Teaching in the time of COVID-19
Introducing Macquarie’s mixed-mode model of engaged learning and teaching
Macquarie has a proud history of offering high-quality learning and teaching in a variety of learning environments – from campus-based to fully online.
When the COVID-19 pandemic struck, we were able to quickly and effectively transition almost our entire offering to online platforms, because the foundations were already there and were well proven.
Here, Professor Sean Brawley, Pro Vice-Chancellor (Programs and Pathways) discusses how the COVID-19 emergency has helped Macquarie rethink how we deliver learning for our students, and ultimately, to finalise a new approach to learning and teaching.
Building on experience
At Macquarie, we’ve been teaching online for many years, so we were fortunate that the transition to fully online learning was not a difficult one. Prior to COVID-19, more than one third of our degrees offered an online component. Once the emergency landed, it only took us a matter of days to move the remaining 70 per cent to new modes of teaching.
During such challenging times, ensuring the quality of our teaching must remain a major focus.
First, our learning designers and academic developers have been working closely with our teachers to share international best practice and help them to redesign their units of study, where necessary.
Second, we have used learning analytics to examine how successful our teaching has been.
Third, and finally, we have been conducting a pulse check – via phone calls and online surveys – with our more than 40,000 students to see how they are doing.
What the data showed us is that we needed a more nuanced approach to not only online delivery but, ultimately, all of our approaches to teaching and learning.
The move to online, the feedback we have received, and the data we have analysed, challenged us to think about new ways to engage students in the online environment.
Much of our existing online teaching was what we called ‘asynchronous’ – online teaching designed for mostly part-time students to engage with at their own pace, where they utilise self-guided lessons, posted lecture notes, streaming video content and exchanges across discussion boards.
While the quality of our existing asynchronous units is very high, many of our students wanted to escape their COVID-19 isolation through greater levels of engagement. They wanted to continue their learning with their teachers and peers in real time. This is what we call ‘synchronous’ delivery – learning that happens virtually but in real time.
COVID-19 has allowed us to crystallise a new Macquarie Multi-Mode Model of Learning and Teaching, which offers our students optimal choice and flexibility.
The new normal
Our new model is not simply about online learning. It’s not just about the best new technology to enhance learning. It’s about the learning journey that works best for our students and the best mode of delivery for them – whether that’s campus based, virtual or a combination.
Until that time when we are all back on campus, we will continue to refine the student learning experience to ensure our students, both in Australia and beyond our shores, gain the best learning experience we can provide in these challenging times.
Superior online learning – Michael Pak
Meet Michael, who tells how he’s really enjoying studying his degree online thanks to interfaces that make it easy to connect with his teachers and fellow students.