Making remote learning more physical, social and interactive
Since the start of the pandemic, almost all lessons for students at Dutch universities have been on-line. Also globally there has been a shift to on-line teaching, but this is not without hurdles. Numerous studies suggest it is even harder to engage students from a distance.
Therefor, it is not too surprising that despite an increase in Corona infections, the second of October, students demonstrated for more physical, face-to-face education in Amsterdam (see e.g. this Folia article). The initiators believe this is better than online education. Furthermore, they believe it would benefit the mental health of the students and the quality of education. They also believe there should be a plan for more creative and physical solutions.
A Dutch study in Didactief with professionals in education in Corona-times also indicates that teachers miss personal contact with their students and experience remote education as literally more distant. Their profession has changed as well, stating “my role has become two-dimensional, instead of three-dimensional”, while lacking spontaneity, eye and fully body contact. In terms of the new remote connection between students and teachers it rises the following question: Can we shape education in a way that we can increase and enrich social and personal connections?
Luckily, many have also creatively responded to the new challenges, such as robots in the classroom, providing online resources for physical activity at home and with remote learning kits for STEM education (Science friday) and also mechanical engineering (MIT), enabling a more hybrid form of physical and hands-on on-line education.