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).
Burke, B. R., & Ločmele, L. (2021). A new era: Learning and living in difficult times. In L. Daniela & A.Visvizi (Eds.) Distance learning in times of pandemic: Issues, Implications and best practices. Taylor & Francis/ Routledge Press.
Available for download on Thursday, March 30, 2023