Over 17 thousand users and millions of views - distance learning at UzhNU
The challenges posed by the spread of Covid-19 and lockdown have significantly affected the learning process, especially its organization. In fact, Uzhhorod National University, as well as other universities in Ukraine, had to deliver training remotely most of the 2nd semester. This has led to an unprecedented growth in the use of online learning platforms and, consequently, difficulties in organizing the work of a large number of users, as well as in the training of teachers and students "on the go". It should also be understood that regardless of the situation with the spread of Covid-19 in the future, the use of varous forms of distance learning will continue to grow at UzhNU. Therefore, the usage of educational online platforms in various areas will continue in the future, especially in the next academic year.
It is worth noting that UzhNU started working on the introduction of distance learning a relatively long time ago. The work on connecting to Moodle began in October 2014. Several faculties have been actively using this platform since 2015. The website of Uzhhorod National University has a separate e-learning section with various instructions for its use. The Center for Information Technologies of Uzhhorod National University (CIT) implements and maintains the platform. In 2019, Medical Faculty №2, where foreign students study, joined the full-fledged distance learning process.
The beginning of quarantine was the hottest period, of course, when all faculties of the university had to introduce full-time distance learning at the same time and in a very short period. "Since the beginning of the lockdown, online meetings have been held on the main functional features of the e-learning system, and system managers for each faculty have been appointed who were in charge of granting access rights, creating new disciplines, etc. A special group was also created in Google-Chat, which included all persons responsibe for the faculties, where one could ask questions. Another tool is Google Meet, where our online meetings took place. We recorded videos of our meetings, and then all those responsible got access to them. Therefore, if someone was not able to participate in the video call, they could view the recording later. Similarly, we recorded educational videos on how to use the e-learning platform of Uzhhorod National University. In addition, we advised teachers to use not only Moodle, but also Google services and their corporate UzhNU accounts, which have a wider range of functions than Google accounts. The faculties also used other online platforms for teaching, including Zoom and Skype for video conferences, Viber and e-mails for calls and sharing materials.” Says the head of the CIT Oleksiy Kurutsa.
The statistics on the use of the e-learning platform is the following: at the end of 2016, there were less than 2,000 registered users, at the end of 2018 - about 5,300, in 2019 – over 8 thousand. At the end of May 2020, there were more than 17,000 users of the e-learning website of Uzhhorod National University. Thus, more than 100% increase of the number of users was recorded in the first 5 months of 2020.
As for the views of materials on the e-learning website, in 2017 there were about 650 thousand views, in 2019 - more than 1.5 million. In 2020, before the lockdown, there were 280,000 views, and from March 12 to May 27, their number reached 11.3 million. During the quarantine, the number of views each month is almost 3 times higher than in 12 months of 2019.
Oleksiy Kurutsa notes: “The space occupied by all the materials and databases did not exceed 80 GB at the beginning of the year, now it exceeds 200 GB. In the last 3 months, we have changed the parameters of the server, where this data is located, four times, as there has been a significant increase in volume every week or two. We even had to limit certain parameters for teachers and students in terms of the amount and volume of materials they could upload, and induce them to use Google Drive, where they had no volume restrictions. The database itself already has almost 100 million record lines.
The Vice-Rector of UzhNU Ihor Korol notes: “The university, teachers and students have coped very well with the unexpected task they faced. I believe that distance learning at Uzhhorod National University was conducted at a high level. Each faculty and teacher found the way to communicate with students and achieve the best results. We conducted the survey, which showed that the most popular tools used by students and teachers for online learning and teaching included the e-learning system of Uzhhorod National University, Google Meet, Zoom, Skype, Google Classroom, Discord, Socrative, Team Viewer, MyLab and Slack.
We were also interested in the opinion of students about teaching each subject in the second semester. In general, the students praised their teachers highly, and based on the results of the survey, we decided to award the best 65 teachers from all faculties.
Observing the situation with the pandemic, we expect that training can be conducted remotely in the future, so we are planning to organize the educational process bearing it in mind. First of all, we will improve the e-learning system, improve the material and technical base for online classes and instruct our teachers how to work with the software.
You can find more instructions on the work with UzhNU e-learning system at the following links.
1) Basics of Moodle https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLml5BYZE-k-jRdAbl4Aa2uR7aj4NnOFjx) (2 відео)
2) Tests in Moodle https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLml5BYZE-k-jTXySImxnPEC8bOPNXoZum) (4 відео)
Here you can find brief basic instructions on the use of Google Meet, Zoom and Google Drive.