Twenty-two international students started on-line studies in the two-year Master’s programme Development Studies and Foresight – Global Development Policy (GLODEP), organised by the UP Faculty of Science at Palacký University Olomouc together with two other universities – the University of Clermont Auvergne (France) and the University of Pavia (Italy). The faculty has prepared a new classroom with modern audio-visual equipment enabling hybrid teaching.
The programme will enable foreign students to acquire the knowledge and skills needed to analyse the socio-economic and environmental problems of developing countries. That knowledge can then be used in the field of development policies at the regional, national and international levels. “Generally, the programme is not online, but due to the fact that Czech embassies in different countries have only re-opened quite recently after their closure related to the coronavirus pandemic, our students do not have all their documents ready, e.g. certifications and visas, so we had to take this step for the time being,” said Simona Šafaříková from the Department of Development and Environmental Studies.
Teachers and students of the GLODEP specialisation can currently use the new classroom with audio-visual equipment, with a seventy-five-inch big screen and two cameras. One of them records the auditorium, the other the whiteboard and the lecturer. “You can choose between a surround microphone and a simple mixing console, to which two micro ports and two wireless microphones can be connected. The screen is on a hinged bracket, so the teacher can rotate it in order to see both the students in the room and the ones connected online,” said Miloslav Dušek, Vice-Dean for International Affairs.
In this academic year, twenty-two students from, for example, Mexico, Brazil, Venezuela, Nigeria, Zambia, Laos, Pakistan and Tajikistan started the programme. They attend the online classes very responsibly. “I am very happy that the students are active and very well prepared for classes, despite the fact that they still have to manage all the administrative challenges,” said one of the lecturers, Lenka Dušková from the Department of Development and Environmental Studies.
Eva Žwaková from the same department is also in daily contact with the students. “We try support students by e-mail, on Facebook, or once a week as part of an online administrative class, which we have so far included in the programme in order to resolve current problems with study and arrival administration. Students can ask anything that comes to their mind. For example, they are interested in how to log in to STAG [the online study administrative system of Palacký University], what the current situation with COVID-19 is in the Czech Republic, whether it is possible to buy medicines for fever or headaches in pharmacies here, and in the condition of the Czech healthcare system.”
One of the students in this programme is Jannico Cabañero from the Philippines. “The diversity in the GLODEP program made our on-line classes lively and interesting, especially when we get to share our ideas, experiences and perspectives on different issues and topics. In addition, the professors provide us a safe space to freely express our thoughts and they ensure that the discussions are engaging and productive. However, this current learning set up still poses several challenges to us such as time zone differences – some of the classes take place between 1 am and 3 am local time – technical and connectivity issues, and limited interaction. Although we are still having classes on-line, I am looking forward to meeting my classmates and professors in real life and I am eager to learn more – not only about global development, but also the intercultural experience that the program offers,” he said.
The GLODEP study programme opens up the possibility for students to study at three European universities that are implementing programmes in the field of development studies and development economics. The aim of the programme is to prepare students in the field of international development.