While uncertainty reigns supreme about the safety of the upcoming O-Level and A-Level exams, the University of Malta has greenlighted the inclusion of online lectures in the syllabus of academic courses on a permanent basis.
The new ‘PR’ system to be implemented by the University both on its campus and for Junior College shall consist of a rotating system whereby students will receive lectures both physically in class and remotely using virtual platforms. The students will be alternated on a weekly basis, essentially separating the method of teaching to be equally physical and virtual for all those attending.
Following student outcry concerning safety, if plans to resume public schooling in October follow through, then mandatory physical distancing and the wearing of face masks shall be enforced. This comes as a strategic move by the University to shift towards online lectures, at least for the time being. The question however remains, why not make remote learning a thing?
Certain faculties’ experience with synchronous learning (live online lectures) proved to be rather positive in the past months, with faculty heads even saying that they may seek to revise the traditional exam system in favour for online exams, following a relatively successful initiation.
This comes as welcome news to many students, who believe that while there are certain practical issues to be ironed out, being able to carry out exams online and at home incurs far less stress than doing so in the conventional method.
Gadgets reached out to some University students to gauge how they took the change.
“At first, we were all concerned about how exams would take place. Everything kept getting pushed back to a later date, so having nothing fixed in place was a constant source of worry” says one law student. “It felt like we weren’t on the same page with the faculty, and while we understand that it was a difficult situation, we feel like they could have done more to put our minds at ease.”
Another student feels like the change should have happened ages ago. “On Erasmus, I was the only student surprised at the fact that we were allowed to refer to our notes during exams. To all other foreign students, it was standard procedure, and as the only Maltese person in the course, I felt like I was the only student left behind”
The shift to open-book exams would already bring Malta in far more synchronicity with the rest of many European universities. The steps towards online, take-home and open-book exams are a well-needed and refreshing change to an examination system which has long shown signs of aging.
“I did miss a few online lectures, but it didn’t really make up for the ones I miss in real life anyway” said one student, jokingly. “If roll call was electronic, it would be more effective and people would definitely attend, plus if I have a lecture at 8 a.m. I don’t have to wake up at 7 to shower, get through traffic and find parking, so attendance online is so much easier. Honestly this should be the way it is permanently” he said.
The main points brought up were ease of access, open book exams and a reliable and practical way to make it work for everyone. While we understand that realistically, a one-size fits all system cannot work, there should at least be minimum standards of efficiency at the highest educational institution in the country.
What do you think? Can online learning be truly successful? Let us know in the comments.