This coming week marks an important moment for us at Torrens University as we focus on our online modes of delivery.
On Tuesday last week, we made a simple and important decision. To switch off our face to face mode of teaching, for the time being, and to deliver all programs online.
We’ve pivoted to ensure continuity of delivery in our rich, robust and synchronous online learning platforms – along the way we continue to create virtual communities.
Why are we doing this?
Our staff wanted to be ahead of the curve and to be part of proactive global community efforts to deal with coronavirus (COVID-19). As a private university and as a B Corporation clear in our values, we didn’t have to wait for approval, or an edict from government. We also didn’t have to put our students on hold for a week or a fortnight or a month to prepare to deliver online.
Instead, we made a bold, clear, collective decision, allowing us to take decisive action. We put our students and staff first, and we were consistent with our values.
We could only achieve this because we are a fully blended multi-modal teaching organisation with a deep capacity for online learning.
Since I joined Torrens University, I have been impressed with the perspective of staff. Being agile, cross disciplinary and future-focused is at the core of the university. I believe this agility and energy is also why we are Australia’s fastest growing university. It is why I am confident we will do well together during this period.
Our national status also assisted our decision. As one of only two Australians universities who are national providers, Torrens University already operates in large part online. All our programs are built for delivery across multiple campuses and online is an essential bedrock of delivery.
As well as being a national provider, we’re also fortunate to have an international footprint and network that extends across the globe. This includes physical campuses in China at our Suzhou campus and in PNG. But also, online delivery to international students. Our global network connects with 850,000 students. Torrens University delivers programs online in China and our capability was recently acknowledged by the Australian Government as one of two Australian universities with the capacity to support the education sector in delivering online education in China.
As a university equipped with the capacity to work in different modes, we genuinely believe this is an opportunity to be innovative and creative.
From our inception, Online Learning has been part of our DNA, and with 40% of our students which were already studying online including International offshore we have an exceptional experience.
It’s important for all of our partners and stakeholders to rest assured that online has always been something we have focused on, ensuring our students have the same experience regardless of modality. This focus has been highlighted in the most recent online Global MBA rankings, where Torrens University has been recognised as having one of the world’s top 20 online MBA programs in the CEO magazine 2020 Global MBA rankings.
We already have plans in place to substitute face to face experience with weekly online podcasts, collaborate live tutorials and video resources and audio guides to assessment completion. Our students will continue to access support from our Success Coaches, online and through webinars – maintaining this critical element of our services to students.
Our academic teams will likely explore, discover even more solutions and innovative ways of ensuring we arm our students with skills, learnings and confidence. They have already put in tremendous effort to prepare and enable our students to study remotely and online. We know we will still be delivering the very best because of these efforts.
I am particularly proud to know that in this short space of time, there is already buzz about how we have approached the challenges.
This could not have happened without the contributions of all our staff, thinking and working nimbly through areas which needed considered thought. Our remote teaching, learning and resourcing options, our engagement with students and planning for transition are the result of spirited collaborations across our organisation.
One point I have been making to all our staff is that our campuses have not been closed. Our business will be working, but completely online. The vibe and energy which fire our campuses will simply be transferred online.
In coming weeks, I will bring you up to date with how we explore new frontiers of learning and teaching. I know there will be gems. There will be movement. Once we find our rhythm, we will start sharing our discoveries, as we continue empowering our students to be forces for good in our world – a world where shared humanity and solutions have become incredibly important.
Professor Alwyn Louw
Vice-Chancellor, Torrens University Australia