The New Teaching Environment


He’s a veteran of remote teaching - but two weeks into online lessons at Bond University, Dr James Birt has found time to learn a few new tricks himself. Dr Birt has been teaching remotely - as well as in person - for almost a decade.

The Associate Professor of computer gaming said he had been having a “great time” since Bond resumed classes for its students two weeks ago, with full class attendance and students from multiple disciplines learning about game design, virtual and augmented reality.

“I think my many years of online gaming, watching Twitch streamers and YouTubers has helped with the ability to understand remote platforms and the ways to manage remote rooms and engagement.” Students had responded well to the new teaching environment, he said. 

Virtual lessons 

In Dr Birt’s case, the new teaching environment features virtual and augmented reality headsets, 360 degree cameras, 3D scanners, high performance PC and Apple computers and a host of broadcasting equipment including microphones and lighting.

“I’ve been doing this for seven years,” Dr Birt said. “(During Coronavirus closures) the students will get an experience as close as what they could have received in the classroom. That's the goal. We’ll be even more available to our students during this time. If we can show them and the world that we can still deliver a personalised experience, that is a real positive in such a negative situation.”

Teaching isn't what it used to be

Be the mentor

Dr Birt will be prerecording his lectures and workshops in high definition video, while also using screen-casting and other technologies to keep students engaged.

“My goal has always been: don’t be the lecturer, be the mentor,” Dr Birt said. “It’s important that I still give a personalised experience for the students which is the cornerstone of a Bond University education. All lectures will be prerecorded in high quality video. The goal is to give them an emerging technology experience even though they cannot be in the room with me. I’ll be working through their questions, theories and concepts of the lectures and getting back to them in a one-on-one fashion.”

In the meantime, Dr Birt said since remote learning commenced, he’d learnt a couple of things himself - the importance of well-structured breaks and having a glass of water on hand. Dr Birt received a citation for his outstanding contribution to student learning in the 2019 Australian Awards for University Teaching.