As institutions across the globe continue to shift their teaching methods as a result of the outbreak, students and faculty at the School of Engineering on the Okanagan campus of the University of British Columbia are embracing the change.
Most courses are providing synchronous learning opportunities that include live and recorded lectures and online interactions with instructors and classmates. Hands-on learning is also available to students through software on their own computers enabling them to immerse themselves in the content before, during and after lectures.
Synchronous learning refers to a lecture or lab in which students are engaging in learning in real-time.
“All students learn differently, but online learning provides opportunities for students to easily go back to the lecture, notes or interactions to ensure they understand the content (and do so at their own pace),” explains School of Engineering Instructor Dean Richert.
According to Richert online learning also increases the opportunity for faculty to connect with students. “We’re a lot more accessible to students, we’re just an email or video chat away, and we can share screens to provide students with a more personalized experience.”
Asynchronous learning describes methods of education, instruction, and learning that do not occur in real-time.
For students, the transition to online learning can be challenging. Third-year Mechanical Engineering student Abigail Stokes says it’s important to set a strict schedule. “When you’re learning from home, differentiating between school time and free time allowed me to get my work done while still having time to do the other things I wanted.”
Stokes says she finds it helpful have group study sessions with her friends. It was a sentiment shared by third-year Electrical Engineering Student Emma Cavacuiti. “We used Facebook Messenger and Discord to connect, and keep each other on track.” The other key tip Cavacuiti points to is organizing your email inbox to prioritize assignments and course materials. “Online learning reduced the need to reach out to my instructor as much, because I would go back to the lecture recordings and clarify anything I was unsure about or had missed.”
“Ultimately, we want our students to have an exceptional learning experience that prepares them for a career in engineering,” says Yang Cao, associate director of undergraduate studies. “Online platforms provide our faculty and students with new and exciting tools to teach and learn. As we continue to discover these tools and blend hands-on and online learning initiatives, everyone benefits.”