Digital Teaching in Times of Covid-19: Risks and Opportunities

Dr. Andrea Breitenbach (University of Marburg)


COVID-19: It started in one place in January 2020 and has since reached the whole world. The global pandemic has been spreading and changing our lives since. The COVID-19 crisis has also changed many things within the world of higher education. In-person teaching was no longer possible; instead, almost all courses were offered in digital formats. This sudden change poses enormous challenges for universities, students, and teachers. This paper discusses the advantages, disadvantages, and opportunities offered by digital teaching. Based on central assumptions of the ‘second digital divide,’ it examines whether certain groups of higher education students are more affected by the switch to digital teaching than others.

Findings from national and international studies were used, as well as a survey from the University of Marburg (Germany). They show that there is a relationship between various socio-demographic factors and the evaluation of digital teaching. For example, university students with highly educated parents more often rate digital courses as a good substitute for face-to-face teaching than students with less educated parents. A brief overview highlights the problems faced by teachers in the transition to digital teaching. This paper ends with a discussion of the opportunities that arise from the digitalization of teaching and the wishes of students and teachers with regard to future teaching.

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