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Research team reflects on virtual teaching experience

16 July, 2020
News and events

A cross-department team from Otago Polytechnic has reflected on their online teaching experiences for a new research paper.

The lockdown pushed tertiary education providers to quickly shift to virtual teaching. This shift happened very abruptly, with only enough time to do some basic preparation work.

Senior Construction Lecturer Dr Don Samarasinghe, English Lecturer Vera Nistor, and Senior IT Lecturer Dr Hymie Abd-Latif all took slightly different approaches to online teaching.

They’ve reflected on the learning and teaching experiences under these exceptional circumstances for SCOPE Journal's Special Edition: Collective Voices of Covid-19, Otago Polytechnic 2020.

The team found their virtual teaching approaches were situated at different stages on a continuum between synchronous and asynchronous online learning, depending on the subject.

Construction classes practised synchronous online learning with the aid of chat rooms, which enabled a high degree of teacher-learner interaction.

In contrast, the IT classes worked asynchronously, with the lecturer providing resources for students to use independently, without being constrained by any time limitations.

English classes took the middle ground, with each lesson starting with a synchronous component, followed by an asynchronous portion where the students performed class activities independently.

“Our reflection shows that teaching online does not necessarily need to fall into only one category. Lecturers need to find out what works for them and their students, according to the teaching content, their capabilities and availability of resources.”

The team found students enjoyed these teaching methods, took on the challenge very well and became more autonomous learners who are comfortable with virtual learning.

“This entire experience proved that we are capable of adjusting to critical conditions and finding effective ways to promote and encourage learning.”