Online learning: call for member experiences

1 March, 2021

The COVID-19 pandemic of 2020-2021 has led to an increasing reliance on online platforms for both teaching and professional development.

While a return to face-to-face teaching has now occurred, it is likely that increased use of digital platforms will continue into the future.

It is; however, important for IEU members to be aware that the generation, storage and use of digital technologies are potentially contentious activities, particularly where images of, or references to, students are involved.

Employer obligations

It is imperative employers consult with employees and our union before implementing any major change, particularly when the change involves technology, software, digital devices, online learning and professional practice.

This is because the growing reliance on digital communication and collaboration platforms (and their associated devices) has the ability to create significant ethical and industrial/legal problems for all staff.

At a base level our union strongly believes employers need to:

  1. develop and communicate clear protocols for use of digital platforms to all parties who engage in this mode (including students);
  2. provide teachers and support staff with training and guidance in safe, secure and professional use of digital platforms; and
  3. provide teachers and support staff with access to digital platforms and resources that are not linked to personal hardware or accounts.

Members encouraged to provide advice and experience.

IEU members, particularly those who have taught distance education, or are being asked to continue hybrid-learning (in class and online) into 2021, are encouraged to contact IEU Research Officer Adele Schmidt to share their experiences.

“Our IEU Education Committee is keenly interested in examining and monitoring the implications of digital technology on not only teachers’ professional practice but industrial conditions,” Adele said.

“For example, associated workload issues, if and what Professional Development (PD) is being provided by employers, what policies are in place to protect employees online and whether devices are being provided for work use.

“This will form the basis for our union’s position in terms of professional advocacy as well as future collective bargaining claims.”

Members can contact Adele via email:

If any members need specific advice or support regarding online learning, contact our Industrial Services team via

Members should keep an eye out for the March edition of Independent Voice, where we explore the future of our profession in more detail.

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