Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) were no exception to the situation. Thousands of academics around the world were forced to turn their lectures and face-to-face classes to online courses for millions of students, within a few days’ notice. Both sides were not prepared for this, which was quite normal as according to CEDEFOP (2020) only 8% of EU population has attended an online class during 2019, thus it was doomed not to work, as it was expected to.
The most common case is that each university chose an existing teleconference platform like Zoom, Webex, Skype for business, Microsoft teams etc., and offered the same lectures as online courses, which as anyone can understand did not have the expected outcomes. Both students and lecturers got tired, even bored, during classes, absenteeism was very high amongst students, technical difficulties occurred all time, socializing and cooperation -crucial aspects of student learning- were almost non-existent and of course, the quality of the class was much lower than the expected one. The Covid-19 crisis has shown that once we lose or even diminish social contact, it is very easy to fail in digital inclusion.
On the other hand, this situation revealed all the positive aspects of eLearning, such as flexibility on schedule, lower cost, the possibility of lectures being recorded and giving people repetitive access, inclusiveness as everyone can participate without having to move from rural or secluded areas, especially when they do not have the chance to do so. The latter has been even more relevant and prominent due to the restrictions that have taken place in order to avoid spreading COVID 19.
So the question is, how someone may rip the benefits of distance learning without having to suffer the consequences and struggle to “survive” day by day in the online classroom. The project iSurvive supports that the answer is to prepare academics to be able to develop online content that will actually achieve the expected learning outcomes by keeping students interested and involved.
To achieve its purpose the iSurvive: Digital Roadmap for designing online interactive content, project aims to develop the competencies of HE lecturers academics in order to be
prepared to transform their lectures and in class activities to online ones that keep their students motivated, and foster their own well-being as they won’t feel like teaching an empty screen.
In order to accomplish the above, the iSurvice project foresees four Intellectual Outputs (IOs):
1-Comparative Study- that will identify the current needs and gaps for boosting the effectiveness of online HE learning
2-Guide of Key Pedagogical Principles for effective Online Teaching and Learning- will be a combined guide introducing educators into a methodologically effective Online class 3-iSurvive compass for Interactive & Gamified online content Creation- is concerned with combining several parameters creating a tailor-made roadmap for the educator needs 4-An innovative MOOC-that provides a high education course of specialization in an area where skills needs are so rapidly developing.
That will act as a complete system for training the primary target group of the project, HE lecturers and academics, in order to also benefit the secondary target group, HE students. The project envisages the below long term impact:
1) Improved competencies of Higher Education
2) Increased online course delivery in Europe
3) Improved quality of online learning (synchronous and asynchronous)
4) Enhancement of the eLearning courses positive aspects
5) Conversion of eLearning from necessity and “needs to be” into motivating and exciting
6) Provision of access to high quality learning to all including people living in rural and secluded areas