The MIDS Online Section has the ambition to create a “digital community of learning”, fully acknowledging the fact that education is much more than the transfer of competences. The social process that allows students to learn from their teachers and peers, to develop their social skills, mindsets, and capabilities, is just as critical, and needs to be given proper attention and space in an online academic program.
The MIDS Online Section thus goes further than replicating face-to-face activities in front of a webcam or recording short lectures and publishing them on an educational platform. It draws on the many years of experience in online pedagogics of the Centre for Continuing and Distance Education of the University of Geneva, with whose support it has designed the MIDS Online Section program.
The specific pedagogical approaches of the MIDS Online Section program vary across its various components, reflecting the teaching style of each faculty member and the learning objectives of the modules. Students enrolled in the Online Section will receive detailed information in that regard ahead of each course.
Overall, the schedule is adapted to integrate and address the challenges and limits of online education, such as limited concentration span in front of a screen, time differences, or social distance, to name only a few. The program makes use of the many distinctive features of different platforms and tools (Zoom, Webex, Moodle), including social media, for promoting both formal and informal discussions with the faculty and among the students, with the aim of helping create a community that strengthens the group’s shared purpose. It also taps the potential of peer learning as a way of processing information and sharing knowledge, by organizing small virtual groups where students can interact together, with or without the presence of an instructor.
A dedicated team supports distance students throughout the academic year, to assist them and, wherever necessary, to nudge them so that they all take full advantage of the MIDS learning and social experience.