At the end of March, Kaunas University of Applied Sciences began to organize its study process remotely. Sudden changes in the whole Educational institution – a challenge for students, as well as lecturers. Although not easy, the start was successful – systems, chosen by Kaunas University of Applied Sciences, guaranteed a good technical quality of the distance learning, while the creative approach of lecturers, attendance of students and achievements exceeded expectations.
Preparation is essential for success
The success of remote studies was determined by thorough preparation. “We reconciled and tried out all the necessary IT platforms for remote work and studies. We had the opportunity to use our colleagues’ instructions, that were prepared on short notice, on the use of the systems, as well as the provided additional training needed for remote competence development. The organizational study process has been planned from the ground up, and to add to that, we put together a team of consultants, that had been overseeing the first test runs and were ready to eliminate any problems that aroused.”, – Paulius Baltrušaitis, the director of Kaunas University of Applied Sciences, talking about the solidarity of the academic community and the preparation for remote study process.
In Kaunas University of Applied Sciences, the technological possibilities had been evaluated beforehand and the infrastructure for remote studies had already been prepared. Remote studies are organized in the online learning platform Moodle, while for communication and cooperation, the institution uses Google G suite for Education tools: Gmail, Hangouts Meet and Hangouts chat.
According to IT project manager Dominykas Baltrušaitis of Kaunas University of Applied Sciences, the very first day of remote studies went smoothly. There were fewer questions, related to teleworking, than expected. On demand, lecturers were given the required work tools – computers and microphones, in certain occasions, the opportunity to conduct a lecture in an empty Kaunas University of Applied Sciences classroom. Detailed information for students and lecturers, regarding the organization of study process, was provided via Email, as well as published in the virtual “Moodle” space.
Student attendance gives positivity and motivation
“Working remotely, when there is no ability to see the students, is not easy, however, yet again, the rule applies, that everything is possible – you just need courage and willingness. Also, student attendance, which has been at 90% percent, gives additional motivation”, – Asta Jakimavičienė, Head of Pedagogical Department. She also adds that students of the department are not only learning, but carrying out their internships at various kindergartens: “It’s a challenge for everyone, but pedagogues have to work in unplanned, in this case – even extreme – conditions, so we are all learning. Students help pedagogues in their respective kindergartens by sharing their ideas and IT knowledge.
Kaunas University of Applied Sciences lecturer Ieva Brazauskaitė-Zubavičienė is also happy about the student activity and says, that this process is very interesting to her as well, because it is new: “During the last few weeks I learned a lot and feel a lot more potent. Up to this point, I did not think that teleworking could be an alternative to contact. However, it can serve that purpose to an extent or be used as a plan “B”, because real-life contact is a huge value” – I. Brazauskaitė–Zubavičienė shares her experience.
“What I liked is that remote studies went smoothly. There were no technical disturbances, so it was easy to focus. Also, it was fun to see that almost all course friends joined the lectures and actively participated in discussions. If I had to choose what study format was more acceptable for me, in the future I would choose the remote version.”, – Remigijus Eidukaitis, Kaunas University of Applied Sciences Student of the Marketing and Sales program of the Faculty of Business shares his experience.
The results of the first week of remote studies – higher than average
Head of the language department, lecturer Albertas Juodeika says that technology will never replace the real-life lectures and communication, so that should not be the goal, however, the 21st century society, especially the education system, must be prepared to provide its services remotely. “In developed countries, this has been successfully applied for a number of years, while in Lithuania, it has more so been discussed, rather than executed. I am glad that Kaunas University of Applied Sciences can accept this challenge and transfer the study process into virtual spaces. Even though some colleagues were worried about the different work methods, the first week’s achievements were already higher than average. The study process did not break off, lecturers receptively and willingly used a variety of teleworking tools and student interest in remote working possibilities surpassed expectations”, – A. Juodeika notes.
A creative approach to an altered study process
“Lecturers of the art academy reacted creatively to a changed study process and even for a subject, like painting, found solutions on how to conduct the lectures remotely. Since the student-lecturer communication has been close, I think that now, students don’t feel any discomfort when addressing lecturers through the media. Of course, there has been an increase in personal consultations, however, the groups do not have a high number of students in them, thus it is possible to overcome. In order for the remote study process to take effect, lecturers worked with tools familiar to them and for everything to go smoothly – are learning to operate new work tools as well”, – Head of the Academy of Arts Dr. Inga Valentinienė shares her positive experience.
“Teleworking is an excellent experience. After yesterday’s lecture, we took a long time to discuss and look over the tasks with our students”, – Zita Baužienė, a lecturer at Kaunas University of Applied Sciences talks about student involvement during the remote study period and reveals, that working during this period is most comfortable while using two computers: “One is for direct communication and another is to hold all the needed information. A lot of ideas came up, regarding telecommuting, that will definitely need to be realized in the future”.
Only with the effort of the whole academic community, service personnel and sincere work can a smooth study process and excellent results be ensured. “We showed solidarity, professionalism and maturity when overcoming the challenges that faced us. Let’s be proud and happy knowing, that together, we can achieve a lot”, – Kaunas University of Applied Sciences director Paulius Baltrušaitis.