Making the most of online learning
Australian Higher Education (this of course included GCA and UBSS) was thrown into online learning in early 2020 and essentially we have remained in this environment. Much has been written on the subject of transition to online learning – and UBSS has been at the forefront of thinking and delivery. Key readings include – Whateley and Manly (2021) and Bosma (2021) for example.
The effective transition to online learning took a deal of courage – Whateley (2020) - this was particularly heightened by the fact that the process was enforced (by the COVID-19 imperatives) rather than voluntary. Students, as well as staff, had to adapt to a new mode that was not without pressures and stresses.
Some of the advantages of online include convenience of study at home, recorded sessions (ideal for revision), augmented power points, and the reduction of formal examinations that are often seen as pressurised and stressful by many students.
There is also considerable evidence that students – certainly at UBSS – are not necessarily dissatisfied with the online option. The three big measures are of course the Student Feedback on Units Surveys (SFU), the Quality Indicators of Learning and Teaching Surveys (QILT) and the ongoing surveys around returning to campus. The SFUs throughout the online experience have maintained the same high standard as prior to COVID_19 (this is very satisfying to see); the QILT outcomes have remained high (in most instances above national average) and the most recent survey of students (June 2021) regarding staying on line suggests 93% would prefer this in place of a physical return at this point in time. Jacques (2021) - reinforces the need to embrace change as an inevitability and sometimes for good.
Looking towards the future there is considerable agreement that a hybrid approach will be with us for some time. By hybrid, what is meant is a mix of online and face to face – with both options running simultaneously and students able to decide which option they choose. Embracing the fact that times have changed and technology is now an essential part of our higher education existence - West (2021) - highlights to fact that the fourth industrial revolution is upon us. Whateley (2020) provides some insight into the hybrid model and the fact that HE will never be the same again.
Emeritus Professor Greg Whateley
Deputy Vice Chancellor (GCA)