The rapid shift to online education during the COVID-19 pandemic has brought about significant changes in the teaching and learning landscape. This article presents a comprehensive exploration of e-learning experiences in Greece through the use of a mobile ethnography application and subsequent focus group discussions held as part of the PLACEDU project.
Using a mobile ethnography application, students and teachers described their e-learning or e-teaching experiences, rated their moods using emojis, and provided feedback on related themes. 20 students and 12 teachers participated in the research. Teachers generally reported smooth experiences and positive moods, focusing on personal attitude and the future. Students rated their e-learning as good and smooth overall, but some mentioned challenges with teacher engagement and technology. Students’ feedback frequently related to the teacher and technology, while teachers’ feedback focused on personal attitude and the future. Overall, both students and teachers had positive e-learning experiences.
After the mobile ethnography a focus group was conducted to gain deeper insights into the e-teaching experience. Three participants, including university professors and a staff member responsible for quality assurance, were interviewed. Despite the sudden shift to online education during the COVID-19 pandemic, the focus group participants had positive experiences overall. They observed increased student attendance and found that certain modern tools made conducting courses easier. While there were challenges, such as questionable student engagement and difficulty with practical courses, both students and teachers adapted quickly to the transition. The feedback from mobile ethnography data aligned with their experiences, confirming the positive overall experience. However, distance education posed challenges, including a loss of contact with students, reduced student feedback and participation, and difficulties in assessment. The high pass rates observed raised concerns about the quality of education. The participants emphasised the need for improvements in the assessment process and emphasised the importance of proper training for teachers in distance teaching and learning techniques. They suggested adapting teaching methods and materials for distance education, encouraging interaction, and taking on a facilitator and mentor role as opposed to one-way communication.
PLACEDU in Greece will prioritise strengthening digital skills in the curriculum and addressing educational disparities caused by online learning. It will provide support to academic and administrative staff in transitioning to online teaching methods and adapting resources for distance education.