Navigating the transition to online teaching at the University of Melbourne during COVID-19: approaches, reflections and insights
The COVID-19 pandemic was the most profoundly disruptive event experienced by university teachers in living memory. In a matter of weeks, delivery of every subject had to transition from predominantly face-to-face to online. In this paper, we sought to understand the nature and variation of approaches taken to online delivery by academic staff at the University of Melbourne, what motivated their delivery decisions, their perceptions of how the move online impacted learning and teaching, and their thoughts about how the experience of transitioning to online learning has shaped their future teaching plans and approaches. Educators adopted a range of synchronous and asynchronous delivery methods and refined these in subsequent iterations of their subjects. While most educators felt that their teaching experiences - and the learning experiences of their students - worsened during the pandemic, there were also positive outcomes. These included new initiatives in teaching, learning and assessment and a significant increase in the capacity and skills of academics in online teaching. Drawing on what they learned from pandemic teaching, most educators felt that a blended approach to their future teaching would be most effective, potentially in tension with university directives to commit to minimum levels of on-campus face-to-face teaching. The insights from our study will help to inform future teaching and learning strategies at the University of Melbourne and across the Australian higher educator sector.