Teacher Talks: Students Are More Disciplined on Distance Learning

3 June 2020

Teacher Talks: Students Are More Disciplined on Distance Learning
Irina Kudryavtseva is an associate professor of MAI School No. 8 "Information Technologies and Applied Mathematics". She gives lectures MAI international students on Mathematical Analysis since the launch of English-medium programs. We interviewed a teacher to find out how distance learning is going. 

Good evening, Mrs. Kudryavtseva. How often do you have classes with MAI international students?

The Mathematical Analysis course is designed for two semesters. In the first semester, it is planned to hold a lecture every week, and practical work every two weeks. In the second semester, lectures and practice are scheduled every week. So I have classes with international students very often. 

Has your presentation system changed after the transfer of training to the remote mode?

Yes, that was inevitable. The course of readable discipline varies from year to year, regardless of external conditions. This is due to the audience being presented with the material, the modernization of technical equipment provided by the International Department, and other factors. What can we say about the current situation. This could be a challenge, but thanks to the preventive measures taken by the team of the MAI International Department, it was possible to quickly adapt the educational process to the distance learning mode. 

How the classes are being held now?

At first, I went over everything that I had heard and what others advised. I organized classes at piazza.com and gave online lectures on the Zoom platform. Colleagues recommended google services (google classroom) and streaming via Youtube. However, the process was soon regulated. Now we conduct master classes on the MAI LMS (learning management system) and Microsoft Teams platforms. It turned out that everything is very convenient. I use a combined approach for work: I keep in touch via WhatsApp, I conduct lectures with in Zoom and then post the recording in the LMS. Students upload individual tasks on the LMS platform. If for some reason the students do not have the opportunity to upload, they inform me personally and send me an e-mail.

How is student feedback received during class?

During the lecture I constantly ask questions. I dwell on difficult moments. Students can ask questions, just turn on the microphone or write in a chat. An interesting feature was observed. International students prefer to use chat.

Is there any homework? How do you check it in the current circumstances?

Tasks for independent work in the current situation have become more important than ever. Based on these tasks, you can create a point-based rating system and, as a result, set grades for the exam. Students used to send electronic copies of assignments before, nothing new appeared in this. The question arose: how can I tell students about their mistakes? I use a graphics tablet for these purposes. I open the file with the work, made corrections, explanations, then save and send it to students. During online consultations, they could demonstrate their work using the “share screen” option and ask for comments on issues of interest to them.

What are the pros and cons of distance learning for international students? What difficulties did you encounter? 

I can definitely say that conducting online classes is more exhausting than ordinary lecturing. This was especially acute at the very beginning, when I had to follow in parallel questions that students didn’t voice, but wrote, whether the students saw the presentation or my explanations, which they wrote by hand. I am still worried about whether the lecture will fail due to the Internet connection. In addition, the effect of the presence of the teacher and the impact of the personality, if I may say so, disappeared. However, the transition to distance learning made it possible to structure educational material, organize access to it for students who could not attend the lesson for some reason, and automate the monitoring of student performance throughout the university.

Have the behavior and level of perception of the material by students changed during distance learning?

I think they have become more disciplined. For example, you can’t just go to the teacher and somehow chat. If there is no material loaded into the system, then no mark is given. In fact, it seemed to me that the work organized in such a way with international students was familiar to them. And now I can confidently say that I got involved, and upon reaching the audience I will continue to use some services.

How do students pass your subject during the midterm exams?

I suggested them the following system. Students were given a number of assignments for self-fulfillment. Each assignment is evaluated. The final grade, which is a weighted average, is an examination grade. Students who want to improve their results, or students who can only partially complete the tasks, will have to pass the test. Testing posted on the lms.mai.ru.
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