Looking at the bright side of transitioning to virtual formats
Over the past year, converting traditional on-site courses to virtual classrooms has been more of need than convenience. Closed borders and enforced lockdowns have left international education with little other choice than engaging in virtual activities and speeding up the implementation of new digital tools – even when on-site classes seemed to be the choice of preference. In this process of adapting and responding, we find it important to focus on positive experiences and ‘small wins’.
In August 2020, in the wake of the pandemic, the UCPH International Summer programme decided to convert the IARU Course ‘Privacy challenged in past, present and future: a multi-disciplinary approach’ to an online course. Reflecting on the challenges of adapting the course to an online format, course director Mette Birkedal Bruun, Professor of Church History and Director of the Centre for Privacy Studies at UCPH, explains: “It’s important to identify the strengths and advantages of the respective formats. To dwell on all the things that actually (may) work well.”
More student interaction and non-hierarchical classroom
Professor Bruun highlights the use of Padlet, Zoom breakout rooms as well as plain screen sharing as beneficial features for the learning experience.
Zoom breakout rooms and Padlet are useful tools for setting clear expectations and processes for the students, making room for better student interaction and engagement, Professor Bruun says.
The virtual setting also allows using the students’ location to unfold specific topics. One of the topics of the IARU Course was ‘Architectural framing of private space’. Professor Bruun explains how this topic was effectively elucidated by asking students to show their particular physical surroundings and by inviting them to reflect on their respective architectural settings. This is a good example of integrating students’ own background and circumstances in the learning process - in a way that would not be possible in the physical classroom.
Connecting local and international students
In International Education, the tendency amongst local and international students to keep to themselves is a well-known challenge. In this respect, the virtual format might also prove to be valuable. According to Professor Bruun, breakout rooms proved useful in connecting international students with local students – while also encouraging meaningful interactions between them. ‘Intro-rooms’ with students sharing screens, on the other hand, were useful for the more spontaneous interactions.
The virtual routine demands resources
While the virtual classroom is no substitute for the physical exchange experience, the ‘small wins’ – from meaningful interactions between local and international students to the incorporation of students’ own surroundings in the class – are valuable intercultural experiences. Nonetheless, just as with the physical exchange experience, adopting digital initiatives is an exacting process that requires time and resources.
By Alexandra Osorio Brito and Sara Dinesen
About the course
A UCPH IARU Course; Privacy challenged in past, present and future: a multi-disciplinary approach
Everybody agrees that privacy is essential, but no authoritative definition exists.
Recent technological innovations have incited a general concern with privacy, but also narrowed our understanding.
We associate privacy with data protection and consider it as a value that is relevant only for our age.
Privacy, however, has deep historical roots.
When we study privacy across the gap between past and present,
we gain a better sense of the rich and complex implications of the evasive term ‘private’ which is the opposite not only of ‘public’, but also of ‘professional’, ‘common’ and ‘evident’.
The course takes a multidisciplinary approach to privacy past and present.
Bridging the gap between past and present, the course introduces a new approach both to historical studies and to studies of contemporary culture and society.
Target Audience: BA and MA students
Course Method: online
Application Deadline: 1 April 2021
Experiences of the course
This course was first offered in the summer 2019. Read the feature about the first run of the course published in September 2019: Privacy Summer School Revisited ‘Either you get dizzy, or you enjoy the roller coaster ride’.