It was a nice long weekend, spoilt by somewhat confusing messages from the government released on Sunday night.
Though universities have more choice, FE Colleges are expected to re-open from 1st June for Year 12 learners, whilst maintaining social distancing.
I tried out the new BBC backgrounds…
So the Fawlty Towers BBC background keeps crashing Teams… not too surprised it is faulty…. pic.twitter.com/nQ632bjvv1
— James Clay (@jamesclay) May 11, 2020
I also (as everyone else is) posted some Zoom backgrounds of Weston-super-Mare to my other blog.
So if you are looking for some backgrounds for your Zoom and Teams calls, then here are some lovely pictures of the beach and pier at Weston-super-Mare that I have taken over the years.
Last week I wrote a blog post about using an iPad with Teams as a virtual whiteboard or for sharing hand drawn workings.
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?
I was sent a useful link (in a similar vein to my posts) about presenting online and session translation – Zoom-fatigue? There are other ways to be present online.
As an academic working fully online, you can feel wiped-out after the webinar series you just hosted, or the back-to-back online meetings you just attended. It is all the work of on-ground education with fewer of the benefits that exist around the edges – the spontaneous conversations, the visits to the coffee shop, the humour – there is no doubt it is different, and hard. Our students feel this too. Why attend a real-time online lecture if it is recorded? Where is the added value? Studies of lecture capture in Universities have shown that in most cases students are not put off attending the on-ground lecture, social reasons being one of the main factors. It does not work so well in reverse.
The post also reflects on contact hours as a measure, something I knew I would be talking about later in the week with a focus group discussion on this topic.
In on-ground education the quantity of contact hours is considered a measure of educational quality. Contact time is traditionally defined by academic work that takes place in physical classroom-based instruction: the lecture, the practical, the seminar, the tutorial etc. Essentially, it is perceived as seat-time in a physical location. However, what really defines quality actually has little to do with the space contact takes place in, rather than the ways in which educators and students are present in that space and the opportunities available to learn.
In what I suspect will be the start of a trend, the University of Manchester has decided to keep lectures online for the autumn.
The University of Manchester has confirmed it will keep all of its lectures online for at least one semester when the next academic year starts. In an email to students sent on 11 May, April McMahon, vice-president for teaching, learning and students, confirmed the university’s undergraduate teaching year would begin in late September “with little change to our start dates”, but it would “provide our lectures and some other aspects of learning online”.
The whole student experience is not going online though as the article continues.
However, students would be asked to return physically to campus in the autumn as Manchester was “keen to continue with other face-to-face activities, such as small group teaching and tutorials, as safely and as early as we can”, added Professor McMahon.
SUMS published another report, which has some useful information in it for those looking at how they will manage teaching and learning in the current coronavirus environment.
In local office news, my Pogo printer finally died.
Also this week I read this HEPI blog post
I thought Martin Weller had hit the nail on the head with this comment.
This HEPI study is quite odd – comparisons between f2f lectures and recorded/streamed ones. Surprise! People prefer f2f. They conclude online is bad therefore. Really?? That is the only version of online/distance they can conceive of? https://t.co/hphBOiLzKw
— Martin Weller (@mweller) May 14, 2020
As with any kind of survey, there is the Whiskers issue. If you ask people who have expressed a preference for physical f2f lectures then of course 9 out of ten will prefer them over online lectures. It also misses the affordances of online beyond the streamed online lecture.
I had a really good focus group meeting on “contact hours” and what this means in this different world of hybrid, online and blended modules and courses.
One of the things we did discuss was what do we mean by “contact hours”? The QAA has some (rather dated) guidance on contact hours.
I like how office hours are included as contact hours!
It’s a important part of many module specifications and is also seen as an indicator of value for money.
There are challenges, how for example do we define contact hours for asynchronous discussion forums?
I was also reminded of the term eventedness in relation to the physical act of a group coming together for something a lecture, that dave white, spoke about it back in 2009.
My top tweet this week was this one.
Zoom-fatigue? There are other ways to be present online. – UCEM Online Education https://t.co/md63E6G6ZU
— James Clay (@jamesclay) May 12, 2020