Vita Kalnbērziņa

Onsite versus online studies: student perspective

The current pandemic situation has affected all the study processes at the universities including foreign language learning and teaching situation with most of the classes taking place in some online environment. Deusen-Scholl defines online foreign language learning environment as a ‘web-facilitated class, a blended or hybrid course or a fully virtual or online course’ (Deusen-Scholl, 2015: 398). It can be synchronous or asynchronous and can include technologies, such as videoconferencing and computer mediated communication tools which allow the students to access information, to interact and collaborate with other students (ibid.).  

The aim of the presentation is to examine the student feedback on synchronous and asynchronous learning using a variety of platforms across 4 universities in Latvia, Lithuania, Chili and the US at BA and MA levels. The feedback was collected after a semester on combined face to face and online learning, after a virtual exchange project and after a film project.

The new learning and teaching situation has enabled the researchers as well as practitioners to come up with new practices, new tools and new findings regarding the online studies. For example, Zane Bērzina (2021) carried out research in the international student population and found that the foreign language anxiety levels of the students had decreased as a result of the change in environment, but, their marks had not experienced any major changes. According to the students’ feedback, the online environment at MA study level had introduced both anxiety reducing and anxiety increasing variables. The use of technology was particularly polarizing as it decreased their anxiety when students could hide their presence or use the online tools, but it increased their anxiety when it became unreliable because of unstable internet connection or some software issues. The virtual exchange between Latvian, Lithuanian and Chili universities also provided a variety of data as students produced collaborative essays on intercultural communication topics, as well vlogs on their own learning experiences. The preliminary findings suggest that virtual exchange is an efficient way of providing rich learning opportunities and new skills.