Panteion University: Teaching Experience with the Pandemic

Panteion University has demonstrated an adequate level of responsiveness and adjustment to Pandemic situation – based on the skills and competencies of the academic and administration staff, as well as the IT networks and digital infrastructures of higher education and research institutions (unlike the inadequacies in the country’s secondary and primary education, which resulted even to interruptions of the educational process mainly in the first emergency period i.e. March-May 2020). In addition, the Open eclass platform which was available before the pandemic was extensively used for assignments, communicating with students and for exams.

Even before the pandemic, as mentioned, academics were using various e-tools in their teaching practices – taking advantage of the University digital infrastructures’ upgrade. Such tools and practices have been mainly supporting teaching in the physical classroom and conventional teaching.  A practice that critically helped educators during the pandemic emergency closure was collaboration and frequent communication among colleagues – this helped to address many challenges of distance education implementation. Moreover, the fast multiplying number of open access academic sources and research material over the internet in the last 10 years have drastically assisted distance and online teaching during the pandemic. Yet, language has been a barrier to the wider use of the aforementioned types of resources; while at the same time, the existing open access material in the Greek language are quite limited and mainly non-interactive – i.e. in the form of electronic handbooks, reports and dissertations (on platforms such as KALLIPOS academic repository, National Research Centre repository, etc.). Finally, a surprising obstacle academic teachers faced during the period of emergency was the fact that our students located in remote areas have poor access to IT connections and even to PC (they used their mobile phone to attend classes). This was differently done during face-to-face teaching at the university premises. Yet, the rate of attendance has remained unchangeable during remote teaching.

In face-to-face classes, teachers are perceived as guides and facilitators in students’ knowledge construction, aligned with the conceptions of skill development. When in the online teaching and learning process, the use of digital platforms and tools facilitated the students’ cognitive development and active participation, while allowing them to also engage in additional personal and professional development. On the other hand, teachers are a critical element in the incorporation of virtual teaching models. The re-deployment of face-to-face activities in virtual space was feasible since the teachers managed to transform class activities into virtual activities, adopt a series of best practices, and allow students to participate in those activities. The impact of virtualization on student learning will facilitate the more effective implementation of innovative activities. The effect of adopting such activities should be part of the new concept of a comprehensive traditional teacher with virtual teaching skills as a critical element to invigorate academic aspects in the contents and objectives of education.

Redefining academic roles and responsibilities requires constant training and ways to involve or engage students in the process through the platform while considering the well-being of the students and teachers. There has not yet been any systematic recording and evaluation of practices developed and methods adopted during emergency teaching. Therefore, pros and cons are not clear yet – thus, no valid conclusions can be outlined. However, a short interview with teachers revealed the fact that they tried to develop tools which could be suitable in pedagogical approaches such as short online quizzes, the use of word as blackboard for presenting mathematical formulas and exercises, video presentations, etc. Most of the teachers that we discussed with they tried to deal mainly with the technical aspects of the online teaching without at the same time ignoring the pedagogy. As it was mentioned to as, the face-to-face teaching has a lot of advantages in pedagogical terms with the main one, the theatrical aspect of teaching which it was difficult or even impossible to address with the online tools.