Blog Archives


Here my colleague Anne Quinney reflects on the recent webinar we ran…

During the Covid-19 pandemic many of you will have experienced academic conferences being cancelled, postponed or hosted on-line.

Prof Debbie Holley and I (Anne Quinney) were scheduled to present at the Association of Learning Developers in Higher Education conference (ALDinHE) to be held at Northampton University but found ourselves presenting remotely last week.

The conference had moved online, using Google Hangouts. We had to change the focus of the paper for the online environment as the workshop format would not be possible. Our online conference presentation proved very memorable – in unexpected ways.  Our first challenge was the unfamiliarity of the format. We participated in some other sessions to get a sense of what it might look and feel like, updated our material and worked out how we would approach this new experience.  We uploaded the slides to slideshare, so we could share more widely with the audience, and shared them with session Chair –  a good idea as unexpected technology glitches happen to all of us working online and this created another layer of ‘back-up’.

Assessment and Feedback is our favourite topic! We talked about the principles of assessment underpinning the revision of the Bournemouth University Assessment Design strategy and policy, drawing on the work of Professors Dai Hounsell (ongoing) and Kay Sambell (2011) for enhancing assessment and feedback practices. We used slides interwoven with questions to encourage participant chat. We shared the BU Assessment and Feedback Toolkit; talked about the options for moving assessments online with a specific focus on examinations. We discussed the student perspective, and the opportunities and challenges online assessment can raise.

The chat questions came thick and fast, and the Chair was really helpful in summarising.

We did have some technology glitches;  at the start my camera switched off and I couldn’t configure the screen to see both the slides and my co-presenter. I quickly turned the computer off and started again….still only the slides in view but the camera light was back on!  Quickly improvising we decided that as Debbie’s screen was working as expected we would manage with whatever screen view we each had! We carried on, with self-deprecating humour, commenting that this was a real-life, live and improvised experience of the unfamiliar challenges that so many of us, staff and students, are dealing with. 

It felt strange not to talk with participants informally afterwards, not to  be able to ‘read’ the audience from their body language and facial expressions. Questions and responses came in very fast in the chat box and it was not possible to give time to them all.  At the end of the screen time, it was helpful to facetime each other to reflect on the experience, as we would have done if we were physically at the conference.

Whilst we didn’t have to travel upcountry to Northampton, sleep in an unfamiliar bed and eat communal meals at pre-set times, we missed the camaraderie of informally meeting with other delegates, the stimulation of two days focussing only on the conference themes and the opportunity to visit another university. The learning with and from one another that comes from the shared experience of co-presenting was still possible, and we certainly learnt more about improvising with the technology and equipment, about adjusting to a live but distant audience, and to ‘keep going and keep smiling’.

Quinney A and Holley D. 2020. Moving assessment online; resources to support staff in an unexpected distance learning scenario. May 6th. ALDinHE.

Links to our session:

Slides are here:

Video is here:

http://aldinhe.ac.uk/aldinhe-events-resources/

Resources:

Sally Brown’s blog (UK). See the piece by Sally Brown and Kay Sambell as a response to Covid-19.

https://sally-brown.net

BU Technology Enhanced Learning Toolkit

https://www.cemp.ac.uk/projects/AFT/index.php

Transforming Assessment (Australia)

https://transformingassessment.com

Assessment Design Decisions (Australia)

www.assessmentdecisions.org

LD@3


Join members of the Association for Learning Development in Higher Education daily at 3pm! Our wonderful conference go cancelled, and we wanted to share some of the sessions

Here is the schedule up to Easter , all links available via the ALDinHE website

ALDinHE is committed to representing and supporting all those working in the field of Learning Development in the UK.

We aim to cultivate a community of practice, promote discussion and ideas exchange, and further the professional development of our members by offering training opportunities and quality assurance.

We have two aims:

  • To represent professionals employed in the field of Learning Development in Higher Education, primarily in the UK and Ireland, and those with an active interest in the field;  
  • To promote discussion about effective models for Learning Development (LD), cultivate a community of practice and act as a support network for the general professional development of staff involved with LD.  

 And we are guided by five values:

  • Working alongside students to make sense of and get the most out of HE learning
  • Making HE inclusive through emancipatory practice, partnership working and collaboration
  • Adopting and sharing effective Learning Development practice with (and external to) our own institutions
  • Critical self-reflection, on-going learning and a commitment to professional development
  • Commitment to a scholarly approach and research related to Learning Development.

These emerged from our Learning Development Manifesto.

What is over the horizon?


The JISC work on the digital student experience shows that students remain unconvinced that we are delivering the digital skills that employers are demanding. 74% of teaching staff never teach in a live online environment; and most (33%) learn from their colleagues, not in a structured and systematic way. Having to rapidly move to synchronous and asynchronous modes of online learning almost overnight is putting pressure on teams of academics and Learning Technologists alike; students are stressed and anxious, and mental health is finally being foregrounded – against a backdrop of 18% of teaching staff agreeing that they are informed about their responsibilities to help students behave safely online.

I have been reflecting on the WONKHE piece, ‘the clock is ticking on a decision about September entry’ by Alex Usher, challenging us educators to think about the ‘what-ifs’. Moving quickly to online as a response to crisis has seen teams across the sector move to online learning, and, getting content ‘out there’ has been the priority. Professional Bodies are  having to rethink their regulations, Universities are matching the flexibility and making every effort to ensure that our third year students graduate – and for health workers, graduating quickly is essential as the needs of the NHS escalate.

The ‘clock is ticking’ article notes:

“everyone is doing their level best to make the current situation work, but it’s all basically DIY right now, and it’s so far from good enough that there is now an entire sub-genre of humour devoted to it.”

Is there any good news out there we may well ask!

The awesome Educause  New Media Horizons report was launched just as we ran into our strike period, rapidly followed by Corona Virus. And yes is the answer…

Open Educational Resources  a variety of materials designed for teaching and learning that are both openly available for use by teachers and students and that are devoid of purchasing, licensing, and/ or royalty fees. The global community are actively developing and curating resources, pressuring Governments and institutions to share their resources. The University of Minnesota has developed and curated the Open Textbook Library, which includes nearly 700 peer-reviewed titles. To stay informed and up-to-date, sign up to the Association for Learning Technology OER Special interest Group. Embedding curated, quality assured resources in your reading lists, your curricula or even the powerpoints we share with our students makes a huge difference, and offers alternative, inclusive ways of accessing content.


The Association for Learning Technology are sharing a huge range of resources with the wider community. The link below has sections on:

Online Pivot, Courses, Remote conferences, links from partners, playful and creative resource, organisational perspectives and the ‘ALT ‘Know How’ on leading virtual teams

https://www.alt.ac.uk/communityResources