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.
Universities and colleges pulled off what many of us thought was impossible – move all learning and teaching activity online almost overnight. The effort was tremendous and all consuming, and students were appreciative of the efforts made to enable their education to continue.
It is now clear that disruption will continue for some time, and institutions are now faced with the likelihood that education is unlikely to return fully to pre-Covid provision. This brings challenges, not least a kick-back that pivoting hasn’t been enough and the quality of experience provided isn’t always seen as satisfactory.
Senior management are fully aware of where there are shortcomings and many have made efforts to improve, mainly through the recruitment of additional learning technologists. What is yet to be explored and understood are the structures required to support post-Covid FE and HE. This is where we can help – we have extensive experience of online, campus, and hybrid education and of developing institutional support structures and mechanisms which are efficient and scalable. Get in touch now to discuss how we can help you meet the challenge.
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.
Our services go beyond training, we can help you as you transition your existing courses to online. We can support your content requirements, from taking your existing content and adapting it for online use to sourcing & creating new content. Our experienced team can build rapidly and we hold the skills within our team to develop your online teaching. We can help you ensure that your content and lessons are accessible to minimise disruption to students, and provide information and guidance for SENCOs. We can also provide advice and guidance on what you may like to include in your online experience, and recommend the apps and tools you could utilise to provide a quality online learning experience for your students.
All this makes us a reliable choice to help you navigate abrupt changes in the education landscape. To find out more drop us a line now (firstname.lastname@example.org) or give us a call on 01970 871208.
If closures are extended, with our extensive hands on experience we are uniquely able to support your institution to quickly ramp up your online teaching and provide practical support for your teaching staff – particularly important for Schools where staff may have little or no experience of teaching online.
We are now able to provide short intensive fully online courses to get your online teaching up and running quickly, and can adapt these to suit your particular requirements. These are aimed at helping staff with the practicalities of moving from the classroom to online and are particularly suited to staff who will be teaching online for the first time.
We have experienced previous success producing a brand new ATHE accredited qualification (ATHE Level 4 Award in Teaching Online, 603/4515/9) for popular online school Wey Education,and have delivered this qualification using our own team of practitioners.
Our experience of VLEs extends to Canvas, Moodle, D2L, and LMS 365, therefore a flexible choice to delivery can be achieved, and we are also fully conversant in other tools including virtual classrooms and online assessment.
Call us now on 01970 871208 or drop us an email at email@example.com
There are two key elements of enabling online learning; how to use the technology and how to teach (or pedagogy). There are a lot of free courses out there and most learning systems have online training in how to use their tools. There are also some good courses on teaching online, Futurelearn is a good place to point your staff to, and their courses are produced by university specialists in teacher training and online teaching https://www.futurelearn.com/subjects/teaching-courses.
But if closures are extended, will this ad hoc approach be enough to ensure your students are getting the best possible education to pass their exams? This is where we could help, with our extensive network of experienced professionals we can help you plan and deliver your online teaching.
As the impact of Coronavirus escalates. it is increasingly likely that schools, colleges, and universities will face closures and a need to deliver their teaching online. This will mean providing practical support for teaching staff – particularly important for Schools where staff may have little or no experience of teaching online. A rough & ready approach will be common initially and should suffice, but if the closures become extended then schools will face a challenge to address quality aspects – but will they be ready to do so? Follow our series of short blogs providing advice & highlighting resources, many of which are free, to help you deal with the crisis.
Since its creation, Kerr Gardiner Consulting has delivered a number of projects across Higher Education, but for 22+ years before that Kerr was involved in delivering TEL services across the UK. Some of these are gathered here along with some musings on the current and developing digital learning landscape.
The institutional VLE is often blamed for all sorts of issues and challenges around teaching in an increasingly digital landscape. In a new addition to our workshop series, participants are given the chance to ‘lose the VLE’ and are tasked with redesigning one of their modules without using the VLE. In doing so, participants reflect on their use of educational technology and the affordances it can bring. This is achieved by identifying the activities undertaken in the VLE and attempting to undertake them in other systems. By the end of the session participants will have a greater understanding of their VLE and be in a position to decide if it is the most appropriate tool to deliver their teaching activities.
For the purposes of the workshop we offer alternatives for three key areas of VLE activity:
- Communications & activities: Microsoft Teams which allows sharing, collaboration, chat, group video calls, and is more likely to be used by students when they enter the workplace.
- Content: Kortext (www.kortext.com) as a repository for reading materials and Mediasite (www.mediasite.com) for video related materials; both of which offer analytics on use.
- Assessment: Turnitin (www.turnitin.com) as an end-to-end assessment platform
The workshop design can accommodate small or large numbers, with participants sat in groups of 5-10 for the redesign activity, with the whole cohort coming together to share feedback. At the end, participants are asked to vote on whether or not to keep their VLE – with some interesting results!
This workshop was first run at Perth UHI as part of their Learning & Teaching conference.