The FLANZ webinar ‘Equity and inclusion in flexible learning: Challenges across the sector’(Part 2) offered a lively panel conversation between three leaders in New Zealand’s flexible and online learning and teaching. Claire Amos (Albany Senior High School), Steve Leichtweis (University of Auckland), and Stephen Marshall (Victoria University of Wellington) continued their discussion from November last year for the Asia-Pacific Online and Distance Education Week 2021.
Claire, Stephen, and Steve started with critical statements about the impact of the pandemic in the education sector. One concern the panel members shared is how to support staff in education to deal with the demands of a complex design for learning, particularly integrating more flexibility, and interaction. This includes moving from a reactive situation at the start of the pandemic in 2020 to a place where educators feel confident in creating such a design. At the moment, it seems “resilience is wafer thin” as Steve commented. Stephen and Claire shared his view that staff might leave in the coming months.
What are measures that can help staff to become more confident with increasingly flexible learning, as required through the pandemic? Although technical competencies to work with online tools are vital, often forgotten is educators’ ability to design for learning. Claire identified this as an area where time and resources should be poured into upskilling. Steve reminded us that we need to be student and staff centric, to give educators the tools and support to do all they need to do to teach, whatever the mode, online or face-to-face. We need to find sustainable ways to engage with students, lecturers/educators and professional staff that are not bound by physical buildings as Stephen pointed out.
This is only a snapshot of a highly engaging conversation between our panelists. If you are interested to hear and follow the whole conversation, the recording and a transcript are available. The panel was again chaired by Kwong Nui Sim (AUT).
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