Australian Higher Education Student Perspectives on Emergency Remote Teaching during the COVID-19 Pandemic

Year: 2021

Author: Filippou, Justin

Type of paper: Symposium

As COVID-19 spread rapidly globally and Australia implemented social distancing measures, Australian higher education institutions were forced to provide off-campus teaching for students in the form of Emergency Remote Teaching (ERT). This provided an opportunity to explore the challenges students faced during this transition. In particular, we focused on understanding how students initially experienced the sudden shift to fully online learning, what difficulties they experienced with learning during COVID-19, and how students have adapted as a result of the ERT experience. We conducted virtual interviews with 10 business students from a university in metropolitan Victoria. Interviews were held at the end of semester one, 2020. The data were thematically analysed and our findings indicate that students were forced to undertake more independent studies, self-evaluate their learning processes, and realise how their environmental and temporal structures impact their learning.  Our work results in five recommendations to handle future disruptions: (1) minimise change in times of uncertainty, (2) focus on social presence to increase resilience and build social capital, (3) help students to manage their expectations, (4) structure blended learning to be “online first” and (5) develop a post-pandemic roadmap. A limitation of the study was that the sample was heavily skewed to international students, so findings are tailored to that context. Avenues for future work emerged, including investigating how instructors managed the feat of ERT, technologies that were not leveraged as expected and how ERT can be enable students with disabilities.