THE IMPACT OF COVID-19 IN AN ONLINE TEACHER EDUCATION COURSE
During these unprecedented times, the impact of COVID-19 has been experienced in every sector of life including education, which has made a rapid transition to online teacher almost overnight. However, it might be anticipated that an online teacher education course designed for asynchronous delivery would be minimally affected compared to other modes of learning. Yet, students’ reduced participation in course forums, missed deadlines, increased requests for extensions and face-to-face support would suggest otherwise. This presentation sets out to explore the experiences and perceptions of postgraduate students taking an online teacher education course during spring semester 2020. It describes the challenges, as well as the opportunities, encountered by students during the COVID-19 period and how these impacted their learning during this period of lock-down. While research into students’ experiences and perceptions of learning in an asynchronous learning platform is well-established, research into students’ experiences of online learning during this critical period is just emerging. Based on semi-structured interviews with 10 students taking a fully-online teacher education course during spring semester 2020, data were collected and several themes were identified. Findings suggest that students’ experiences and perceptions of learning during this time were impacted in 5 key areas: (1) emotional well-being, (2) time-management, (3) access to resources, (4) employment, and (5) changes to living circumstances. It is hoped that this presentation will offer initial insights for educators who might wish to modify their courses and adapt their online teaching during this ongoing and dynamic situation.