‘I Am a Proponent of Online Learning’
On March 19, Professor Alexander Kupriyanov, Academic Supervisor of the Bachelor’s Programme in Media Communications, held his first online seminar. HSE News Service participated in the streaming and spoke with the professor about what offline education might look like after the pandemic is over.
Distance learning, which for the majority of us is something unfamiliar, has turned out to be quite simple. The instructor shares a link to the Zoom to their students, and then the students install it on their computers. At the appointed time, your class automatically starts broadcasting on the programme. Zoom allows users to ask questions using a microphone or by sending them to a shared chat. In addition, the programme has options for recording as well as for the instructor to see their students’ computer screens. Alexander Kupriyanov explains that it was thanks to this latter function that his colleagues advised him to use Zoom for the seminar.
‘My colleagues and I talked a lot about the transition to distance learning. We did test streams and helped each other set up and customize the programmes for our needs. I have not had practical training in this format, only streams of lectures and webinars. My colleagues told me that Zoom is better for seminars, and I, in turn, helped others set up Twitch + OBS bundles for their courses,’ says the Media Communications Academic Supervisor.
The software did not disappoint Professor Kupriyanov, despite the fact that during the seminar, which focused on technical matters, he was not able to view the settings of his students’ computers to help them deal with malfunctions like he usually is.
All our difficulties with online learning happen because we try to bring our offline experience into it
The professor noted that teachers are used to checking students’ notebooks to make sure they’re not cheating, and now they are trying to do the equivalent online. ‘But we, of course, are not able to do this. And yet our university needs to legalize online lectures, because before the virus, we didn’t have any means of conducting them. Two weeks before the quarantine, I wanted to invite a lecturer who went abroad to lecture online. I was told that we have only two forms of classes: either the lecturer speaks in person, or we record a video. But the professor wasn’t interested in this latter option—he didn’t have time to record a lecture—so he had to decline. Now it [streaming] is the norm.’
Professor Kupriyanov is confident that after the end of the pandemic, educational institutions will not want to fully return to the usual education layout. This is more than likely at HSE University. ‘We will definitely be one of those universities that decide not to completely return to an offline mode, and this is the case for our programme as well. Every year we will reduce the offline part of the learning process. I am a proponent of online learning.’
He emphasizes that the virus has given universities the excellent opportunity of testing out new educational technology and programmes. For HSE, this topic is particularly relevant: most programmes, after all, do not require work with the material world (in laboratories, with equipment), but only with texts, numbers, or software.
For colleagues who have not yet worked remotely, Alexander Kupriyanov advises ‘trying it out and getting comfortable with it.’ He recommends tools that he uses regularly: ‘OBS (Open Broadcaster Software) is a programme that manages the stream, that is, records it, packs the signal, and transmits it to the platform you’re using, such as Youtube or Twitch. I would recommend the OBS + Youtube lecture bundle to teachers, because it allows you to provide your students with access to your material by just sending them a link. For seminars, Zoom is ideal. For this, you don’t need special equipment—just a computer, a microphone, and, if you have poor hearing, headphones.’
A list of digital services for online communication is available here (in Russian).