Section "The lecturer speaks"
During the time that everyone has to adapt to the new model – to study and conduct lectures remotely, the lecturers of Ventspils University of Applied Sciences express their opinion.
And right now, the word "study" is heard as often as ever.
How to study, where to study, what to study, how long to study it. Questions that are constantly asked to us and by us at Ventspils University of Applied Sciences (VeUAS). In the Study Department during the first days of the state of an emergency we were like a “first aid service” at the university, which was in a hurry to help, answer and encourage our university family: more than 600 students and almost 100 lecturers. It was a real challenge for all colleagues to coordinate the study process. Immediately, in less than two days, the organization and availability of all study courses had to be reviewed. I have found it more difficult for some colleagues to adapt, to overcome themselves and to start actively using digital tools. But together we have succeeded thanks to the creative team of the IT faculty and the efforts of the ITML department, which created video tutorials, answered the phone calls of the lecturers, patiently explained and taught. We have created our unique Ventspils University of Applied Sciences distance learning program BBB (Big, Blue, Button), which helps to easily communicate in a video conference with colleagues and students. And I want to thank every lecturer who processes and adapts study materials and ensures the availability of remote studies for our students. We have many new, creative ideas that we will try to implement in our university study process. Likewise for students – if initially it felt like there will be chaos (letters, calls, reference inquiries – that seemingly would never end…), then no, the logical and reasonable actions of the specialists of the Study Department, Foreign Affairs Department and the deans of the faculties allowed to quickly eliminate the “congestion”. We have responded to worried students, parents, contacted the families of students who are currently doing a semester or a year abroad, reassured and encouraged that the study process will not be interrupted! Many students admit that during this time the most difficult thing is to organize and discipline one’s self, and not miss the latest information. Students lack daily communication with friends, course members. We, in turn, lack the laughter, smiles, remarks and daily crowds of young people in the lecture rooms. We look forward to seeing them back in classrooms, laboratories, sports and dance classes, elective and themed evenings and other events! This time shows us how united we can be. I would also like to say that no one has forbidden good manners, smile, patience and tolerance. And a sunny spring brings hope… Much health to everyone!
Jānis Veckrācis, the director of Ventspils University of Applied Sciences’ master's program "Translation of LSP Texts", was the first to reveal his vision to us:
New challenges, new opportunities.
The changes caused by Covid-19 have inevitably affected the study process as well. In the name of the public interest, the self-isolation is essential to us all. Consequently, the Faculty of Translation Studies of Ventspils University of Applied Sciences has switched to remote lectures. The experience gained during the first week is reminiscent of a recent joke on social networks about the usual shout-out of an unskilled closet master: when one door closes, another opens.
It should be noted that the possibility of distance learning has been used for a long time in the master's program in Translation of LSP Texts of Faculty of Translation Studies.The university takes into account the rhythm of life, mobility and modern technical possibilities and provides lecture recordings for those students who cannot attend each lecture in person. If necessary, unclear questions and problems are solved though email. The study process becomes continuous and efficient. True, this approach means the openness of both students and lecturers to change and new study methods; in the initial stage, the workload of the teaching staff usually increases, because the course of lectures and study aids have to be adjusted. But there has always been a great response to do everything in the best form and content.
So far, we have used various online tools. For a long time, it was YouTube live broadcast and recording tool available on YouTube Studio.After that, we used the Golightstream tool for a short time.
In the new situation, the new BigBlueButton video conferencing website, which has been introduced at the very right moment throughout Ventspils University of Applied Sciences, is extremely useful. We can be grateful to our IT Department staff for this.
In a broader context, it must be acknowledged that the current alarming situation is nevertheless a positive impulse for learning and introducing new study methods.During the virus, some doors need to be closed, but some can be opened in the meantime.
The state of emergency calls for each of us to react quickly to what is happening and reorient our work remotely. We must praise the colleagues of Ventspils University of Applied Sciences - lecturers, scientists and administration, who were able to quickly and efficiently switch to this new rhythm of work. Special thanks also goes to our IT department, which had developed the Big Blue Button tool before the restrictions were introduced, which makes it easy and convenient to conduct classes online - both to share presentations and videos, discuss with students and do many other activities. I myself already had two lessons remotely and to be honest - both the students and I had an exciting time working in this remote environment, learning a lot of new things. Given the even stricter restrictions imposed by the government, I also hope that the weekly information meeting with colleagues - heads of departments - will be held at a distance - which will encourage even small meetings to be organized efficiently at a distance in the future.
May all of us have good health, endurance, energy and creativity in these new conditions!