The menacing dread and uncertainty surrounding the national enforcement of ‘lockdown’ and social distancing regulation due to Covid-19 is dwindling now. About six weeks ago, the mood was different – gloom, trepidation, concern enveloped our lives as we read and watched the unbelivable rise in Covid-19 casualties – first far away in China, then Italy, Spain and gradually closing in on us. Suddenly, it was no longer danger lurking far, far away. Norway, WE, were on the global danger list.
This reality was driven home when Universities, schools and kindergatens closed (as most institutions) – home not only became the arena for survival (including surviving each other over long time periods in close proximity, hehe!), work, school and child-care tasks shifted and were to be performed at home.
As a University teacher, the virtual turn to online teaching/learning was unsurprising. However, although we engaged in online pedagogies prior to the Covid-19 lockdown, this was only to a lesser extent as F2F pedagogies were still the norm. Quick action in prepping teachers and readying the technical logistics was vital for my case. Lucky for me I had undertaken online teaching courses earlier and am rejuvinating this knowledge through teaching/coordinating it.
So, it then came to pass. With some hiccups, disasters and many triumphs, mostly because of an abundance of patience from my brilliant and enthusiastic students, I have completed one round of online ‘MA Course’ teaching. ZOOM and Canvas has been our friend. I learnt to hold live lectures with various activities and tasks for student engagement – including chat-rooms, breakout rooms, screen shares and synchronous discussions during the lecture. I also learnt to record some lectures for flexibility and asynchronous consumption (but oh, how I loothe the sound of my voice!). Generating and moderating debate/discussion which were given sufficient time as well as quizzes and reflections were also a favourite for many of my students. All this, in a planned paced learning trajectory anchored in and towards the course’s learning outcomes.
With online pedagogies students take an even more central role in their own learning. Social constructivist approaches sustained by a combination of self-learning, experiential learning, peer-reviews, collaborative pedagogies and progressive self-reflection do actually foster active and life-long learning. But while desirable, online pedagogies do take time to construct, implement and sustain. Covid-19 is definately disruptive in the sense that our new normal – in a post-covid world – will include a further shift towards elearning/eteaching pedagogies. The time is rife for institutions of higher learning to put in order the multi-dimensional building blocks for implementing successfull virtual learning (and the role of technologies, multi-stakeholder dialog and research cannot be under-rated).