University of Nova Gorica successfully performing distant-learning activities in the COVID-19 pandemic state of emergency
This is the result of the years-long deliberate implementation of new teaching approaches, especially the so-called flipped learning, where the students are provided with the learning materials (recordings of lectures, online videoclips, articles) in advance, before lectures, and they study the materials themselves first and only then discuss them in class.
This approach is also very useful in case of distant learning, as the students can use the precious time allocated to contact teaching hours not only for learning new educational content but already for discussing it. The in-depth discussions and opinion exchanges take place in online conference rooms and virtual classrooms.
The University of Nova Gorica was actually using certain distant-learning techniques even prior to the outbreak of the pandemic – also due to the fact that such a study mode enables a more successful inclusion of students holding a special status and students with special needs (students athletes, physically challenged students or students with serious health issues) into the study process. For this purpose, we in the past introduced and tested various tools such as Zoom and Big Blue Button, which are compatible with the Moodle and MiTeam platforms. We have been using these tools ever since and they are currently used to transmit most of the lectures requiring direct live contact between our students and lecturers, which is of extreme importance in the self-isolation period. We are fully aware of the fact that our students are currently facing a challenging situation and that they may be in an unequal position in terms of the access to high-speed internet connection, so our online lectures are also being recorded and are thus available to all those who may not be able to follow them in real time due to various limitations.
In line with its strategy emphasizing international orientation, the University of Nova Gorica has been using certain online communication tools ever since its founding, as all doctoral thesis defence committees are required to consist of one or two committee members from abroad. All the doctoral thesis argumentations, which PhD students must hold in order to proceed with and successfully complete their studies, have often been carried out in a distant mode, and during the pandemic we have already carried out the first doctoral thesis defence in a distant mode.
All our practical experience, our skilled teaching staff, the excellent support of our IT team and the technical equipment that we possess also enable us efficient carrying out of the BA/BSc thesis defences or seminars, as well as MA/MSc thesis defences, while we expect an increasing number of them to follow as the end of the academic year approaches. Currently, all the lectures at the University of Nova Gorica are performed online and will be carried out in their full scope as planned and in accordance with the initially adopted 2019/20 academic calendar. We intend to perform the teaching process in a distant mode also in the future, when the academic activities in Slovenia are again carried out in an ordinary manner, like prior to the pandemic, as certain incoming mobility students and other international students may not come to the university in time due to the long visa obtaining procedures.
Small study groups and individual approach towards our students, which are notable advantages of studying at the University of Nova Gorica, represent an advantage also in the current state of emergency, as the university’s modern operating structure and the above-described methods of work enable us to adapt to the present situation faster and to quickly indentify the special needs of individual students which may arise as a result of the current extraordinary circumstances.
It is also of utmost importance that prospective students – from Slovenia and abroad – can obtain enough quality information on the study opportunities at our university. In the period of the open calls for enrollment into the 2020/21 academic year, we keep the candidates updated on our study offer and the advantages of studying at the University of Nova Gorica also in the form of online open days and in other adapted ways of delivering the information online, especially through social media.
M. Franko, V. Piccinini, K. Mihurko-Poniž
T: +386 5 620 58 27