Institutions globally, are preparing for change. With a focus on flexible approaches to learning, I can’t help but think about the opportunities which may present themselves over the coming months. Both academics and students will have an opportunity to develop their skills, explore innovative technologies and will embark on a new way of working. This will bring with it feelings of uncertainty and angst and, you may even feel overwhelmed at times. However, the sector environment is changing. With that, come opportunities.
I have spent much of this week reflecting on what adds value to education. For me, value in education comes from face to face interaction, holistic support, and quality content delivery. I think that taught education should of course provide knowledge, but also aid learners in identifying avenues for further exploration and independent study. With this in mind, and the integration of technology innovation within the sector – it seems to me that this ‘shake-up’ of the sector in light of the Covid-19 pandemic, provides us with an opportunity to explore innovative ways to maintain a high standard of learning within our academic institutions, providing students with the quality outcomes they have been promised.
I began my teaching career in 2010. Back then, my teaching practice was reflective of the education I had received and what worked for me. However, as an advocate for student-centred learning I have always been interested in the ways people learn. Particularly how to integrate new technologies into the taught environment, both during face to face delivery and, through the Virtual Learning Environment (VLE). However, I am sure I am not alone in feeling that I had perhaps maxed out how I could utilise technology and innovative teaching practice in a taught setting.
Looking ahead, I am sure there will be plenty of moments where I wonder, ‘what am I doing? How did I get from this page to that?’ I am certain I will not be alone in this. Students, as you begin to try out new things, I am sure you will too. But, that’s OK!
We all have a fantastic opportunity! Albeit not one we had by choice. This will no doubt help to further build resilience across the sector, and within ourselves and our students.
So, fellow educators – take your trusty cocktail shaker and add your usual ingredients; but this time, give that shaker a really good shake. The ingredients are the same; the output is the same-just the process is different. Perhaps be daring and add something new? But it needs to result in an easy to consume formula, so in that ‘shake-up’ we need to ensure ingredient synergy.
What does this analogy mean for us as educators?
You could consider the ingredients as the modules which make up a course. Alternatively, you could consider the ingredients as the themes which make up a module. Either way, we have an opportunity to test our skills in a new environment. We need to think about what works well, which mechanisms complement each other, and deliver the ingredients in an easy to consume format. Make this cocktail too complex and it may not work. Be positive, open, flexible and, look at this as personal development. Things we learn now may enhance our teaching practice for years to come.
What does this mean for students?
It’s going to be different. Like any cocktail order you place, let us know what works for you. Give us feedback and, as we learn what works for you, we are also learning something new. Remember, different can mean better. Trust me, over the summer period everyone in an education institution (no matter their role) is learning something new. Be assured, we won’t make it complicated and your learning will still be at the core of our planning. Not only in terms of content, but holistic student support.
I for one am very excited to see what these opportunities bring for both staff and students across the education sector.
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