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COVID-19 has significantly affected teaching, teacher education, and research.

Like their counterparts in primary and secondary schools, tertiary teachers have all had to suddenly learn how to teach online when COVID-19 lockdown levels ruled out face-to-face classes. Less well known are the implications of lockdown for those engaged in teacher education, who used to unobtrusively observe teachers at work in the classroom, including the body language in interactions. Then there are all the postgraduate students whose research plans have been disrupted by lockdowns, who have been unable to use their preferred methodologies and have had to find and implement other ways of answering their research questions.

Martin Andrew, Samuel Mann and their Australian collaborators have been considering these implications of COVID-19 for the tertiary education sector. All those affected have had to learn new ways of doing things, and they have had to do so very quickly, turning in a new direction, hopefully more or less gracefully. The team have identified some common elements amongst these changes:

  • Learning to cope with change can be a good thing. Agility, adaptability and practicality are useful capabilities that will help individuals successfully negotiate change in future.
  • The new methods and methodologies learnt provide valuable new perspectives and will continue to be useful. For example, the team has noticed greater use of iterative and emergent methodologies in research, and researchers have found other proxies to measure the phenomenon they are investigating.
  • Even online, perhaps especially online, a sense of belonging is critically important. People are social beings so an online teaching and learning environment needs to be a community in which there is trust for individuals to feel able to contribute to collective knowing.

Research will continue into the ways in which the tertiary education has pivoted due to lockdowns, what has worked and why. Learning results from having to adapt and innovate, and lockdowns have provided an opportunity to find new effective ways of working.

December 2021