The University of Alcalá Successfully Transitions to Virtual Learning in Two Days

With a history that dates back to 1293, The University of Alcalá is one of the longest-standing European universities, housing 24 departments and over 20,000 students. When covid-19 struck Spain, the University of Alcalá grappled with a difficult transition to quality online learning, especially due to the variety of classes and reluctance of faculties to adopt new digital tools. By partnering with ClassIn, the university immediately landed on education-centered technologies and customized support to accomplish the transition in two days and spark interest in online teaching among professors.


Key Takeaways

  • The University of Alcalá partnered with ClassIn to enable schoolwide transition to online learning for more than 20,000 students in only two days.

  • ClassIn attached great importance to faculty support, organizing customized group training sessions to address questions and collect feedback.

  • Professors at the University of Alcalá embraced online learning with growing enthusiasm and reliance on ClassIn affordances.


Students of the University of Alcalá learning on ClassIn

Challenges


Any new technology or way of teaching can initially seem to complicate what teachers are used to. “Our teachers are not so young, they are not so millennial,” Professor Adeva, course coordinator for the University of Alcalá, pointed out the clash between digital native students and traditional lecturers. “They are not used to using new technologies. We have to teach them to know how to use that platform and to think in a potential way to teach.”


In addition, since teaching and learning were switching from physically attended classrooms to online-only ones, classes called for professionally designed platforms that assist with class proceedings. Teachers needed specific functions to orchestrate class participation, field questions, break students into groups and other organizational practices when conducting their virtual lessons.


Solutions


“Keep training for the teachers, that’s the first point.” Alcalá already used digital resources throughout its university. Every single classroom was equipped with a digital blackboard. Teachers were used to deploying digital materials in a face-to-face setting with the help of “digital chalk” and PowerPoint presentations.


To equip teachers for successful use of the software, with the help of ClassIn team, Alcalá conducted group training sessions where teachers could simulate the experience of online classes. On top of this, allowing teachers to voice their concerns allowed the university to learn the nuances of the tech and use it to its fullest capability.


To equip teachers for successful use of the software, with the help of ClassIn team, Alcalá conducted group training sessions where teachers could simulate the experience of online classes. On top of this, allowing teachers to voice their concerns allowed the university to learn the nuances of the tech and use it to its fullest capability.

On the choice of platform, Alcalá reviewed ClassIn as a potential candidate for teaching their Spanish language classes online for months prior to implementation. The unforeseen pandemic accelerated their adoption of the tool so that students wouldn’t miss out on their classes when they returned home.


The platform must first ensure smooth access for students from all countries with considerations of issues such as security, performance, reliability, monitoring and reports. The chosen platform must be as versatile as possible, ensuring that the university could apply it to a variety of courses from math to music lessons.


The mix of classes that Alcalá offered via ClassIn ranged from an online class with 15 students to 1 teacher, to a class where 1-to-1 teaching was required. They also had different programs, ranging from undergraduate to master’s classes in DELE. Each one needed to be configured to be ready for online teaching. Alcalá did this with an impressive turnaround time in just 2 days, which is discussed in detail in our interview with Professor Adeva.

A Hybrid Model of Online and Traditional Classes


The disruption caused by the coronavirus has led many institutions to realize that their teaching recovery plans are not fully achieved. They might lack technology, resources, as well as the knowledge to implement online teaching effectively.


While some have not provided their students with enough support, others like Alcalá are leading in the concept and practices of teaching: education can be conducted online, and it can be conducted really well. Looking toward what the future holds for their online offerings, Adeva said that “We were thinking about that quite a lot. In the future, we are thinking of having both things but in a different way…Presential classes where students come to the country to study with us and classes online where students can’t attend the university in Spain. Teach with ClassIn and have teachers doing normal presential classes, I think that’s our future thinking.”



Students of the University of Alcalá learning on ClassIn


A more technology-driven teaching model would also appeal to students as they enjoy the flexibility of attending class from the comfort of home. On the right platform, students still get a sense of participation and interaction with their peers, which is comparable to what in-person classes offer. This style of education could allow universities to offer more courses to more students who are otherwise unable to attend or find it costly.


Alcalá’s successful transition to online learning using ClassIn lies not only in abundant teaching-oriented features but also in the fact that ClassIn made a conscious effort to hear from its customers and adjust services accordingly. Going forward, ClassIn strives to continue to provide a one-stop EdTech solution and tailor-made customer support for more institutions worldwide.




Related Resources


ClassIn Functions to Keep Students’ Attention in Online Learning: Video Gallery and the 1v0 Layout

About ClassIn: https://www.classin.com/en/

Read More: ASU+GSV Summit 2021: ClassIn Introduces OMO Learning for Education Continuity and Equity


*ClassIn is a leading edtech company that provides a one-stop solution for digital learning.


ClassIn software enables interactive classrooms, in-school social app, lesson scheduling, homework management, and school management dashboard, which start free and scale up to meet our customers' needs at any stage of teaching. Today, thousands of schools and institutions around the world benefit from ClassIn's powerful and easy-to-use tools to teach online and offline.