Lessons from the COVID-19 online learning experience

When COVID-19 began impacting the everyday lives of people in Melbourne in March 2020, less than ten percent of the Nossal Institute’s annual Education and Learning program had been delivered. The closure of campus in March resulted in the transition of our face-to-face teaching program to online delivery, encompassing 10 subjects, 556 students, 18 course coordinators, and countless tutors, markers and guest lecturers.

This period of change and uncertainty has been challenging for both students and education staff. Ongoing, two-way communication has been crucial to responding the shifting needs of our students living in a pandemic.

We have been able to successfully adapt to the new environment COVID-19 has propelled us into. Through a coordinated effort, we have collectively upskilled in terms of digital teaching technologies and developed new modes of forming community in virtual spaces.

The feedback students shared with education staff has been central to the success of our rapid transition to online teaching in 2020. Shared student experiences of learning during COVID-19 this year highlighted some fundamental differences between face-to-face and online modes of learning.

Student observations provided critical insights into the strengths and weaknesses of different approaches to converting our subjects to online learning, and supported our adaptation of assessment practices for this new modality.

It is also furthered integral conversations around student equity and accessibility. Maintaining a continued sense of a community and encouraging student input has been crucial to our ability to advocate for positive changes that will continue to underpin the quality and accessibility of our subjects as we move forward into 2021.