Exploring the concept of the digital educator during COVID-19





digital educator, digital capacity, professional identity, post-digital pedagogies, leadership, qualitative research


In this paper, we explore academic identity, specifically the identity of the educator in higher education and academics’ conceptualisations of the digital educator. We suggest that the concept of a digital educator is not only about technology, tools and uses. The context for this exploration is academics’ participation in an online professional development module, Digital Education, and the “pivot online” (Weller, 2020a) during campus closures caused by the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020. Through qualitative research, we explored participants’ sense of teaching identity, whether they had or have a concept of being a digital educator and the extent to which these identities might have shifted while the campus closure continued. We present analysis of their accounts and reflect on the implications of this analysis, particularly in relation to organisational digital capacity defined as “the skills, competencies, attitudes, infrastructure, and resources that enable people to work, live and learn in a world that is increasingly digital world” (National Forum, 2018, p. iv). We consider how higher education institutions will cope with the complex challenges facing us and suggest ways in which the implications of this research could better enable institutions to navigate change and build organisational digital capacity.

Implications for practice or policy:

  • The pivot to online teaching and assessment during the COVID-19 pandemic has had complex effects on professional identities which need to be researched and understood.
  • Programme teams in campus-based institutions have experienced erosion of professional norms and relationships. They need support and leadership during the gradual return to campus.
  • Faculty integrated technologies rapidly but unevenly into practice; therefore, the ongoing building of digital capacity and the shift towards post-digital pedagogies needs dedicated support and leadership.


Download data is not yet available.


Metrics Loading ...




How to Cite

Schalk, A. E., McAvinia, C., & Rooney, P. (2022). Exploring the concept of the digital educator during COVID-19. Australasian Journal of Educational Technology, 38(2), 129–141. https://doi.org/10.14742/ajet.7316