Document Type

Book Chapter

Publication Date


Embargo Period


Publication Title

Distance Learning in Times of Pandemic: Issues, Implications, and Best Practices


For several years, we have conducted blended discussions and collaborative student activities in our media studies courses at the University of Minnesota Morris (USA) and Vidzeme University of Applied Sciences (Latvia). When the COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent ‘stay at home orders’ changed the ways we could teach, like other faculty throughout the world, we kept our instructional goals and pivoted from an occasional hybrid to a completely online/remote teaching practice. We made the choice to keep the blending of our students as a core component of our curricula, and added several opportunities for students to reflect upon their perceptions and responses. This chapter reviews 50 sets of student responses, organized and analyzed using qualitative thematic analysis. We find, whereas previously some students suggested internationalization and our blended learning strategies seemed artificial, now because they are obliged to be online for almost all of their interpersonal communication, they see mediated contact with assigned classmates and partners as much more ‘natural’ and enjoyable. While these students noted that communication technology could separate people from one another, through their online discussions, they were successfully building bridges with tools that no longer distinguished the ‘local’ and the ‘distant’. Furthermore, although they noted generational differences in media uses, between their peers they had similarities in comfort regarding methods of contact (often surpassing our expectations).






This is an Accepted Manuscript of a book chapter published by Routledge/CRC Press in Distance Learning in Times of Pandemic: Issues, Implications, and Best Practices on September 30, 2021, available online:

Primo Type

Book Chapter

Available for download on Thursday, March 30, 2023