Rapid transition to online and hybrid class model confirmed the school’s effort to innovate in teaching and research in an increasingly challenging environment.
In 2020, students around the world had studies negatively impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic. According to UNESCO, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, more than 90% of the world’s student population had to leave their classrooms, being forced to adapt to new learning models.
At the beginning of the pandemic, Insper closely followed the growth in the number of Covid-19 cases in Europe and the consequent transition of universities to the remote model. The European example led the school board to call an emergency meeting and draw up an action plan for the transition to the distance learning model. The entire transition experience was shared in a Contingency for Schools Program webinar.
Many of the technological and digital transformations that took place were already being studied for long-term plans. For Professor Irineu Gianesi, Director of Academic Affairs at Insper, the process that had already been stared gained speed. “Higher Education was already changing before the pandemic, and it will definitely continue to change. Teaching, simply and solely, will no longer be the focus of HEIs, at least those that want to remain relevant in the future.”
Porfessor Paulo Furquim, director of Teaching and Learning at Insper, says that this experience broke some taboos regarding the use of digital tools for learning. “Even after the end of the pandemic, when face-to-face meetings will resume, we expect that several of these resources will be used as a complement to in-person activities.”
Teaching and learning
The great challenge of the Covid-19 pandemic for Education Institutions was to maintain the high technical and teaching quality of the courses and programs in an environment full of unknown situations. In addition to transforming in-person classes into online classes, Insper implemented innovations to deepen its transition to the digital world.
Among these innovations are the new teaching formats, which include the partnership signed with the Emeritus Institute of Management to launch asynchronous online courses in Executive Education. “The biggest change was, without the slightest doubt, the use of pedagogical tools and techniques suitable for online teaching, in synchronous and asynchronous modalities”, Professor Furquim says.
For him, there is a secondary effect that was also fundamental: the use of learning-oriented algorithms. “This enables the creation of teaching material with interaction and instant feedback for memorization and reinforcement of basic concepts, in addition to the development of more complex skills.”
However, the transformation experienced at our School went beyond the tools to keep teaching and learning fully operational. In Professor Gianesi’s view, technology showed its potential during this period, but it was also necessary to use different means and teaching-learning strategies depending on the desired competences. “This has been a mistake for many professors and institutions to emphasize the means much more than the result, which must always be the students’ learning”, he says.
For the Academic Affairs director, there was a very positive leap in the quality of the teaching capacity of the faculty, especially in the professors who achieved a good result. “If institutions know how to take advantage, this leap will generate improvement in teaching when we return to the classroom, certainly using more technology to help students acquire and develop new skills”.
The digitization process also benefits academic research produced within Insper. This evolution was already gaining strength over the past few years, with the investment in data analysis.
For Paulo Furquim, the digitization of information is a broad phenomenon that has gained strength in recent years and has immensely affected research. With the expansion of data available for investigations, as well as the capacity to process these data, research that was unimaginable 10 or 15 years ago is now incorporated into the researchers’ repertoire.
This scenario does not have its growth related solely to the pandemic. It is the result of a trend that has grown over the years. “The pandemic had little effect on the relationship between digitization and research, which was already well developed and on a path of deepening”, Furquim says. “I see even greater growth in the use of data science, programming and large databases, but I would not link that growth to the pandemic.”
Scanning in other environments
Insper also invested in ways to digitalize its back office, enabling this sector to maintain its operation throughout the pandemic. “This experience broke some taboos regarding the adaptation to digital tools”, says Furquim. On the administrative side, according to him, greater use of remote meetings in specific situations is also expected and, for some functions, a home-office composition with face-to-face activities.
Another important measure implemented was the transformation of the Undergraduate program entry exam into an online exam, also followed and supervised by artificial intelligence to ensure the reliability of the process.
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