Teaching Matters 2020 | Presentation Details | 30 November 202030 Nov 2020
Connecting on their terms: Using student preferred platforms to provide community during COVID-19
- Mikaela Seabourne, University College
- Nicholas Youl, University College
Restrictions introduced in response to COVID-19 have meant that the connectedness students felt when studying in person was lost as they were required to move online. Within Applied Technologies at the University College, wellbeing check-ins highlighted student desire to re-engage in 'after-class hallway conversations'; which presented opportunities to connect with teaching staff and peers, access support, and experience community.
The University College prides itself on its ‘focus on the student experience and support’ (University College, 2020), so staff engaged students to discover how they socialise and build communities online. Students suggested Discord; an online communication platform prevalent amongst video gaming communities which includes functionality for controlled spaces with text, voice, and video chat, as well as personal messaging.
Collaborating with students, the Applied Technologies team created a community Discord channel offering classroom text and voice channels together with social spaces for students and staff. The University Behaviour Policy (University of Tasmania, 2020) is used by staff in monitoring the space to ensure that it does not facilitate academic misconduct or inappropriate behaviour.
Students have used the Discord channel to attend consultations and events, and to discuss units. They have identified the space as a suitable alternative to content-driven discussions on MyLO, and a safe space to socialise. Staff have gained greater insight into their students, and the platform promotes real-time group communication not offered by emails. One staff member, however, noted the pressure posed by ‘constant connectedness’, and the need for boundaries. This co-designed space is helping to fill a critical gap in the teaching and learning ecosystem while fully online predominates.
University College. (2020, September 24). Welcome to university done differently [Online]. https://www.utas.edu.au/college
University of Tasmania. (2020, September 25). University Behaviour Policy [Policy, Online].