Pupils and students had the opportunity to comment on their e-learning experience over the past year during a panel discussion recently presented by the Francophone Distance Education Network (REFAD). Among the panelists, future teachers testified to certain learnings that will guide their approach to their careers.
The discussion took place under the theme “Forced passage to online learning, the student perspective”. Of course, distance education presented challenges (mastery of digital tools, motivation and concentration necessary for learning, etc.) and advantages (less travel, listening to a recorded course at the time of one's choice, etc. ). We have chosen to provide you with more comments related to teaching methods and evaluation.
For Alain Lavoie, education student and academic vice-president at the Federation of Students of the Moncton University Campus in New Brunswick, the situation turned out to be difficult, because the real good conversations that we can have in attendance were no longer there. On the other hand, he really appreciated being able to “get out of the traditional evaluation context”.
“The context forced teachers to approach evaluation differently. I loved having my course notes with me during the exams. I had the opportunity to demonstrate my understanding of the material rather than just pouring content by heart onto the screen or a sheet, ”he said, adding that he would do the same with his future students. .
Same story with Zoic Jolin-Couture, master's student in Political Science and political advisor to the Student group for master's, diploma and doctorate at the University of Sherbrooke. “Understanding rather than knowing is what remote (and even classroom) assessments should look like. On the other hand, not all teachers are ready to change their way of evaluating. "
He even observed professors who wanted “too” to evaluate and who rated everything the students produced, each intervention in a discussion forum for example. “This may have had the effect of increasing their workload and leading them to believe that remote assessment is more work,” he notes.
Moreover, the panelists questioned the relevance of holding remote exams with an open camera and microphone. "Doesn't that cause additional stress for the students?" Does this method really tell if someone is cheating or not? "
Learn at your own pace
Panelists noted that distance learning allowed them to learn at their own pace. “Distance education has its advantages. It is more respectful of everyone's learning pace. When the sessions were recorded, we could listen to them, stop, re-listen to certain passages and then continue. In class, it is not possible to do that, ”says Alain.
He says he had access, thanks to the pandemic context, to courses offered at other Canadian universities, which allowed him to broaden his horizons. Likewise, he observed that some students who rarely spoke in class were more likely to do so online. “The group dynamic has changed. Distance education has given students a new voice. "
“From my online course experience, what I liked the most was the flipped classroom pedagogy. The teachers offered us readings, viewings of video clips and other resources to consult. Then, during the course sessions, the students could discuss it in sub-groups, ”argues Valentine Kropf, master's student in Educational Technology at Laval University.
Zoic also appreciated being able to progress at his own pace. “Teachers gave us a lesson plan and let us move forward independently. This leads to discipline. On the other hand, he made it clear that teachers and professors must be available to be able to interact with their pupils and students when needed. “They have to be there. "
Brunette Lafleur, a nursing student and director of the General Student Association at Collège Boréal in Ontario, said teachers understood the importance of maintaining a strong bond with their students. However, she adds that “some may have neglected to find ways to allow students to bond with each other. These links should not be taken for granted. "
Have the right tools
Over the past year, Valentine has lived through both sides of the coin: she has been a student and a teacher. “Yes, the interactions are different online, but with the right educational tools, we can teach as effectively both face-to-face and remotely,” she believes.
She adds: “Teaching is getting young people to seek and find information. You have to guide them there. On the other hand, we must not forget that teachers must be supported in order to be able to use technologies ”.
The final word goes to Alain: “Technology is not the problem or the solution. It takes a willingness to integrate it for educational purposes. I saw teaching methods that I liked and others that I questioned, this will allow me to adapt my future teaching ”
For those who could not attend the meeting or if you wish to hear the discussion again, the recording of the panel is available online.