It’s a long long way from there to here - supporting colleagues in the move to online learning

Harding, Nuala, Kelly, Eimear, McDermott, Geraldine, Ryan, Seamus, O'Brien, Anne Marie, O'Donoghue, Catherine, O'Hanlon, David and Tierney, Noel (2021) It’s a long long way from there to here - supporting colleagues in the move to online learning.


As a result of their response to the COVID 19 pandemic, units that support learning and teaching are finally perceived as crucial and critical to the mission of Higher Education Institute (HEIs).

The closure of all HEIs in Ireland on March 12, 2020 was a significant moment for both staff and students throughout the sector. Following the initial sense of shock that accompanied this decision, it soon became apparent that the loss of collegial support and engagement caused by the rapid move to emergency online remote teaching was keenly felt, and it was at this point that the Learning and Teaching Unit team in Athlone Institute of Technology came together to provide a response that would ameliorate the potential impact and consequences for staff and students.

Empirical data were collected in a series of staff and student surveys. An analysis of the results of these surveys informed all subsequent critical decisions related to learning and teaching in the Institute, from the selection of the platform deemed most suitable for our context to the continuous delivery of workshops designed to prepare and support colleagues for the abrupt transition to remote online teaching and assessment.

While key findings from our initial research in May/June 2020 indicated that there were low levels of experience in remote online teaching amongst respondents, a subsequent survey of staff in October/November revealed that a significant number of colleagues who responded are now using a wide range of online classroom technologies, including the many interactive features of Zoom for Higher Education and Moodle, screencasts, TurningPoint, an audience response system, and LAMS, a platform for online collaborative learning. This case study will outline how, using an evidence-based approach, the L&T Unit in AIT rose to the challenge of identifying the technology gap, in order to facilitate the continued provision for students and to increase the confidence of teaching and professional support staff across the Institute.

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