This year summer semesters have started differently in German universities. Students are also getting together for their classes, but the campus has now taken the form of a computer screen.
The coronavirus pandemic has caused turbulence in the way the world used to operate. As the rate of infection continues to be relatively significant, protective measures against the virus proceed. Although numerous sectors were allowed to reopen as part of the revaluations concerning contact restrictions, many German universities decided to proceed with their teaching on an online basis.
Universities around Germany have been digitalized, and this is largely a result of COVID-19. When face-to-face teaching was suspended mid-March, the higher education sector set itself to developing its online teaching system and strategies, in order to avoid disruption in education and learning. Both teachers and students had to deal with something almost new to them, an experience which no one was sure would show satisfactory results.
Now, as summer semesters have already begun, students have found themselves able to proceed with classes online. Numerous universities have informed their students that most classes will be proceeding on an online basis due to the pandemic. The virtual German campuses have experienced a noticeable development and online classes have somehow become acceptable amidst students who might have had controversial thoughts at the beginning.
The higher education sector has invested when it comes to the training of teachers in numerous universities. Freie Universität Berlin (FU), for example, has announced that the majority of classes will be conducted online. All public events at universities have been postponed, while universities are taking the necessary steps to ensure that regularly occurring dates and deadlines will be postponed to upcoming semesters. Teaching will also take place digitally in universities like Technical University of Munich, Heidelberg University, and Humboldt University among others.
What used to be considered as a project for the future before the pandemic, has now become a reality. The digitalization of universities is good news amidst the coronavirus turmoil. Universities can use this digitalization to their advantage, not only during the coronavirus outbreak but also once the pandemic quiets down. Higher education institutions are currently offering thousands of events digitally. Thousands of participants are joining video conferences as they are becoming more and more used to the idea that quality events can take place even through online means.
Although online mechanisms need more time to be perfected in order to be efficient, especially during practice-based classes, there are numerous platforms which ensure instructors can deliver their lectures adequately. An advantage of online learning is that it allows more students to engage during lectures and ask questions. This is due to the fact that the online platforms used today, allow students and teachers to use the microphone as well as type, which is positive news to students who tend to be shyer and more hesitant when it comes to talking in front of others.
It is important to remember that digital classes provide both students and teachers with the necessary flexibility to proceed with education even when outside circumstances prevent it. The new university reality is happening during a time when people least expected it to happen. Traditional classrooms were a norm, and for most people, they continue to be so. Many have controversial thoughts when it comes to digital classes. However, societies should get used to the fact that in the post-coronavirus future, online learning will likely bring many benefits to German higher education, and not only.
Despite the “overnight” digitalization of the higher education sector in Germany, there are things that can not be accomplished on an online platform, at least not yet. Examinations and practical classes are one of the main issues of distance learning and online classes. This is something that still remains to be achieved in the future, as for the present, many German universities have allowed such events to take place on a face-to-face basis, with the necessary measures being taken into account. Classes that need special laboratories or work areas have already begun welcoming students in the traditional way.
Universities and colleges in Germany were already offering distance learning courses before the pandemic. Some of them were simply certificating courses, while others lead to a Master’s degree. But the whole concept of distance education has been a bit foreign to people, although it has been circulating around for a while. As numerous countries have now been exposed to online classes, students (as well as teachers) have slowly begun getting accustomed to how online learning works and the fact that it can be effective, something that can benefit the future of higher education sector further on.
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