E-Learning and blended learning are successfully used at all levels of education. This also applies to universities. The Gdańsk University of Technology is one of the leaders in distance learning.

For many universities, the pandemic outbreak was a big surprise. The inability to conduct classes in a stationary mode forced a rapid transition to remote learning. However, the best universities had been well prepared and had taken advantage of eLearning and blended learning opportunities far earlier.

No doubt, they will not lose their importance in the future either.

The Gdańsk University of Technology is an example of such a university. The history of e-learning there dates back to 1995. Thanks to its e-learning platform, based on the Moodle system and using ClickMeeting as a tool for conducting various types of classes and events online, it is able to effectively educate students and continue scientific-research work regardless of the circumstances.

We invite you to watch the video and read the text report from our meeting with Anita Dąbrowicz-Tlałka, PhD, Gdańsk Tech professor – plenipotentiary of the Rector for eLearning and deputy director for Didactic Development of the Mathematics Center – and Mikołaj Grochowski, M.Sc. – software developer at IT Services Center of Gdańsk Tech.

Gdańsk University of Technology among the national leaders

The Gdańsk University of Technology was founded on 1 October 1904 as the Königliche Technische Hochschule zu Danzig. After World War II, it was transformed into a Polish state academic school.

Today it has over 15,000 students and nearly 1,400 academic staff divided into eight faculties, two doctoral schools, four teaching centers, modern research centers (e.g., BioTechMed Centre, EkoTech Centre, Digital Technology Centre, Future Materials Centre), and units related to ensuring the development and maintenance of the University’s technological infrastructure (e.g., IT Services Centre). In addition, in cooperation with external partners, the Gdańsk University of Technology also establishes university-wide research and implementation centers. These are the Offshore Wind Energy Centre and the Hydrogen Technology Centre.

The University belongs to the group of the most dynamically developing academic units in the country. In the Perspektywy ranking, it was ranked sixth among all Polish academic universities and third in the ranking of technical universities. In this respect, it gave way only to the Warsaw University of Technology and AGH University of Science and Technology in Krakow. The Gdańsk University of Technology is also one of the 10 Polish universities listed in the most prestigious ranking of global universities, ARWU (Shanghai ranking). In the last edition, it was placed in the ninth hundred of the list.

e-Learning at Gdańsk Tech

The Gdańsk University of Technology successfully applies the methods and techniques of distance learning, offering its employees and students both access to fully remote solutions (e-Learning), as well as blended learning. For this purpose, the University has launched the eLearning platform, which provides an optimal course of the educational process, including access to virtual laboratories or the possibility to run tests.

The history of e-learning at the Gdańsk University of Technology dates back to 1995. The first university-wide platform based on Moodle was created in 2013 and was integrated with the university systems right away.

Anita Dąbrowicz-Tlałka, PhD, Gdańsk Tech Professor

From the very beginning, the University had diverse needs. On the one hand, it cooperated with many visiting lecturers and scientists located in different parts of the world; on the other hand – it was necessary to ensure contact with students staying abroad. The best universities are also highly internationalized. The Gdańsk University of Technology educates students from over 70 countries.

It quickly became clear that the e-learning platform of the Gdańsk University of Technology needed to be integrated with a tool to conduct webinars and online meetings.

We tested numerous solutions for webinars. Many of them did not meet our expectations in terms of both technical and functional issues – they were not user-friendly enough. Our final choice fell on the ClickMeeting platform, which we have used since 2018.

Anita Dąbrowicz-Tlałka, PhD, Gdańsk Tech Professor

Thanks to the focus on the development of remote teaching techniques at the Gdańsk University of Technology, we have managed to balance the two sides of the remote teaching process: the technological aspect represented by the IT Services Centre and the methodological aspect shaped by academic teachers.

Technological and functional needs of lecturers are collected and then passed on to the IT Services Centre staff, responsible for developing and implementing new solutions to improve distance learning.

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Gdańsk Tech eLearning platform

The cornerstone of e-learning at the Gdańsk University of Technology is the eLearning PG platform based on the Moodle system. Thanks to this tool, the lecturers can easily transfer their classes to the virtual space while taking advantage of advanced solutions enabling them to arrange exams or obtain necessary permissions. Students and other interested persons can easily and safely access the materials.

Our eLearning platform is used by nearly 1,400 academic teachers and nearly 20,000 students and other participants of remote classes. This solution, therefore, has to match the requirements of the lecturers with the technical capabilities of the participants – not only students but also teachers and school students who cooperate with the University, or representatives of industry and commercial environments.

Anita Dąbrowicz-Tlałka, PhD, Gdańsk Tech Professor

Of course, classes remain the heart of the educational process, allowing the lecturers to share their knowledge and the students to participate in lectures, exercises, or seminars. Exactly as it happens in the traditional classroom model. ClickMeeting, which is integrated with Gdańsk Tech’s eLearning platform, helps accomplish these tasks.

Why did the Gdańsk University of Technology choose ClickMeeting?

In the case of universities, the organization of remote learning is a demanding process. From the very beginning, it is necessary to combine technological issues and the real needs of the individuals with the audience’s expectations. And those are very diverse: they use many devices, and their technical skills can differ significantly from each other.

The ClickMeeting platform allowed the University to conveniently create classes in the form of interactive webinars. Furthermore, online events also supported other activities essential for Gdańsk Tech, including the organization of open lectures, meetings with entrepreneurs and institutions cooperating with the University, promotional events, conferences, or organizational meetings of various units of the University.

Above all, we wanted a tool that would allow for integration with the Moodle platform, which is the basis of eLearning at the Gdańsk University of Technology, and allow for direct room booking. We also paid attention to the solution’s user-friendliness and whether it guarantees the users’ verification. Another important issue was branding with the university logos because we wanted to record some of the meetings, e.g., with visiting professors or entrepreneurs and then use them for promotional purposes. Finally, from our perspective, it is also important to have access to extensive statistics on events, which allows us to analyze them and monitor the undertaken activities.

Anita Dąbrowicz-Tlałka, PhD, Gdańsk Tech Professor

Although the technological competence of Internet users is constantly growing, the specialists responsible for the development of e-learning platforms have to consider the issue of intuitiveness. Practice shows that the problem with using webinar tools can significantly hinder teaching and learning. Therefore, it is worth betting on platforms that guarantee easy access to all available functions.

ClickMeeting is very user-friendly. Indeed, the advantage is that the tool is being constantly modified and developed.

Anita Dąbrowicz-Tlałka, PhD, Gdańsk Tech Professor

In any case, the effectiveness of distance information transmission depends on the preparation of both lecturers and their recipients. ClickMeeting experts also take care of this aspect of implementation. The platform’s customers can count on extensive training, which helps to quickly acquire the necessary information and get into action.

An important element in the initial stage of ClickMeeting’s integration with the Gdańsk Tech eLearning platform was the opportunity to take advantage of training sessions conducted by ClickMeeting for university teachers. Thanks to this, the community quickly got used to the tool and learned about the various solutions that make remote teaching much easier.

Anita Dąbrowicz-Tlałka, PhD, Gdańsk Tech Professor

Webinars implemented through ClickMeeting are used not only for large lectures but also for exercises and seminars in a smaller groups, allowing all participants to turn on the cameras and chat freely. They work well for oral exams, monitoring written exams, or holding consultations. Thanks to the methods of controlling access to events, the lecturer can be sure that the content shared will not leave the group of authorized persons.

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Integrating ClickMeeting with the Moodle platform

Effective learning management requires a centralized system. The Moodle platform, chosen by e-learning leaders around the world, is the perfect solution. In order to ensure the proper flow of data and to automate processes, all tools used for distance learning should enable integration with university systems. This was one of the main reasons for choosing ClickMeeting.

The goal of integrating ClickMeeting with Gdańsk Tech’s Moodle-based eLearning platform was to provide teachers with a tool that allows them to easily organize online meetings and is integrated with university systems. We also cooperate on preparing conferences and other events related to remote learning.

Mikołaj Grochowski, M.Sc.

The IT Services Centre of the Gdańsk University of Technology is responsible for the development of the eLearning platform. Currently, the main task of this unit is to develop the tool in accordance with the expectations of its users. An important area of activity is the integration of ClickMeeting with a platform based on the Moodle system.

As an IT Service Centre, using ClickMeeting, we’ve been able to respond to academic teachers’ needs and create tools that improve their daily work. First of all, it concerned reporting, i.e., summarizing specific online meetings and stats, allowing to summarize the work of entire units or departments. Automation is of great importance, as it makes these processes run much more efficiently without the direct participation of an academic teacher.

Mikołaj Grochowski, M.Sc.

The ability to integrate ClickMeeting with the eLearning platform in an advanced way is crucial, allowing us to automate and simplify almost the entire eLearning process. The open API makes the work of developers responsible for creating and maintaining the tools much easier.

From a developer’s perspective, the most helpful feature of ClickMeeting is the Open API or open application programming interface. It allows us at the IT Services Center to create tools that allow university teachers to manage a large number of online meetings, as well as to access extensive statistics and analysis.

Mikołaj Grochowski, M.Sc.

What is important: the users gain access to the platform and to particular webinars also via mobile devices, and they very willingly use this possibility. Thanks to this, they are able to participate in classes or meetings from virtually any location.

In 2018, as part of the development of the eLearning platform, we introduced a mobile application that gives students easier access to materials also from their smartphones. The app works with all solutions, including the ClickMeeting platform.

Mikołaj Grochowski, M.Sc.

How does it work? Comprehensive remote learning

From the perspective of an academic teacher, remote learning has two sides – technical and formal-legal. The system works on the basis of eCourses assigned to specific subjects on the eLearning platform. By entering a selected e-course, the lecturer can upload teaching materials and book webinars, where, e.g., lectures are held in a synchronous format.

The eLearning platform also includes declarations concerning, e.g., self-work during monitored exams or permission to use the image in recordings shared with other students. At the same time, this helps protect the academic teacher’s image – the Gdańsk University of Technology uses statements that prohibit using the recordings in other places, such as social networking sites.

When booking a webinar, the academic teacher chooses, among other things, the profile of the meeting – whether it is to be a large event, e.g., a lecture, or a meeting for a smaller number of people, that works well for seminars. Next, they choose the date and time of the event. They can also introduce access regulations to the event. For example, it can exclude students who have not given the required consent.

Anita Dąbrowicz-Tlałka, PhD, Gdańsk Tech Professor

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The pandemic changed education

The outbreak of the pandemic surprised many schools and universities. In practice, the institutions that took care of the development of e-learning platforms earlier could comfortably continue their work regardless of the circumstances. Thus, it was possible to transfer all types of classes and activities to the virtual space and respond flexibly according to the applicable sanitary restrictions.

During the pandemic, all lecturers and students had to switch to remote teaching. Integration with the ClickMeeting platform helped streamline this process and gave us at the IT Services Center the tools to accomplish the transition much faster.

Mikołaj Grochowski, M.Sc.

Undoubtedly, remote learning and blended learning have permanently changed the way many institutions work. Some of the introduced solutions will stay with us permanently.

Pandemic has changed the approach to education. This applies not only to the Gdańsk University of Technology. In our case, the use of webinar rooms has increased to several thousand per semester.

I suspect that most lectures will remain in the remote format permanently. Therefore, webinars will continue to be widely used in the educational sector. Students have also become accustomed to the fact that very often consultations are held online. This is more convenient for both them and the lecturers.

Anita Dąbrowicz-Tlałka, PhD, Gdańsk Tech Professor

Another aspect of Gdańsk Tech’s work, which was moved to virtual reality, was scientific conferences. It allows for much more effective promotion of events and reaching participants regardless of where they are. This is the easiest way to increase the rank of the conference. It also helps to reduce associated costs and at the same time, makes the event available to a larger number of interested people.

ClickMeeting’s solutions also support large conferences:

We especially appreciate the ability to host moderated chats and organize a room for speakers where they can prepare their speeches and test the room’s features. We also use question-and-answer sessions to help the event run smoothly and to answer other people’s questions.

Anita Dąbrowicz-Tlałka, PhD, Gdańsk Tech Professor

Take advantage of ClickMeeting’s potential!

Want to join the ranks of e-learning leaders? Try ClickMeeting. Contact our experts to choose the right solution.

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