As higher education institutions around the world find themselves facing the sudden necessity of online teaching and learning, 70 experts from leading institutions and organisations of THE-ICE network across 11 countries came together to discuss apps, simulations, and other alternative approaches to teaching delivery during the COVID-19 pandemic.
On Thursday, 9th April 2020 THE-ICE hosted the second in its COVID-19 webinar series, during which attendees heard from panellists representing both users and providers of apps, simulations, and other online teaching aids. Mr Steve Hood (STR SHARE Center), Mr Peter Russell (Russell Partnership Technology), Professor Stephen Pratt (University of the South Pacific) and Mr Clive Taylor (Swiss Education Group) shared their experiences and perspectives on how apps and simulations can be utilised to support learning and offer alternative modes of delivery, particularly during this global pandemic where online learning environments are a necessity.
From the open discussion and panellist perspectives, four key areas of focus emerged:
- The role of data in modelling recovery
- The use of online teaching aids, including apps and simulations, to overcome the barriers of COVID-19 lockdown
- Maintaining engagement and continuity of learning for students with less digital infrastructure
- Rescheduling and restructuring course delivery and assessment to account for the pandemic situation
Within these four areas, the following key takeaways were highlighted:
The role of data in modelling recovery
- Data from prior recoveries can be used to:
- Anticipate recovery scenarios following COVID-19, including data regarding cancellations, forward bookings, and travel intentions.
- Recalibrate career guidance for students who will be graduating into an uncertain and highly competitive market.
The use of online teaching aids, including apps and simulations, to overcome the barriers of COVID-19 lockdown
- All institutions (and students) have different needs, and apps and simulations should be customised to suit these needs where possible.
- Existing Learning Management Systems (LMS) can be underpinned by apps and simulations (e.g. Zoom and MS Teams) in order to maximise interactivity and collaboration during this time.
- Harvard Business Publishing compared the work of students participating in their online Everest simulation, and students working collaboratively online scored higher than those working together offline.
Maintaining engagement and continuity of learning for students with less digital infrastructure
- While printed material quickly becomes outdated, if students have the opportunity to copy content onto a hard drive or similar they will be able to continue working even without internet access.
- Students and staff should be encouraged to use the technology they already have access to, and try to anticipate their own needs ahead of time in order to be prepared for disruptions to their normal learning environment.
- Mr Steve Hood advised that STR SHARE Center’s PowerPoint presentations could serve as a course book as they comprise hundreds of slides and students could read through these materials. STR videos are also available if internet is available, and student-based projects, e-groups, and applied research projects could be built around STR data and engagement with local industry.
- Mr Peter Russell advised that Russell Partnership Technology programmes are designed to be delivered on a low bandwidth, and save as you go, but added that institutions should always have a backup plan for digital delivery.
- Seesaw, Big Blue Button, and Google Drive were suggested as potential resources for institutions.
Rescheduling and restructuring course delivery and assessment to account for the pandemic situation
- Institutions’ immediate reactions have been to reschedule and rearrange courses where possible, bringing forward classes that are more theoretical and deferring classes which are harder to teach and assess online, such as practical classes or labs.
- A representative from Dubai College of Tourism (DCT) shared that the institution is in the process of rolling out a practical online class, with chef instructors creating videos at home and students filming themselves reproducing these dishes to submit for assessment. All DCT students are domestic and have received a list of necessary equipment in addition to having some items delivered to their homes.
- Institutions should be mindful of converting some assessments to be formative rather than summative, requiring applied knowledge rather than straightforward answers.
- Faculty can be kept engaged and up to speed by building a community of practice and providing peer support, which ensures everyone is on the same page and also avoids confusing the students.
The recording of the webinar can be accessed here.