Teaching and conditions for studying at ECON MUNI during the “coronavirus”

10 Sep 2020 Jiří Poláček, Jaroslav Nekuda

The events following the declaration of a state of emergency in the Czech Republic on March 12, 2020 affected not only our faculty, but all Czech universities in an unprecedented way. From day to day, they had to adapt to new conditions and look for ways to deal with adversity. Now, with a certain time lag, it can be stated that we have passed this difficult test. However, the period of uncertainty lasts and the possibility of involuntary online teaching in the following semester is not excluded.

Considerations on how to be best prepared for the future are good to build on knowledge of things: how did our students experience and evaluate the past period? What worked and what less? How to replace traditional teaching with online teaching with the least loss of quality? How to make things more efficient? What would be best for students if the situation repeated in the autumn? These were the questions behind the survey we conducted at our faculty during July.

Students of all forms of study in czech-taught programs at ECON MUNI were invited by the study vice-deans to complete an anonymous questionnaire survey, for a total of 1,833 people. We managed to collect answers from 394 students, so the response rate reached a relatively satisfactory 21.5 percent.

Great satisfaction together with the idea that “this is the future”, but also disappointment and the desire that “it should never happen again”. Diametrically different views of students appeared in the results.

The fragmentation of attitudes is well illustrated by the distribution of the answers to the question: Do you think that in the near future, face-to-face teaching at our faculty could be replaced exclusively by online teaching without reducing its quality? In the sum for the categories, I definitely agree + I rather agree, 48% of students can imagine the transition to online teaching, the opposite opinion, ie I rather disagree + I definitely disagree, is shared by an equally large group – 49% of students.

I would definitely suggest in the future if at least the lectures were given in this form – ie. online, via MS Teams, without having to go to the ESF building. I'm sure most students would agree with me… I see huge potential for this in the coming semesters.

I am fundamentally against it. I think that the quality of teaching would go down a lot. We students would lack a “live” approach from teachers, and the explanation of the material is also better in face-to-face teaching. Conditions would not be fair, enough people would abuse it.

The main finding of the whole survey was that online teaching replaced the quality of full-time teaching by about 72%, see Graph 1. Among the advantages of online teaching, students include the time saved for commuting and the opportunity to return to the recorded lectures. On the contrary, the unifying idea of ​​„opponents” could be: “online is simply not so good, it fights with technology, there is a lack of face-to-face meetings, motivation to learn at home, interaction, discussion”.

It was an honor not only for the faculty, but also for the entire university to find out whether the respondents were informed in a timely and sufficient manner about all measures concerning teaching and school stays. The sum of positive answers adds up to 94.1% (see Graph 2), although in the textual comments the students recall that especially in the beginning of the emergency measure, the incoming information was in some cases confusing, incomplete and sometimes contradictory. In general, however, it can be stated that the respondents were satisfied with informing about the current situation through the websites of the faculty or university, social networks, a regular e-mail newsletter or video comments of the Rector. If they experienced some serious shortcomings in information, then these were mainly related to the specific subjects studied.

As for the stay in the school premises, but also for the state exams, etc., the ECON MUNI informed quickly and clearly. I have to appreciate Youtube Live talking to the vice-deans, where they always talked nicely and clearly.

However, in contrast to the feeling of good information about “what is happening”, a surprisingly high proportion of respondents admitted that they did not know about the various services that make books available to students in electronic form. Overall 16.2% of respondents were unaware of remote access to the e-book, 34.8% of respondents did not know about temporary access to e-books from various foreign publishers and even 54.1% of respondents did not know about the Bookport.cz service with Czech e-books. Information on these innovations “traveled” in the same ways as information on other aspects of coronavirus measures. In the final, therefore, there were about 11–18% of those who knew about these services and used them often or at least occasionally.

In conclusion, the closing of the library during the semester had a significant impact on the availability of study literature needed for study for approximately 35% of students, see Graph 3. From the textual comments, it can be concluded that this measure most affected students writing bachelor's or master's theses. However, many respondents further expressed their preference for paper books over online versions and also recalled the fact that the library is a space where they can better concentrate on their learning and which they have lost as a result of coronavirus measures.

“Hope for the best, but be prepared for the worst.”

Lisa Gardner

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