Distance learning has become an important part of the education system. This applies to education at all stages, including universities. Leaders in this area have been sharing knowledge online long before most universities started using e-learning during the pandemic.
A special place in this group belongs to the Polish Virtual University (PUW), a unit of the University of Humanities and Economics in Lodz, which has been educating students remotely since 2002. The tool that supports the university’s online events – from team meetings to daily classes to exams and even thesis defenses – is ClickMeeting. Read the article to see how our platform supports PUW and why practitioners want this collaboration to keep going.
Polish Virtual University in numbers:
- Has been educating students online since 2002.
- More than 20,000 graduates have left the university’s “virtual walls”.
- Over 500 tutors and 7,000 students use PUW’s remote learning platform every semester.
- Since 2016, PUW has organized classes, meetings, and conferences via ClickMeeting.
Polish Virtual University – university education also online
Studying is primarily associated with lecture halls filled to the brim and queues lining up for exam rooms or dean’s offices. Getting a higher education doesn’t have to look like that at all. The Polish Virtual University, operating as part of the University of Humanities and Economics in Lodz, relied on remote education back in 2002. Initially, two majors were launched: computer science and management and marketing. Currently, the unit offers education in 24 undergraduate and second-level degree programs, including four majors in English and more than 40 postgraduate programs.
The educational offer is therefore vast. And with e-learning, access to education is available not only to students at the University’s headquarters in Lodz, but also at branches in Jaslo, Wodzislaw Slaski, Trzcianka, Swidnica, Sieradz and Warsaw. Studying itself is possible in any place in the world with access to the Internet.
– Twenty years ago, we decided that remote education was one form of education that would have a future. This is how the Polish Virtual University was born, which is a unit focused exclusively on e-learning at the University of Humanities and Economics in Lodz,” says Lidia Mirowska, senior coordinator for the quality of remote studies
What does studying at the Polish Virtual University look like now?
Classes at the university are held in a hybrid model – online lectures and exercises are the foundation. Students and lecturers meet each other during 2-3 sessions throughout the semester and during the exam session.
– Classes at the Polish Virtual University are carried out as much online as the Law on Higher Education allows us to do. There are educational products, such as courses, that we can run entirely online. On the other hand, we provide first- and second-level studies or full master’s degrees in a hybrid system,” explains Lidia Mirowska.
In such a formula, students get definitely more autonomy. Communication takes place primarily in an asynchronous model. Students can also decide on their own when to complete most tasks and exercises. Of course, thanks to ClickMeeting, they can always count on a direct meeting with lecturers regardless of where they are.
ClickMeeting supports education at PUW
The cornerstone of education at PUW is a remote learning platform based on the Moodle system. Within it, students and lecturers get access to virtual classrooms, and an important part of it is the integration with ClickMeeting.
– The Polish Virtual University, as an entity that wants to keep up with trends in remote education, decided in 2015 that we want to educate synchronously, but synchronously with a focus on video format. We tested various solutions, and ClickMeeting’s offer turned out to be the most flexible and customized for us. At the same time, it guaranteed the potential for development as we grew,” says Lidia Mirowska.
Also, the support that the university staff could count on from the very beginning of the cooperation was significant. – As a team of methodologists, we needed support to be support for our teaching staff. This cooperation provided us with that, and we actually learned so that we could teach,” she adds.
Let’s find out exactly how it works:
– ClickMeeting is one of the activities to choose from within our remote learning platform, which is dedicated precisely to online, synchronous meetings. Our teachers decide on their own how the meeting is called or when it is held. Sometimes this is determined by the timetable, while the automated launch is made from the subject’s position,” explains Lidia Mirowska.
A big advantage of the tool is its intuitiveness. Every lecturer, after a short training, is able to create classes on their own and get the most out of the platform. – The lecturer sets up a meeting within the subject and sets its time. Then they open the room, the students log in, and the classes begin,” says Emilia Nowacka, PUW’s education quality coordinator.
During the pandemic, the University took full advantage of its remote preparation. Not only did lectures, exercises, conferences, or internal meetings take place online, as before, but also thesis defenses. – One of our successes is that we were one of the first universities to start online defenses during the pandemic. Each defense was combined with stress for both us and the faculty and, of course, the students. But it was an interesting experience that, at some point, took place away from us, i.e. the remote learning coordinators. The lecturers only kept us informed about the date of the thesis defense, we would create a proper meeting for them, and they continued to handle it very well and have been doing so until now,” states Emilia Nowacka.
Not only remote classes
The implementation of classes resulting from the course of study is not everything. ClickMeeting provides much more opportunities, which PUW employees and students are eager to use.
– ClickMeeting gives us the opportunity to organize meetings and webinars also outside the Moodle platform. So in addition to didactics, which is where we started, we are responsible for hosting, among other things, conferences, faculty meetings, but also internal meetings in our organization,” says Lidia Mirowska. – This was especially important during the pandemic, when we did not work in-house. Meetings, such as departmental meetings or rector-dean meetings, could still take place just thanks to the ClickMeeting platform, she adds.
A special initiative that ClickMeeting also supports is the On-line Academy. This is a nationwide conference on e-learning, with practitioners of remote learning sharing their knowledge and experiences. The event is held in a hybrid formula – on the one hand, in the headquarters of the university in Lodz, on the other – via the Internet, through ClickMeeting.
The webinar and online meeting tool plays a key role in e-learning and blended learning. The features it offers are not enough. Equally as important, and perhaps even more vital, is that all users are able to use them effectively and can focus on their work rather than on handling the software.
Intuitive solution architecture is not just an empty cliché – it’s a very important feature appreciated especially by educational institutions creating e-learning platforms that are used by users with different digital competencies – this includes both lecturers and students.
– The ClickMeeting platform is an intuitive one. Despite any misgivings I had at the beginning, I quickly got acquainted with it and learned how to use it,” states Emilia Nowacka. Especially at the implementation stage, of course, you may need consultations with experts who can dispel doubts and select appropriate solutions. ClickMeeting’s support department remains at the customers’ disposal and is always willing to help. – I also had a bunch of specialists on Click’s side. I could call, chat or email at any time. I always got an answer to my questions,” she adds.
Of course, implementation is just the beginning of cooperation. Often, especially in the case of large clients whose needs can change dynamically, a quick response is crucial. This makes it easier to meet even unexpected challenges. – I really like the fact that if we have an emergency situation, for example, we have a large conference coming up and the number of people on a particular webinar needs to be increased, I call, and virtually within 20 minutes I have the limit increased. So that I highly praise this cooperation with Click support,” concludes Emilia Nowacka.
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Features to support education
There are two types of events left for presenters to choose from, depending primarily on their purpose and the number of participants: smaller events, such as exercises, are held in the form of a meeting, while webinars are ideal for lectures. – In some cases, lectures are attended by up to 350 people. Some of them are in the lecture hall, but most participate remotely, as our students come from different parts of Poland, and some of them live abroad,” says Emilia Nowacka. – Our big success is that our lecturers are self-reliant. They are able to combine several groups of students into one lecture group by themselves. As a result, they don’t have to teach each group separately, but instead give such a large lecture to several different groups simultaneously,” she adds.
What features do tutors and students use most often? – First and foremost are presentations, but also screen sharing and uploading videos from YouTube. Surveys and tests also prove useful. Our lecturers like and discover new functionalities of the platform,” Emilia Nowacka stresses.
The scale of PUW’s operation is impressive. The e-learning system is used every semester by more than 500 lecturers, who currently create more than 2,500 class spaces available to university students. In each of these areas, it is possible to host webinars via ClickMeeting.
Bet on e-learning with ClickMeeting
Want to join the ranks of e-learning leaders who share knowledge via ClickMeeting? Try our platform free of charge. You have up to 30 days to test it out without having to provide your payment card information. And if you have special requirements, contact our experts. They’ll help you create learning solutions perfectly tailored to your organization’s needs.