Shaping our future campuses

I was presenting at the QAA Conference, my presentation was entitled: How will the growth in online learning shape the future design of learning spaces and our campuses?

The physicality of online learning is an issue that will impact on university campuses as more institutions move to a blended programmes containing elements of online and digital learning and physical in-person learning. In this session James Clay from Jisc will explore the challenges that growth in online learning will bring to learning spaces and the university campus. He will explore what is required for, in terms of space for online learning, but will also consider the space and design implications of delivering online teaching as well. He will discuss what some universities are doing today to meet these challenges and requirements. He will reflect on a possible future where we are able to maximise the use of our space as students have the flexibility to learn online, in-person and across a spectrum of blended possibilities.

Exhausting – Weeknote #114 – 7th May 2021

No Monday for me in the office this week, well it was Bank Holiday, so my working week started on the Tuesday.

Spent much of the week undertaking interviews for a project we’re doing for a university. I was talking to students about their experiences and what they wanted if and when they get back to campus.

There has been a clear lack of interaction between students, both academically and socially, leading to a lack of familiarity and difficulty engaging.  Another familiar issue, identified by both students and staff, has been the very limited interaction between students. With the main face-to-face avenues for contact, socially or more formally through seminars, are not readily available via the digital environment. This was particularly noticeable amongst first year students, many of whom had very little interaction with their peers. This is clearly a very important part of university life and makes for a less rich student experience.

I have also been writing a report for another university which covers similar issues, as well as the challenges in embracing blended and digital learning.

My new iPad keyboard stroke cover arrived, which was great as the old one had stopped working. I had had a similar issue with my previous iPad as well. The iPad basically doesn’t recognise the external keyboard so spends a lot of time providing me with notifications that it doesn’t recognise the keyboard, which is equally as frustrating as the keyboard not working itself. Now at least I can use my iPad for writing.

We had an away day on Friday, which actually meant spending most of the day in a Zoom call. Now that’s exhausting.

Having said that it was quite a good and interesting day with some useful sessions. I facilitated a session with a DVC which went down well with the HE team at Jisc.

My top tweet this week was this one.

Writing, writing, writing – Weeknote #113 – 30th April 2021

Undertook some interviews this week with students about their experiences of digital learning, always interesting to hear about what worked and what was challenging.

Spent much of the week working on a report.

Presented at the University Alliance Teaching and Learning Network Meeting. Jon introduced Jisc and the work we had done as part of Learning and Teaching Reimagined. I then spoke about the next steps and the new Higher Education Strategy 2021-2024: Powering UK Higher Education.

Can’t quite believe that the cost of parking at Weston-super-Mare station is rising from £2.50 a day to £6.00 a day from the 17th May. That’s not quite an inflationary increase is it? So there I was thinking that the was an increase effort to get people to use trains, this is a bit of a disincentive. Not everyone lives within walking distance of a railway station.

My top tweet this week was this one.

Powering UK higher education

waves
Image by Pexels from Pixabay

Today myself and Jon Baldwin delivered a presentation to the University Alliance Teaching and Learning Network Meeting.

Jon introduced Jisc and the work we had done as part of Learning and Teaching Reimagined. I then spoke about the next steps and the new Higher Education Strategy 2021-2024: Powering UK Higher Education.

Not feeling very well – Weeknote #112 – 23rd April 2021

path
Image by jplenio from Pixabay

Not a good or productive week this week.

It started Wednesday, did not feel very well.

Had a terrible night’s sleep that night so called in sick on Thursday and Friday.

It wasn’t Covid which was a relief.

Didn’t help that my iMac died on Thursday as well.

My top tweet this week was this one.

Where’s my cake? – Weeknote #111 – 16th April 2021

I took a couple of days leave this week, I had my birthday and it was still the Easter break in North Somerset, though others were going back to school and university.  Going back meant turning the computer back on for those in higher education!

The 12th April saw the easing of lockdown restrictions and the news and social media was full of people taking full advantage of the easing. Even with infection rates down, vaccinations, there is still a risk of covid. It would appear that the easing of restrictions will result in an increase in infections, but the government still see this as manageable and will not put increased pressure on the NHS. My personal view is to remain cautious and not go crazy…

Of course higher education was not initially in the reopening plans, so for most students that means more Zoom classes and little or no live in-person interactions. This, as reported in The Observer is having an impact on their mental health and wellbeing.

The government is putting the mental health and wellbeing of young people at risk by refusing to set a date when students can return to university campuses, university vice-chancellors and students have warned. Universities still haven’t been told when the government will allow them to resume face-to-face teaching for about 1 million students who have been forced to learn remotely during lockdown.

On Tuesday the UK government announced that English universities will resume (physical) in-person teaching no earlier than 17 May. Of course by then most teaching will be virtually finished for most students anyhow. So they can return, but return for what?

My top tweet this week was this one.

Quiet – Weeknote #110 – 9th April 2021

Well the week started later (as might be expected) with Easter Monday. Also with it being a school holiday and people taking leave, it was also a rather quiet week with very few meetings. This allowed me to crack on with a few things that were in my to do list.

The Guardian started the week with this article – Universities are angry at PM’s failure to include reopening plan in Covid roadmap.

University leaders said it was deeply unfair that students could get haircuts or work in pubs next week but still had no idea when their campuses would reopen, as the government announced that school pupils in England will be expected to wear masks until the middle of May.

mobile phone
Image by Free-Photos from Pixabay

The BBC News reported on Gavin Williamson wanting to ban mobile phones in schools.

Mobile phones should be banned from schools because lockdown has affected children’s “discipline and order,” the education secretary has warned. Gavin Williamson told The Telegraph phones should not be “used or seen during the school day”, though he said schools should make their own policies. Phones can act as a “breeding ground” for cyber-bullying and social media can damage mental health, he added. “It’s now time to put the screens away, especially mobile phones,” he wrote.

I was reminded of a blog post that I wrote back in 2008.

Does your institution ban mobile phones in the classroom? Does it just ban the use of mobile phones in the classroom? Or does it just ban the inappropriate use of mobile phones in the classroom?

The key with any great learning process is the relationship between teacher and student, get that right and you are onto a winner. Disruption happens with that relationship breaks down, not when a phone rings.

My experience of school policies today, is that they actually already ban mobile phones….

I also liked this response from @Simfin who is an expert in this space.

I did like this article on Wonkhe – Where next for digital learning? by Julie Swain. She says that the key pillars of action to support staff and students need to focus on are:

  • Digital poverty
  • Digital Learning Spaces
  • Mental Health Support
  • Digital Learning Skills

In the article Julie recognises that digital poverty isn’t just about connectivity and hardware, it’s also about space and time.

She says about space: Space has proven to be a major issue. There were assumptions that students and staff had “study spaces” at home where they could shut off and dedicate themselves to learning. Again that is just not the case for many and it is not uncommon to be “inside someone’s spare room or even bedroom “.

Though I also think we need to consider low bandwidth and asynchronous learning activities as well as space, connections and hardware.

My top tweet this week was this one.

Spring forward – Weeknote #109 – 2nd April 2021

clock
Image by Monoar Rahman Rony from Pixabay

Sunday morning saw the clocks going forward, I am reminded of this classic Giles cartoon about this.

“Sorry Mum, I put all the clocks back instead of forward and Uncle Charlie and all of them have arrived for lunch.”

With Good Friday it was a shorter week than normal.

I liked this article on Wonkhe, How to build back student community and opportunity between now and the new year.

Jim Dickinson and Rosie Hunnam interrogate the student opportunities lost to the pandemic, and gather intel on what it would take to build them, and the student community they support, back higher.

This reflects a lot of conversations I have been having over the last few weeks on the importance of building student communities across the current covid-19 restrictions in place. Too often universities assume students can build their own online communities, but discussions with students reflect that this more than not doesn’t happen. Even where it does, it is often based on previous in-person communities. Going forward with potentially restrictions still in place in September, the importance of community building is there and how you do this online is still a real challenge.

After a range of virtual events, meetings, lectures, etc, often the last thing we need is more screen time on a virtual coffee break.

Lens
Image by Rudy and Peter Skitterians from Pixabay

On Tuesday I was along with Doug Parkin and Lawrie Phipps presenting a a session on digital for a Spotlight Series for Senior Strategic Leaders. I was mainly talking about how to look at and embed digital into strategy. It was a good session.

On Wednesday I presented to the DigiLearn community about Learning and Teaching Reimagined.

 

This seemed to go down well with the attendees.

The Quality Assurance Agency (QAA) has shared outcomes of their work to explore the links between good practice in digital pedagogy and improved student engagement, progression and achievement.

My top tweet this week was this one.

Powering up – Weeknote #108 – 26th March 2021

I realised that I have been walking and exercising less during the last few weeks, now the children are back in school, so this week I made a determined effort to increase the amount of walking I do.

Like last week, I have spent a lot of the week interviewing staff and students as part of a project we’re doing at Jisc. We have been talking to them about their thoughts and perspectives on digital learning. As with a lot of these kinds of interviews there are some interesting individual insights, however the real insight comes from analysing all the interviews and seeing what trends are in there. I also spent time planning a similar, but different project.

I attended a roundtable on a digital vision for Scotland and facilitated a breakout room reflecting on the vision.

If you have watched a 60 minute TV programme, you will realise few if any have a talking head for 60 minutes. Few of us have the time or the skills to create a 60 minute documentary style programme to replace the lecture, and where would you go to film it? So if you change the monologue to a conversation then you can create something which is more engaging for the viewer (the student) and hopefully a better learning experience.

In a meeting this week with staff from a university I was discussing this issue and their response was, what about comedy stand-up? That’s a monologue. That got me thinking and reflecting, so I wrote a blog post about needing a tray.

Lego Star Wars
Image by 501stCommanderMax from Pixabay

Continue reading Powering up – Weeknote #108 – 26th March 2021

You will need a tray…

The Death Star
Image by Alex_K_83 from Pixabay

So sometimes you have to backtrack and change your mind.

I have been working on a variety of blog posts about transformation over translation. When discussing the lecture and video I did say:

If you have watched a 60 minute TV programme, you will realise few if any have a talking head for 60 minutes. Few of us have the time or the skills to create a 60 minute documentary style programme to replace the lecture, and where would you go to film it? So if you change the monologue to a conversation then you can create something which is more engaging for the viewer (the student) and hopefully a better learning experience.

In a recent meeting with staff from a university I was discussing this issue and their response was, what about comedy stand-up? That’s a monologue.

I had to concede that they were indeed right, the comedic monologue is something that people to watch and is usually a talking head.

I will defend that I did say “few if any” and not none.

However I don’t think we can class the lecture in the same vein as a comedic monologue, well not all the time. Is a lecture as entertaining as Eddie Izzard discussing the canteen on the Death Star, probably not.

If you are transforming all your lectures into video recordings, some (or a few) will work well as monologues, however some will probably work better as shorter recordings, or as conversations or discussions.

You’re Mr. Stevens?

No, but you will still need a tray.

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