TEACHING DURING A PANDEMIC
Editor: Grierson, Hilary; Bohemia, Erik; Buck, Lyndon
Author: Svennevig, Paul Ragnar; Heimdal, Anette
Institution: University of Agder, Norway
Section: Research in Design and Engineering Education Practice
DOI number: 10.35199/EPDE.2021.77
March 12th, 2020, was the day that the Norwegian Government put Norway in lock down due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The implication of this was that all kindergartens, pre-schools, elementary schools, high-schools, colleges, and universities were closed from Friday the 13th of March. The universities, and all the other teaching institutions, were instructed by the government that teaching were to go on as normal as possible, only digitally. In other words, students were not to miss any teaching and there was no adjusting of curriculum. By the following Wednesday, all our teaching was digital; lectures, rehearsals in regular bachelor- and master courses, and mentoring of bachelor-, master-, and PhD-projects. This was done regardless of what pedagogic and didactic background the teachers have. This was also to be done from at home, where most of the teachers did not have an office, teaching aids other than their computer. At University of Agder all our teachers shall within two years of being hired, have completed a course called ‘university pedagogics’ that is 200 hours. In recent years, a small part of this course touches on the pedagogics and didactics on digital teaching, but many of the teachers at the university had no theoretical background to support their digital teaching decisions. How did this affect the choices for teaching? Was the teaching method chosen because of convenience for the teacher or was it a didactic choice by the teacher? The students in Norway are a diverse group, many of them have children that were to be home schooled. This influenced their ability to study, because they had to be teachers during the day and students at night or at the same time as they were teaching their children. This affected how we made the curriculum available to the students – what type of teaching were best fitted for the situation we were in as a society? Also, the situation regarding COVID-19 and the national lock down of the society affected the way we planned to carry out the exams in the spring semester. We had to have a plan for this relatively quick, and plan for the situation were single parents had to be kindergarten-teachers at the same time as they were students and taking an exam. This paper will look at the didactic methods for digital teaching and mentoring and compare them to how this was done in a crisis, where we had to make it work. The paper will also look at the recommended ways of conducting digital home exams in regards of testing the curriculum and not having the opportunity to control the environment in which the students are taking the exam. In other words, how do we secure that the cheating on exams is as minimal as possible?