Online education 2020

Digital education in summer term 2020

The year 2020 has confronted all of us with major challenges. With the increasing spread of the corona virus, the entire university teaching had to be transferred to online formats in March for the summer semester starting in April. Extensive adjustments were necessary. The Institute of Construction Management and Digital Engineering has fully aligned itself to synchronous live lectures in order to provide students with the best learning environment during the online semester. For this, the focus was on the greatest possible interaction during the courses. 

C Blended Learning was created by combining online elements of self-study with interactive and synchronous online sessions. With this concept, around 350 students were able to participate in the online lectures under special conditions in summer term 2020.

Especially the online sessions facing the reduction to speech, mimic and few gestures were spiced up with digital avatars, actively using the chat, ad-hoc online queries and real time voting as well as break-out sessions in smaller groups or even bilateral discussions.

The online lectures were enhanced by independent preparation and post-processing of the contents. For this purpose the learning platform ILIAS with extensive contents for preparation and the recorded online lecture for independent post-processing was made permanently accessible to all students.

The synchronous courses were motivating and I was up to date the entire semester.
Student during the semester evaluation (anonymous)
Virtual live lecture with professor and students

During the synchronous online lectures, all participants were encouraged to transmit their own video image in order to create a more pleasant lecture situation for both sides. Another positive effect was the increased level of interaction using direct enquiries.

The broadcast of the lecture slides was supported by digital blackboard templates. These were worked out together and filled in during the lecture. Interaction was possible using the chat function, human-like gestures of the digital avatars, as well as digital hand rising. 

TERF Audimax with digital avatars
One of the best online courses, very good use of digital opportunities.
Student during the semester evaluation (anonymous)

At the end of summer term, students were asked about the online semester they had completed. A total of 91 students rated the online education with the C Blended Learning Concept as excellent with respect to practical relevance, structure, methodology and interaction.

In addition, the different types of lectures (synchronous, asynchronous and conventional) were evaluated. It is remarkable that the students rated synchronous lectures best in both, learning success and motivation, hence live online lectures are rated even higher than lectures in presence. As the evaluation was conducted by live voting, students could be questioned directly to comment the results. They explained the higher learning success with less distraction during online lectures, a better preparation through the learning platform and the possibility of individual post-processing by watching the recorded lectures.

Of course, we must assume that the corona-related cancellation of leisure activities and holidays led to less distraction in the private sphere, contributing also in a more active participation of students during the semester. Nonetheless, students reached their learning goals more than sufficiently with the C Blended Learning Concept. The exam results after completing summer term are very encouraging: For example, in our bachelor course students achieved in average better marks than in the last years. The failure quote was around 10% while at usual conditions around 40% of the students would fail the exam.

To conclude, C Blended Learning, carried out by live sessions with interactive tools complemented by online learning elements for preparation and post-processing, is very well suited to achieving comprehensive learning objectives.

The concept also convinced the jury of the Falling Walls Foundation

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