The COVID-19 outbreak has officially been announced to be a pandemic, and our country is in a state of emergency. Under these circumstances, the education system continues remotely, precisely online. Pupils and teachers communicate at home, through a computer screen. Online Baccalaureate Exam preparation courses are also organized, so that the study process is not stopped. About how the study process is organized during this period – a series of interviews and reports within the talk show “Obiectiv Comun” (Common Objective) broadcasted by TVR Moldova. The topic of the show “Reorganization of the study process during the pandemic”.
Making a reportage at the Technical University of Moldova, during the live broadcasting of the chemistry course taught by prof., Dr. Iurie SUBOTIN, TVR Moldova reporters asked Dinu ȚURCANU, Vice-Rector for Informatization, Partnerships, Institutional Image and Communication, to speak on the impact of online courses organized for 12th grade students, who are preparing for the summer BAC exams. In this context, he mentioned:
– The preparation lectures for the BAC exams are not new for the Technical University of Moldova. For 5 years now, UTM has been organizing BAC courses, starting in February. This year, UTM registered a record of over 800 students from all over the republic, present in UTM auditoriums while the classes are taught on campus.
In the current situation, in response to the many requests from students, we thought that the online format of the courses can be a very good tool to further prepare students for the Baccalaureate exam, because eventually, the pandemic will be over, and the BAC exam will still take place. Thus, this is one of our goals.
The first lesson organized focused on Mathematics, during which the math professors – Dr. Ion JARDAN and Dr. Ana COSTAȘ, taught the topic “Logarithms. Calculation. Equations and inequations”. The impact was extraordinary! Over 700 views during the live, and so far the link has been accessed by over 110,300 people – an impact that exceeds thousands of times the physical ability to attend university campuses and, implicitly, the courses. This impressive result is also due to the fact that two professors were present during the course, one teaching at the blackboard, and the other following the comments and questions that students asked online, so that in the end, they can answer them and mention any details to be remembered.
After this first online course, the number of applications increased even more. So we later organized a math course for Russian speakers. Followed by computer science, physics and chemistry lectures. We also offered students a schedule for the next few days so that they could plan their time and be free during the live courses offered by UTM.
During the same talk show, the Vice-Rector Dinu Țurcanu had an online intervention, in which he was asked about the way in which the study process at UTM continues during this unprecedented period for our country:
– At UTM, the study process continues in the same way as the online courses for BAC exams do. We use several educational platforms, including the MOODLE platform, on which we have uploaded over 65 percent of courses – an active platform, by the way, and so far, students always have access to course materials on this educational platform. Also, the teachers upload their tests here, as well. Through the same platform, students send to teachers the assignments they have completed.
Based on a provision issued by the Rector of UTM, we also have tools for urgent communication with students – through corporate mail, but also SMS – through the same system that is used by the Government to send certain emergency announcements. We contacted the students through this system, asking them to check the corporate mail, through which they received instructions from the professors and from the heads of the university departments regarding the continuation of the study process.
Recently, teachers started uploading videos of the courses to MOODLE, in order to better interact with the students. Other teachers use various other modern tools for online interaction, including for laboratory work and various engineering simulations, in which teachers can interact with students. We are further expanding this process. We try to manage the situation and to meet the requirements. The pandemic does not have to be and is not a reason to suspend the study process. And after returning from quarantine, I think we will use these tools more intensely and efficiently in various educational activities.
Asked about the feedback UTM receives after the online courses, the Vice-Rector Dinu Țurcanu was impressed by the reaction of the young people:
– Many students thanked us, they also asked us for an electronic timetable for subsequent courses, which we have already published on the website and on the Facebook of UTM. We have implemented other online tools for an easier interaction with the teachers, to get feedback from them and to be able to give homework. We also followed the idea voiced by the Secretary of State of the MECC to be able to interact with young people who do not always have access to the Internet and we saved the video recordings of the courses so that they can be accessed later and viewed by several beneficiaries. At the same time, we’re filming on other platforms, too; we will also use offline videos, in order for them to be watched after live broadcasts. Now the students have also been asking us to organize live broadcasts of university courses, following the model of those preparing for the BAC exams. We are glad that young people are adapting quickly to these conditions, which, although imposed, have a very high efficiency.
Asked to come up with some recommendations for students and teachers during this quarantine period, the Vice-Rector Dinu Țurcanu wanted to emphasize, as a member of the MECC Working Group, responsible for developing the remote learning methodology in general education, that the education process should not and cannot be suspended, especially since we currently have a lot of online training tools. And for the high school students, he had a special message: any online tool, used both remotely and in the classroom, should be mastered and utilized to the utmost, as using the internet, phones and technologies accordingly, helps them develop and grow.
We try to adapt to the changes as we go, while respecting the quarantine regime. It is gratifying that UTM remains an open institution even in these conditions, only the building being closed.