Workshops for teacher development, virtual support services, platforms with specific information and online resources for remote learning are part of the offer at UFRO, in which the university’s academic staff is participating.
The current pandemic is causing transformations in higher education. It is a time of complex challenges, which has led the university Universidad de La Frontera (UFRO) to carry out the first semester of 2020 online and to change to remote work. Therefore, the university community started to prepare themselves through the offer of workshops and courses and to learn and improve the required skills and strategies in order to carry out this task successfully.
More than 30 workshops for the teaching staff of the faculties were carried out in order to support the positive development of the remote teaching and learning experience. The Vice-rector for Undergraduate Affairs has led the transition, by connecting this reality with the knowledge of national and foreign peers, implementing possible aspects of distance education, supporting the academic staff and providing them with the proper tools. The university also developed psychological and academic support measures for the students, with the help of the Office of Comprehensive Training and Employability.
“We have also taken on the responsibility of supporting the implementation of remote teaching at our university by incorporating various strategies. We are working with groups and individually, with the faculties and their teachers, and we will continue with our support through more and new initiatives that will be oriented towards the prioritization of learning results, contents, methodological and assessment strategies, within the context of a pandemic,” explains Solange Martínez, the director of the Office of Curricular and Teacher Development.
WORKSHOPS FOR THE FACULTIES AND PUCÓN CAMPUS
“There are several ways to carry out different asynchronous activities, and we have been able to show that, in order to make an optimal use of the resources and tools available. It has been a challenging time, but we have been working with a lot of dedication and commitment,” says Pamela Coronado, the advisor and facilitator of the UFRO Office of Teaching Development and Methodological Innovation.
The university recently carried out a series of workshops in different fields through the Virtual Campus platform. The responsible units for these workshops were the Faculty of Agricultural and Forestry Sciences, the Faculty of Law and Business, the Faculty of Medicine and the Pucón Campus of UFRO.
For Soledad Morales, an academic staff member of the Faculty of Law and Business, the training sessions have been a success, “not only because of the support or help in the field of virtual teaching, but also because they gave us the feeling that we are not alone in this as a teacher. We were able to express our mayor concerns and to solve different issues. They have really adapted to the requirements of online teaching”.
Dr. Claudia Barchiesi of the Faculty of Agricultural and Forestry Sciences adds that the support was essential, especially for the academic staff that was not really used to and prepared for this kind of teaching. “In my case, besides the instructions on how to use the Virtual Campus, which I really appreciate, it is the continuous support for the development of learning strategies or appropriate methodologies and instruments for assessment, which really help me and which I am grateful for,” she explains.
For the majority of the academic staff at UFRO, this series of initiatives to promote and strengthen remote teaching and learning during this online semester, provide essential insights and guidance and will always be remembered as part of the university experience during this pandemic that has changed our lives.
The teacher Hugo Sanhueza admits that he once thought that technology (digital resources) was only something supplementary. “Thanks to the health crisis, I now think different about that, so I started to improve my skills and to adapt, and I’m very grateful for the effort and commitment of the University in order to support us. The process has been challenging and I think that we need to motivate our students even more. That’s the way I have tried to teach the subject of Administration and Functioning of Public Management,” he comments.
In addition to the workshops for academic staff, UFRO has created spaces for the exchange of experiences with national and foreign experts to obtain some guidelines for distance education; recommendations on aspects of methodology and assessment have been implemented; and a platform for information and feedback has been designed (docenciavirtual.ufro.cl). At the same time, the Academic Council has included additional regulations for being able to derogate from the application of the UFRO Undergraduate Regulations, considering the extraordinary circumstances of this semester.
Written by: UFRO Communications Office