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

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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.

Challenges for quality assurance in the wake of the pandemic

I was recently part of a panel session looking at Challenges for quality assurance in the wake of the pandemic – ensuring quality in digital learning, academic integrity in remote assessment, and emerging best practice

I gave a five minute presentation from my personal perspective.

We knew what we were doing.

We knew how to assure quality and academic integrity.

We thought everything was going to be fine….

There were early signs of the impact of Covid-19 back in December 2019 and January 2020.

We thought everything was going to be fine….

A year ago, everything changed.

We went into a national lockdown and all universities needed to start doing things remotely, at pace and at scale.

We quickly translated our practices to online versions.

Our lectures became Zoom calls.

Our seminars became Teams conversations.

Office hours became 24/7 e-mail.

However we merely translated, we didn’t transform, we didn’t think differently.

As for exams and assessment….

Well that didn’t go as planned and was challenging to move online.

Moving assessment online is a journey and one for which we had no map and no real idea of where we wanted to get to.

We thought we could do it?

We thought technology was the solution.

It wasn’t.

The thing is translating practice online doesn’t really work. You lose the nuances of what made the in-person experience so great and you don’t take the advantage of the affordances of what digital can bring.

Can we be surprised when the quality of the experience suffers

Moving exams online doesn’t work.

Moving assessment online is not only possible, but can be done in a way which maintains quality and integrity.

How can you do this when the requirements in place from university exam board, PSRBs and professional accreditation are based on an model which expects a physical in-person assessment.

You need to transform and reimagine assessment.

You can not transform assessment on your own.

However this takes time.

It takes a certain level of digital capability.

It requires an insight into what we mean by assessment and what we are trying to assess.

At Jisc we are here to help the higher education sector through the use of digital to reimagine teaching, learning and assessment and to reframe the student experience.

Social loafing – Weeknote #107 – 19th March 2021

Image by Free-Photos from Pixabay

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.

Have been working with Lawrie and Advance HE on a session on digital for a Spotlight Series for Senior Strategic Leaders which takes place on the 30th March.

Institutional strategies and the delivery of research and teaching are underpinned by digital, never more so than during the Covid-19 emergency. This workshop will engage leaders in understanding the ramifications for leading in this increasingly digital world, reflecting on some of the lessons learned during 2020, and looking forward through a digital lens at what might be possible and what might be needed in higher education over the next five years.

Image by TuendeBede from Pixabay

Quite intrigued by the term social loafing which I heard about this week.

In social psychology, social loafing is the phenomenon of a person exerting less effort to achieve a goal when they work in a group than when working alone.

This resonated some of my experiences in doing individual and group work.

Have been talking about our strategy document with colleagues as well and how we expect the document to be used by them with universities.

BT’s Openreach to build full-fibre internet ‘like fury’ after Ofcom move was reported by the BBC. This should result in better broadband, but could also mean more expensive internet connections for some. The pandemic has demonstrated the need and dependency on good and fast connections for remote teaching and learning, as well as for working from home. Personally upgrading to FTTP has resulted in not just more bandwidth, but also more reliability as well.

I enjoyed this comic strip from 1997 and how it eerily predicted education in 2021 including always on camera surveillance.

My top tweet this week was this one.

news and views on e-learning, TEL and learning stuff in general…