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Reflecting on the benefits and challenges of online learning during the COVID-19 Pandemic

West, Harry; Hill, Jennifer; Abzhaparova, Aida; Cox, Will; Alexander, Anoushka


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Dr Harry West
Senior Lecturer in Geography & Environmental Management

Jenny Hill
Associate Professor in Teaching and Learning

Will Cox

Anoushka Alexander


The COVID-19 pandemic resulted in profound disruption to geography higher education. A pivot to online teaching required staff to rapidly adapt their practices to novel learning environments and digital spaces. Whilst many studies have reported the different pedagogic approaches adopted, fewer have evaluated the resultant student learning experience. In this study, we aimed to create an evidence base regarding the benefits and challenges of online learning during the pandemic, reflecting on a suite of pandemic pedagogies adopted within two undergraduate geography programmes in a British university. Adopting a mixed-methods approach of online surveys (105 students) and focus groups (14 students), we explored the benefits of asynchronous and synchronous online learning, and assessment and feedback strategies. We discovered flexibility in student work patterns and use of technology to facilitate engagement in learning. We also identified key challenges for students associated with online learning such as time management, maintaining motivation, engaging in online classes, and feeling part of an online learning community. We identify best practice in relation to online learning so that in the event of any future remote pivot, or with sustained adoption of blended modes of delivery, we can achieve a high-quality student learning experience.


West, H., Hill, J., Abzhaparova, A., Cox, W., & Alexander, A. (2022, August). Reflecting on the benefits and challenges of online learning during the COVID-19 Pandemic. Presented at Royal Geographical Society Annual International Conference, Newcastle

Presentation Conference Type Speech
Conference Name Royal Geographical Society Annual International Conference
Conference Location Newcastle
Start Date Aug 30, 2022
End Date Sep 2, 2022
Deposit Date Sep 5, 2022
Publicly Available Date Sep 7, 2022
Keywords Online learning, Covid 19, Education
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