Can’t believe it is over a year since my last post – so much for New Year resolutions! 2021 was clearly an interesting year for the sector as online and hybrid became the norm in universities and colleges. After literally decades of trying to persuade academic colleagues to engage more with technology but finding resistance and lots of excuses, with Covid lockdowns suddenly it had happened.
The big question for me during this time was, ‘how much will stick?’. As I write the jury is still out, however from what I am hearing I fear the answer may be ‘not a lot’. As someone who has always believed that technology and the digital landscape can mitigate many of the barriers to engaging with full time higher education by enabling a hybrid approach, the impression I get is that in the post Covid world hybrid will be ditched in favour of a choice between online and classroom.
So students and staff will once again be constrained by a binary choice of course delivery method. The student who is incapacitated but not unwell (e.g. a broken leg) will not be able to participate in a classroom delivered course. Students with caring responsibilities may no longer be able to enrol on classroom delivered courses. The ability to participate in learning via Teams or Zoom may once again be reserved for online delivery only. Flexible learning will once again become pretty much only available through online and distance learning.
I do hope I am wrong because it would be a real shame to lose the knowledge and experience academics, support staff, and institutional have built up during Covid.
In 2017 I started this consultancy as a sole trader with the aim of using my experience to improve the use of technology in education and support universities and colleges to embrace the evolving digital landscape. Four years later the consultancy has grown and now brings in other consultants to cope with the workload and extend capability.
Some recent projects have been around learning analytics, and the mass pivot to online learning caused by Covid-19 has increased the interest in the potential opportunites of learning analytics. In June this year an exciting opportunity arose to become more directly involved in learning analytics, leading to me accepting a staff role with Jisc supporting learning analytics. This work is a continuation of the activity I’ve previously undertaken with Jisc and Turnitin, and whilst exciting, also means that I have had to review my activity within the company.
We will continue to provide our full range of services through an expanded team of consultants who have extensive experience in HE, FE, and now schools across the UK and look forward to continuing work with existing clients and welcoming new clients.
It is now clear that universities and colleges are likely to be closed for the rest of the academic year, and many are also starting to plan for the possibility of closures continuing into next academic year. At KGCL we are adapting our service portfolio to support education as it moves into the new ’normal’. Services will include:
- Capability assessments to ensure that institutions are ready to move into the next stage of online learning.
- Structural re-alignment to enable delivery of learning in the new ’normal’.
- Workshops to support your staff in re-thinking course structure and content in a hybrid teaching model.
- Focussed CPD provision to support online and asynchronous teaching.