Collaboration supports the shift to online teaching

Quick-thinking and innovative collaboration between the Learning and Teaching Centre and Service Central has helped ACU to support teaching staff through a rapid shift to online learning.

The COVID-19 pandemic began to impact all parts of Australia from March as social distancing and lockdowns created unprecedented challenges and disruption to everyday life. As the pandemic situation developed in Semester 1, ACU determined to undertake a mass translation of coursework materials and learning and teaching activities into online delivery.

The Learning and Teaching Centre (LTC) anticipated that supporting teaching staff to rapidly adapt to online learning technologies would be crucial to creating continuity for our students. The scale of making such widespread changes while meeting intensive support needs posed a significant challenge.

“During Semester 1, when ACU was rapidly shifting to online, we were run off our feet preparing for the changes,” said Manager of Education and Design, LTC, James Nicholson.

“We knew that teaching staff would similarly have huge challenges moving everything online, learning new technologies and supporting their students.”

In an innovative collaboration, LTC reached out to Service Central for support. They sought to draw on Service Central team’s experience of enquiry management and triage for many of ACU’s professional services for staff, such as HR, IT, and Properties and Facilities services.

“We had been thinking about having a presence in Service Central and decided this was the time. It ended up being a huge help for us. The Service Central team were able to solve many of the increased queries coming through and triage others appropriately. Having this communication avenue and support system greatly assisted us and ACU staff in the craziest of times,” James said.

Director of Corporate Services, Sharone Ciancio, said Service Central responded quickly to the pressing need to be highly responsive to academic staff during an intense period of change.

“In less than three weeks, we formed and trained a dedicated team of two Service Central Officers specialising in supporting LTC enquiries. They provided support via phone and online chat for matters related to teaching and working remotely, particularly in the use of Zoom, MS Teams and general troubleshooting,” Sharone said.

“In this short time, we also created an online form in the Service Central portal where staff could directly request LTC help with online learning technologies, and also created a suite of knowledge articles accessible 24/7 via the portal.”

Service Central received almost 600 requests/enquiries related to LTC over the first two intensive months of the pandemic, with more than 85 per cent of these resolved at first contact. The combination of enquiry resolution by Service Central, automation of the ‘Teaching Online’ request form, and the accessibility of knowledge articles enabled LTC to better manage the increased service demand. It also allowed LTC to focus on more complex and value-added activities, while supporting the needs of academic staff making the rapid transition online.

“The feedback and satisfaction ratings Service Central received from teaching staff so far has been very positive,” Sharone said. “Overall, this has been a collaborative and productive partnership between Service Central and the LTC which has supported ACU priorities and contributed to the service experience during the difficult challenges of the pandemic.”

James said the pandemic had been a time of huge disruption and stress, but also a time of opportunity: “Most staff and students have risen to this challenge amazingly well. The work and resilience of everyone has been brilliant to experience.”

Teaching staff who need help with using online learning technologies can now request Learning and Teaching support through Service Central, and view related knowledge articles in the Service Central portal.

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