#LTHEChat195 ‘Appreciating the centrality of relationships to university learning; how should that inform our next steps?’ with hosts Sarah Dyer @se_dyer and Lisa Harris @lisaharris

Early on in the pandemic there was a tweet doing the rounds which seemed to sum it up nicely “You’re not ‘working from home’. You are home during a crisis trying to work.” Indeed, we have been trying to manage new ways of working – and teaching – as well as take care of ourselves, our families, communities, and students. It can feel as if we have all been part of a huge nightmare-ish change management experiment. As well as recognising how difficult it has been, we can also see the positives that have emerged – how decisions that would take years to go through university committees have been taken quickly; that some students are benefiting from increased flexibility and accessibility; how conferences and seminars are newly accessible (with a hugely reduced carbon footprint). Whilst the pandemic has certainly not gone away, the need for intense crisis management has subsided. And in this context universities are clearly turning their attention to writing their next strategy documents, with the aim of creating new drivers of, and direction for, change.

With this in mind, we are asking you, the #LTHE community, to turn your attention to relationships. It feels important that we make visible how central relationships and communities are to us as educators and think through what we need from university strategies, and new ways of working, to support these. In learning from the previous 12 months; building on what has worked well (and avoid sliding back into old routines); and planning for the near future, understanding and appreciating relationships needs to be central. 

Students have faced huge challenges over the last year. These cannot be reduced to pedagogy, but the deficit framing of online learning circulating has been cartoonish and has helped no one. We know, not least from previous LTHE chats, the expertise and creativity with which educators have supported students and their learning. We have challenged elsewhere the common view that online learning is distant and remote without the possibility of the learning community and student/educator relationship needed for learning (Dyer and Harris 2020). Understanding how students are experiencing online learning communities and how best to support them to build such communities online, and in hybrid spaces, is central to evaluating and planning for next year.

It is equally true that online is new to many educators who have been experiencing the vulnerability (and exhaustion) that learning something new can entail. Recognising and attending to these experiences is equally important in moving forward productively. We have seen exciting examples of university leadership which emphasises care and compassion. For example, Dilly Fung reminded us in a tweet that teaching is a relationship, not performance. She has also  tweeted recently that our primary goal is to keep ourselves and our loved ones ‘safe and well’ and then to do our best to support each other. This follows Simone Buitendijk’s blogs which have included a call to recognise that it is ok that we can’t fix everything as well as the need for compassion to be central to universities. (It hasn’t escaped our notice that these were communicated online.) We ourselves have valued the opportunities we have had as educators this year, to meet people from across the world by attending seminars we never would have got to in person. We have personally benefited too from new ways of working, such as online synchronous writing (Dyer and Harris 2020).

We will be using our #LTHEchat to discuss opportunities and hopes for building relationships for learning (for students, with students, and with colleagues) using the affordances of online, hybrid, and in person. We will be using an Appreciative Inquiry (AI) framework. This asks us about what is working and what is good first (discover) before exploring what we hope for (dream). We then move to asking about what it looks like in practice (design) and how we can make that work (deliver). We have found that AI is a really productive and enjoyable way of structuring conversations (Dyer 2014) and we hope that you are able to take part and find it so too.

You can view the Wakelet for this chat.

Sarah Dyer and Lisa Harris

Sarah Dyer is Professor of Higher Education at the University of Exeter. She is a human geographer with research interests in education, work, and gender and the inaugural director of the Exeter Education Incubator. Her work investigates how Higher Education can better create transformative learning, both for its students and within it own structures and relationships.

Lisa Harris is Director of Digital Learning at the University of Exeter. She is a Fellow of the Exeter Education Incubator. Lisa has led the development and implementation of innovative degree programmes in three UK Universities, utilising cross-faculty expertise supported by industry projects and online learning pedagogies.

References

Buitendijk, S. (2020) COVID: we can’t fix everything, and that should be OK | by Simone Buitendijk | University of Leeds | Medium 

Buitendijk, S. (2020) Compassion can change the world | by Simone Buitendijk | University of Leeds (medium.com)

Dyer (2014) Appreciate HEA

Dyer and Harris (2020) Let’s take the remote out of online learning | Wonkhe

Dyer and Harris (2020 Developing Inclusive Learning Environments Online – Dartington Online Writing Retreat Blogs #1 (wordpress.com) 

Ethics in Bricks (2020) Tweet https://twitter.com/EthicsInBricks/status/1315623182406242304?s=20

Fung, D (2020) https://twitter.com/DevonDilly/status/1354339167770181640?s=20

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#LTHEChat194 ‘Post-Pandemic Pedagogy & the Venerable Lecture’ with hosts Sarah Honeychurch @NomadWarMachine, Apostolos Koutropoulos @koutropoulos and Lenandlar Singh @Lenandlar

A year ago, when we originally proposed a tweetchat on the subject of lectures, we had this whacky idea of playing Devil’s Advocate. We were going to suggest a defence of the traditional lecture and we were going to argue that it had a place in educators’ toolkits. While we still think this is right, a lot has changed in the past year in response to COVID-19. Lecture halls are empty (or there is a large gap between audience members). Some have moved lectures in their entirety into online platforms like Zoom, Blackboard Collaborate, and Microsoft Teams; others have made the move to a “flipped learning” model. Hence, our focus has shifted and we have some questions we’d love to ponder with you all.

What advice would you give to those looking to replace or augment the venerable lecture? In the past year, if you teach, what have you replaced the “traditional” lecture with? Or, if you’re a learner, what have you had them replaced with? Whatever your role in education, what tips would you give to educators wanting to build teaching presence when they are not able to interact with their students in a physical space, or to take advantage of the usual visual cues that help to show when an audience is engaged in their learning?

What have you seen, or done, that you think worked best this past year? What would you recommend to colleagues or your lecturers? What went really well and that you think there should be more of? And what sorts of things leave lots of room for improvement? What have you done (or seen, or experienced) that just bombed, and that you never want to see or do again?

Looking to the future – when it is safe for us to congregate in physical spaces again, what do you think lectures could be used for? Does the long monologue format still have a place in Higher Education? If yes, in what contexts?

This chat will be a safe space where colleagues (we use a broad definition here to include anyone interested in learning in HE) can share their “warts and all” experiences of the last year, and collectively see how we can learn from our successes and … less successful moments.

Sarah Honeychurch (@NomadWarMachine) is a Teaching Fellow in the Adam Smith Business School at the University of Glasgow, with research interests in the serendipitous emergence of learning in participatory cultures and authentic models of assessment as learning in HE. She’s a regular participant and lurker in the LTHEChat, and an avid knitter.

Apostolos Koutropoulos (“AK”) (@koutropoulos) is the Program Manager for the Applied Linguistics Online Program at UMass Boston. He is also an associate lecturer in the Instructional Design MEd Program at UMass Boston where he teaches courses in Instructional Design. He holds a BA in Computer Science, an MBA with a focus on Human Resources, an MS in Information Technology, an MEd in Instructional Design, and an MA in Applied Linguistics from the University of Massachusetts Boston. Definitely an example of a lifelong learner! He is interested in: open education, communities of practice, educational technology, linguistic corpora, MOOCs and lurkers. AK is currently a doctoral candidate at Athabasca University.

Lenandlar Singh (@Lenandlar) is a Senior Lecturer in the Department of Computer Science at the University of Guyana and a PhD student at Lancaster University, England. He holds a BSc in Computer Science, a Post Graduate Diploma in Education, and an MSc in Internet Applications Development. He is a big fan of Twitter and spends his research time exploring the adoption (or lack of) of social networks in higher education and informal learning contexts.

The Wakelet for this chat can be found here

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#LTHEChat193 @Dr_Chris_Wiley ‘Evaluating Student Evaluation of Teaching’

Student evaluation of teaching (SET) is routinely implemented at institutions across the UK and internationally, partly in response to the increased weight given in recent years to national measures of student satisfaction. Yet multiple studies have indicated that SET may be influenced by many factors other than the quality of teaching itself, including the teacher’s race and gender, fluency of delivery, class size, whether the module is compulsory or elective, students’ workload and the grades they are awarded.

This #LTHEchat will explore current SET practices at different institutions and ask by what other ways teachers might obtain feedback on their teaching in order to bring about positive changes to the students’ learning experience in a more meaningful and timely manner. It appears by way of a prelude to the forthcoming SEDA Special Student Evaluation of Teaching: From Performance Management to Quality Enhancement, which, through a series of inter/national case studies, explores methods for developing SET, alternative approaches to the standard questionnaire, and ways to engage students more actively with the process.

Dr Christopher Wiley is Senior Lecturer in Music at the University of Surrey. He was awarded a National Teaching Fellowship in 2013 and attained Principal Fellowship of the Higher Education Academy in 2017. He holds postgraduate qualifications in both music and education, including the degree of MA in Academic Practice from City University London (2014). In addition to his internationally recognised research in musicology, Chris has conducted pedagogic research leading to journal articles in Studies in Educational Evaluation; Action, Criticism, and Theory for Music Education; Arts and Humanities in Higher Education; and The International Journal of Assessment and Evaluation. He has presented at international conferences of education across Europe, and delivered learning and teaching workshops at a dozen UK universities. He is the co-editor of the forthcoming SEDA Special, Student Evaluation of Teaching: From Performance Management to Quality Enhancement. http://surrey.ac.uk/people/christopher-wiley christopherwiley

The Wakelet for this chat can be found here

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#LTHEchat192 Just as nice to give as receive with Guest hosts Dr Kate Cuthbert @cuthbert_kate Dr Safia Barikzai @SafiaBarikzai and Dr Dawne Irving-Bell @belld17

The tradition of exchanging gifts has a long heritage (cave man popped up in a google search but best not rely too heavily on that!) It is also something that transcends religions, cultures and geographical boundaries. Whilst there are nuances in the symbolism of gift exchanges, the themes of friendship, good will and wellbeing reoccur. After the year we have all experienced it seems fitting to adopt a form of gift giving into the final #LTHEchat of the year.

Over the last months we have shared ideas, connected with each other through shared challenges and sometimes just tipped up at 8pm to be amongst friends who know. Who knew that in just 280 characters there could be evidence of kindness, collaboration and generosity? We have had a rich schedule this semester; thank you to those who have provide stimulus and searching questions. Thank you to participants who have chewed over topics and sparked conversations.

So, on Wednesday we are going to facilitate a tweetchat that has gift giving at its heart, (with a learning and teaching twist). Here’s how it will work. Below you will find a gift list. Before Wednesday we would like you to go searching for “gifts” that you would like to bring to the #LTHEchat community.  The gifts could be taken by the recipient and applied to their practice either in terms of their work with learners, colleagues or peers. Gifts could be your advice, your reflection or your recommendations for the individual to explore. Links, papers, resources are very much welcomed.

#LTHEchat gift list

  1. A feedback strategy or technique that has made a difference
  2. A piece of equipment (could be digital or not) that you value in your practice
  3. A contribution to the way in which learners engage with research (could be teaching research/ could be developing peers/ could be scholarship development)
  4. A gift to those who are facilitating group work
  5. A gift to those who are developing critical thinkers and critical writers
  6. A book or film recommendation to a friend that takes them into 2021

Dr Kate Cuthbert (PFHEA) leads the Professional Recognition Scheme at Nottingham Trent University. She is on a mission to create community around fellowship to prevent feelings of isolation or imposter syndrome. She has applied her academic background of psychology to interprofessional learning, patient safety and teaching development. @cuthbert_kate

Dr Safia Barikzai is an Associate Professor in the School of Engineering at London South Bank University. Known to “play” with 3-D printers she is passionate about encouraging more girls to study engineering subjects through playful pedagogies, playful coding, and Lego Robotics. @SafiaBarikzai

Dr Dawne Irving-Bell is the Centre for Learning and Teaching Projects Lead and a Senior Lecturer in Teaching and Learning Development at Edge Hill University. She can draw a bit and uses sketchnoting as a personal tool to organize her thoughts. In her teaching, she uses ‘sketchnotes’ both to communicate her perspective and help students develop techniques for their own use. @belld17

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#LTHEchat191 Challenges with online assessments in the COVID learning environment with host Dr Carina Ginty @carinaginty

Designing and managing online assessment is proving a challenging task this year among the academic community. The COVID remote learning emergency has placed huge demands on lecturer’s time and there are concerns around managing academic integrity across all disciplines. In response to these challenges and to support colleagues’ engagement with online assessment, I developed a short online assessment guide, with input from a wide range of stakeholders including the GMIT Teaching and Learning Office team, our Digital Champions lecturer network and professional services colleagues in quality assurance and exams administration. This Online Assessment Guide showcased on our http://DigitalEd.ie knowledge platform, presents five sections including:

Section 1: A range of online terminal exam/assessment options, requirements, set up and quality considerations. 

Section 2: Selecting online alternatives to common assessment methods.

Section 3: Academic integrity considerations.

Section 4: A programme of assessment themed training events including webinars and workshops. Plus, learning technology design clinics (AMA on Assessment – Ask Me Anything, 15-minute express clinics).

Section 5: Additional assessment resources, you may choose to explore.

Please do visit the resources and consider your practice in light of the information. Think about how your practice has evolved over these last months. How has infrastructure changed and what things are you noticing in the HE community, that is growing up around assessment in the COVID climate.

I’m looking forward to learning from the LTHE Twitter network on Wednesday December 9th and sharing ideas of best practice on online assessment!

Dr Carina Ginty is the Teaching and Learning Officer and a Lecturer in Teaching and Learning at GMIT. Carina manages the teaching and learning office and collaborates with academic and professional services colleagues across five campuses developing innovative teaching practices and engaging student learning experiences. She has led a variety of education development projects for GMIT and higher education partners in Ireland and internationally on: professional development of teaching in HE; student leadership and engagement (PASS programme); digital capabilities and leadership; mentoring; community engagement; recognition of prior learning; ePortfolios; assessment; online and blended learning design; transitions, retention and the first year experience.

https://www.gmit.ie/about/teaching-and-learning-lecturer/dr-carina-ginty

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#LTHEchat190 Virtual Student Partnerships with host Kiu Sum @KiuSum

I have unfortunately ascertained a headache from pondering. Not just my day job but something else relating to student engagement. So, I need your help! Here I am sharing my short version of the back story and hope you can collaboratively help connect the pieces…

The phrase ‘staff-student partnership’ was something I got accustomed to during my undergraduate years. Being involved in partnership projects at university provided me with an insight into how the higher education system work – from increasing my awareness of other university services to seeing the emphasis placed on students’ learning being the ‘heart of the university’. I was fortunate to have the opportunity to be part of our ‘Students as Co-Creators’ scheme at university and collaboratively working with staff and students across different disciplines to work on projects that matter to us. It was at university where I learnt partnership to be a reciprocal process where students had a shared responsibility for shaping our learning and teaching experiences. Through such collaborations, I am embracing I am a student with a place in the community and not simply passing through the system.

A few years on since that story began and 9 months on since I last stepped into my office on campus; that isolation feeling that I once had this time last year came back. Now having to work from home yet somewhat finding my motivation is challenging at times. The waving from across the corridors or chasing after someone on the staircases when in need to ask them a question was something that we could no longer do. Yet being part of staff-student partnerships pre-pandemic was more than ‘just completing a project’ – but rather able to engage with university campuses more easily without having to ‘pre-book’ a slot days ahead knowing you have exactly 60 minutes in a 60 minutes meeting. Reflecting on the ‘old norms’, it was so much easier to develop our learning capabilities without many barriers. But conversely, online partnerships unite classrooms around the world, offering the benefits in engaging with others who we never thought of interacting with before. (For once, I certainly did, and was able to connect with other researchers around the world! Strange times…)

COVID-19 has turned our world upside down and on so many levels has created situations both personally and professionally which we are constantly adapting to. We know that partnership schemes are still there in our institutions but maintaining that energy and motivation for virtual partnerships is another matter which no-one has a clear answer to. We are still learning to create a ‘new normal’ where students are learning using innovations and partnerships, with available supports for not only the academic problems but also the profound emotionally and psychologically effects that come with this pandemic. Without the traditional means of support, we are all doing our best to build this newfound virtual connection with our students and colleagues.

Many questions have been floating in my mind having conversed with others on enhancing partnership virtually: “Would staff-student partnership be as effective virtually than in person? Could we ever create the new norm nurturing virtual partnerships in the future?”

So here is where I need help from #LTHEchat-ers!

A partnership is about investing and empowering students to co-create, not just extending their learning and knowledge in their field but also our educational system. But what do we perceive virtual student partnerships to be? Could we ever make them as effective as in-person partnerships? Is there a toolkit or the most important question is… is there any framework?

Please bring your ideas and hopefully we can collaboratively unwrap this headache I have…

Kiu Sum is a Doctoral Researcher in nutrition at the University of Westminster. Her research predominantly explores the impacts of workplace nutrition and dietary behaviour of healthcare professionals undertaking shift work and the impacts on their mood and emotions. Kiu found her interest in student engagement activities through participating in ‘Students as Co-Creators’ projects of which she’s also a Student Ambassador and continuing to collaboratively work with staff and students on pedagogy research focusing on student experience, engagement, partnerships and assessments and feedback. Kiu serves as the Student Officer on the RAISE committee, Chair of the Student Section at The Nutrition Society and currently guest editing the next issue of the ‘Journal for Educational Innovation, Partnership and Change’. As a side hobby, Kiu also hosts ‘The Education Burrito’ Podcast, unwrapping student engagement and pedagogy approaches in higher education.

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#LTHEchat189: Bringing Scholarship to Life with host Dr Sarah Broadberry @DrSBroadberry

I have been on the trail of scholarship for a long time now, trying to nail down what that term means as my career in academia progresses, what it means to me as part of a teaching team and how it is recognised in parallel with research within my institution and discipline. I am driven by a recognised need to ensure equal parity of esteem for scholarship, as is afforded research (Grant and Wakelin, 2009; Boyer, 1996; Metzler, 1994). Could equal parity of esteem for scholarship retain highly experienced colleagues who may have traditionally chosen to leave the higher education sector due to lack of non-research focused career opportunities? Valuing scholarship may thus, support the pursuit, recognition and reward of excellent learning and teaching, perhaps resulting in sustainable careers in learning and teaching. It cuts to the heart of professional identity.

As recognised by Prager (2010), scholarship matters at three academic levels; within the institution, within disciplines and within HE in general. But to achieve a meaningful representation of scholarship for the purposes of development, recognition and parity, perhaps we need to go personal and take a more granular approach. This would mean considering how scholarship is experienced and played out across the many agents of scholarship throughout all the roles within a university.

Encapsulating scholarship in career progression is tricky and many institutions have fallen back onto publications and research outputs as key measures of scholarship (Boyer, 1996). Are we measuring the right thing both in terms of process, practice and outcomes of scholarship? Is there is scope for scholarship to be valued through what it provides, rather than its intellectual contribution (Hart, 2018)? As proposed by Nicholls (2007), scholarship is intrinsically focused on student learning, rather than on ‘what the teacher does’, as was originally proposed by Boyer (1990). Full recognition for scholarship will only be possible with activities and outcome measures that better represent the lived experience of scholarship. I would like to use this #LTHEchat to bring ‘Scholarship to life’; to consider scholarship’s social and cultural capital that is seen at the institutional, disciplinary and personal level. I need your help!

Please bring to the chat your ideas and experiences of scholarship. Let’s share interpretations, interrogate similarities and nuances. How about us digging into the contributions the various roles across the institutions bring to scholarship? Can this chat enrich interpretations about the process, practice and outputs of scholarship?

References

Boyer, E.L., 1996. From scholarship reconsidered to scholarship assessed. Quest, 48(2), 129-139.

Grant, K. and Wakelin, S.J., 2009. Re-conceptualising the concept of a nexus? A survey of 12 Scottish IS/IM academics’ perceptions of a nexus between teaching, research, scholarship and consultancy.  Teaching in Higher Education. Critical Perspectives, 14(2), 133-146.

Hart, R., 2018. Valuing Scholarship. Canadian Review of Sociology, 55(2), 309-310. 

Metzler, M.W., 1994. Scholarship reconsidered for the professoriate of 2010. Quest, 46(4), 440-455.

Nicholls, G., 2007. Scholarship in teaching as a core professional value: What does this mean to the academic? Teaching in Higher Education, 9(1), 29-42.

Prager, C., 2003. Scholarship matters. Community College Journal of Research and Practice, 27(7), 579-592. 

Stappenbelt, B., 2013. The effectiveness of the teaching-research nexus in facilitating student learning. Engineering Education, 8(1), 111-121.

Dr Sarah Broadberry (SFHEA) is a Principal Lecturer in the Animal and Equine Science department and Athena SWAN Champion at Nottingham Trent University. She chairs the School Trent Institute of Teaching and Learning Teaching and Scholarship Group. Sarah has developed expertise in team-based learning and regularly contributes to the PG Cert in Learning and Teaching and the Professional Recognition Scheme.

Here’s the wakelet from the chat https://wakelet.com/wake/sOcVcdS46cbVkBThiCD4A

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#LTHEchat188: The role of a systems approach in successfully supporting learning, students and staff with host Prof Colin Turner @ProfCTurner

Systems are an integral feature of the landscape in Learning and Teaching in Higher Education. In a narrow view we often think of systems as specific IT packages that support our key activity, but equally systems can be paper based or just a way of thinking of the human interactions with and between students and the staff delivering an educational experience.

Often, we place an emphasis on systems that are directly involved in the delivery of learning resources and/or assessment to students – the dependence on critical IT systems to do this in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic has become very clear. However, the utility of systems in the broadest sense that support academic and professional services staff in administrative tasks should not be underestimated. Time and attention are precious resources and staff (and students) often struggle to balance workload – systems that aid in this can have a strong, if indirect, effect on the student experience and outcomes.

While conscious design often plays a part in most of our systems, a level of organic evolution is often useful too, as all the “edge cases” of everyday working are often not picked up at the design stage. Similarly, evaluation of our systems tends to range from very formal exercises to much more ad-hoc approaches.

This LTHE chat will invite a discussion on whether there are benefits to taking a more systems based approach to Learning and Teaching in the broadest sense, and also to explore what are the features of successful approaches to delivering and support learning, and supporting staff and students.

See also:

https://www.advance-he.ac.uk/news-and-views/How-systems-can-transform-the-student-experience

Professor Colin Turner is Interim Dean of Learning Enhancement and Professor of Engineering Education at Ulster University and has been leading much of Ulster’s institutional Learning and Teaching response to the COVID-19 pandemic. He served as Head of the School of Engineering at Ulster from 2010 to 2018. He obtained his degree in Pure and Applied Mathematics and his PhD in Mathematics from Queen’s University Belfast. He then joined Ulster University as a Lecturer in Mathematics, Computing and Statistics and undertaking Cardiovascular research with the Royal Victoria Hospital and NIBEC (Nanotechnology and Integrated Bioengineering Centre). Colin’s teaching interests are Engineering Mathematics, Reliability theory and Software development for Engineers – and also in reforming curricula to improve retention, while building student led initiatives to transform student learning. He has experience in designing and building enterprise software solutions for learning support with national impact, especially in the area of employability; he served as an Executive Committee member and Trustee for ASET, the UK body for placement professionals from 2013 to 2019. Colin is a Fellow of the Institution of Engineering and Technology (FIET), a Fellow of the Institution of Mathematics and its Applications (FIMA), a Principal Fellow of the Higher Education Academy (PFHEA), a National Teaching Fellow. He is the current President of the Engineering Professors’ Council. He is a member of the advisory group of Learned Societies and Professional Bodies for the All-Party Group for Science and Technology at the Northern Ireland Assembly. You can find out more about his IT systems work on his GitHub page or personal blog.

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#LTHEchat187: Planning for January with host Michelle Morgan (@it_se)

Paul Greatix (@registrarism) wrote a brutal and refreshingly honest piece on Wonkhe asking if universities had done the right things under covid19.  https://wonkhe.com/blogs/doing-the-right-things-universities-under-covid/

In his piece, he talks about the challenges facing universities in the absence Government and sector regulators providing meaningful advice and the exhaustion of staff having to navigate the constantly changing choppy waters.

We have seen the coverage of distressed new students having to isolate and feeling that the experience they are receiving is quite different to the one promised. Their orientation and induction to study processes have been greatly disrupted which is likely to impact on withdrawal rates. Our returning students will have gaps in their learning experience no matter how hard course and module leaders have tried to bridge them. And our final year student, who will have experienced disruption of most of their course by the time they complete their studies, face a bleak workplace on completion.

In his final sentence Paul states that it is time to ‘stick together as one university community (not a two tier one), work with our local communities too, stay optimistic, look after our students and look positively to the future’. However, in light of recent government guidelines, we need to review arrangements. Universities we are told will remain open, but in my view only online teaching by exception should happen.

So, with January fast approaching and Covid19 progressively worsening, this LTHE chat invites the community to consider what pedagogic lessons have been learnt in the past 7 months, and how we can move forward in supporting students’ learning and post study success as well as the wellbeing of our academic community. 

Michelle Morgan @it_se is a higher education consultant. Previously she was associate professor and associate dean of the student experience at Bournemouth University.

Michelle is extensively published in the area of supporting student diversity and improving the student learning experience at undergraduate and postgraduate taught level in, through and out of the student study journey. Her two edited books that revolve around her Student Experience Transitions Model (SET) are designed to help academic and professional service colleagues support students. She has developed a free portal for staff which provides a range of information and links for anyone interested in improving the student experience in higher education www.improvingthestudentexperience.com

During her varied career, Michelle has been a Faculty Manager, Researcher and Academic. She describes herself as a ‘Third Space Professional’ student experience practitioner who develops initiatives based on pragmatic and practical research. Michelle has over 50 publications and has presented over 100 national and international conference papers (including 44 keynotes and 30 invited papers). She co-wrote and co-presented a 5 part Radio series for BBC China in 2011 on the student learning experience.

Michelle was creator and PI/Project Lead of an innovative £2.7 million 11 university collaborative HEFCE grant looking atthe study expectations and attitudes of postgraduate taught (PGT) students.The project report received praise from across the sector including UKCGE, OFFA, the HEA and the Engineering Professor’s Council. www.postgradexperience.org

Michelle is a Principal Fellow of the HEA, Fellow of the AUA and a Council member of UKCGE. She is a Student Minds Mental Health Assessor and for a second year, she is a judge on The Guardian University awards panel.

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#LTHEchat186: The Value of Fiction in Learning and Teaching

Guest host Professor Joanna Verran @JoVerran

I think we all tell stories all the time. Think of any conversation! Storytelling dates back to when humans started to speak: they helped us to survive, and we remain receptive to a good tale!

Teaching medical microbiology, I found that stories of disease outbreaks, or personalised case studies helped me to better convey the principles of epidemiology, contextualising the facts, crossing disciplines (into history or geography for example), and helping to knit the facts into a more memorable setting. Indeed, much of my teaching practice (and my lab-based research) encompassed cross-disciplinary collaboration ( Who inspired my thinking? – The co-factor: conversation, collaboration, co-production DOI: 10.14324/RFA.04.2.12): I believed this made microbiology seem more part of the world we live in. Of course at the moment, it is not easy to escape from microbiology in the real world!

But what about fiction? Does fiction have a value in learning and teaching other than in English Literature? I set up the Bad Bugs Bookclub (https://www.mmu.ac.uk/engage/what-we-do/bad-bugs-bookclub/ ) in 2009. Initially the bookclub was unrelated to my teaching. My aim was to get adult scientists and non-scientists to read fiction in which infectious disease formed part of the plot. Meetings are informal, and everyone has something to bring to the discussion, since we all have read the book. Eleven years on, the website, documents meetings and provides reading guides for more than 60 books. I have found the format useful for education and science communication in a variety of settings including undergraduate projects, tutorials and school book groups. I have certainly also learned a lot myself ( https://blogs.bmj.com/bmj/2020/09/29/joanna-verran-the-bad-bugs-book-club-a-study-in-infectious-disease-and-humanity/).

Since turnover time is very quick from posting this blog, to hosting the chat on 21st October, can I suggest some preparation activities? Look at the website and check whether you have already read any of the books (or watched the movie!). Look at the meeting notes for that book, and see if the fiction can be used to discuss ‘fact’ within your discipline.

Joanna Verran is Emeritus Professor of Microbiology at Manchester Metropolitan University. In addition to her laboratory-based research, Jo always strove to encourage the development of ‘transferable skills’ in her students, through the use of art, design, literature and public engagement. She was awarded an NTF in 2012, and PFHEA in 2016, and the AAAS Mani L Bhaumik award for Public Engagement with Science in 2019, alongside an MA in Creative Writing (of which she is particularly proud!).

Beyond the #LTHEchat on 21st October;

If your tastebuds are tickled, set up your own one-off bookclub (I can send you our discussion questions), and join our Twitter meeting on November 19th, where we will be discussing The Waiting Rooms by Eve Smith. The novel addresses antimicrobial resistance (AMR) and the meeting is being held during World Antibiotic Awareness Week.

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