Associate Professor Sarah Prestridge delivered a keynote speech at Society for Information Technology and Teacher Education Conference on the topic: How to teach in a virtual world as a place with student choice in higher education in San Diego earlier this year. This represented a significant achievement with influential delegates from around the world in attendance.  

Associate Professor Prestridge says of the experience:  

“In a keynote it is important that there is an underlying message. One of the key messages I talked about was that with digital technologies and online learning we (as teachers/educators) must change how we are teaching. We cannot transfer classroom practices online. It is a different space for learning. When you are going online you need to think about the influences of that environment, how students interact and communication with you is different online.”  

The online space illustrates a network system of learning with the teachers’ role being an engineer of students’ interaction with other students, rather than getting them to interact with the teacher. This was highlighted in her keynote.  

Associate Professor Prestridge says:  

“Teaching in a virtual space is dynamic and interactive. We have to think about it differently to classroom teaching. If we do that, shift our mindsets to try new ways of teaching we can really open up a lot of new and valuable ways of engaging with our students virtually.”  

A network system offers a ‘many to many’ approach to interacting with others. For students there is more flexibility and opportunity to contribute to their learning.  Her PhD student Emmanual Abedi also won an award for the best paper, for his work entitled “Beginning teachers’ reflections on pre-service technology training and sense of preparedness.”  

On the prize won by Emmanuel Abedi, Sarah was both proud and excited.  

“A lot of work at conferences is supporting our Early Career Researchers, and a key part of my work at the conference was supporting and encouraging my research students. The idea is to try bring them into the fold. This award demonstrates the quality and excellence of Emmanuel’s work.”   

Associate Professor Prestridge’s speech received positive feedback from colleagues and peers, who appreciated being challenged to think and act differently. 

“Punya Mishra, one of the founders of TPACK theoretical framework was in attendance. His work has been influential in the field of digital technologies, and it was a wonderful opportunity to engage with Punya who is a very approachable, down to earth academic, passionate about all things teaching (and cricket)!”  

Associate Professor Prestridge is an expert in digital pedagogies and has seen the COVID 19 disruption as a positive educational development, allowing teachers to have an experimental opportunity to explore how to use and connect students within online spaces.  

She talks about the “continuum of education” from schooling to further education to the profession. We are all responsible for enabling our students to be able to learn online as most education is offered in that way now and students are seeking greater flexibility in when and how they are learning. It starts in schools and is very important work. What students learn is as important as giving them the skills to learn.  

“Our education system has shifted online. The continuation of learning is that we have a responsibility to prepare our students to learn in these spaces. We need both skills and understanding of how learning works in virtual spaces.”  

For more information on this topic see Sarah’s profile  and a series of short, informative videos about How to teach virtually.