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Keeping Hydrology Teaching Awesome in Pandemic Times

I think we all felt good when the WHO recently downgraded the global COVID situation by announcing an end to a Public Health Emergency of International Concern. While I don't think any of us found COVID fun, it was an amazing spur for change - particularly in moving hydrology teaching online and finding ways to support socially and educationally dislocated students and replace hands on lab and field experiences with digital analogues.

Four of us at UWA decided we'd enjoy pooling our experiences in online teaching and submitted this article to a Frontiers in Education Special Collection about Hydrology Teaching Online (thanks to Adam, Anne and co-editors for their great work in this space).

We focused on the lessons learned - how to organise our unit content, to chunk it and pre-record it to allow students - particularly those using in English as their second (or subsequent) language - to review material as much as needed. We identified the importance of building a suitable culture in our classes, and using the class structure to promote a growth mindset.

In my engineering class, the class was pre-recorded, flipped, and worked along three streams towards a similar kind of assessment - a "guided design" where students implemented the technical material they'd been learning in a "real world" engineering context. The predictable structure throughout the semester helped students predict and anticipate the learning, while the repeated nature of the main assessments allowed for students opportunities to develop their skills and improve between each assessment.

While these teaching learnings reflect "normal" best practice for pedagogy, some of the coolest things related to moving field and lab experiences online.

The hydrogeology instructors replicated a sand tank with a digital sandbox in Parflow.

Field hydrology classes developed "digital online catchments" to replace field trips.

The best part of writing this paper was talking education with multiple hydrological instructors at UWA. Matt, Sarah and Nik are all exceptional teachers who think hard about how they teach and why they teach, and who leverage their strengths and abilities into their classrooms.

I'd strongly recommend exploring how your peers and mentors have been adapting their teaching to the online world, and engaging with each other. We don't have these conversations as much as we ought, and it's affirming and fun to do so - even if you need to write a paper to get you talking!

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