Lessons from dealing with covid-19

Lectures, workshops and mentoring sessions worked surprisingly well during the lockdown.

Picture of Rune

Rune Lünell, Assistant Professor, VIA Film & Transmedia

As a faculty, we learned that in some cases online classes actually advanced student’s learning compared to previous semesters. Consequently, we have upgraded our semester plans with improved learning methods.

Especially during workshops on industry-level software such as Unity and Blender, we learned that conferencing platforms like Zoom are tools that improve students’ learning. We used Zoom in online sessions to mix lead offs from industry professionals with students’ in-workshop assignments. Students enjoyed the undisturbed quiet of their dorm rooms which allowed them to focus on learning software features at their own pace while also enjoying the live, one-to-one feedback from the industry professionals who stayed on Zoom after their lead offs.

Also, students much preferred these online workshops to the usual sharing of in-class computers. Even if these computers are more powerful. Using their own computers at home with no distractions, students reported they got a firmer grip on the software compared to previous, comparable learning experiences. In addition, we realised that live online classes made it easier to book industry professionals who are often pressed for time to travel across the country.

So, online classes will be an integrated part of future exchange semesters. 

Student collaboration on film and media productions accounts for most of a semesters’ lessons, and our teaching method relies mainly on group work. Learning how to behave respectfully and appreciatively in a collaborative process is of major importance to us, since this is a critical skill to master in the industry. We also favour mentoring and feedback on student projects over general, theoretical lectures from professors, and we stress meeting face-to-face during mentoring sessions.

However, Zoom proved to be a great tool for these purposes in some cases. Students voiced satisfaction with online mentoring and feedback; they didn’t have to travel across town to meet their groups and professors, and without the usual small talk and socializing all participants were more focused

Online group work also forced students to run meetings with firm discipline and attention to focused contributions, a strict speaking order and the ever-important value of appreciative feedback.

Lastly, groups learned the value of detailed production plans since every member made individual deliveries to a joint project. They have always made these detailed production plans, but the lockdown made it impossible to run the usual and familiar physical, all-night collaboration with shuffling papers and film clips around right up until one minute before deadline.

Overall, we have learned some valuable lessons that we can incorporate into our future semesters.