Teachers' Opinion

Lea Redfern,  Associate Lecturer in Media & Communications, The University of Sydney

What do you feel about teaching on Zoom?

Teaching in zoom is not a direct replacement for face-to-face teaching. It has some benefits and some drawbacks. I think it is both difficult, and an exciting challenge. 

What are the biggest challenges in conducting MECO2601 classes online, based on it's a practical subject? And what did you do to overcome these challenges?

The biggest challenge was in moving practical tasks and competencies online. How could we teach interviewing, for example, when students would not have access to the technology we normally ask them to use? The answer came in looking for alternative technology that would be accessible to most online, and in keeping this parallel to what was being expected of industry practitioners, who would also find themselves working remotely. It was also necessary to be open to students taking different approaches according to what is available to them as individuals.

In your opinion, does online course have different impacts on students' learning outcomes, compared with offline? If so, what are they? If not, why?

In a practical sense, there are some losses -students can't learn to use the portable recorders, for example. However, there are a surprising number of gains. I've seen students really embrace trying to get the best recording they can. As it doesn't come as easily as it would with professional recording equipment, they are learning to optimise all the elements necessary for the best recording they can, for example, mic placement, recording in the best available space, and working with their interviewee to make the quality as good as possible. All these skills and audio literacies will make working with professional equipment much easier in the future. They will approach this with a much higher level of competency. In learning to work with what they have available - in most cases a smartphone or a computer to record, students are facing the type of challenges that they might face working in the industry, gaining a deeper understanding and great problem-solving skills. And another plus - we don't usually teach remote recording in MECO260, and although this might change going forward, students have learned very useful, alternative skills. 

What advice would you give to students who take online courses this semester?

It's a cliche, but you will get as much out of it as you put into it. Know that your instructors are working really hard to make this as engaging as possible for you. Also know, this form of learning requires a lot from students. It is harder to learn online. It requires more of you. But you can achieve a lot this way. So dive in, and reach out for help if you need it. Don't think it is a failure to ask for help, even if it is about something everyone else seems to understand. You'll find that your peers and your teachers are more than happy to help you. And mostly, listen!

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