Universities Need To Train Lecturers In Online Delivery, Or They Risk Students Dropping Out

Universities Need To Train Lecturers In Online Delivery, Or They Risk Students Dropping Out

Most universities have moved courses online to prevent the potential spread of COVID-19. This includes lectures and tutorials.

When done right, online learning can actually be as effective as face-to-face education. But Australian universities haven’t upskilled their staff to deliver this kind of quality online education.

If Australian universities don’t provide intensive upskilling to lecturers to deliver online classes and support effectively, they might see many students disengaging and dropping out early.

Why online learning can fail

Australian universities introduced online degrees more than a decade ago. The hope was, and still is, that online learning would provide access for students who have historically been prevented from completing a higher education because they were unable to attend university in person.

These include students from low socio-economic backgrounds, students with a disability, and regional and remote students.

Completion rates for students studying fully online in many countries are considerably lower than for those studying face-to-face. In Australia, dropout is at least 20% higher for online students compared with on-campus students and degree completions are 2.5 times lower.

Those most likely to drop out are the very groups access to online learning was meant to reach.

A national 2017 study investigated these dropout rates. It found many academic and professional staff at Australian universities perceived online delivery as less important or lower priority than face to face.

The same report also identified a lack of skill and experience among many academic staff when it came to online course design and online teaching which, in turn, impacted negatively on student learning and engagement.

A 2016 study showed a lot of online learning in Australian universities consisted of lecturers simply uploading materials they used in their face-to-face courses to online learning platforms.

Many university teachers have had no experience themselves of online learning and have not been upskilled in online course design and pedagogy.

Where online students are out of sight and out of mind and lecturers do not have the skills to teach in an online environment it’s the perfect storm for disengagement and dropout.

When online learning is done right

Learning management systems such as Moodle are designed to support online learning. These systems effectively organise learning resources, including multimedia resources, that students can easily access.

Students can engage in collaborative activities with their peers and lecturers, through tools such as discussion boards and wikis (a website or database developed collaboratively by a community of users, allowing any user to add and edit content).

An analysis of studies conducted between 1995 and 2004 compared achievement for students who had completed online and face-to-face tertiary education courses. It found the results were largely similar.

Students who completed online courses learnt as much as those in face-to-face instruction, achieved as well and were equally satisfied with their overall experience. The key word here is completion. There are higher dropout rates and lower completions across the higher education sector internationally for students who study online.

When online learning is well-designed, conducted in a learning management system and is in the hands of skilled teachers, it offers a comparable learning experience to face-to-face.

What many uni courses may look like online

In the current scenario, a lecturer may deliver the same lecture or tutorial via video that they would deliver face to face. They may use online discussion boards or chat rooms to try and replicate small group work in tutorials.

Students may work through course materials on their own and have little connection with each other or their lecturer beyond the real-time video or chat interactions. They may not get the opportunity for the kinds of peer-to-peer and student-lecturer interaction that support engagement and learning.

Research shows these sorts of practices – which can be more accurately described as “remote learning” rather than “online learning” - promote student disengagement and dropout.

So, what can lecturers do to improve learning?

In the immediate future, university staff moving to online teaching can use some of the following tips to help students stay satisfied and engaged.

1. Communicate with students as much as possible

  • get to know your students in the online environment. Ask them to introduce themselves by completing an “about you” page

  • students are likely to have many questions. One way to manage this is to set up a Frequently Asked Questions discussion board and ask students to post their question on it. In that way, all students can see the response

  • set up a weekly 30 minute live, but also recorded, Q & A session. Students can send in questions for you to respond to or ask you live. This way, students will see you “in person”.

2. Make sure students know where to get support

  • make clear to students where they can access support for the different areas that impact them, such as academic advice and finance. You will need to work closely with student support services to do this

  • set up a student support services discussion board in your subject, which student support officers could manage.

3. Help build your students’ technology skills

  • help students who aren’t so sure about the online platform to learn the technological skills they need. It’s not just you who needs upskilling.

  • you can ask your student group to self-nominate as online mentors if they have good online skills. It’s a great way to build connections.

  1. Get across the resources
  • your students will need to collaborate and share knowledge in new ways now they are not in the same physical space. Use discussion boards and wikis to encourage them to work on collaborative activities. If you don’t know how to do this, ask your learning and teaching specialists at your university. Edinburgh University also has some helpful resources. Stephen Downes’ creating an online community guide is also helpful

  • for course design ideas, Professor Gilly Salmon’s carpe diem resources are excellent.

Universities should also move, as quickly as they can, to provide intensive training in online course delivery to their lecturers.

About the AuthorsThe Conversation

Pauline Taylor-Guy, Professor, Australian Council for Educational Research and Anne-Marie Chase, Course coordinator, Australian Council for Educational Research

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.


 Get The Latest By Email

Weekly Magazine Daily Inspiration

You May Also Like


full moon over Stonehenge
Horoscope Current Week: September 20 - 26, 2021
by Pam Younghans
This weekly astrological journal is based on planetary influences, and offers perspectives and…
a swimmer in large expanse of water
Joy and Resilience: A Conscious Antidote to Stress
by Nancy Windheart
We know that we're in a great time of transition, of birthing a new way of being, living, and…
five closed doors, one pained yellow, the others white
Where Do We Go From Here?
by Marie T. Russell, InnerSelf.com
Life can be confusing. There are so many things going on, so many choices presented to us. Even a…
Inspiration or Motivation: Which Works Best?
Inspiration or Motivation: Which Comes First?
by Alan Cohen
People who are enthusiastic about a goal find ways to achieve it and they do not need to be goaded…
photo silhouette of mountain climber using a pick to secure himself
Allow The Fear, Transform It, Move Through It, and Understand It
by Lawrence Doochin
Fear feels crappy. There is no way around that. But most of us don't respond to our fear in a…
woman sitting at her desk looking worried
My Prescription for Anxiety and Worry
by Jude Bijou
We’re a society that likes to worry. Worrying is so prevalent, it almost feels socially acceptable.…
curving road in New Zealand
Don't Be So Hard On Yourself
by Marie T. Russell, InnerSelf
Life consists of choices... some are "good" choices, and others not so good. However every choice…
man standing on a dock shining a flashlight into the sky
Blessing for Spiritual Seekers and for People Suffering from Depression
by Pierre Pradervand
There is such a need in the world today of the most tender and immense compassion and deeper, more…
The Sequel's Not Equal: Being a Copy or an Original?
The Sequel's Not Equal: Being a Copy or an Original?
by Alan Cohen
The thing about sequels is that they rarely measure up to the original. Like movies, there are two…
We Create Our Own Reality By How We See and Interpret Things
We Create Our Own Reality By How We See and Interpret Things
by Pierre Pradervand
How I see my life path is a choice I make minute by minute, hour by hour, day by day… And this…
Adjusting Your View and Making Peace a Priority
Adjusting Your View and Making Peace a Priority
by Jean Walters
If you are nervous with a new assignment or situation, it doesn’t necessarily mean that you…


How Living On The Coast Is Linked To Poor Health
How Living On The Coast Is Linked To Poor Health
by Jackie Cassell, Professor of Primary Care Epidemiology, Honorary Consultant in Public Health, Brighton and Sussex Medical School
The precarious economies of many traditional seaside towns have declined still further since the…
How Can I Know What's Best For Me?
How Can I Know What's Best For Me?
by Barbara Berger
One of the biggest things I've discovered working with clients everyday is how extremely difficult…
The Most Common Issues for Earth Angels: Love, Fear, and Trust
The Most Common Issues for Earth Angels: Love, Fear, and Trust
by Sonja Grace
As you experience being an earth angel, you will discover that the path of service is riddled with…
Honesty: The Only Hope for New Relationships
Honesty: The Only Hope for New Relationships
by Susan Campbell, Ph.D.
According to most of the singles I have met in my travels, the typical dating situation is fraught…
What Men’s Roles In 1970s Anti-sexism Campaigns Can Teach Us About Consent
What Men’s Roles In 1970s Anti-sexism Campaigns Can Teach Us About Consent
by Lucy Delap, University of Cambridge
The 1970s anti-sexist men’s movement had an infrastructure of magazines, conferences, men’s centres…
Chakra Healing Therapy: Dancing toward the Inner Champion
Chakra Healing Therapy: Dancing toward the Inner Champion
by Glen Park
Flamenco dancing is a delight to watch. A good flamenco dancer exudes an exuberant self-confidence…
Taking A Step Toward Peace by Changing Our Relationship With Thought
Stepping Toward Peace by Changing Our Relationship With Thought
by John Ptacek
We spend our lives immersed in a flood of thoughts, unaware that another dimension of consciousness…
image of the planet Jupiter on the skyline of a rocky ocean shore
Is Jupiter a Planet of Hope or a Planet of Discontent?
by Steven Forrest and Jeffrey Wolf Green
In the American dream as it's currently dished up, we try to do two things: make money and lose…

follow InnerSelf on

facebook icontwitter iconyoutube iconinstagram iconpintrest iconrss icon

 Get The Latest By Email

Weekly Magazine Daily Inspiration



New Attitudes - New Possibilities

InnerSelf.comClimateImpactNews.com | InnerPower.net
MightyNatural.com | WholisticPolitics.com | InnerSelf Market
Copyright ©1985 - 2021 InnerSelf Publications. All Rights Reserved.