First thing Monday morning I was on the radio, Radio Bristol, discussing the food and restaurant scene in Weston-super-Mare with the imminent opening of the new bowling alley in Dolphin Square, despite the closure of nearly all the restaurants in the same complex.
Again spent a fair amount of time this week discussing, thinking about and reflecting on digital transformation.
Last week, despite the rising covid infection rates I’ve not had much or seen much discussion about the impact this will have on higher education and students. Then Nadhim Zahawi says there are ‘no excuses’ for online learning at universities.
Well that’s helpful and constructive.
More than a hundred universities including twenty-three out of the twenty-four universities in the Russell group are reportedly online teaching this term. It was reported in the media that Durham University would teach all classes online in the first week of term, Queen’s University Belfast will hold most classes online this month and King’s College London has also moved some classes to online. Across the media and the sector this move has been termed blended learning, online learning and remote learning.
One of things I have noticed is how often much of what was done during the numerous lockdowns was described as online learning, sometimes it was called blended learning, or remote learning.
We are now seeing students phone into consumer programmes on the radio complaining about the “online learning” they received.
Can we just agree that what we are seeing is not online learning? I wrote a blog post back in November about this issue.
The reality is though that despite the hard work, there wasn’t the training, the staff development, the research, the preparation undertaken that would have been needed to deliver an outstanding online learning experience. Combined with that, the fact that the academic staff were also in lockdown as well, the actual experiences of students and staff are in fact quite amazing. However it wasn’t online learning.
I caught some of the You and Yours radio programme about student life during the pandemic and as you might expect most callers were phoning in, to complain. Without focussing on the individual complaints, I sometimes think that there was an assumption that universities were ring-fenced from the pandemic. Yes students had, in many ways could be called a terrible experience, however the entire country was suffering during the pandemic, and university staff were in there too. They also had to deal with the lockdown, the restrictions, illness and everything else. It was a difficult time for everyone and we need to remember that.
Have been planning our Thought Leadership on learning and teaching this week. I actually really don’t like the term Thought Leader but it is the term in the Jisc strategy, so internally I will use that term to ensure what I am talking about is aligned with the strategy. It should be noted that many in the sector actually don’t like the term thought leadership. However if you ask universities about the actual content that is produced by Jisc, that we would think of as thought leadership, then there is a different story as they find this useful, inspiring and helps them think. Similarly, universities will often ask for specific people within Jisc who are experts in their field for help and support. Or they will find presentations and articles from individuals inspiring.
Our new priorities document, Powering UK higher education outlines four key priorities:
- Empowering culture and leadership
- Reimagining learning, teaching and assessment
- Reframing the student experience
- Transforming infrastructure
These priorities have come from the sector, and we will use articles, blogs, podcasts, interviews, and case studies to bring them to life for universities. We want to create and deliver content that in some cases is longer term in outlook, visionary; transformative yet possible, it should inspire and make people think differently about the area. We also need shorter actionable pieces that should be more practical, replicable and something that could be implemented in a shorter time frame.
Had an interesting discussion during a risk assessment meeting about the importance of strategy and embedding strategy into an organisation. You would think that this is a given, but too often I see strategies developed at a high level, but the actual operational activities are mapped to the strategy, rather than being derived from the strategy. The same can also happen at a personal objective level too. This was something we worked on during the Jisc Digital Leaders Programme about how to expand and develop a (digital) strategy.
We started planning the themes for Connect More 2022 this week.
Got a little too obsessed with Wordle.
Another one I found challenging, mainly as I disagree with the spelling of the correct word. I also had to use pen and paper.
Wordle 207 6/6
— James Clay (@jamesclay) January 12, 2022
Must stop. Just stop.
I have a few more meetings, just need to get some bottles of wine, anyone got a suitcase?
My top tweet this week was this one.
Nadhim Zahawi says there are ‘no excuses’ for online learning at universities | The Independent https://t.co/6xarAEKQh8
— James Clay (@jamesclay) January 9, 2022