A challenging transformation: from face-to-face courses to a digital distance learning

Erasmus Mundus Joint Master of Arts Euroculture: Society, Politics and Culture in a Global Context. An international Master degree programme that focuses on the complex interplay of politics and culture in European society, set in a global context. Partners Universities include: Universidad de Deusto, Rijksuniversiteit Groningen, GeorgAugust-Universität Göttingen, Uniwersytet Jagielloński w Krakowie, Univerzita Palackého v Olomouci, Université de Strasbourg, Università degli studi di Udine, Uppsala Universitet.

Author: Pepri Saputra, EMJM Euroculture student. See contributors page


I have spent my first year of the pandemic in Poland at the Jagiellonian University in Krakow, where I found the transition from in-person studying to digital learning went smoothly. There are several points I would like to share regarding how the university, especially the Euroculture team organized and managed digital learning, which helped me and my classmates to survive the most challenging time of our study.

First, a well-organized online course using Microsoft Teams. The weakness of the online classes is usually there is not enough space for students to interact with each other outside the class. However, I found the use of this platform offers students and lecturers a space to have real-time interaction through chat, comment and video calling on the course’s page. It was easy to ask questions and create a discussion, as it also incorporated all the Office applications. For instance, if I compared using the Google Meets platform, there is no specific page for students and lecturers to interact with each other outside of the online class. 

Second, during the strict lockdown, my coordinator arranged the ‘walking office’ where we could have in-person consultation and discussion about the study or non-study issues with her while walking in the nice neighbourhoods and sometimes also visiting bookstores. This initiative has helped me to have a human-to-human interaction during a challenging time. Moreover, it allowed me to get to know my classmates that I have never met. 

Third, virtual social activities such as pub quiz and virtual coffee with the coordinator. Regularly, my coordinator arranges a fun activity via Zoom to prevent the students from being depressed. I found this activity was very effective to cheer us up, especially during the first very strict lockdown between March and June when we were not allowed to go outside the house for non-essential purposes. 

Lastly, integrated information and regular email reminders containing all the emergency contacts such as university wellbeing units and emergency contacts. I, fortunately, did not have to make of use this service, however, my friend who faced difficulties dealing with the situation and sometimes felt depressed, found it very helpful to be able to talk with the expert for some advice and sometimes just to calm her down.

For more information on Virtual social activities check out JPROV's Online Teaching Digital Toolbox (aalto.fi).

1 thought on “A challenging transformation: from face-to-face courses to a digital distance learning”

  1. Thank you so much for sharing your experience.
    In response to your reflections on the importance of integrating digital and on campus learning I take the opportunity to share Dr. Jordan Cotten’s useful overview of digital resources: https://jordancotten.com/resources/

    Humanizing online education is important, as you clearly demonstrate.

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