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It is the new reality for all of us: giving and receiving online education. Students and lecturers hardly meet at the REC anymore, and exams no longer take place at physical locations. Lecturers and other employees of the Amsterdam Law School are working together to ensure that the programme continues. And there is more to it than you think! In this series, faculty staff members give you a look behind the scenes. This time it's Liza Mossing Holsteijn, teamcoordinator at ICT and Education (ICTO).

Liza Mossing Holsteijn
Liza Mossing Holsteijn, team coordinator ICTO

The ICTO? Liza: 'We support education with the use of ICT resources. For example, we help teachers prepare, organise and carry out online teaching and testing'. Switching from physical to online education therefore had a major impact on the department. Liza says that in the weeks before the first lockdown, she was already busy preparing guidelines and preconditions for providing online education and testing. 'When the lockdown was actually announced, the department gained momentum and we're still in it'. 

Learning as you go

What goes on behind the scenes at ICTO in organising digital education? Provision must now be made for each individual online and hybrid lecture,' says Liza, 'for example help with supporting Zoom, deploying Meeting Owls and recording web lectures and knowledge clips. The increased interaction with Canvas - everything is now shared with students via this platform - also creates extra organisation as we support the lecturers in recording and making all the video material accessible'.

In addition, the online assessment makes a lot of preparations. Liza: 'For the new software and new forms of surveillance, including proctoring software and live surveillance via Zoom, for example, all kinds of protocols have to be drawn up. We also need to train ourselves in the use of these tools'.

From a discussion forum on Canvas as an alternative to offering a lecture, to newly recorded video lectures in a professional studio. We do everything we can to ensure student interaction with the teacher and students themselves'

Constantly looking for improvement

What has already changed in recent months in the field of online education? Liza: 'All kinds of software has been brought into use to provide both students who come on location and students at home with a lecture, including Meeting Owls and live streaming via Zoom. And for exams, you can now chat with an exam trainer'. Liza gives an example of where we come from in terms of online education: 'From a discussion forum on Canvas as an alternative to offering a lecture, to newly recorded video lectures in a professional studio. We do everything we can to ensure student interaction with the teacher and students themselves'. 

In addition to the changes that have already taken place, ICTO is constantly looking for improvements in offering online education and taking care of the online examinations. It is a continuous process of investigating possibilities, setting up processes, gaining experience, evaluating, implementing improvements, and then this repeats itself'.

We want to tackle everything

A lot is coming to Liza and the ICTO team. As a higher education institution, we are by nature not geared to providing fully online education. That's why sometimes it's really learning as you go for everyone involved. There is almost no time to prepare yourself sufficiently for what is to come, because everything we do is new to everyone involved. For me and also for us as a team, this period is a big challenge'.

She talks about the difficult choices she sometimes faces. Just before and during an online exam week, there is almost no room left for other important work. So we have to constantly weigh up the options. That's difficult, because we want to tackle everything in order to offer the best possible online education and testing'. By way of illustration, a move is explained: If, for example, you had thought of working out a case study on the design of online education, but final adjustments still need to be made for an online examination that afternoon, then you can of course guess where your attention is going first. To have to make that choice at all, that remains very annoying'.

Student as a starting point

We also ask what it was like for Liza when things went wrong during the exams. If I'm honest, I shed a few tears for that. Apart from the fact that you're terribly sorry for the students, we all worked very hard to prepare everything properly for such an online exam week, and then it turns out that everything goes wrong beyond the control of our department'.

Liza says that Proctorio and the UvA have now taken measures to prevent problems in the future. For example, Proctorio's capacity has been more than adequately scaled up and the login server is working properly again. 

To conclude, we ask Liza what she wants to say to students. That we - like you - are eager to resume the lectures and the assessment as before March 2020. Unfortunately, the situation is as it is and we have to make the best of it. In any case, we are doing everything in our power to get online education and online testing on the right track. We are constantly looking for ways to make things better for you as a student. 

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It seems to me that we rely more on each other to make online education successful. Selma de Groot, lecturer in property law