Tag Archives: michelle donelan

More connecting – Weeknote #166 – 6th May 2022

The early spring bank holiday meant a shorter working week for me.

Most of the week was being involved in Jisc’s Connect More 2022 event. I was chair for one day and a virtual host for another day. I wasn’t presenting as this was very much a practitioner focused event.

Some great and inspiring sessions.

Politics against entered the debate about in-person teaching and blended learning.

Universities could be fined for failing to return to in-person teaching, minister warns

Michelle Donelan has warned that if universities fail to return to face-to-face teaching, they may face large penalties. The universities minister told The Mail on Sunday she plans to “put boots on the ground” and send teams of inspectors to check staff attendance rates at campuses across the UK. Where universities don’t meet the required standards, they could “potentially be fined…

Helpful rhetoric? No, of course not.

Was involved in a few discussions about how students wanted to return to campus, but not necessarily to attend lectures.

Friday I went to the office in Bristol. It was quite busy compared the last time I was there.

The sector still appears to be reflecting on the concept of hybrid (or hyflex) teaching I read the following summary of ‘Hybrid Teaching and Learning in HE: a futuristic model or a realistic model for the future?’ was a question addressed at a workshop held by the University of Nottingham in early 2022, when universities were ready to turn the pandemic corner. More than 150 participants from around the globe were brought together to share their practice and learn from a community of academic and technical colleagues who had experienced hybrid teaching.

clocks
Photo by Ahmad Ossayli on Unsplash

I published a blog post on time. Do you have enough time to read it?

Though I have written about time lots of times over time (well at least the last twenty years); across the sector we are still discussing that we need to provide academics and practitioners with more time. There are still many voices out there, saying that the challenge with engaging practitioners with learning technologies is about providing them with time The trouble with talking about time, is that it is a somewhat simplistic perspective over what is a complex and challenging issue.

My top tweet this week was this one.

I am not apologising – Weeknote #156 – 25th February 2022

Well, this is three years of weeknotes. I wasn’t sure if I could keep it up, but have found it useful to reflect on the week, but also to review back about what I was doing and reading.

This week Russia invaded the Ukraine. Lots of talk, but very little action from the Western nations.

The week started off for the higher education sector with the Universities Minister saying universities ‘must scrap online lectures’ after Covid curbs are lifted.

‘Online teaching should only be used to supplement face-to-face teaching, not replace it,’ she told the Daily Mail. She went on to add there is ‘no excuse’ for institutions to continue hosting lessons online once measures are lifted,

So though she is saying universities should no longer replace in-person teaching with remote teaching, the press rhetoric and the headlines gives the message that universities should scrap all online teaching. That isn’t what she said, but that is pretty much what people are reading she said.

newspaper
Image by Andrys Stienstra from Pixabay

The week started off for me with a HE leadership team meeting, which was looking at various discussions about what we need to do next.

I spent some of the week working on success criteria for the HE strategy. Part of this is expanding on the strategic objectives. These state what we are going to do, and I expanded them to include the why and the how. I then added what success looked like from an university perspective and what it looked like from a Jisc perspective.

Generally, as with many organisations, in the past we have mapped activity to the strategy. Strategy should really drive activity.

I published a blog post on eventedness.

I was recently reminded of the importance of eventedness when it comes to events and has similar implications in the delivery of teaching both in-person and online.

I published a blog post on my tech and productivity blog about collaboration.

I don’t think anyone thinks they consciously and actively block collaboration, but we often hear cries for more collaboration, so much so that we wonder why we don’t collaborate more than we do. In this post I will explore the reasons for collaboration and some of the blockers that stifle collaboration.

I posted this tweet to the Twitter about an undocumented feature on Jiscmail.

What most people don’t know is that Jiscmail has an undocumented feature which means if you post the same message with multiple lists in the To: field, recipients will only receive one, despite how many of the lists they are subscribed to. No need to apologise then.

I’ve used this feature quite often to send the same message to multiple lists.

It was a response to Simon Thomson who said

‘Apologies for cross-posting’ is the most hollow apology ever.

I agree with Simon that most people aren’t sorry when they apologise for cross-posting, but I also think a lot of people actually ignore messaged which start with an apology for cross-posting as they (rightly) assume it probably is some kind of spam message.

Wednesday I did think about going to the office. I had planned to go to Bristol, but missed the train from Weston Milton with seconds to go, I was literally on the platform. Went back home and decided to work from home.

On Thursday I headed off to our Bristol office on the train. I didn’t check the trains, the one I was going to get was cancelled, however that was because the earlier train was running 24 minutes late. So managed to get that one to Bristol.

It was nice to be back in the office again, something nice about the social aspects of office working. Not sure I could do it everyday, but nice having the option.

I did an online presentation for the Public Policy Exchange on using digital to overcome the funding challenges facing universities.

There was a problem with the meeting room I was using as I couldn’t turn the noisy fan off. So I had to present with the fan on.

My presentation was in the main about recognising that what we’ve been doing over the last two years isn’t the basis for moving forward. I also talked about transformation as opposed to just digitalisation.

At the event there was a lot of talk about the announcements from the Government about access to higher education. Would it surprise you that no one thought this would improve access to higher education.

I took leave on Friday and had a day in London.

My top tweet this week was this one.

Predictions – Weeknote #151 – 21st January 2022

newspaper
Image by Andrys Stienstra from Pixabay

Started work on Monday with Nadhim Zahawi talking in the Daily Mail that “”Students made to pay tuition fees for Zoom lectures should revolt”. This kind of rhetoric makes any (current and future) use of online technologies challenging for universities. Benefits of online will be missed, as students will “revolt” regardless.

Later a more reasoned open letter was published on the Education Department website.

Many of our universities and colleges have been working hard to ensure Covid-secure face-to-face teaching is offered and I know that, for many of you, this face-to-face teaching is a vital part of getting a high-quality student experience. As you know, whilst the country was implementing wide-spread restrictions, the majority of teaching had to be moved online. There are some great examples of effective and innovative online teaching, and universities and colleges have been delivering a high-quality blended approach since before the pandemic. Maintaining the option of online teaching for those who are vulnerable or isolating is to be encouraged. However, face-to-face teaching should remain the norm and the pandemic and must not be used as an opportunity for cost saving or for convenience. I know that students expect and deserve face-to-face teaching and support, and you have my full backing.

But if universities were in any doubt about what they could do and what they should be doing, we had this from the Universities Minister.

HEPI published a blog post on Five common predictions about COVID and education that now appear to be wrong.

No one would dispute that COVID-19 has severely disrupted the education of millions of people. Our polling with Advance HE, for example, shows an unprecedented proportion of undergraduate students think they have received ‘poor’ or ‘very poor’ value for money and twice as many as usual feel their experiences have been worse than their prior expectations.

This is not surprising, given full-time students on three-year courses graduating this summer will have had every one of their years at university disrupted. Those leaving school / college this summer have seen both their GCSEs and their school-leaving qualifications (A-Level / BTECs) affected. But it is also true that most of the really big predictions about how COVID would affect education have (fortunately) turned out to be wrong.

It makes for interesting reading. Predictions about fewer students, or higher drop-outs were wrong as it turned out.

Why does this matter, well the article summarises with this comment.

It is worth flagging how poor the predictions about education in a pandemic have turned out to be because it acts as a reminder about how hard it is to predict the future, because it could serve as a useful guide in future crises and because it shows the importance that hard counter-intuitive evidence should play in policymaking.

This is something that we can reflect upon.

One prediction made at the start of the pandemic by many involved in education technology was that the forced working from home would (post-pandemic) be a catalyst for more blended and online learning in higher education. The prediction was that following people being forced to use tools such as the VLE, Teams, Zoom, lecture capture, that this would embed such technologies into future teaching and learning.  The reality is that universities are now under pressure from Government and students to focus on and prioritise in-person face to face teaching. So, the prediction that the pandemic restrictions and lockdowns would have a positive impact on the use of online and digital learning technologies across the board, may have been slightly off the mark.

I wrote about predicting.

I also had a blog post published on the Jisc website Why online learning is not online learning which some people liked.

My top tweet this week was this one.

Predicting is hard, and we can get it wrong

classroom
Image by David Mark from Pixabay

HEPI published a blog post on Five common predictions about COVID and education that now appear to be wrong.

No one would dispute that COVID-19 has severely disrupted the education of millions of people. Our polling with Advance HE, for example, shows an unprecedented proportion of undergraduate students think they have received ‘poor’ or ‘very poor’ value for money and twice as many as usual feel their experiences have been worse than their prior expectations.

This is not surprising, given full-time students on three-year courses graduating this summer will have had every one of their years at university disrupted. Those leaving school / college this summer have seen both their GCSEs and their school-leaving qualifications (A-Level / BTECs) affected. But it is also true that most of the really big predictions about how COVID would affect education have (fortunately) turned out to be wrong.

It makes for interesting reading. Predictions about fewer students, or higher drop-outs were wrong as it turned out.

Why does this matter, well the article summarises with this comment.

It is worth flagging how poor the predictions about education in a pandemic have turned out to be because it acts as a reminder about how hard it is to predict the future, because it could serve as a useful guide in future crises and because it shows the importance that hard counter-intuitive evidence should play in policymaking.

This is something that we can reflect upon.

One prediction made at the start of the pandemic by many involved in education technology was that the forced working from home would (post-pandemic) be a catalyst for more blended and online learning in higher education. The prediction was that following people being forced to use tools such as the VLE, Teams, Zoom, lecture capture, that this would embed such technologies into future teaching and learning. Well we know from the press this week that this may not be the case, with  Nadhim Zahawi talking in the Daily Mail that “Students made to pay tuition fees for Zoom lectures should revolt”. This kind of rhetoric makes any (current and future) use of online technologies challenging for universities. Benefits of online will be missed, as students will “revolt” regardless.

Later a more reasoned open letter was published on the Education Department website.

Many of our universities and colleges have been working hard to ensure Covid-secure face-to-face teaching is offered and I know that, for many of you, this face-to-face teaching is a vital part of getting a high-quality student experience. As you know, whilst the country was implementing wide-spread restrictions, the majority of teaching had to be moved online. There are some great examples of effective and innovative online teaching, and universities and colleges have been delivering a high-quality blended approach since before the pandemic. Maintaining the option of online teaching for those who are vulnerable or isolating is to be encouraged. However, face-to-face teaching should remain the norm and the pandemic and must not be used as an opportunity for cost saving or for convenience. I know that students expect and deserve face-to-face teaching and support, and you have my full backing.

But if universities were in any doubt about what they could do and what they should be doing, we had this from the Universities Minister.

The reality is that universities are now under pressure from Government and students to focus on and prioritise in-person face to face teaching.

So, the prediction that the pandemic restrictions and lockdowns would have a positive impact on the use of online and digital learning technologies across the board, may have been slightly off the mark.

I might predict that the job of embedding digital into higher education is now more difficult than it was before the pandemic.

What do you think?