In response to COVID-19, Universities had to “go online” suddenly in 2020. There is a difference between carefully planned online learning experiences and courses offered online in response to a crisis or disaster (Hodges, Moore, Lockee, Trust, & Bond, 2020). Students face multiple demands (many of which persist) in the pandemic context. For example, access to resources, financial hardship, family responsibilities, living circumstances and experience and orientation to learning online.
Despite increasing research on online learning in the pandemic context (Smith Jaggers, 2021), student voice, which is essential to informing good design and facilitation of online learning experiences, is underrepresented in the emergent literature. How teachers teach online, and how students experience and learn online can be poles apart (Forbes & Gedera, 2019), necessitating explicit attention to how students have experienced online teaching and learning. In particular, online students engage and interact with their studies in different ways (Brown, Davis, & Eulatth-Vidal, 2019). The report below is from a inter-institutional project seeking to explore the perspectives and experiences of New Zealand university students studying online in 2020 to help inform our approach to teaching and learning over the long term.
University student online learning experiences in COVID-times
Cheryl Brown1, Ashwini Datt2, Dianne Forbes3, Dilani Gedera4, Maggie Hartnett51.University of Canterbury; 2. University of Auckland; 3. University of Waikato; 4. Auckland University of Technology; 5. Massey University.
This report summarises findings from an ethics approved, cross-institutional project focused on foregrounding student voice and experience in the shift to emergency remote learning and teaching during the pandemic. The project team worked in collaboration with student associations to invite participation in a survey exploring students’ experiences of online learning. Invitations were sent to University students through social media, institutional newsletters and blogs between July and Oct 2020. There were 952 valid survey responses from all eight New Zealand universities, complemented by 20 individual interviews and nine focus groups involving 41 student participants both on and off-shore. Detailed analysis of the data is in process and will be forthcoming in peer reviewed journals. The purpose of this report is to provide a brief overview of high level findings to disseminate to our participants and institutions involved.