If you are a registered HEi-know user, please log in to continue.
You must be a registered HEi-know user to access Briefing Reports, stories and other information and services. Please click on the link below to find out more about HEi-know.
Alison Johns, Chief Executive of Advance HE, reviews another week in which higher education found itself in the spotlight, even when a royal funeral dominated the headlines.
Charlie Ball, Head of Higher Education Intelligence for Prospects at Jisc, reviews a week of higher education news which felt much like every other since lockdown, as new research on graduate earnings and university admissions was published.
Stephen Isherwood, chief executive of the Institute of Students Employers, reviews a week of HE news in which student accommodation, fee refunds, graduate jobs, and research funding surfaced as key issues.
Reviewing a week in which issues affecting women’s lives were in the spotlight, Sandra Booth, Director of Policy and External Relations at the Council for Higher Education Art and Design (CHEAD), sees hopeful signs of moves to address gender equality in higher education.
Commenting on a week of higher education news, Alice Gent, Policy, Research and Communications Intern, and Ruby Nightingale, Communications and Public Affairs Manager at the Sutton Trust, highlight evidence that Covid-19 is having a disproportionate impact on students and graduates from poorer backgrounds.
As HEi-know publishes a Good Practice Briefing on the transition to online delivery of HE, James Clay, head of higher education and student experience at Jisc, who provides an overview in the Briefing, offers some tips on overcoming the challenges of making the shift to online teaching.
Before the Covid-19 lockdown, universities had a range of support and training mechanisms in place to support lecturers in delivering teaching and learning online. The challenge that many of them are currently facing is in doing this at scale and at pace, and remotely.
Consequently, the demand for training and support has increased from staff across the HE sector, and many university teams are sharing their resources on how to deliver online. There are plenty of top tips out there. The question, though, is whether staff have the time to engage with these training materials and resources, while designing and delivering online.
Being able to ‘deliver’ online means having a range of skills and capabilities – it’s not just about uploading content. Designing an online learning experience means ensuring it is effective and enhances the student experience, ensuring there is a range of content, and that that content is accessible.
Increasingly, lecturers also need to be able to design the whole curriculum and develop it in a way that is engaging and encourages interaction with and among the students.
We have seen universities making use of the current affordability of digital technologies to transform how they deliver; making use of a wider range of tools; and using asynchronous tools as well as remote live delivery platforms.
Student engagement is critical for successful learning, and most universities are fully aware of this. Communication is key and, to be effective, needs to be delivered at appropriate times and through a range of channels, and by varying departments and individual staff.
It might seem a simple option to translate physical teaching directly into an online copy using a video streaming tool, but there are significant differences.
It’s one thing to move between lecture theatres for several hours, grabbing coffee and chatting with friends in between. It’s something else to sit at home for a whole day with a headset on listening to lectures - it’s like a Netflix binge, but a lot less entertaining.
Online lectures are best delivered by presenters who can be dynamic, because presenting to a webcam will ‘flatten’ their ‘performance’.
Good audio is critical, too, along with a decent microphone. Most people will put up with poor video, but will switch off if they can’t hear well, especially for longer sessions.
And so, one way to encourage engagement is to keep online sessions short. One-hour sessions could be split into three 20-minute bursts, for example. Some of these could be recorded in advance, so then the discussion could be a live session, akin to the flipped learning models we have seen in the recent past.
Remember that in these critical times there is also a very real risk of online overload, as so much content is being transferred online, and people are also now a lot more likely to turn to video conferencing to stay in touch with family and friends.
Universities are recognising and taking into account that students are living through a time of crisis. They may be socially isolated, or disadvantaged, self-isolating, or dealing with the stress of sick family and friends, all while trying to deal with the restriction of lockdown. This is all having an impact on student wellbeing and their ability to engage with the learning process.
Academic staff, too, have had to quickly adapt and adjust, not just to delivering teaching online, using unfamiliar platforms, but also having to do this during a lockdown, in many cases in the family home with all the added pressures this brings.
The fact that academics are, despite all the pressures, delivering remotely to students across the UK (and internationally) is an amazing achievement.
© 2013 Media FHE, all rights reserved