Continuity and Covid19: Staff perspectives on academic continuity support

Year: 2021

Author: Dalgiç, Gülay Erin

Type of paper: Individual Paper

Academic continuity planning is key to ensuring high-quality delivery of teaching for higher education institutions during a significant disruptive event. Many universities, including ours, had completed limited institutional planning for maintaining academic continuity, including during a pandemic. However, none anticipated the sort of disruption caused by the global reach of the Covid19 pandemic. As a result, across our university, various stakeholders were tasked with planning and provisioning academic continuity at short notice.This study investigates the experiences and perspectives of the Faculty of Medical and Health Sciences (FMHS) academic staff seeking support whilst rapidly migrating their teaching online in 2020 due to Covid19.An overview of the university and faculty level practices implemented to ensure academic continuity during the Covid19 pandemic is presented with reference to the model employed by the Learning and Teaching Unit of the FMHS provisioned much of the faculty support. Online learning tools and resources used for teaching, and the impact on practice are also explored in the study.An online, self-administered questionnaire was used to collect data from the FMHS staff. The questionnaire domains included experiences and perspectives for learning technologies, online and blended learning, resources utilised, staff support used, impact on practice and demographic questions for classification purposes only. Thirty faculty members completed the questionnaire. The findings show that the staff felt that they successfully migrated their teaching online, although at times they felt overwhelmed by the information they were provided by different institutional sources. Teaching staff identified the faculty-specific Academic Continuity Toolkit website as a comprehensive, practical, structured, and helpful self-directed resource. In the transition to online teaching, teaching staff widely used asynchronous - pre-recorded micro-lectures – for presenting content, and used synchronous tutorials and labs to support student learning. CANVAS discussion forums, Zoom for teaching and non-teaching purposes, CANVAS assignments, and Piazza were among the tools most preferred by staff to foster interaction and dialogue with content.These findings help us to better understand the support needed by FMHS staff to ensure academic continuity. In addition, the findings shed light on the future academic continuity and staff professional development planning, provision, and policy for higher education institutions.