A lot of news over the weekend on grade inflation. I was at an event last November where this was discussed and there was some despair about the issue, on one hand everyone is expecting the quality of teaching to be better, but at the same time they don’t want students to get better grades.
I spent a fair amount of time writing some proposals this week.
We’ve also been working on where Jisc goes next with Learning and teaching reimagined following the publication of the most recent report.
This report is the result of a five-month higher education initiative to understand the response to COVID-19 and explore the future of digital learning and teaching.
As the directorate I am now in is responsible for moving things forward, the key issue is how we move from a series of challenges and recommendations to a plan for change and transformation. We have a vision, we know where we are, it’s less about where we want to be, much more about how do we get there, what do we need to do to make it happen.
The US election continues to dominate Twitter though seeing less of it on the mainstream news. Saw a number of people on Twitter claiming to have won the election!
Five years ago this week myself and Lawrie were delivering the second residential of the pilot for the Jisc Digital Leaders Programme at the Holland House Hotel in the heart of Bristol. We had spent four days delivering that week. We also had some great cakes and pastries.
Even the coffee was nice. We learnt a lot from the process and spent the next few months iterating the programme, dropping and adding stuff based on the feedback we had from the pilot delegates.
Less than a year later we delivered the programme to paying delegates in Loughborough, again we reviewed what we did and adapted the programme again, before delivering to groups in Manchester, Belfast and Leicester.
High case numbers in the early autumn have led some to conflate the second wave with students and universities. For David Kernohan, the data doesn’t show that.
This was an interesting article that looked at the data behind the second wave and how some people have been conflating the wave with university attendance and blaming students.
I spent a good part of Monday working on some internal documents for various projects, as well as some presentations for future events.
Tuesday I was on a panel session for the QAA looking at academic integrity. I don’t mind online events, but it can be really hard to read the audience compared to being on a panel at a live in-person face to face event.
On that note there was a discussion on Twitter about the term we use for that compared to online sessions.
I responded about how Jisc used the term in-person in their recent LTR report.
In the most recent Learning and teaching reimagined report https://t.co/jZZMtEOjxh we have been using the term "in-person". Language is always changing and we recognise that no single term fits all needs and practice. We try and ensure clarity in our communications.
Personally looking back over my recent blog posts I have been using the (slightly clunky) term physical face to face For some it is a real issue and in some cases how it is interpreted by employers and the press. I personally think we might be spending a little too much time over thinking this.
In an entirely expected move, the country faced a second wave of covid-19 and as a result there is now a second lockdown.
From my perspective not too much has changed. I am still working from home virtually all the time meeting via Teams and occasionally Zoom. I had started going to our office in Bristol once or twice a month, and was about to up this to once a week, I was in last week. However during November I will not be visiting the office or Bristol and will be following government guidelines.
UCU said that universities must move all non-essential in-person teaching online as part of any plans for a national lockdown.
Now we have more details, we now know that the Government has said universities will remain open during this second lockdown. This will create headaches for universities as they plan to deliver more of their programmes online, but maintain some physical teaching to satisfy the Government. Of course some students will not want to attend physical lessons and lectures.
This week I have spent a lot of time looking at assessment, but also reflecting on the Plymouth e-learning conference where ten years ago I chaired a debate about closing the physical campus in times of crisis and disruption.
It could be floods, high winds (remember 1987), flu or similar viral infections, transport strikes, fuel crisis, anything…
I was supposed to be on leave this week, we were heading off to London for a few days, as we had tickets for the Only Fools and Horses musical at the Royal Haymarket. I had bought tickets for my wife as a Christmas present and it was something we were all looking forward to. Then all this lockdown happened and the theatre cancelled all the performances as required by the Government.
I did consider keeping my leave, but with leading a taskforce, it was apparent that I might not have the time to take some (and where would I go).
The office was still closed and Jisc had asked all staff to not to travel for work. It certainly felt like all the days were merging into a muddle of days. Even though I work from home a lot compared to others, I still had quite a bit of structure to my week, being out and about at least once a week if not more.
Last week I was supposed to be in London three times for example…. The week before I was in London for one day and Birmingham for two. This week, all at home….
This was also the day that all the schools were closed and as might be expected, school online learning services such as Doddle and Hegarty are not really coping with the demand for their services. Creating extra stress during these stressful times. We also need alternatives.