This self-assessment survey was created to gain information and insights into current online teaching and learning practices in film and media related subjects.
As the first intellectual output of the future film education project, a self-assessment survey was created to gain information and insight into current online teaching and learning practices which included challenges and highlights.
The self-assessment survey (February 2022) was distributed to professors and teaching staff of the three project partner schools. In total 37 responses were received over a period of 4 weeks which showed a general interest in all three schools, though responses primarily came from one school. Participants were asked to rate the following aspects: technology, tools, methods, didactics, students' participation, monitoring, evaluation, and course preparation. The survey results showed that more than half of the participants found that online teaching/learning indeed “worked great”. More than half of the respondents were also satisfied with their online infrastructure. However, less than half of the participants stated that they used interactive methods such as group work in breakout rooms or gamification of teaching content prior to the survey. This indicates a need for more information on the opportunities and possible applications of interactivity and engagement of students through online teaching.
The qualitative results of this survey will inform the development of the toolkit for Online Teaching, as the second intellectual output and step of the future film education project.
THE BIGGEST CHALLENGES IN TEACHING FILM & MEDIA COURSES ONLINE
Subjects taught by participants included a wide range such as, animation, cinematography, documentary, art history, research courses, film production, interactive narratives, game design, painting & drawing, photography, anthropology, postproduction, sound production as well as transmedia storytelling.
Engaging students was most often identified by teachers as their major concern. Along these lines, overall challenges such as students’ interaction and interest, issues of body language in virtual classrooms as well as mental health, online tools and technical equipment were mentioned. Many teachers lamented the lack of direct contact with students but also the lack of direct access to art works while explaining the challenges they faced. Some pointed out that they were missing the appropriate technical resources (e.g., in animation). Others saw a big challenge in moderating group discussions and voiced the uncertainty of how and whether students were following their courses. Issues of streaming and sound quality were also numerously noted.
All of this shows us the complexity of transferring face-to-face teaching to an online format in the film and media sector. Therefore, our toolkit needed to consider the following aspects:
- Engagement & participation of students
- Effective communication
- Extended preparation time to create materials
- Opportunities for collaboration
- Time delay in responses
- Different accesses to internet infrastructure
- Need for exchange with colleagues and support
- Technology and delivery of learning content
STRATEGIES FOR INTERACTION
To communicate and ensure interaction with students in the online classroom, many teachers have developed interesting strategies. In the survey, the following tools and strategies were reported:
- Addressing students directly in the online classroom
- Using breakout rooms for discussions
- Sending questionnaires on the subject
- Sending anonymous polls to assess the mood among the students
- Introducing videos
- Including students’ works
- More attention to light, sound, voice and face position
- Ensuring the amount of content is adequate for the online session
- Diversify class dynamics (shorter lectures, emphasis on discussions complemented by screenings)
- Establishing communication etiquettes
We also draw attention to these practices in our toolkit.
WHAT DO FILM AND ARTS TEACHERS WISH FOR THEIR FUTURE OF ONLINE TEACHING?
When asked about preferences for the future of online teaching, most participants opted for blended learning. Some voiced the desire to enhance their seminars with international experts - a viable prospect facilitated by online teaching. Further, our survey showed that teachers wish for well implemented online teaching elements that can be incorporated in their general teaching practices. Though technology is important, it is not the crucial issue in online teaching. Mentioned most was the right choice of tools and strategies for lecturers to teach and interact with their students. Here are some of the needs teachers expressed for the future:
- A better way to monitor students when they are online.
- Better hybrid environments / technology and procedures for flexibility
- Better streaming stability/quality.
- Better pedagogical tools.
- Technological and didactical support to migrate from face-to-face to online teaching.
- More room for discussion and debate with teachers and students.
- Interactive means to generate discussion such as the use of polling tools and collaborative work so that students can more easily interiorize the subjects.
- Smaller cohorts per instructor.
- "Online" material being complementary to the work in class. For example, use of (instructional) films made by teachers, which complement and detail the themes of the course.
- Equal opportunities.
The topic most mentioned as the largest challenge of the participants was engaging students adequately in an online environment. Teaching online can at times be more complex than teaching face-to-face. One teacher explained that online teaching means employing a completely different teaching / learning strategy and that some content is difficult, if not impossible, to teach in the field of traditional artistic practices. However, there are classes that are already digitally based, some even, that are more suitable to be taught online such as comparing picture edits with a large group. In this case, everyone is already looking at a digital screen.
There is a trend towards more online learning and students may need to be prepared for the fact that online courses can only provide a limited sense of community. Moreover, online courses often require students to be more autonomous, self-driven and able to use necessary digital tools. Some students may need special support for this.
As the survey was based on teachers' perspectives the opinions of students are not included in these results but are seen through the lens of the teachers. Therefore, it is suggested that students’ perspectives around learning online, needs further inquiry and would benefit this study through the examination of the following questions:
- How do students learn with the online strategies regarding the efficiency of their academic training?
- How important is the teacher's human contact with the class and with each student in particular?
The goal of the online teaching toolkit and MOOC is to encourage teachers to explore digital learning environments more extensively so that when preparing online courses there is encouragement to consider the students’ learning situation. This includes assessing how satisfied students are with courses.
Though the results of the survey can primarily be applied to the Portuguese school data, all results show similarities regardless of school origin. In conclusion the toolkit for online learning addresses all areas of e-learning with its advantages and disadvantages to create a better understanding of e-learning as a self-contained genre. Therefore, to incorporate the information gathered by the survey, the toolkit included the following areas: Strategies & Methods, Tools for Online Teaching and Copyright.
Find the statistics of our survey below and feel free to make use of our questionnaire for conducting your own surveys. A good starting point is to also identify your teaching goals and to do an honest self-assessment of where you are and what you need to improve. For this, you can also click through the DigComp, an online testing tool that maps your digital competencies using the Digcomp framework. This may also help identify relevant aspects for teaching online that differ from your onsite courses in film and media. Find further tips and steps in our section Design & Facilitate.