Longing for connection: University educators creating meaning through sharing experiences of teaching online

Brandi Fox, Margaret Bearman*, Robin Bellingham, Andrea North-Samardzic, Simona Scarparo, Darci Taylor, Mathew Krehl Edward Thomas, Michael Volkov

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Citations (Scopus)
15 Downloads (Pure)


This paper presents a reflexive analysis of how university educators experience the shift to increasing online teaching in 2019. We explore what it means to be an online educator in contemporary higher education and aim to raise questions about how we approach online education and understand ourselves as educators, informed by a sociomaterial lens. The research utilised collaborative autoethnography (CAE) to facilitate meaning-making and uncover complex perspectives through collaboration and conversation. This enabled us to question what we as educators were losing and what we were gaining as a consequence of shifting to more online modes of teaching via university mandated platforms and processes. Through this methodology, various themes emerged: the role of corporeality; how we constructed ourselves through texts; how others materialised us in virtual spaces; the experience of online time; and our transforming practices and identities. This paper provides a snapshot of a significant cultural milieu in academia as we were afforded time to engage in reflexive practice about teaching online just as the academic world was abruptly mandated to shift almost wholly online. It also provides unique insights into the significance of understanding ourselves as both embodied and social, and the importance of community within academia.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2077-2092
Number of pages16
JournalBritish Journal of Educational Technology
Issue number5
Early online date18 May 2021
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2021

Bibliographical note

© 2021 The Authors. British Journal of Educational Technology published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd on behalf of British Educational Research Association. Version archived for private and non-commercial use with the permission of the author/s and according to publisher conditions. For further rights please contact the publisher.


  • e-learning
  • higher education
  • professional learning
  • qualitative research


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