Transitioning to online teaching: A phenomenological analysis of social work educator perspectives
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Online education in social work has been proliferating and is now ubiquitous due to COVID-19. To optimize instructor pedagogical wisdom and ensure student benefit, critical reflection is needed on the transition to online education. Prior to the pandemic, 17 social work educators were interviewed about their perspectives on the transition from teaching on-the-ground classes to online. This interpretative phenomenological study identified three themes that influenced the educator’s experience: personal qualities, pedagogical beliefs, and macro and institutional factors. It is this unique mix of each participants’ pedagogical beliefs, personal qualities, and macro or institutional factors which influenced the individual educator’s experience of satisfaction. Each educator’s perspective of online teaching is arrived at through calculations of costs and benefits as they balance their own and their students’ needs within the demands and supports of their respective institutions. These perspectives can be characterized by one of four standpoints: mutual benefit, compromised learning, instructor reservations, and incompatibility. Implications include enhancing social work educators’ critical reflexivity while navigating the evolving technological context and providing administrators with points of intervention to support instructors and develop online delivery modes.