“It’s a pain, but it’s not like the end of the world”: Students’ experiences of emergency remote teaching


  • Rachael Ruegg Victoria University of Wellington




emergency remote teaching, pedagogical issues, learning strategies, online lectures, narrative enquiry


A chasm exists between pre-COVID online learning literature, focusing on teachers and students who have chosen online teaching and learning, and post-COVID literature, in which teaching and learning are forced online. This research focuses on students’ experiences of the move to online learning, the strategies they employed and their overall perceptions of differences between face-to-face and online learning. A single semi-structured interview was conducted with 16 students at the end of the semester in which learning was migrated online. When the learning was moved online, the students were all 3 weeks into their second year of a bachelor’s degree in the humanities and social sciences. The interview data was collected soon after the students completed these courses and analysed using thematic analysis. Generally, the findings of this study support other post-COVID studies, finding that students who were required to study online had more negative experiences than positive ones. Students who are enrolled in full-time face-to-face qualifications also appear to have different needs from those who choose to study online. Students felt that they would have benefited from more structure during emergency remote teaching, such as synchronous learning experiences scheduled at a fixed time.

Implications for practice or policy:

  • Lecturers should conduct lectures synchronously in emergency online learning for on-campus students.
  • Teaching staff should include their faces in recorded instruction in asynchronous online modes.
  • Teaching staff should offer tests in alternative formats rather than avoiding them in online learning.
  • Universities should prioritise tutorials, workshops and laboratories in face-to-face mode over lectures in hybrid education.


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How to Cite

Ruegg, R. (2023). “It’s a pain, but it’s not like the end of the world”: Students’ experiences of emergency remote teaching. Australasian Journal of Educational Technology, 39(2), 33–46. https://doi.org/10.14742/ajet.8147