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Lessons Learned from the First Month of Distance Learning

Lessons Learned from the First Month of Distance Learning

Photo by Green Chameleon on Unsplash

An international student of HSE University’s Master of International Business Programme in the Faculty of World Economy and International Affairs shares her experience of studying at HSE and transitioning to online learning.

Vera* moved to Moscow from Singapore last September. Her educational background is mainly in international relations and political science. With over 15 years of experience in business and finance, Vera was looking for an opportunity to get a business degree to match her work experience. HSE was a good match.

Vera, student of HSE University’s Master of International Business Programme

I love most of my courses in the programme. They provide with me a broad knowledge of the business world from the Russian perspective. It is very inspiring for me. The course I love the most is ‘Financial Accounting’, taught by Kristina Pogosbekyan. I have taken at least three or four accounting classes over the past decades. Kristina Pogosbekyan is the only one to provide a clear overview of the accounting world and show how all of the accounting rules can be put into practice. Now I truly understand why and how the rules were set up. The course is amazing.

Another inspiring class was ‘International Marketing’ taught by Maxim Shevchenko. The workload was much more substantial and involved lots of serious group discussion. Maxim Shevchenko provided remarkable feedback that inspired deeper thinking and debate. Now, I unconsciously apply those principles when I read a newspaper or even watch ads in daily life.

Saving on Travel Time and Focusing on Her Studies

Today all of my courses are online, as well as all my group discussions. For classes, we use Zoom, Google Meet, or Microsoft Teams based on the lecturers' preferences. We mainly use Google Hangouts for group discussions.

I have mixed feelings about distance learning. I like it because I don’t have to spend time on commuting and can take care of my family at the same time. However, I realize I am unable to focus as much as I am in face-to-face classes.

What’s more, I feel the class discussion or group discussion is less effective without meeting in person.

I enrolled in an executive business class around ten years ago. The lessons were conducted online; however, all the group discussions were in person. I didn't feel too bad about that experience.

Preparation for both lecturers and students is crucial. I had both bad and good feelings about most classes when they were switched to an online format. However, ‘International Financial Management’ with Anastasia Stepanova works exceptionally well. Anastasia Stepanova is well prepared and assigned us a case study as homework. Of course, the fact that it’s a smaller group helps. The class discussion went well, and I felt like I was learning a lot. However, this class started as a distance learning one. I do not know if I would feel differently about it if it were originally a face-to-face class that was then moved online like the others.

Coursera, Cooking, and Building with Legos

My life has changed dramatically due to these new circumstances: now I homeschool both of my young kids at home. I’ve change my grocery shopping habits and shop mainly online. However, it was challenging to get a delivery slot in the first two weeks. For online shopping, before the quarantine, I regularly shopped on Sbermarket and Utkonos due to the availability of the goods and English language support. I am also looking for other options like Beru and Perekrestok, but I encounter more language barriers and delivery area restrictions, respectively. There are more than five grocery stores that are close to my apartment. I can get what I need, but I would prefer not to go out if possible. 

I practice yoga at home regularly, which hasn’t changed much. However, without going to school, I’ve lost 60 minutes of walking time a day. But I’ve gained more free time during the quarantine period. I’ve completed additional online certificates on Coursera, built things with Legos with my kids, and cooked several Taiwanese dishes that I never thought I’d be able to master.  

* The student has asked not to use her full name on the website.

See also:

‘Keeping a Student’s Attention Online Is Harder Than in the Classroom’

After a week off, HSE students returned to their online classes this week. HSE News spoke with instructors of the Vysokovsky Graduate School of Urbanism about what kinds of new strategies and approaches they are using in their online instruction.

Russian Language Unites: HSE Students Come Together for Online Classes While in Self-Isolation

Elena Aisakova teaches Russian to students of International Preparatory Programmes. Her five groups have all transitioned to distance learning. HSE News Service has asked Elena and HSE's international students what it’s like to study Russian online as well as what tips they have to help others learn effectively while being on ‘opposite sides’ of the computer screen.

How HSE Is Transitioning to Distance Learning and Helping Others Do the Same

Conducting online lectures and research seminars on Zoom, providing assistance and useful instructions to the university community—all this is necessary for a smooth transition to remote learning during the COVID-19 pandemic. Over the past two weeks, various HSE departments have done all of this in order to provide their students with online instruction. The IT Office particularly felt the weight of this large task. HSE News spoke with digital service staff about what they have managed to do in such a short time frame.