Motivation and learning in the time of Covid 19
As soon as Covid 19 began to take over the world, UNITO quickly swept into action and established the use of online platforms for distance learning and a new chapter began. Teaching and learning took on a different appearance, something that was really challenging for all of us. Re-organisation, adjusted timetables, online training quickly became the order of the day and words and concepts that we had previously vaguely heard of but never really used, suddenly became the new normal in these dramatically abnormal times. Personally I was both very concerned and very sceptical. I am no technical expert as my students can confirm, and with a very bad internet connection things were initially quite difficult.
Like all things, time and experience and are the best teachers. My attempts were always supported by the absolutely amazing assistance of Dott. Giovan Battista De Gattis and the encouragement of Dott. Alfredo Diano . Like my colleagues, it was back to the classroom for us, the professors…an important lesson of trial and error. Slowly, Edmodo and Zoom and Webex became comprehensible and the idea of an online flipped/ blended classroom came into being here at UNITO. As English lessons pre-Covid 19, were taught very much using the
Synchronised lessons. Regular communication with students and our e-tutor was absolutely fundamental. Lessons were organised with specific group or individual time slots and the ball started rolling. There were of course technical difficulties but they were immediately resolved or at least managed by the constant presence
We went on virtual holidays together using Google Earth, students opened up about incredibly difficult experiences during the pandemic: family members with Covid 19, volunteer work with the Emergency services, fear, solitude, transformation, family time, hope. One of my students took me on a tour of her favourite pasture with her beloved animals…another completed all the lessons the day before giving birth and took the exam with her 11 day old baby. I have witnessed emotions and experiences and been able to assess both linguistic ability and personalities in an unexpected and magical way.
Do I, do we still prefer lessons in the ‘traditional’ classroom? Well as my students have told me it is the little things that make a real difference: having a coffee together, being physically close not just digitally connected. But physical or social distance does not mean emotional distance. We can learn much from Covid 19 and perhaps the flipped, blended classroom is potentially now the way forward. The work I have received and the commitment of each and every student here at CLI Aosta is truly unforgettable. I have learned that online teaching is no longer something to be feared, it is a genuine ally in the classroom and it is another key to what is most important of all: human connection.
Dedicated to all my students
Annitta Tudor - English teacher Nursing Degree Course Aosta