In 2014, representatives from Nossal High School presented our work at an Online Learning conference which was attended by many tertiary institutions and a small number of secondary schools. At the time. we took the opportunity to speak to lecturers and academics directly about the kinds of challenges they faced with students transitioning from secondary school to the university environment, particularly as they related to online learning.
We heard a fairly consistent message:
- tertiary educators told us that students were underprepared for learning online
- that students did not appreciate the subtle but significant differences between face to face class time and the change in dynamic that comes with digital delivery
- they were reluctant to share ideas in online forums, discussion boards and chat
- on average it took students around 9 to 12 months to make effective use of the available online teaching and learning resources
In a follow up presentation by representatives from the University of Singapore, we heard how they had developed a program of Digital Delivery in their response to the SARS virus and how each year, normal face to face classes are suspended for a significant period of time and replaced with synchronous online teaching and learning programs in order for students and academics to be prepared for any future situation requiring a remote learning solution.
Combining the ideas around online learning and the transitional challenges student face when moving to university with the pragmatic approach taken by Singaporean High Schools and Universities in developing a more complete emergency management response to a public health emergency, we developed our own Digital Delivery program.
Whilst our program is clearly designed for the needs of our cohort, we have learnt a number of widely applicable and important lessons about moving between face to face teaching and synchronous online delivery that we are happy to share with the wider education community. The following resources and information are openly shared with any institution facing the challenges of moving to an online learning environment for the first time.