The practical wisdom of… students? Co-creating a practical resource for HE teachers with students as partners

In 2020, shortly before the pandemic and the UK lockdowns, the Oxford Centre for Staff Learning and Development (OCSLD) at Oxford Brookes University began a project to develop and publish the practical wisdom of teaching in HE for our staff and readers internationally. We invited HE teachers to complete an online survey which investigated what resources they currently used—and also wished they had—to inform their teaching practice. Our respondents were mostly UK-based colleagues, but a few were based in China, Italy and New Zealand. Respondents had a wide range of HE teaching experience, reporting between 5 and 50 years with an average of 19.97 years (SD = 9.99). Most respondents were from humanities and social sciences disciplines, with a smaller number from STEM disciplines.

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Wellbeing in Higher Education: A SEDA Special

Image: Emily Millen, Loughborough University

One thing is for certain; we will never forget 2020 and now, 2021! As we embarked on our Co-Editor duties for SEDA’s first Special on Wellbeing in Higher Education (HE) back in September 2019, we could not have begun to imagine how everyday life would dramatically change in a matter of months. At that time ‘wellbeing’ was already a ‘hot’ topic in HE, but as the Covid-19 pandemic progressed, we soon realised that our SEDA Special could not have been timelier!

As we connected with contributors from across the globe, we were all in unfamiliar lockdown territory but united in a shared vision to draw upon our wide-ranging knowledge, expertise, and experiences to ultimately provide insight and guidance on how best to support staff and students to achieve their wellbeing equilibrium. Moreover, we wanted to draw attention to valuable resources, and techniques for readers to consult as appropriate to their needs and interests.

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Educational Development for Preparing Postgraduate Taught (PGT) at Pace

Registrations on Masters programmes are record breaking this year. Students from home and overseas are progressing their studies straight from graduation or returning from the workforce to redefine career prospects. Many academic staff will be picking up postgraduate taught (PGT) for the first time, perhaps at short notice and potentially teaching a more diverse student cohort than ever before. They are looking for additional steer, recognising these particular students in these specific times need more than disciplinary expertise and great teaching to get the most from their studies. This blog is for the educational developer tasked with supporting those picking up PGT or preparing their PGT teaching at pace.

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Summer schools, slumps and successes: A journey through critical issues of transition into, through and out of HE

Image by Edward Köhler from Pixabay

As Freshers’ Week takes place at our institutions and we are welcoming a new cohort of students into our programmes, it seems timely to be writing about the topic of transition. This year more than ever, the need to facilitate a smooth transition back into the world of learning seems more pertinent than ever. Students face not just a new step up in terms of their studies but also a re-adjustment back to face-to-face teaching experiences.

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Content as king is dead….long live the partnership!

In this blog post we share the experience of developing a Curriculum Framework for a new, and the first, technological university in Ireland. This was undertaken as a partnership across all sectors of the organisation with an emphasis on students as partners both within the development process and, subsequently, as participants in the curriculum. Continue reading

Episode 3: Time to Refocus

“This is not a busy time. This is your life.”

Hugh Kearns has written extensively about time management in academia and the above direct quote from one of his workshops might resonate. Do you ever hear yourself saying ‘Yes, it’s just a bit nuts at the moment but things will be better next week when I’ve worked late every night to get task X over the line’? Not surprisingly next week comes along with a whole new set of needs ready to suck up all your time and headspace again. What is surprising is that many of us think and work like this constantly. A constant stream of busyness and scheduled activity is very much our daily life except it’s not how we might have hoped to find ourselves living. Continue reading

Learning Design Bootcamp – Supporting Higher Education institutions before, during and after COVID-19

The Learning Design Bootcamp started in 2019 as an idea to support Higher Education (HE) institutions in the design and development of online/blended learning when online learning was an option in HE. However, in the second year, as soon as the Bootcamp 2020 was launched, the pandemic hit, becoming an exclusive and extremely timely activity supporting HE institutions in the transition to online learning. Continue reading

Online Learning and its Discontents

Around ten years ago an IT-savvy colleague called me a shoveller. It was an accusation; that I was not rising to the challenges of e-learning because I was simply shovelling resources I had already developed (in a previous era) onto an e-learning space (like Blackboard). I was guilty as charged and I was grateful to him for alerting me to the need to curriculum-build from the ground up, and to accept that the principles of universal design applied equally to the world of IT as anything else. Continue reading

What is an educational truth?

‘Fake News!’ The rallying call of Donald Trump, which he uses to urge his supporters not to believe mainstream media stories, particularly those that don’t tally with how he sees things. This is, literally, the world according to Trump, and that world is a very right wing one, centred on unfettered capitalism, individualism, and a return to the good old days. But the left has always distrusted the mainstream media too, arguing that far from being a socialist conspiracy, most of the large media outlets grew big precisely because they benefitted from capitalistic practices, including support from corporate advertising. In which case, if the media trades in truth, it does so in a world of mistrust and compromise. Continue reading

Flexible Learning Fundamentals

Since the initial lockdown in March, Universities and other HEIs have mobilised the creation of workstreams, groups and packets (whatever the preferred term) to invest substantial time and effort in the planning, contingency and re-planning of what might (or might not) lie ahead and how we should respond. The community and creativity of colleagues across HE has been mobilised to develop a wide range of responses so that we can continue to deliver high quality education and these responses have been shaped through the outpouring of sets of principles and guidance designed to offer clarity on how we should go about continuing to offer that quality educational experience. However, these policies appear to be largely tailored towards a particular direction of travel e.g. principles we should follow if we are to migrate fully online, guidance for effectively blending students’ learning, guidance for effective hybrid teaching. Particularly during the initial stages of response, this guidance is particularly helpful. Continue reading