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alerby kostenius
Eva Alerby and Catrine Kostenius. View original picture , opens in new tab/window

Opportunities and challenges with digital teaching

Published: 14 January 2021

There are both differences and similarities when teaching is moved from the classroom to digital. This is shown by a study by Catrine Kostenius, professor of health sciences and Eva Alerby, professor of pedagogy, both at Luleå University of Technology.
– We are interested in the interpersonal relationships when we have a screen between us, they say.

They have published an article in the scientific journal International Journal of Qualitative Studies on Health and Well-being, entitled Room for interpersonal relationships in online educational spaces - a philosophical discussion .

– We have had a philosophical perspective and are interested in well-being in teaching for both teachers and students. What happens when the educational space is transferred from the physical to the digital space, as now because of Covid–19? It challenges the spatial concept, says Eva Alerby.

Encouragement and confirmation

The similarities lie, among other things, in the teacher's attitude towards the students. No matter where, all education should strive to achieve good, close relationships, the authors say.
– All education should give students the opportunity for self-knowledge, develop good close relationships, and contribute to the school becoming a place where joy for learning and knowledge is promoted, they say.
The teacher can provide encouragement and confirmation both in the classroom and in the digital space.
– We wanted to see what happens when the educational room goes digital. We have based on our own and colleagues experiences of teaching digitally and students experiences of studying at a distance, they say.

They mean that online teaching affects the relationship between student and teacher.

– We mostly only see the head and maybe the shoulders, we can not see and read the body language in the same way as in the physical space. The student can also leave the digital room, without me as a teacher seeing the preparations as you do in a classroom. They can also turn off the camera. If you have 150 students, you do not always see them all, says Eva Alerby.

Health and learning

They also state that online teaching opens up a number of new opportunities, for exampleis travel not required, you can quickly connect.
– It provides an equality aspect as more people have access to education regardless of place of residence, says Catrine Kostenius.

She also emphasizes that health and learning go hand in hand. Those who feel good learn better.
– And when I learn, I feel good. To achieve such a learning situation whether in the classroom or online, students need to feel part of a larger context, be positively affirmed by others and reach a way to coexist with teachers and other students in a room that provides space for good relationships.