Remote learning: active, authentic, real?

Online strategies designed to enable practical learning were in use prior to the pandemic. Nevertheless, in response to the rapid shift to online delivery during lockdowns, face-to-face practical learning was often postponed and replaced with traditional transmissive and theory-focused modes. How did Aotearoa|New Zealand university students experience practical learning in hybrid environments? See our latest paper in the Special Issue of the Distance Education Journal

New article in Computers & Education

Enhanced or diminished attitudes: University students’ agency

Whilst hybrid learning gives students the choice about how they engage in their learning, institutions need to adopt a broad conceptualization of student support that scaffolds learning in these challenging times.

Hartnett, Brown, Forbes, Gedera, & Datt, (2023)

In this paper, we address the gap in understanding of how students experienced the rapid and unplanned shift to remote online teaching because of the pandemic. Based on survey responses received from 422 students across all eight New Zealand universities in 2020, we use two-step cluster and chi square analysis to explore students’ attitude changes toward study during lockdown. Whilst the dominant experience was one of less motivation, focus, confidence, and control over their learning (73%) there was a small but notable group who reported enhanced attitudes (27%). Both groups experienced challenges while learning online but students in the diminished attitudes group were more likely to experience lack of routine, stress, anxiety, isolation, distraction, and difficulty balancing study/life demands as challenges. In addition, few students from the diminished attitudes group knew where to go for help. The most prominent benefits identified by both groups were being able to continue their studies, not having to travel and the flexibility of learning online. Beneficial teaching approaches were similar in both groups.

Read full article here.

SOLE team at WIASN

The SOLE research team presented at the bi-annual conference of the Women in Academia Support Network. Held on 31 March-1 April, 2022, the conference theme was ‘Virtually Undisciplined: Diversifying Higher Education and Research through interconnectivity’. WIASN invited papers around interconnectivity and diversity; with particular regard to an intersectional approach to gender diversity inclusive of race, religion, sex, disability and class.

Preliminary report is out!

We are excited to share initial analysis of data collected as part of our on-going research into university student experiences of online learning during covid19. A huge thank you to all student participants.
If you are a fellow higher educator, we hope this report helps inform and guide your design of future online learning experiences. The report is also featured on the Ipu Kererū (New Zealand Association for Research in Education) blog.

AUTi article

Dr Dilani Gedera, Senior Lecturer in AUT’s Faculty of Business, Economics and Law, says she saw how much care and attention staff put into online teaching, but the researchers want to know what it was like for learners.
“Students’ perspectives will inform us what worked, what challenges they faced and what can New Zealand universities do better or differently in the future,” she says.
“It’s really important that we consider students’ perspectives when we make important decisions about teaching and learning practices.”

What do students need in the age of lockdown learning?

Early lessons from New Zealand’s online frontline. Access the full article here.

“Students are not a homogeneous group and online learning is not the same for everyone. So it wasn’t surprising to find issues of access and equity emerging.”

Assoc. Prof. Cheryl Brown (The Conversation)

Telling it all in an Ascilite blog

Our team is keen on sharing preliminary findings and learnings – albeit from the New Zealand context – with colleagues and students in Higher Education institutions across the globe. Below is an excerpt from what we shared via the Ascilite blog. Check out the full article via

It is unsurprising that over the past few months discussions amongst colleagues in the tertiary sector have focused on the disruption of COVID in our academic lives. There is no doubt that this has been a stressful year and has impacted on our wellness, sense of security (and belongingness) at our institutions, workload and work-life balance. In our various roles we have grappled with emergency remote learning and teaching (ERLT) in our own lives, those of our colleagues and our students. However, despite everyone’s best endeavors, it is somewhat ironic that it is those most directly affected – the students- whose voices are generally missing from conversations in the academy.
Recognising this problem,  a group of colleagues in Aotearoa, New Zealand came together to explore Students Online Learning Experiences (SOLE) during the pandemic.  Our personal experiences as teachers, academic developers, educational designers, researchers, and for some of us also parents, gave us lived experiences of how students were grappling with learning.  Our research is not institutionally focused. Rather we have collaborated with student associations to survey students from all eight New Zealand universities (yielding 1144 responses), complemented by over 22 online focus groups.  This research project has enabled us to connect with students from NZ universities both on and offshore, gaining an understanding of their concerns, hopes and experiences. Whilst we are still in the preliminary phase of analysis, what is clear to us, as we plan for 2021, is that we must ensure that students’ voices are adequately represented in our responses and recovery.

Ascilite TELall blog,