Ukrainian Educators E-Learning During COVID-19
Ukrainian universities closed their doors and transitioned to e-learning in March as part of a national social distancing and quarantine effort in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The International Foundation for Electoral Systems (IFES) supported its 30 partner universities to adapt its university-level civic education course Democracy: From Theory to Practice to ensure that the course remained highly interactive and participatory in an online format. On April 1, IFES launched a series of webinars called Is the impossible possible? How to teach the interactive Democracy: From Theory to Practice course online. The webinars sought to overcome the new challenge of teaching online and continuing education for democracy during the COVID-19 pandemic.
IFES has engaged 70 university-level educators throughout Ukraine to discuss the challenges of e-learning. Through peer-to-peer engagement, IFES facilitated opportunities for educators to exchange best practices on how to incorporate active learning and maintain an interactive teaching methodology through e-learning. The shared experiences highlighted techniques to support and mentor student groups in the design and implementation of their student action projects – the practical component in which students identify and address problems through the lens of human rights, good governance and citizen engagement – in a responsible and safe manner.
During the four IFES-facilitated webinars, educators and IFES trainers shared tools to bolster interaction through an e-learning platform. The trainers emphasized that while teaching online is a change, it also offers new opportunities for teachers and students.
IFES trainer and Ukrainian National University of Kyiv-Mohyla Academy professor Olga Bershadska explained, “Everyone must accept the fact that certain planned activities may not work as well online. But, what is important is to realize why you do this or that activity and how to achieve its goal.”
The webinars not only enriched educators with new knowledge and tools for e-learning, but also inspired them to shift toward digitalization.
Kateryna Pavshuk, a professor from Yaroslav Mudriy National Law University and certified instructor of the IFES-led program said, “Now I am sure that the impossible is possible! As the circumstances have changed, we [educators] change, we become more original and better. We are happy to help each other to succeed in these new circumstances.” Another educator expressed a similar realization noting, “Teaching online has less of the emotional connection with students, but it lets you dive deeper into the content.”
After the webinar series, 100 percent of the participants stated that they will use the knowledge gained during the webinars when using e-learning to teach the civic education course. Moreover, all agreed that the webinars helped them to focus more on the course goals despite the distractions that educators are facing globally as a result of school closures and social distancing.
The Democracy: From Theory to Practice course was developed with support from the United States Agency for International Development through the Consortium for Elections and Political Process Strengthening (CEPPS), Global Affairs Canada and UK aid. Established in 1995, CEPPS pools the expertise of three premier international organizations dedicated to democratic development: IFES, the International Republican Institute and the National Democratic Institute. CEPPS has a 20-year track record of collaboration and leadership in democracy, human rights and governance support, learning from experience, and adopting new approaches and tools based on the ever-evolving technological landscape.
The course is tailored for the Ukraine context and has reached thousands of Ukrainian students. It is based on IFES’ global university-level civic education teaching methodology, Strengthening Engagement Through Education for Democracy (SEED). IFES’ SEED methodology integrates democracy and gender equality into all areas of civic and political participation, minority rights and other key aspects of democratic citizenship. The SEED methodology is designed to foster students’ democratic values and attitudes, while equipping them with the knowledge and skills that are essential to being mindful and effective citizens in a democratic, digital society. This is done through hands-on, student-centered active learning experiences, an interactive teaching methodology and student-led civic action projects that address problems, such as gender-based inequalities, in students’ communities and beyond.
Learn more about the Democracy: From Theory to Practice project and its continued growth.