quite similar names. As a result of this, instead of joining in an ongoing meeting, I initiated a group call to all staff members of the university. After this, most of the latecomers followed my example, thinking this was the right meeting. Situations like this can easily happen once the names of the chat groups and the meeting titles look all the same.
Yet, all in all, this was a great week in spite of the fact that some platforms that I was used to using before this sudden surge for online teaching, were now overcrowded and therefore not accessible at normal speed anymore.
TIPS OF THE WEEK
My most rewarding teaching trick this week was a really simple one: in my Project Management course, I assigned myself “team leaders” to lead simple discussion tasks, like discussing the different ways of empowering or consulting stakeholders. Business students tend to be competitive and once they felt responsible and focused on their responsibilities, this acknowledgment improved the level of online discussions tremendously, both in the “big classroom” setting and in the “smaller breakout rooms” which they use for their team tasks.
I would also like to share some great initiatives around the world.
- BMDA has launched webinar series “How to Stay Competitive During this Intense Period”. The first virtual seminar by Marko Puusaar and Anto Liivat on “How to continue teaching thousands of students without disruptions during the COVID-19 outbreak? Estonian Business School practical case and suggested techniques” is available here – and tells the “full story” of a university getting ready for a sudden need of online teaching.
- Associate professor Oleksandr Sudarkin from MIM Business School has posted a great online lecture on ZOOM within the same webinar series. To be honest, I had no idea that ZOOM has so many different options and how many ways there are to get yourself better prepared for active interaction with students.
- Professor Buzady from Corvinus University of Budapest has published most helpful guidelines, tips and tricks for how to hold Peer Feedback Conversation – Youtube video here and see our upcoming blog post here on FlowLeadership.org – a real ‘must’ in the current situation for all lecturers wishing to benefit the most from the oral peer feedback and quality discussions.
- A public FB group has been created for EBS university staff called “Challenges in online learning-COVID-19” that focuses on sharing best practices of online teaching experiences.
- Estonia, that has been declared to be the leading education nation in Europe (No 1. in PISA test in Europe), announced that it was humbled to share all of its digital education tools to support other countries’ education systems during the COVID-19 crisis. The list of tools that are internationally available is here.
Note, that MIM-KYIV Business School, happens to be also our official local FLIGBY partners for the Ukraine! The cooperation was launched back in 2016!
See our earlier news items here:
In the likely case that the current quarantine continues over the summer, it will not be enough to move only the thesis defenses and perhaps the graduation ceremonies into the virtual space, but we should now also consider how to introduce models for virtual internships?
I do not think, all this will turn out to be all too challenging because we do have the necessary experience and competencies to work in international virtual teams. Thus, the universities seem to be more or less ready for this next step and we just need to be sure if the students and enterprises feel the same way?
And You? ARE YOU READY?