In 2020 we had to stop everything, the COVID-19 pandemic forced us all to stand by, analyze and change. Almost all the processes and systems that we were used to, suddenly changed, and the way of learning was one of them. At EADA we have adapted quickly to this new environment by offering Immersive Learning. This methodology anticipates all possible scenarios and ensures the continuity and quality of learning. It gives access to learning and teaching anywhere and at anytime. Students that cannot attend or arrive on time to their face-to-face classes (due to visa delay, lockdown, illness..) have the opportunity to attend live online classes and don’t miss anything.
We want to share with you the way different people have lìved through the immersive learning experience and what they think about it. We asked Sofía Margarita, EADA alumna of the Master in Pharma & Biotech Management class of 2021 and Rita Difrancesco, professor of Operations Management at EADA.
1. You have attended live online and face-to-face classes. How do you evaluate EADA immersive learning?
Sofía: I appreciate the mixed methodology as I could experience both alternatives, considering the worldwide pandemic situation we were all going through. Live online classes were specially tailored for the group and we could easily interact with our professors and with our classmates using breakout rooms which facilitated the whole experience that may be unknown for some students. Likewise, during our face-to-face classes we could engage as usual in a classroom with the EADA case study methodology.
Rita: EADA immersive learning is a very effective way of learning. Despite the differences with a more traditional way of teaching, I felt that I could reach the same learning objectives as in a face-to-face class. I believe that now more than ever, it is critical to adapt to each student’s situation, offer flexibility and continuity in the learning experience as well as a safe and structured learning environment.
2. Have you enjoyed the live online classes? What positive and negative aspects of hybrid learning would you highlight?
Sofía: Yes, of course. It was easy to follow the live online classes as the lesson presentation was shared during the class. We also had the opportunity to see the professor while they used a special marker to write on the board in the presentation that was being shared with us, making the class enjoyable and interactive. We could raise our hands and participate throughout the classes. I would like to take this space to thank the professors for their commitment and uptake of this methodology quite fast! On the negative side, as with any methodology, this is not for everyone. Because you have to be fully committed to this type of learning and it may be difficult for some to adapt as their way of learning is more linked to being in face-to-face classes.
Rita: I actually enjoyed the live online classes a lot! The major negative aspect is probably the physical distance, the fact that you cannot physically see and interact with each other, and students cannot physically interact with each other. Nonetheless, I think it is important to take advantage of the benefits and flexibility that online classes can offer, rather than focusing on its limitations. For example, by leveraging technology, I could complement the learning experience with the use of some technologies in a better, more effective, and faster way. I could always have my students join the class.
3. Did you experience some difficulties/challenges during distance learning? How was your interaction with other students?
Sofía: The difficulties I experienced were internet connectivity issues which I believe is something that most students go through at least once. This is an important aspect to take into consideration. As the class is “live” having connectivity issues may hinder the learning process so ensuring a good internet connection is a must before committing to this method of learning.
My interaction with other students was splendid as we could set group video calls to work on assignments, prepare the class materials or review for the exams. The overall communication was fluid and smooth during the trimester.
Rita: I have to admit that I was a bit worried at the beginning as EADA’s learning methodology is based on active listening and participation, in-class debates, and group activities. Therefore, I was concerned about students’ participation and their commitment online. Moreover, everything was new to me as well! Getting used to new technologies, making sure you have visual contact with the students all the time, and adapting the in-class activities to the online dynamic…It has been quite a challenge!
But from the very first class, I was impressed by the dedication, level of interaction and commitment that students showed. They were so keen on learning, working and sharing their ideas with the rest of the class
4. Do you prefer online or face-to-face classes?
Sofía: I had taken online classes before coming to EADA so it was not a new thing for me and I had learned to appreciate the perks it brings. You can see your classes from the comfort of your own house and align your classes with your daily activities. So, for me I would like to have a mix of both which allows us to have the opportunity to receive classes or study with people from different parts of the world that cannot be in the campus for one reason or another and that is a huge advantage. But at the same time, it is nice to have the opportunity to get a sense of studying in a classroom with students from various backgrounds and interacting with them on a face-to-face basis.
Rita: It’s really hard to answer this question! In terms of “human interaction”, I prefer face-to-face classes. I enjoy the physical presence of students in front of me, and I believe students enjoy it as well. In terms of teaching experience, I have learnt to appreciate the benefits and the richness that online teaching can bring and the importance of a flexible, dynamic and resilient teaching environment.
5. Do you think the hybrid learning model is here to stay?
Sofía: Yes, for sure. I consider that after the COVID-19 pandemic many things will change and adapt because organizations and people as well realized many issues could be solved and many activities could be done more efficiently using online methods which will bring many new opportunities to interact, have meetings, study, attend conferences, among other things when the possibility of engaging face-to-face would not be possible. I believe hybrid learning will stick around and be another option that we will have when we decide to take up any study from now on.
Rita: Yes, I do believe this model is here to stay, at least in part. Despite the current Covid-19 situation, due to the high international and geographically dispersed profile of students, and to the increasing need of flexibility, I think this model can offer a viable, flexible solution to adapt our learning model to several different situations.