May is a very strenuous month for students, as it marks the beginning of the preliminary Bachelor thesis defense period – on which depends whether or not the student will be admitted to the actual defense session in June. The pandemic requires both stages to be conducted online. How will the sessions take place and what are the new tools implemented at the Technical University of Moldova that will assure an agreeable, efficient and practical process?
Contacted directly by the producers of the show “Telemagazin”, broadcast by the TV channel Canal 2, Dinu Țurcanu, Vice-Rector for Informatization, Partnerships, Institutional Image and Communication, mentioned:
– Even if the quarantine took us by surprise, UTM resorted to efficient teaching solutions in the online environment, remotely, building, in this sense, a strategy for developing the field of information technology, started 3 years ago. This allowed us to digitize the study process, using various tools, UTM being one of the first universities in Moldova to fully implement the Office 365 platform, which offers a new form of learning, communication and virtual collaboration for both students and employees, using personalized e-mail, portals, online document editing and storage, instant messaging and web video conferencing – tools we already use in the traditional training process and which have helped us to quickly migrate online. Likewise, we successfully use the MOODLE platform, on which we had already uploaded over 70 percent of the courses. We have constantly sought to advance in this field, we have tested several platforms, giving students the opportunity to have access not only to course materials, but also to interact synchronously with teachers, through various video simulation tools, presentations, etc. The same Office 365 package provides tools for the large-scale integration of multiple participants, which we already use in the online study process.
Regarding the thesis defense, in the classical training process, the students had to conduct two presentations, in which they talked in front of a committee on the topic of the thesis, initially covering 30, then 70 percent. Now, this procedure is performed online, using Office 365 Time platforms, but also Cisco Webex, which allows direct dialogue and share of materials used in the thesis, so that it can be viewed instantly by committee members, who in turn can intervene with questions, suggestions, and assessments. At the same time, the theses are passed through the anti-plagiarism system on the Universitatea Mea platform, after which they are validated for public defense. The same mechanisms will be used later in the final defense of the thesis.
In accordance with the instructions of the resort ministry, through which the universities will have their own methodology for defending theses online, the Administration Board and the UTM Senate approved the respective methodology, the elaboration of which started as soon as the study process was stopped. That methodology was brought to the attention of all department heads and students. There have also been changes in the university calendar, which provides for the continuation of online studies during this period, and the internships, previously carried out in May, will be transferred for July-August, if the restrictions are lifted, otherwise the study credits for internships will be transferred for the next semester.
What is certain is that the pandemic introduces many changes in our daily lives. However, the educational process continues, even if it is no longer the same, making more and more room for digital tools, already widely used in universities, including UTM, the only technical-engineering higher education institution in Moldova, in which the use of digital tools has a major impact. The given topic was widely reflected on in today’s news bulletin broadcast by the TV channel Prime, a reportage that we’ll attach.