Since 16th of March, Baltic Defence College (BALTDEFCOL) faculty had to rearrange all the education and teaching processes to exploit distance learning opportunities. To prevent spread of COVID-19, the courses, electives, modules, lectures and presentations are conducted in online environment, which involves video lectures, meetings, discussions, working groups, chats and virtual syndicate rooms.
Since every crisis creates also the opportunities, it is the case with COVID-19 crisis, too. The lecturers are exploiting this opportunity to utilize and enhance the distance learning methods and skills in order to continue providing quality education to BALTDEFCOL students. Working from home is challenging, but the faculty demonstrates the capability and strong will to continue education process to highest possible quality standards. The teaching staff continue teaching by giving online lectures, guiding students and as Syndicate Guiding Officers (SGO) preparing students for incoming lectures, courses, modules and electives. So far, already obtained online teaching experiences are assessed as beneficial, and could be applied in future modules, courses and electives as part of the education process.
For the Department of Military Studies (DMS) the most challenging was the switch from classroom to online environment within the Module 9 NATO Crisis Response Operations for Joint Command and General Staff Course (JCGSC). The name of the Module itself inherits readiness and flexibility to overcome crisis, but this year’s COVID-19 crisis hit in the middle of the Module. In a high-speed tempo, the planned lectures, syndicate activities, and as well as final Module 9 exam had to be tailored to online environment in order to meet expected learning outcomes. It has created the lessons identified that could be learned and implemented into the future BALTDEFCOL’s academic activities.
From 23rd to 27th of March, DMS members coordinated, supported or led the Intermediate Strategic Communications Course, Intelligence and Counterintelligence Elective, Operational Level Cyber Elective, and Joint Logistics and Host Nation Support (HNS) Elective. In this respect, DMS personnel has completed respective After Action Review (AAR) reports, and proposed improvements based on student’s feedback and organizers observations.
On the 6th of April, the students of the BALTDEFCOL Civil Servants Course (CSC) 2020 successfully graduated. The CSC students were working closely with officers within JCGSC syndicates, and during study period, they were supervi
sed, mentored and led by DMS members, or by the SGOs. It included also drafting final performance review and counselling.
For DMS members, the supervision of JCGSC and Higher Command Staff Course (HCSC) student’s Research Papers (RP) started before COVID-19 crises. However, the finalization of RPs came during the pandemic period and DMS faculty were involved in their assessment. On 6 April, the preliminary HCSC’s RP presentations were organized, involving DMS, and the final presentation is still to come. On 7th and 8th April, the JCGSC students’ final verbal RP presentations were organized and again DMS members were contributing. It was continued by drafting final assessment reports of presentations by rotating and non-rotating assessors.
For quite a long time, the DMS was preparing the Module 11 Operational Level Planning, which started on 9 April. During the Module the DMS faculty have been leading, mentoring and guiding JCGSC students through the Operation Level Planning Module as head teachers, syndicate instructors and Subject Matter Expert. Since this Module is ordinarily conducted in BALTDEFCOL premises, as a residential one, it has required enormous effort to reshape it as an online Module. It was challenging, but the Module has started successfully. Hopefully, it will also be successfully accomplished with achieving the full set of learning outcomes. The most important is that, with the initial knowledge obtained in the Operational Level Planning module, students will be able to apply knowledge in National and NATO structures when contributing to planning processes.
BALTDEFCOL aims to provide high quality education to the students despite the ongoing crisis, in order to prepare future military and civilian leaders for their upcoming challenges in their future assignments and set them up for success.