Moving large classes online: Illuminating the experience of the sudden transition of large, face-to-face programmes to the online environment in Dublin City University, in response to the Covid-19 crisis
This study was financially supported by the Dublin City University (DCU) Educational Trust as one of the projects accepted for the DCU Covid-19 Research and Innovation Hub. The motivation for developing the research project arose from discussions between the authors who, at the time of the call for proposals, were experiencing the emergency transition of a large class online from the perspectives of a teacher, a student, a learning technologist and an academic developer.
The purpose of the study is threefold:
To shed light on the sudden transition of DCU's large classes (100+ students) from the face-to-face teaching and learning setting to the online environment in March 2020 from the perspectives of staff and students.
To contextualise the findings arising from the examination of the transition referred to
above by reviewing relevant literature.
To inform the work (a) of academics in DCU teaching large-class cohorts and (b) of DCU's academic developers and learning technologists, supporting them in this endeavour, as large programmes and modules move online in the forthcoming academic year.
The composition of the research team was an advantage from the outset in terms of developing the proposal, designing the research and interpreting the findings. Viewing the above objectives from a range of perspectives ensured a richness in discussion, debate, synthesis, analysis and reporting.
The report is divided into the following sections:
Section 1 provides suggestions and guidance for transitioning large classes online, as we move into the academic year 2020/21. This is not a summary of the report; rather, it forefronts the implications and conclusions arising from the research process, instead of presenting them at the end. This section of the report was shared with DCU staff via email on 22 September 2020.
Section 2 comprises the full report with the following elements: methodology; findings from the review of literature; findings from data analysis; discussion; authors’ personal reflections and references.
Section 3 is an appendix, which includes relevant documentation that may be of use to the reader when navigating the document.