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.
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.
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.
One of the best pieces of advice I have ever been given is to reflect regularly. One of the problems of being freelance is that reflection is often dropped to get the paid work done.
So today I re-read the paper I co-published at UoG with Vicki Dale & Josephine Adekola for the QAA Scotland Enhancement Theme, ’Student Transitions’ (https://journal.alt.ac.uk/index.php/rlt/article/view/1973/pdf_1). This paper provides a framework to support a campus based university in becoming capable in blended and online learning.
On re-reading it I have been pleasantly surprised at how well it resonates with much of the consultancy work I have undertaken since leaving Glasgow, as well as relating directly to keynotes and workshops delivered for HE & FE clients. Papers like this are essential underpinning to strategic change, but clients also need a tangible action plan with clearly identified activities and outcomes.
So, I have decided to start mapping actions against the framework to build a pick’n’mix set of options for universities and colleges as they develop their provision for learning & teaching in the evolving digital landscape – watch this space.
In November I was asked to update the Turnitin UK User Group on the progress of the joint Jisc/Turnitin data analytics project. During the day I also took part in a panel session on academic integrity – with discussions around the fact that cheating, and in particular contract cheating is happening. Views were expressed on whether or not it could be stopped, for example through better assessment design, better interaction with students, or using detection tools – and I think it is fair to say the general conclusion was that it couldn’t be stopped.
Although this might be a realistic view, it is also quite a pessimistic view. In reflecting on it, my thoughts turned to issues I had as an AV manager in HE. In their early days data projectors were seen as high value items worth stealing and this led to a spate of thefts from universities. Professional thieves came ’tooled up’ and the damage they caused getting the projector was greater than the replacement cost of the projector. The disruption to teaching was also considerable, making it even more challenging to encourage academics to use classroom technology. The approach I, and many of my colleagues took was prosaic; we accepted that we couldn’t stop the thefts so we developed strategies to minimise theft, with the aim of deterring all but the most determined thieves. As well as making projectors difficult to get at (using cages, alarms, locating them high up), we also made it difficult for them to be passed on (marking, smart water, etc), and of course the consequences of being caught were severe, those being caught receiving criminal records.
So how does this relate to academic integrity? I believe that a similar multi-faceted approach is useful. By making it difficult to cheat in the first place; assessment design, invigilation, assessment location, can all help. We can make detection more likely using a range of tools and data analysis techniques. And when cheaters are caught, we make the consequences severe, losing degrees or even getting a criminal record. In doing so we can accept that we can’t eradicate the most determined but at the same time send a very clear message that cheating is not acceptable.
However, these approaches deal with the symptoms not the cause. How much do students really understand what academic integrity is? In an increasingly digital and online educational world prevention is not enough, we need to help our students understand the reasons why we need to maintain academic integrity, and in doing so reject cheating.
With the UK election done and dusted I’ve been thinking about what the implications might be for UK HE. There will definitely be some impact on immigration, and the THE writes that there may be a change of emphasis towards vocational HE provision. Could this take the form of increased online, open, and time shifted education? If so this will be an interesting challenge for some universities, even those who already have some online provision. In my experience of developing online provision in the HE sector, moving beyond the basics of a few courses requires institutional change across academic departments and professional services, and can throw up totally unexpected challenges in the least expected places.
It is almost three years since I started this consultancy business so I felt it was time to refresh the website. In doing so I also wanted to take a fresh look at the services offered. The updated website is intended to make the services we offer clearer and in doing so help potential clients understand the benefit we can bring.