One of the greatest lessons you learn through study abroad is adaptability. Professors and students have had to be more adaptable than ever before in recent months while transitioning to online learning. Teaching styles and class structure are changing to assure that students still receive the full benefits of international education even in an online global classroom.
As we prepare for international education and study abroad opportunities this fall and spring 2021, online courses will remain a popular option for students. Use these professor and student reflections to help you prepare for online teaching styles for a successful online study abroad experience.
Be Prepared for Different Teaching Styles
Of course, going from in-person learning to online learning requires professors and students to connect in new and unique ways. From working to recreate a real classroom feel to focusing on communication and organization, here’s how some of our professors adjusted their teaching styles for online learning.
“I tried to recreate a real class atmosphere from interactive communication to guided activities. The chat featured was my virtual blackboard and I tried to use all the tools to have a realistic, even if virtual, class. While there was less room for the typical mixture and improvisation that would usually occur during the in-person teaching, it is still possible to convey energy and passion to the class.” Erika Nuccio, Italian Track professor in Viterbo, Italy.
“In general, I try to emphasize effective communication and design so that expectations are clear. Since online teaching doesn’t have the immediate feedback to check for comprehension from students, I intend to communicate in concise ways, and then open the door for further explanations or comments on a one-by-one basis. I try to focus on clear simple instructions to avoid a dull meta course on how the course itself works.” Raquel Anido, Spanish Women Directors and Human Rights professor in Madrid, Spain.
“I created a lesson plan for each week and for each activity. So students checking the channel for each week could find a guideline to organize their work. I reduced the amount of work for each single activity but on the other hand I have increased the number of activities in order to keep the students’ attention and motivation high using new materials/assignment. In my opinion this is fundamental for an online course because students are alone and the motivation has to be always high.” Morena Nisini, Italian Track professor in Viterbo, Italy.
Be Prepared to Connect with Your Peers and Professors in New Ways
Classroom connections look a little different through a computer screen than in person. Fortunately, you, your peers and your professors are in this together. Here’s how students and professors can connect in new ways through online study abroad.
“I feel when professors and students take the time to get to know one another prior to beginning a lecture, it really helps. I enjoyed participating in small group discussions and then coming together with the rest of the group to share. With virtual meetings, we were able to fill out documents as a group, volunteer to read a part of a page in our textbook, share videos through our screen, and still maintain a face-to-face conversation. My professor created PowerPoint slides that were engaging by inserting videos, fill-in activities, and small group breakouts to better understand the Spanish language. We practiced Spanish by creating scripts, videos, and participating like we would in person.” Madeline Aviles, Spring 2020 Puntarenas, Costa Rica
“I maintain continuous contact with our students by using new technologies such as WhatsApp, explanatory videos, recorded classes, and audios. I am able to resolve many of their doubts through short videos, diagrams and infographics, in addition to the multimedia elements that are usually used in face-to-face classes.” Natalia Errezkin, Spanish language professor in San Sebastián, Spain.
“Online teaching gave me the opportunity to establish a very strong human contact with students. The students knew that the Italian course was a “safe” and fixed appointment during their week and this helped keep the communication between me and them always alive. It was easy to meet all of them during the synchronous video lessons and stay in touch using the group or private chat to give them further explanations or simply checking assignments,” said Morena.
Student Testimonials About Online Study Abroad
While online learning is new to most of us, many students have already experienced the transition. Here’s some student feedback on online learning with USAC.
“My transition to online courses with USAC this spring was very simple and stress-free. The platform used was easy to navigate and allowed for quick communication with professors. All of my professors were very knowledgeable, resourceful, and quick to respond. They put a ton of effort into seeking out additional online resources to complement our zoom sessions and powerpoints. Our professors made sure students had everything we needed, and that we were staying engaged and understanding the material despite the abrupt change.” Samantha Pierie, Bilbao, Spain, Spring 2020
“While it was extremely unprecedented for us all, from students and professors to USAC staff, to complete the spring 2020 semester online, we made it work. I think that the value of online learning can still be great as long as the adequate channels of communication and engagement are used. For example, having video calls for class might have been a bit different, but it was better than receiving lecture videos or documents to complete without having a virtual face-to-face session. Especially when it comes to learning in a second language, being given the outlets to still speak and listen rather than simply reading and writing is invaluable. Online learning isn’t something I had ever expected to do, but I was able to gain a lot of knowledge and flexibility through the end of the semester and I am grateful to have had the opportunity to continue my experience from home.” Anna Shoultz, Bilbao, Spain, Spring 2020
“While I missed going to in-person classes, the professor made every effort to ensure that we were able to effectively transition to online instruction and remain engaged. I still thoroughly enjoyed taking this course online and feel I have learned valuable information during my time taking the course, even after the transition to online learning.” Sophia Dessart, Bilbao, Spain, Spring 2020
“I found the class to be more engaging when we transitioned to online instruction. I was able to have time to think of my responses and reflect on the movie and then complete a write-up. Anonymous student, Prague, Czech Republic, Spring 2020
Check out USAC’s new Global Perspectives program which allows you to gain an international education through online courses and virtual internships from anywhere in the world (even your couch).