Online University Teaching at the time of COVID-19 (2020): An Australian Perspective

Erika K. Smith, Western Sydney University, Australia
Ece Kaya, University of Technology Sydney, Australia
Published: April 2, 2021

Citation: Smith, E. K., & Kaya, E. (2021). Online University Teaching at the time of COVID-19 (2020): An Australian Perspective, 9(2).


The impacts of COVID-19 have been widespread, and the education sector has not been immune to its effects. In March 2020 Australian universities were forced into a shutdown, which prompted an unanticipated, sudden shift in education, from on-campus and face-to-face to an off-campus and online mode of teaching and learning. This paper describes the experiences of two Sydney-based university unit coordinators, from two different institutions, who rapidly shifted their units online as a result of COVID-19. In particular, it applies reflection as a research method, to share what the authors’ encountered as successful, and what was challenging about teaching online. Motivating and retaining students was a key challenge identified by the authors. Therefore, the paper discusses the authors’ application of various digital programs and tools in their response to this challenge of motivation and engagement. It is hoped that our experiences might benefit those looking to integrate programs and tools in the online teaching and learning space. Although Australia is currently one of the most successful countries in their handling of COVID-19, there is still great uncertainty about the future. Globally the pandemic shows no signs of abating, as many countries struggle to manage high levels of transmission and infection rates, which in turn have an impact on the education sector more broadly. Consequently, online learning may be the ‘new normal’ for many institutions in the near future. Therefore, it is important for educators to share their online teaching experiences that can contribute to greater understandings of this space.


COVID-19, higher education, online learning, online teaching, university