Survey on online teaching: WWF facts and figures

In order to collect data on how our lecturers have adapted their courses to online teaching and to learn from their insights, the Dean's Office has created a survey for all lecturers of the Faculty. The main goal was to get a better overview of the tools used and to share key learnings as well as tips and tricks within the faculty.

In mid-March, the Corona crisis posed a major challenge to the Faculty of Business, Economics and Informatics (WWF): The approximately 250 lecturers had no more than three days to convert their teaching completely to digital. To learn more about how they have mastered this switch, to get an overview of the tools, instruments and teaching methods used and to gather valuable insights, the Dean's Office has created a survey for all lecturers of the Faculty. The survey took place from March 27 to March 31, 2020. 113 people participated, which consists of roughly 50% of our teaching staff. They filled out the data collection for a total of 203 courses (out of approx. 280 courses).

Impressive variety of teaching formats
The survey showed how different formats of digital learning are used. They can roughly be divided into two groups. The first group includes lecturers who primarily record the lecture as a livestream or podcast. The second group uses mainly interactive teaching formats with student contributions, such as presentations by students, discussion groups with students, exercises or tasks that students work on independently, supplemented by regular multiple-choice questions for exam preparation and online tutorials.

Online Teaching: Formats

According to the experience of the lecturers, the advantage of livestreams is certainly the interactivity – this means that students can ask questions at any time. One professor even mentioned that students are more active during the online sessions than during a regular class in the lecture hall and that it is much easier to involve students interactively online. For example, with the help of voting during the live session or integrated short quizzes, thanks to which students can test their level of knowledge.

On the other hand, traditional podcasts streamed in the university lecture hall (new recorded ones as well as podcasts from last year) are used in a blended learning setting because the university streaming guarantees higher quality than home streaming and basic content is still up-to-date. To allow interactions with the students, podcasts are usually combined with the following methods within a blended learning approach (selection):

  • Q&A after each lecture
  • additional material based on PPT with VoiceOver
  • individual calls with students
  • student presentations (slides and screencasts)
  • MS Teams meetings with screen sharing, online forms, documents to share and discussion of results in class
  • weekly exercises that student work on in pairs related to the lecture
  • written material such as book chapters/articles
  • video and animated PPT slides with voice over
  • multiple choice questions each week for exam preparation
  • online tutorials
  • use polls and online quizzes
  • upload slides one week before providing the commented video, students are invited to post their questions during the following week in order to integrate their feedback to the videos

Different tools for different purposes
The range of tools used for digital teaching is also enormous, but with three very clear top choices: Zoom and OLAT, followed by Microsoft Teams.

Online teaching: Tools

In addition, a large number of tools are used in single or rare cases:

Adobe Connect

Alpha Cruncher
Google Docs
Google Melt
Microsoft PowerPoint
Microsoft Whiteboard
Microsoft XBOX Recording
MS Teams Quizzes
Open edX

Survey Monkey
OBS Studio
Own Website
Weekly video messages

Helpful tools – satisfied users
Overall, the lecturers rated the available tools as very helpful for completing their courses online. On a scale of 1 (very useless) to 10 (very helpful), the vast majority of tools were rated higher than 8, which is a very pleasing result. The most frequently used tools were all rated very high: 9.4 for Zoom, 8.2 for Microsoft Teams, and 8.2 for UZH's Learning Management System OLAT.

In open comments, the lecturers also pointed out advantages and disadvantages of the respective tools. For example, Zoom was perceived as intuitive and user-friendly. Moreover, it allows for a better interaction with students because – in contrast to MS Teams – all participants can be seen at a glance. In addition, Zoom allows to divide students into smaller groups during a session (e.g. for an exercise). On the other hand, some lecturers were concerned about security issues. A big advantage of OLAT that was mentioned is that students are already used to it and that it can easily be used asynchronously. At the same time, some students find it not so user-friendly and with limited upload space for teaching materials. With regards to Microsoft Teams, lecturers point out that although it is easy to use and allows direct interaction with students, it is less suitable for video calls with a larger number of students because only four participants are shown at a time. Overall, however, satisfaction with the tools is high and lecturers have managed to offer their courses online at short notice thanks to these tools.

Ready for the next challenge
Concerning the exams by the end of the semester, 73% of all participants have already concrete ideas how to adapt their assessments to digital. As the results show, most lecturers plan to have an online exam. For example, a multiple choice question exam with limited time for answering, an open book exam or a quiz via tools like Moodle or MS Teams. Also online student presentations via Zoom or MS Teams or a written report, which can be handed in via e-mail or be uploaded on OLAT, were mentioned. Other options include the grading of student participation in discussions, case studies, practical assignments or individualized tasks. Many lectures plan on having a combination of all these options.

For questions regarding the survey or the results please contact: