Teaching Matters 2020 | Presentation Details | 1 December 20201 Dec 2020
Breaking the ice: Connecting with students and colleagues in a webinar program
- Morag Porteous, Student Retention and Success, Academic Division
- Jessie Armitage, Student Wellbeing and Culture, Academic Division*
- Susan Bell, University Library, Academic Division
- Amelia Dowe, Student Retention and Success, Academic Division*
Students’ ability to successfully connect with their university studies is multilayered; two important, interlinked factors are mental wellbeing (Orygen, 2017), and ongoing development of core academic practices for research and assessments. The Student Wellbeing and Student Learning teams offer webinars providing students with opportunities for growth in these areas. This program has faced several challenges: design and delivery to engage and maintain relevance to diverse cohorts and disciplines; effective publicity; and the constraints on distance students juggling multiple responsibilities.
We redesigned our program and developed our use of digital tools, including Collaborate and CareerHub, to connect with students. These tools enabled a more inclusive approach; with recordings and follow-up materials sent to all registered students. The collaborative teaching and innovative program design created a welcoming online learning community; allowing for both variety of topics, and consistency in the interactivity and communication.
We were thus well placed for the move to fully online delivery; and for us and our students, 2020 has seen a deepened online engagement. We have learnt that students do need and value connection in online learning, and how to accommodate different preferences for this engagement. Collaborative teaching, both in program design and in delivery, fosters connection and engagement. We have strengthened our connections within and across our organisational teams; and this, together with the record student participation and positive feedback in evaluations, has been a heartening experience for all, resulting in a genuine learning community.
Orygen (2017). Under the radar. The mental health of Australian university students. Orygen, The National Centre of Excellence in Youth Mental Health.