Over the last couple of years I have been working on a series of blog posts about translating existing teaching practices into online models of delivery.
One of the things I have noticed as the education sector moved rapidly to remote delivery when the pandemic hit the UK in 2020 was the different models that people used. However what we did see was many people were translating their usual practice to an online version.
As part of my work in looking at the challenges in delivering teaching remotely during the covid crisis period I wrote a series of blog posts. Though covid has not gone away the ramifications and impact of covid and the lockdowns are still with us thirty months later. Universities are wanting to utilise the experiences they had during the pandemic, to support the transformation of teaching, learning and assessment.
I decided to continue with the series of blog posts.
Since I last reflected on the series the UK has entered a cost of living crisis and an energy costs crisis (as well as other crises).
There is a real threat of blackouts happening this winter, how do you translate or transform activities dependent on energy into low-energy, asynchronous, low-bandwidth activities?
Also students will want to save money, they want to avoid excessive commuting (transport costs) as well as maybe, if they can, spend more time on campus keeping warm. Where do they go and what can they do.
So I will be listening, asking questions, reflecting and writing a new series of posts for the Lost in Translation series.
Last week I was in London (oh and a bit of Bristol). This week I worked from home at the beginning of the week and spent the end of the week working in our Bristol office. I think this was the first time in ages that I had actually spent three days in a row working out of the office. Well it was warm.
I spent some time this week organising and planning the Jisc Senior Education and Student Experience Group. This meant organising attendance at meetings, expanding the group, responding to queries, booking rooms and locations. Also rejigging and renaming the Jiscmail list for the group.
I am organising a cross-Jisc conversation to discuss and join up activity across Jisc in the intelligent and smart campus space. We have quite a few projects and ideas in this area.
The news is full of stories on the possibility of winter blackouts as the energy crisis continues to hit home. With the continuing prospect of restrictions in gas supplies across Europe, there is a strong chance with a extreme cold spell in the UK that there will be power rationing. This means that some parts of the UK will be dark. Students will face learning without light, power, heat or connectivity. How can you deliver high quality online learning without power or connectivity? So I wrote a blog post exploring this.
People in England, Scotland and Wales are braced for the possibility of rolling power cuts this winter after a warning on Thursday from National Grid. The electricity and gas system operator has said households could face a series of three-hour power cuts…
Wonkhe was reporting on the cost of living crisis.
The cost of living crisis will be worse than the impact of the pandemic for some students, a Welsh university Vice Chancellor has warned. Ben Calvert, vice chancellor at the University of South Wales, made the comment as he gave evidence at the opening of a Senedd committee inquiry into mental health in higher education. Calvert told the committee: “I actually think for some of our students that will be harder, particularly where we have got populations of students who are older.”
These concerns have been expressed by many universities at meetings I have attended. What could universities do, and what should universities do?
We potentially could see shifts in attendance patterns on campus by students, as they take advantage of the warm rooms and opportunities to charge devices away from their rented student homes.
We noticed that many articles tend to mislead in similar ways, so we analyzed over 50 articles about AI from major publications, from which we compiled 18 recurring pitfalls. We hope that being familiar with these will help you detect hype whenever you see it. We also hope this compilation of pitfalls will help journalists avoid them.
This sentence implies that AI is autonomously grading and optimizing coursework. However, it is only being used to assist teachers in a small part of grading: identifying the answer that a student wrote and checking if it matches the answer provided by the teacher.
I think that the article and analysis is not just useful for journalists, but anyone looking at AI in education (and beyond).
I have been thinking about the keynote I am delivering for Moving Target 2022 in Berlin in November. Planning a short video for the conference organisers social media for next week as well.
My top tweet this week was this one.
Is it just me, but weren't cars more brightly coloured in the 1980s?
When I posted the link to my blog post on the Twitter, I did get this response.
Would it be such a loss if people stopped studying for 3hrs and instead just sat, stared into a flickering candle and contemplated life for a bit? Isn't time to reflect part of the learning process anyway..?
But more importantly, what's your contingency plan for coffee making?
I don’t disagree with people spending three hours staring at a flickering candle, but it would be nice if students had a choice about how to spend that three hours. It did though get me thinking, could I last three hours without coffee? Should I get a camping stove and use my stovetop espresso maker?
People in England, Scotland and Wales are braced for the possibility of rolling power cuts this winter after a warning on Thursday from National Grid. The electricity and gas system operator has said households could face a series of three-hour power cuts
So how it would work is as follows:
… consumers in different parts of the country would be notified a day in advance of a three-hour block of time during which they would lose power. Households in different areas would then be cut off at different times or days, with the frequency rising depending on the severity of the supply shortage.
As a result if this is how it happens, then students probably would get notice that when they would lose power, that would given them time to charge up devices and download activities, resources and other content.
Of course the risk of this happening, according to the National Grid, is low, and dependent on a range of circumstances. Or another way of looking at, it will happen, and probably happen more often than is being reported. Or is that my just being a little too cynical?
So how do students do online and digital learning without electricity or even connectivity?
The news is full of stories on the possibility of winter blackouts as the energy crisis continues to hit home. With the continuing prospect of restrictions in gas supplies across Europe, there is a strong chance with a extreme cold spell in the UK that there will be power rationing. This means that some parts of the UK will be dark. Students will face learning without light, power, heat or connectivity.
What can universities do to prepare for this potential likelihood?
How can you deliver high quality online learning without power or connectivity?
When the power goes out, this means no lights, no power, potentially no heating and no broadband. Of course a blackout also means as well no mobile signal, so no 4G. So though you may have a mobile device with enough battery power to use it, it you won’t be able to use the internet.
This means that if learning is to take place during a power cut, then it needs to be offline (downloaded), so it can be accessed without the internet.
It is important that any such learning activities are able to take place on (probably) a mobile device, with no connectivity. Mobile devices will have limited battery life, so though the idea of downloadable video content (recorded lectures) may be attractive, watching these can dramatically reduce the battery life of a device, so curtailing the amount of time it can be used for learning.
So how can universities prepare for low power asynchronous learning activities?
The obvious solution is to revert back to paper and candlelight as many students did in the 1970s.
However fully charged devices with their own power source (batteries) provide the potential for digital learning despite there been no electricity.
It is likely that areas of the UK at risk of blackout will have some advance warning (as they did in the 1970s) of the risk of blackout, so allowing students a chance to download activities before the power cuts out.
If you’re not using video, you don’t have to be constrained by text, downloaded audio recordings and podcasts are possible options. Audio also means that the screen can be turned off (or turn the brightness down) again increasing battery life.
For example the high end iPhone 14 Pro on a full charge can deliver 29 hours of video playback. On a full charge it could also deliver 95 hours of audio playback. Of course those figures aren’t real-life experiences, and assumes the phone was fully charged when the power was cut.
Audio also doesn’t require light, so less need for lots of candles or torches.
Delivering audio as a subscribed podcast, means that the device will probably have downloaded the content already in the background, so will be available for listening when the power cuts out.
There will probably still need to be a reliance on contingency planning to ensure that students are aware of what they can do, and are able to do when everything goes dark.
They may not want to actually learn whilst it is dark.
There is the further challenge of what to do when the campus goes dark.
Learning during a blackout is always going to be a challenge, and for many students it will be something that they don’t do until the power comes back on. However universities can do some things that make at least some learning possible, so diminishing the impact of the blackout.
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