Since late 2019, COVID-19, or coronavirus, has been changing life as we know it throughout the world. In mid-March, educational institutions in Spain were forced to close down temporarily in an attempt to stop rapid and widespread transmission of the virus.
At IE University, we’ve decided not to let this pandemic halt our students’ education. We spoke to one of our students, Marta Galvez, who told us a little about her experience at IE University during the lockdown.
My name is Marta. I am both Spanish and American. I am a second-year student studying Behavior and Social Sciences. After getting the notice that all educational institutions were going to be closing down, my family who lives in Switzerland decided to bring me back with them. I am now following all my classes and extra courses from home—they have all been very engaging.
And it just makes me tremendously happy to see the support from everyone in my class when dealing with group projects and limited time. I’ve heard my peers say, “Don’t worry, go home. I’ll take care of your part. Please let us know when you get home safe. What else can I do to help? Let’s make a Kahoot to enjoy together. Let’s FaceTime and talk for a bit as a group and enjoy each other’s presence,” etc.
IE University stays united and operative amidst the chaos
From one day to the next, we went from a perfect, normal life, to the realization that we are facing a universal threat. It all started two to three weeks ago when COVID-19 brought chaos and panic to our campus. Students were stressed and many decided to return to their home countries. But of course, it didn’t even take a day for IE University to anticipate the possible problems that the virus could bring to our community, health, and education and prepare for the worst ahead of time. No classes were skipped and every single course continued as scheduled. Obviously, teachers have been very understanding and some assignments and exams have been postponed to suit students’ time. But in general, everything remains intact.
Of course, I know IE University is known for its innovation and great adaptability, but it’s still impressive to see how fast the university adjusted to the situation. IE University has been able to handle this challenging transition really well. Roadblocks weren’t encountered since the university was able to overcome any setback with great speed and was prepared to deal with the unknown.
The online classes are taught through a link or through Adobe Connect. The platform enables the users to connect their cameras and microphones, and it has a chat option, screen sharing, and features such as clapping and raising your hand to ask to speak, for example. From day one, students and teachers were taught how to use the platform, an explanation was also posted online, and continuous emails were sent to remind everyone to ask for help if any problems occur while using online classes.
The lockdown has strengthened our sense of community
As for my fellow students, regardless of the stress, fear and fast-paced changes, and along with traveling back home, they’ve been eagerly using the platform and actively participating during class. Everyone has been extremely supportive (in my class, problems or misunderstandings have been communicated through our WhatsApp group chat and solved within seconds by other peers).
Not only are students continuing their classes, but those who are now on opposite sides of the world are waking up in the middle of the night or staying up late to continue their education. Everyone is expressing a great deal of commitment, effort, responsibility, and positivity to make this online method possible. (If professors and parents could see our group chats I know they would be very proud, as am I).
All students seem to be more responsible and understanding than ever. Contrary to what many students from Madrid are saying in the media, not once have I heard an IE University student say, “This is an opportunity to go out more often.” Students are connecting to the platform to attend class, they are doing other extra courses they’ve signed up for, they’ve been doing their exams online, and they’ve been able to do presentations either by screen sharing or by posting a video with voice recording on YouTube. All group assignments are also being done and it is exciting to see pictures of each individual group meeting posted on Instagram.
We might be locked inside our houses, but that doesn’t stop us from staying connected and interacting with others.
Online classes connect students from all four corners of the globe
If IE University was already renowned for its diversity, with students from all over the world concentrated in two Spanish cities, it can only be seen as more diverse now that we have students connected from different places like Spain, the US, Aruba, Jordan, Peru, and Ecuador, for example.
Students have taken this situation as an opportunity to learn in different ways and learn to adapt to uncomfortable circumstances while still keeping a positive attitude. As for communication, it has been outstanding, whether it’s between students for clarification purposes and group projects, or whether it’s between students, teachers, and any other staff member. Communication from the university to students has been continuous, clear, and transparent.
IE University members have always been very united, but this situation has brought all of us closer and made us stronger, and we are able to see what we are truly capable of doing when we work together and communicate with each other.
I would like to say congratulations to everyone for your dedication and commitment because in times of fear and stress we have been able to keep a positive environment. I am proud to belong to such an exceptional community. Go IE University!
Instead of canceling classes, we’ve drawn on our extensive experience with online teaching to offer students the same high-quality educational experience that they are used to under normal circumstances. During the global lockdown, students, professors, and stakeholders have been able to continue contributing to the strong sense of community that we are proud of at IE University.