Teachers' Opinion

Prof. Adolf Jordan, Universidad Europea de Madrid, Spain, Professor in Architecture

What do you feel about teaching on Zoom? 

It has really been a very satisfying experience. Despite the initial doubts (due to the haste of changes and global circumstances), and the need to adapt a large amount of material firstly designed for face-to-face sessions, I finally believe that the result has been good. My students are satisfied, and my current feeling is of a nice growing confidence and control, in the face with initial pressure (when facing an unknown area (my previous experience in online teaching was quite short)).

Although I use Zoom for quick tutoring sessions or professional meetings, in the official environment of my University (Universidad Europea de Madrid) the most common use of the Blackboard Collaborate and Microsoft Teams tools has been determined.

The performance of these tools has been very versatile and adequate, and we have been able to continue classes correctly even in large groups of students. Now we are working/ researching with tools for making online monitored exams, preparing final tests that will take place at the end of the course. I would say that it is to maintain the group feeling in an environment where learning also occurs from the interaction of the students, and not only in the teacher-class direction. It is necessary to make a greater effort so that the students continue to participate permanently with comments, interventions, debates, etc. throughout the sessions, so as not to return to a previous model of master class with little student participation (especially necessary in workshop or jury classes of projects in architecture or design). The flexible and participatory class format, which is already well established in the face-to-face format, must be kept online, but sometimes it is a little more difficult (surely, because they are tools that are also little used before by students). I think that with the passage of a few more weeks, this situation will improve more and the challenge will be smaller.

On the other hand, of course, it is important to consider the effort to adapt the material, but I think the challenge of interaction is greater.

What is the biggest challenge in conducting classes online?

I would say that it is to maintain a real group feeling, I mean, teaching in an environment where learning also occurs from the interaction among students, and not only in one way teacher-class communication. It is necessary to make a greater effort so that the students continue to participate permanently with comments, interventions, debates, etc. (so, a real interaction group) throughout the sessions, so as not to return to a previous model of master class with little student participation (especially necessary in workshop or jury classes of projects in architecture or design). The flexible and participatory class format, which is already well established in the face-to-face format, must be kept online, but sometimes it is a little more difficult (surely, because the tools were also little used before by students). I think in a few more weeks, this situation will improve more and more, and the challenge will be smaller. On the other hand, of course, it is important to consider the big effort to adapt the teaching material, but I think the challenge of group interacting is greater.

It is a challenging teaching period for teachers to teach those practical- based subjects such as art, engineering and architecture, etc. As an architecture professor, how have you been conducting your practical lessons that are supposed to happen in studios? For you, what have you tried to maintain the efficiency of class as before?

Our University and the National Authorities have determined guidelines for the orderly adaptation of subjects, including those related to Art or Architecture. The teachers designed adaptation sheets that were then supervised (and validated without or with changes) by coordinators (among whom I am) and program managers, to ensure compliance with the desired learning results. Furthermore, the adaptation guidelines were then presented to the delegates and student representatives for their detailed explanation, and finally published on virtual campus. Only a few subjects requiring physical facilities (for example, working in Fablab with 3d printers, CNC machines, etc.), had a handicap for adaptation. 

Regarding my more practical sessions, I think online platforms are versatile enough to allow adequate efficiency, quite like the previous one situation. In our case, the Blackboard Collaborate platform allows the proper interaction of participants, file sharing, screen sharing, or even being able to draw in real time for viewers. Furthermore, the possibility of recording and reviewing the sessions afterwards is an interesting advantage. 

With the only handicap I mentioned before; initial students’ “shyness” to participate more actively, I think that the practical classes have been able to keep up well to the online version. 

How has the online teaching mode influenced the assessment and exam? Are there any changes to the marking system?

There wasn’t any problem with continuous evaluation assignments, but the issue of exams is a little more complicated: The Ministry of Education and Science, of course, requires online tests have a guarantee of identity and strict compliance with rules (I mean anti-cheat systems, etc.). At the moment we are testing the Proctoring-Respondus monitoring software to carry out assessment tests where the student is and which can be monitored and supervised. Through 3 systems:

-Live test: supervised by webcam and microphone.

-Recorded Test: The system records during the test.

-Automated Proctoring: The software monitors during the test using facial recognition, image and sound.

 

It is this phase that we still must verify and overcome. We are still working on this phase. It is the one that is pending final verification.

Soon, there will be simulation exercises with the students so that they understand how it works and there are no problems in the final tests.

Do you think online teaching will take place physical teaching in the future or maybe progress education through both physical and online teaching?

This experience has changed my point of view regarding online teaching. Surely, the physical complement is essential too, and close personal contact, further qualifies the relationship and increases the teacher-student bond with deeper and more human learning. But online education for other phases of training can be a very very good option too, and this experience has brought me closer to a field I was more sceptical about before.

My conclusion on the experience has been very positive, and I think that the online/face-to-face hybrid option has a soooooo important potential. And, in addition, brings us nearer, to professionals and teachers from all over the world, in a very interesting way.

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