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University education in times of isolation

Measures to combat the new coronavirus pandemic keep thousands of students and university professors at home. These are strange times and the situation is unique, but teaching in times of isolation does not work equally for everyone.

a university student's schedule was already irregular before the new coronavirus led to the suspension of face-to-face classes, now it is even more so. Pedro Miguel Oliveira studies Communication Sciences at the University of Porto (UP) and confirms to P3 that "the routine is being completely out of the ordinary". Without the usual amount of time spent commuting, students wake up minutes before class and many just cross the room, going from their bed to their desk in their pajamas.

Carolina Torneiro is doing her master's degree at ESADE Business School in Barcelona. Away from his family and studying in a country that has already surpassed 8 thousand deaths by covid-19, he does what he can to keep his routine as close to normal as possible. Wake up at 8:30 am, do yoga before having breakfast and sitting at the computer. Like students at Portuguese universities, he says that “all content has now been moved online”.

Online is now the universe in which we operate. Around the world, students are taking classes through services such as the Portuguese Colibri, which is based on the Zoom platform since 2017 and provides remote conference services. Students meet with teachers on videoconference, being able to interact with the microphone and the connected camera, by general or private message, answering questions made in surveys or analyzing the PowerPoint provided by the teachers through screen sharing.

In a letter sent to university students on March 23, the eve of National Student Day, the Ministry of Science, Technology and Higher Education confirmed that the Colibri / Zoom service, provided by the National Scientific Computing Unit of the Foundation for Science and Technology ( FCT-FCCN), "continues to register an increase in the number of users on a daily basis". This Monday updated data to P3 for the 27th of March: 173,320 participants in 9,171 classes and meetings. For comparison, in 2019 they accessed , on average, 827 users per day for a set of 124 meetings, the totals for this month point to 104,321 meetings / classes and 1,946,057 participants.

Idalina Jorge is a researcher at the Institute of Education at the University of Lisbon. He recently retired from teaching, but he taught for many years, including online. It reflects that “this is a very complicated time for everyone and it requires a lot of understanding” - communication failures are frequent, generating avoidable misunderstandings. And sometimes the referrals come from entities with very little knowledge of how online education works. Communication “is being vertical instead of horizontal”, at a time when it is necessary to talk to students and understand what they need, because “students also know what works better or worse”.






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