Changes to learning cultures while teaching remotely during the COVID-19 pandemic at a small private Australian university

Marilyn Mitchell*, Sven Brodmerkel, Chelsea Gill

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to conferencePresentationResearch

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Abstract

This qualitative research project explores how academic teaching staff perceived and managed their classroom learning cultures when classes moved from face-to-face to remote online delivery at Bond University, a small private Australian university, during the COVID-19 pandemic. During the last three weeks of the January semester (9 -27 March), staff began teaching in HyFlex through Blackboard Collaborate. HyFlex teaching allows for simultaneous face-to-face and online delivery. During the May semester (25 May – 14 August), staff taught remotely from campus or their homes. Most staff had no prior experience with HyFlex or remote delivery, but they began teaching in these modes after some brief training and with no break in their programs.
Fifteen lecturers from across the university volunteered to participate in four one-hour focus groups facilitated by the university’s Academic Coordinator for Special Projects in the Office of Learning and Teaching. The focus groups ran from 4 November through 2 December 2020. They followed a protocol of 24 semi-structured, open-ended questions based upon Meskill’s (2013) sociocultural perspective of learning. This perspective argues that people learn “through social experience and language” (p. 2). Its eight assumptions are that: (1) learners are active, (2) the learning context matters, (3) more accomplished others are important for learning, (4) students learn new cultural practices in classrooms, (5) learning occurs through verbalizing thoughts, (6) everyone is learning all the time, (7) learning is an ongoing activity, and (8) language is the primary tool for cognitive development.
The focus group questions revolved around the four areas of expectations of and planning for remote teaching, self-presentation and self-management, implementation and practice, and reflections on how things went. The authors recorded, transcribed, and thematically analysed all responses. At the time of writing, data analysis has just begun.
This research benefits the academic community as it provides insight into how lecturers at a small Australian institution perceived changes in the cultures of their classrooms during the pandemic, what new practices and teaching methods they introduced, and what changes they might keep when the crisis resolves. Crises can provide opportunities for reflective practice, which encourages adaptation to a new environment.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusUnpublished - 2021
EventANZCA 2021: Communication, Authority and Power - Melbourne, Australia
Duration: 6 Jul 20219 Jul 2021
http://anzca.org/conference/2021/

Conference

ConferenceANZCA 2021
Abbreviated titleANZCA
CountryAustralia
CityMelbourne
Period6/07/219/07/21
OtherThis year’s conference will consider how various forms, institutions and practices of communication both involve and are affected by mobilisations of authority and power. Communication has always been central to both the exercise of and struggles surrounding power and authority, and communication practices and practitioners are affected by and implicated in power relations. Fields and practices of communication have constituted vital domains through which authority and power are exercised and contested.
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