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Special issue

Abstract

Scholarly articles on international academics mainly focuses on personal and professional challenges endured by international academics’ during conventional times. This includes adjustments to new roles and living in a foreign country, pedagogical differences stemming from intercultural differences, language barriers and unequal access to resources (funding, exploitation). This paper explores experiences of two international early-career academics in Australia highlighting their teaching-related challenges, strategies and opportunities during COVID-19, using a collaborative autoethnography qualitative approach. At this Australian university, teaching was paused for a week in March 2020 to cope with the learning and teaching ‘shock’ – to reorientate teaching from face-to-face to completely offer courses remotely to ensure that students were not disadvantaged in their learning and provide space for academic staff to reorientate their learning and teaching materials to suit online delivery. Personalised reflections encapsulate some bizarre teaching related experiences of these international academics in the online learning and teaching space, underpinned by their cultural differences. There were four major challenges identified: transition to online learning and teaching, learning and teaching online practices, relationship issues between students and academic staff, and language-related issues. Specific strategies to overcome these challenges are also identified that led to overall teaching success endured by these international early-career academics in Australia.

Practitioner Notes

  1. This reflection shows the need for host institutions to provide learning and teaching support mechanisms, such as peer-reviewing of teaching, participation in professional teaching development activities, coaching and mentoring schemes aimed at enhancing and supporting early-career international academics’ teaching-related capabilities.
  2. It is vital for international academics to feel comfortable and to adjust to the new learning and teaching environment, especially during times of crisis, so that they are able to provide the best learning experience to students and also to the institution.
  3. As international academics have vast global knowledge and experience, it is important to integrate and leverage their perspectives in the learning and teaching environment in the host country.
  4. Early-career international academics are encouraged to meaningfully adopt the varied learning and teaching strategies discussed in this reflection.
  5. Academics are empowered to take agentive action through flexible, adaptive, quick and innovative online pedagogical practices, addressing students’ assignments queries promptly, and consciously addressing language-related issues to ensure high teaching commitments and engagement with students, as well as to meet student learning outcomes at their host institutions.

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