Online Teaching and Learning in Foundation Year: From Lecturers’ Perspectives

Foundation Year (FY) commenced its online teaching and learning through Google Meet on 25th May 2020, which marks the official launch of Semester 2 for the Academic Year 2019-2020. FY uses Google Meet and UPOP as its mediums of instruction, engagement, and two-way communication between course lecturers and students.

During Week 6 of the semester, the majority of students turned up on time for live delivery, while demonstrating enthusiasm and interest in the sessions. Despite some challenges, such as internet connectivity issues, occasional power outages experienced by some students (and a little tardiness), we made sure each individual student was not left behind as they were given full access to teaching resources, such as pre-recorded videos, recorded lessons, PowerPoint slide presentations and other teaching and learning materials. These materials are made available in UPOP, and also sent to students via the Telegram app on request, in order to ensure equal and equitable accessibility for everyone.

Another teaching method to make sure that students are not disadvantaged by live delivery due to the aforementioned obstacles is ‘UPOP enquiry.’ Some lecturers have created online forums, which are one of UPOP’s many tools, where they posted discussion questions, case-based questions, and scenarios in UPOP to undertake follow-up comprehension checks. Some lecturers chose to do so in advance of their classes, with the intent being to enable students to increase their sense of class preparedness and to help them master the lessons positively. Students have also been getting involved in peer-assisted learning and question-and-answer sessions allocated during live instruction classes. These sessions enable each student to pose questions under discussion; lecturers ask students questions and vice versa.

The level of engagement with this approach does vary from class to class, regardless of a variety of online methodologies being employed by FY lecturers. Some lecturers have reported back that one of the major causes of this is that the students have not yet become completely used to this new teaching-learning paradigm and will need more time to familiarise themselves with it. However, the vast majority of students have been able to manage to attend the classes during the first part of Semester Two, which is a real success for them, and an endorsement of the intense work done by UP to continue to provide excellent teaching and learning.