A Humanistic approach towards Online Education

Erasmus Mundus Joint Master Degree in Digital Communication Leadership - DCLead approaches the vast and recent field of digital communication from an interdisciplinary and international point of view, bringing together advanced academic discussion with practical knowledge and skills. The Consortium is composed by Paris Lodron University of Salzburg,Vrije Universiteit Brussel, Aalborg University Copenhagen and Wageningen University & Research.

Author: Ruchika Hirna, EMJMD DCLead student. See contributors page


The Covid-19 pandemic while exposing us to the harsh realities, has also cultivated in us a sense of resilience and adaptability. This can be witnessed around the globe, with an almost overnight shift to digital platforms for facilitating government procedures, running educational institutions, or accessing healthcare facilities.

Here, I discuss my experience as an EMJMD (Erasmus Mundus Joint Master’s Degree) scholar with this digital shift with respect to my study program. At the outset, I must confess that the shift to digital classrooms has been a smooth one for me, thanks to my professors and the program administration. My academic semester started with in-person classes, which eventually moved online, owing to the rising cases in Austria. 

While this shift seemed heart-breaking at the outset, our professors did an exceptional job in helping us transition smoothly to the virtual learning process. In one particular course, our professor created a WhatsApp group, based on individual consent, to facilitate active learning and communication among the fellow batchmates, and also with the professor himself. He had also been extremely kind to promptly get back whenever a query was posted, and showed an ever-increasing concern to resolve any issues that one faced outside of the lecture hours.  The genuine concern and prompt redressal of queries by the professor was greatly appreciated by the students. This active communication also helped to ease the otherwise lack of physical presence and resistance to ask queries and questions. This group was maintained as an active space of communication, and helped the students remain connected with the professor even though the means of learning moved online.

The professor further considered the COVID-19 situation, and eased the process of evaluation by switching to an open book examination, and giving longer time than usual to complete the exam. He expressed his desire for the student to genuinely engage with the subject and learn, instead to studying only to pass the exam. The result was very evident. Students felt a shared responsibility now, and many planned study sessions to engage actively and derive meaningful insights from the study material.

Although these have been very tiny shifts, the concern and empathy shown by the professor really helped the student perform well in the subject and engage actively with the course, despite the online shift. I believe, in times like these, a humanistic approach can go a long way to create lasting impact. This professor did exactly that for us!

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