When the coronavirus-epidemic started in March all the educational institutions in Hungary from primary schools to universities switched to digital education with distance learning methods. With the help of Microsoft Teams, Sharepoint and Outlook all the students were able to complete a whole academic year in front of a computer as the universities kept closed at the end of the semester.
The 2020/2021 academic year kicked off in September. The methods of distance learning remained but some universities mixed them with offline education, creating the first-ever hybrid educational system in Hungary. This means that some of the courses are held online, usually, those that have many students (more than 40) and ones with many international students, some of them staying in their home country as they would not risk travelling to Hungary as the number of infections have been increasing since August. It has not been announced yet whether final exams would be held offline or online with the separation of students, inviting only a limited number as unfortunately, this is a period when one cannot plan in forward.
Students are welcomed at the universities if they have offline courses. All the institutions demand mandatory mask-wearing inside the campus buildings, regular hand washing and distance keeping, minimum 1.5 meters. The courses have been planned in an organised way, allowing only a limited number of students inside the building.
The first big advance of the hybrid education system is returning to the university if someone has online courses. Although students had the ability and opportunity to complete a whole semester online, they believe that online education will never replace offline education. The presence of the professors, classmates and the environment of the university are all motivating factors for studying as many reported that studying at home for four months and listening to courses from bed started as a great and comfortable idea but quickly became a nightmare for some students.
It is also positive, that online courses are offered to everyone, also in case of offline courses if someone is sick, gets into quarantine or stays in another country.
The drawback though lies in the mixture of offline and online courses. Some students who do not have their own or rented flat in Budapest and live in the countryside need to listen to one course online and then travel into the capital not to miss the offline one. An even worse situation is that when someone has an offline course and the next one is online. If the break time between the two classes is not enough, these students need to stay inside the university building to attend a class. Some institutions offered empty classrooms, suitable for keeping the safe distance for this purpose.
Some though does not understand why classrooms are offered for these students if listening to an online course should happen at home. From another perspective, these students would not be even allowed inside the building as they are only risk factors for others who have official offline courses.
Either way, it is really good and positive that students, including myself, finally have the chance to get into the university building again and to see our friends and teachers. No matter how peculiar is that we cannot see faces because of face masks, safety is now the number one priority and the fact that with strict measurements we can spend some time again together.
Featured image: www.facebook.com/Corvinus.Official
Source: Daily News Hungary