Now as the semester in Giessen is also over, my last course held, it’s time to review a semester that was held online for the first time at the universities in Paris, Frankfurt and Giessen. The experience was consistently positive, although the courses were very different.
While at Sciences Po in Paris and at the ISM in Frankfurt my courses started in presence at first, the courses at the JLU in Giessen started immediately online due to the later start of the semester. It is an advantage to at least start in presence and to have a personal exchange with the students. It was easier to switch to online mode after getting to know each other.
Switching to an online mode worked smoothly both at Sciences Po and the ISM. While Sciences Po stopped teaching for one week to convert all courses to online teaching, ISM immediately organized training and technical support for teachers and students. At the JLU in Giessen a digital mode with own web space was also immediately available for teachers.
Certainly the semester break now serves to re-align and further develop the online teaching systems, but basically the Corona pandemic has shown that the universities are prepared for digital teaching. Digital teaching should be further developed. That’s also why I think it’s important to continue offering online courses in the upcoming semester, to find a good mix of presence and online lessons for the courses. Some of my courses in the winter semester are already planned as pure online courses at different universities. The number of participants remains a hurdle for online teaching. My experiences was that the smaller the courses, the more active the students can take , the more all can take away from the course. For courses with more than 30 participants, online discussions are not easy to manage.
In Paris students from abroad took the opportunity to return home before the lockdown and continued their studies from there. This posed an additional challenge to online teaching with regard to time differences. This hurdle could be overcome via various options as chats, recordings or other online tools. For students who work parallel to their studies, such as at the ISM, online teaching was a great timesaver and was therefore rated very positively by them. Ways from work to university and back fell away. For me, too, the time gained through not commuting was noticeable. I had more time to prepare the courses.
My conclusion after one semester: Teaching politics and communication in the digital age I should also be able to do so online, as proven now. The modules and techniques are there, available and work at the universities. Also from a sustainability point of view, another topic that I teach at the universities and which is very much in demand by students, universities should invest more in digitalization and become role models for the jobs of the future.
For myself, the online semester also offered a very good opportunity for training. I got to know many tools for teaching and am already looking forward to using them in the upcoming semester.
Deutschsprachige Version hier.