How CPS is responding to the new teaching environment resulting from COVID-19

Prepared by CPS Teaching Fellow: John Seely

In line with university departments in Kazakhstan and across the world, CPS has had to make changes in the way we work with students.

In order to protect our communities from the COVID-19 virus all our classes have moved from the classroom to an online, blended learning system. Blended learning means we use a combination of pre-prepared material and live material. In the jargon this is known as synchronous and asynchronous teaching.

These techniques are being developed and shared by universities around the world so you can be assured that we are using cutting edge methods and technologies. In fact, there was already a movement towards online and distance education and COVID-19 has simply accelerated this trend and made it mainstream.

The biggest and most obvious difference is that unfortunately we cannot have normal face-to-face classes, but we still have plenty of live contact with our students every day in classes and meetings using ZOOM.

Instead of coming to class and listening to the teacher, students’ first exposure to new material is now through their computers and other devices. Lessons have been “flipped”, another piece of jargon, so that much of what was previously taught in class is now presented online through videos and lessons. This is done using professional teaching platforms such as Moodle, which have already had a long history of use in schools and universities worldwide. These are known as Virtual Learning Environments or VLEs.

One great advantage of this type of online lesson is that students can work when they like. No more getting up early for a nine o’clock classes! A boon for many, especially during Nur Sultan’s cold, dark winter mornings.

These are followed by online lessons at a more civilized time when everyone is awake. Now the teacher can answer questions and focus on areas that have caused problems for students, and there is time for plenty of individual attention from the tutor.

This gives our tutors an opportunity to get to know our students better than often happens in class, where one or two students typically dominate and the rest are more passive. This is one of the few benefits of this virus.

So, whilst the virus has been disruptive to all parts of our lives, you can rest assured that that it has not affected the quality and consistency of our teaching.