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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Pick and Mix Induction for Professional Academics

At a typical staff development session, if you ask a participant how they came into their academic role, chances are they were from a professional background.  This may not be surprising as higher education has always had a long association with many professions and industries. Yet the demand for professionals in academic roles -practitioner academics- has grown significantly over the years with public services, such as nursing and policing, now requiring mandatory HE qualifications (Bekhradnia and Beech, 2018) in parallel with rapid growth in degree apprenticeships (Universities UK, 2019).

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The problem we face with digital reading

I think it’s safe to say, we’ve probably all experienced the challenges around getting students to read in our academic environments, but has this been made worse since the pandemic? There’s a lot of assumptions in this area but little validation it seems.

At a recent SEDA workshop looking into transitions into Higher Education, I posed a number of questions to the audience around the perception of digital reading practice. As part of the work we’re doing in this space as part of or QAA Collaborative Enhancement Project ‘Active Online Reading’,  looking into students’ digital reading practice, we are seeking to better understand the problems students face, the barriers to academic reading, and the solutions that our students and academic community have used to overcome these barriers.

Below is a summary of the community’s contributions to this problem space.

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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