Online Erasmus Experience

Online Erasmus Experience


Nazan Gelbal

A new chapter in education has begun and we are starting with the hope of having a pre-Covid teaching and learning environment. We all made do with what online teaching brought us at first, and then focused on what worked well. We missed genuine interaction with our students and our colleagues, socializing, travelling and many more things. As an optimistic person, when I look back I remember only the good sides of teaching online, likely as I have always shared what works well in my teaching with my colleagues. We have shared a lot of useful and practical online tools, and through online peer observations. In this post I would like to share my online Erasmus experience, which was one of the best things that I did during the online period. It is not like travelling to another country and teaching in a different environment because the happiness in the students’ eyes, the feeling of fulfilment and exchanging information, and the cultural interactions will make you feel no different than face to face mobility. 

You might remember my Erasmus teaching experience from my previous blog post. I visited Croatia Business School in 2019 and taught business English lessons there for almost one week. The cultural similarities between Croatia and Turkey created a bond between Dr Ivanka Raaj and I, and we wanted to repeat the experience. Although we had a lot of questions in our minds, we started to work on an online Erasmus experience. First of all, I contacted SU international office. As always, they encouraged me to be involved in such a project and prepared and signed all the official documents. Then, we decided on a mutual teaching point and I felt so lucky because in the Spring semester I was teaching R3 students and I was in charge of Collaborative Learning tasks as the main class teacher. My students were going to present for the first time as part of a CL task and Ivanka happily agreed to teach presentation skills one week before the student presentations. Students were highly interested in the way Ivanka taught because she provided something new, which we really needed in those days when every single moment in our lives had become so similar. Thus the feedback from my students was really positive towards her. 

A week later Ivanka listened to their presentations and, based on the criteria that she had shared a week before, she gave feedback on their performances. It was good to see that my students definitely improved their presentation skills and even the most silent students were using their intonation well, and were really careful about the important points that Ivanka had shared with them the previous week. Both we and the students thoroughly enjoyed ourselves, and this small change motivated all of us and brought a breath of fresh air into our lessons. Therefore we decided to meet once again in the upcoming weeks for a speaking activity. 

A couple of weeks later, my and Ivanka’s students got together on Zoom and first did a presentation about their own country. My students had a lot of fun, especially after they learnt how many Turkish words Croatian people use and how similar these two cultures are. Then, they were given a set of questions and spent some time in the breakout rooms with Ivanka’s students, where they mingled better. Feedback from my students was really positive as they enjoyed spending time with people from another country and speaking English in real life. 

As teachers we benefit a lot from teaching in different contexts and so it was great to see that my own students also benefited a lot.