The requirement to modify teaching plans in 2020 was no doubt accompanied by pressure to deliver an impeccable Plan B. And there was the stress associated with the speed at which modifications needed to take place.

However, the upside that is less discussed, is that academics were able to redesign teaching and learning. In fact, academics were offered the flexibility to design new, innovative, and creative learning experiences, more so than ever before. Decisions were not made to fit the university mould of an hour lecture and hour tutorial; decisions were made purely based on what would enable students to learn.

From my own experience coordinating a practical teacher education unit, I quickly realised that my students could achieve the same learning objectives remotely, but only if I taught them in a completely different way. Luckily, I had the freedom to scrap my original plans and redesign a purpose-built asynchronous unit that took students away from Zoom and into their backyards and local parks, where they could use play equipment, household items, and their own creativity, to engage in learning experiences that developed real-world competencies.

In 2021, universities are now grappling with the complex question ofwhat teaching and learning needs next?”. Interestingly, one of the most talked-about possibilities is increased flexibility as to whether students study on campus or on-line. However, the way we teach on campus and the way we teach on-line are not the same. Instead, we need flexibility; flexibility to create the best learning experiences, whatever they may be, however long they go for, and via whatever mode or platform works best for each activity.

We need institutional support to harness the innovation of 2020 as we move forward, so that we can always design the best learning opportunities in 2021, in 2031, or in 2091.

Dr Rhiannon Lee White, Lecturer, Health and Physical Education, Western Sydney University @RhiannonLWhite

In 2020, Rhiannon received the Western Sydney University VC’s Teacher of the Year Award.


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