31 de March, 2020

Online classes: how FEN is tackling the health crisis

The Universidad de Chile was one of the first higher education establishments in Chile to suspend face-to-face activities to protect the well-being of the community, in light of the current global health situation and the policies adopted in our country. Online classes were implemented at the start of the Fall 2020 semester in all the Schools and Institutes of the University. 

For its part, the School of Economics and Business (FEN) has already been working on improving its digital infrastructure since 2019, to allow different virtual tools to complement and support the academic activities of students and faculty. In this context, and in view of the new conditions impacting the academic year, FEN has deployed a range of measures to ensure the effective delivery of the quality teaching and learning that characterize our School.

Among them, the launch of platforms to access virtual classes stands out, along with the delivery of training material with recommendations, tutorials and support channels for students and faculty.

Through the Webex Meeting video conference platform, on 23rd March students were able to start their classes and thus not delay the semester.

In addition, it should be noted that all areas and units that support the integral education of students have been successfully working remotely.

Academic support and wellness programs, such as the Psychological Support Program (PAS) and its team of professionals continue their functions remotely, seeking to contain, advise and support the student community. Likewise, the Mechones Support Program (PAM) for first-year students was recently created. This initiative seeks to create a closer link between students and the School, in order to listen, support and guide them in their introduction to university life, especially in the conditions of isolation and social vulnerability to which many are currently exposed.

Dean José De Gregorio has pointed out that “to date, online classes have developed better than I expected. It is true that some drawbacks persist, some completely unrelated to our operations, but these are being overcome as we progress.”

In this way, FEN has sought to provide the necessary tools so that students can adapt to these new academic conditions. However, given that access to the internet and internet connections are not universal among students, careful monitoring has been carried out to deliver celphone chips and computer equipment to allow students to take part in online classes. Also, the classes have been recorded and uploaded, so that everyone has access to the recordings. The Dean emphasized FEN´s commitment to "ensure that no one is impaired by connection problems or remote work".

He also referred to the situation that the rest of the University has experienced due to many students´ lack of connectivity and computer equipment. “We have offered our support to the University. We have a great team of professionals who coordinate online classes for everyone, and we have purchased software licenses for other Schools to use. We understand that the different Schools are at different starting points and that, by their very nature, face very different requirements”.

In the midst of the current health and economic crisis affecting Chile, the School of Economics and Business (FEN) is striving to find solutions to minimise the impact on its students, faculty and staff, in order to continue serving the country at a time when the voices of all members of society are most needed.