Over the past two years, due to the COVID-19 pandemic and associated blockages, not only the importance of people-to-people contacts, but also the indispensable nature of face-to-face teaching have been addressed and discussed at several times. Never before have teachers had to change and rethink their teaching methods in such a short time. Poor Internet connections, technical implementation difficulties and lack of personal exchange made the transfer of knowledge and educational content more difficult.
For high quality university education, face-to-face teaching is considered an extremely important essential. However, digital education also brings unexpected benefits and opportunities, demonstrates the Study and Teaching Commission of the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Psychologie (German Psychological Society (DGP)) in a report for Psychologische Rundschau. In it, Dr Anne Gärtner of the Technische Universität Dresden explains that digital education offers students and teachers new and unprecedented opportunities and brings to life a completely renewed form of teaching and learning: “D ‘On the one hand, flexibility in terms of time and space in the organization of work is one of the greatest advantages of digital education, as not only time but also costs can be saved, for example by eliminating travel. Teachers have greater autonomy and can decide for themselves how to manage their time and organize their seminars and conferences. In addition, the recorded teaching material can be reused.
Students feel the same: digital education allows them to learn at their own pace and repeat recorded lessons as often as needed. However, “face-to-face teaching and digital formats should not be opposed”, explains Dr Gärtner. “Digital education must be seen as a complementary means of further improving the quality of education, and the importance of face-to-face education must not be forgotten.” Because even if online learning brings more benefits than initially expected, the lack of contact between teachers and students leaves many gaps that cannot be “filled” online. An obvious drawback, for example, is the requirement for a stable internet connection and the necessary technical equipment. As digital education and its technical implementation are still unknown territory for many, the workload has therefore increased, especially at the beginning. In addition, one of the main drawbacks is arguably the difficulty of staying disciplined, focused and motivated in front of your computer alone over a long period of time. For students in particular, this requires much more self-discipline and organization than in face-to-face lessons.
For Dr. Gärtner personally, the biggest downside was not knowing whether she could actually reach her students in her online courses: possible, albeit in a slightly different form. In addition it worked – my digital seminar even received a teaching award, which I particularly liked – I still hope that I can soon chat with the students together again in the seminar room and lead exciting experiments in the laboratory ”, explains the psychologist.
Dr Gärtner is also convinced that blended learning (combining classroom and digital teaching) could be a promising method for teaching and learning in the future. In face-to-face teaching, for example, the focus could be more on interaction and exchange, while in digital forms of teaching and learning, the material can be worked on individually. In the future, more and more people will want to learn and teach online, as now everyone has the opportunity to continue their education anytime and anywhere, whether on the road, in the classroom. ‘waiting, on the train or at home.
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