Online education towards New Normal

Prior to the lockdown in Madrid, IE University has quickly moved all classes into online format early in March and since then, we reserve academic continuity through online classes for all of our 7,000 students. In Japan too, switching to remote work is considered as the fastest way to control the spread of virus infections. There are several important points in using online tools to educate and train your people. The biggest challenge of online classes is to keep class participants focused. Some of the latest technologies such as face recognition and big data analysis would allow professor to conduct a class while keeping track of the concentration of students in real time. However, what if you don’t have such technology tool available in your hand right now? You can still make your class better engaged and relevant with just some simple tips.

  • Look into the camera instead of the screen when talking
  • Ask questions as frequently as possible, and use raise-hand and/or chat functions to increase opportunities for participants to give feedbacks
  • If voting-function is available, try to use that too occasionally
  • Don’t overestimate digital literacy of participants. Announce “House Keeping Rules” at the beginning of the online session to ensure everyone is familiarize how to use functions

One of the most challenging parts of online education is conducting exams. To administer an exam online, you may need to reassess what kind of abilities of your students the exam should test. For example, in the traditional format that tests students’ memorization, students may search for answers on Google during the test even if they’re monitored through camera. Thus, evaluating different abilities other than students’ memory could change the purpose of education itself, and simultaneously, because education should change, so should formats of exam.

Running exams online with trust between both parties while ensuring fraud prevention may be largely helped by the latest technology tools. In this regard, you may refer to the article on his detailed practices which Professor Enrique Dans from IE University has contributed to Forbes.

Learning experience is not just about classes and exams. Remember, besides participating in online classes, students should work on group assignments virtually, therefore their perseverance, virtual teaming capability and creativity are required more than ever. Therefore, performance evaluation system will be necessary to incorporate not only quality of their final deliverables but also other elements such as students’ peer-to-peer evaluations. The same thing may apply not only to educational institutions but also to companies where many employees work from home. Change our perspective to get prepared for the New Normal. I feel this is the most necessary attitude for now.

Kaoru Iino
Japan Country Director at Ie University