A busy few weeks

I’ve been a little quiet on the blog recently – obviously, not as quiet as I was pre-lockdown when I was averaging 1 post a year for the past 4 years or so, but quiet compared to previous weeks. 

In part, that was due to a huge push to get staff support material out, in particular what we’d christened “Blend your Module”. A few years ago, a small group of us started a set of blog posts called LearningX. For a number of reasons, we weren’t able to keep up with it. As we were preparing to move towards 20-21, and support staff to develop their teaching, we decided to revitalise it with a “Blend your Module” set of posts – and there will be more to come. (including revisiting the content from earlier, as I’d forgotten quite how much we’d done!) 

This has been, and still is a work in progress, trying to take apart the ABC Curriculum design, developed originally by UCL to work for Dundee. We know that learning and teaching is going to be much more blended going forward than it has been before – but we don’t know what the blend will be. It’s useful to consider what we mean by blended learning, as the definition has changed over the years. Steve Wheeler sums it up at the start of a section in a short course.

One major issue when thinking about next academic year is that we don’t know how much on campus time students and staff will have. You’ll notice that I’m using “on campus” rather than face to face – as video now allows for “face to face” – albeit at a distance. The QAA recently produced a taxonomy for Digital Learning, which is well worth reading.

The idea, therefore is to enable staff to develop activities that students could undertake online – but could easily be moved to a classroom. When building Blend your Module, we’ve taken the materials developed (as Creative Commons) by UCL and others, and looked at how they could be adapted to the needs of Dundee. One thing we’d hoped for was community contributions. There haven’t been yet as many comments as we’d have liked, but we’ve had good verbal feedback. Perhaps some just don’t like posting when they know it’s a public site. A positive of that could be that they’ll be more sympathetic to students who are reluctant to post in (non-complusory) discussion boards etc., that they would like students to engage with. 

We’re now starting to run workshops with people who’ve participated in these sessions, and it’s clear that, even if not commenting, they’re reading them 🙂 The workshops we’ve run have gone into a lot of chat about different ideas and approaches for online teaching.

3 of the CTIL team have recorded a podcast about both the Blend your Module set of posts, and life on campus generally. I wasn’t able to be there for the recording, but I’d recommend you listen. 

Working on it, has highlighted the power of Creative Commons – that ability to take and adapt others work. We couldn’t have done it without that! 

What I’ve been reading… 

As usual, I’ve (skim) read a lot of things recently. Some grabbed me more than others … 

Joe Moran’s “The end of Out of the Office” very much resonated with me, perhaps because he’s also based in a University, but also rather than some of the articles I’ve seen which are either “Yes, no more office, ever!” or “I can’t wait to get back into the office, I hate online” -it was a more balanced approach. It’s definitely the people that I miss, as he points out 

In this world of seemingly limitless connectivity, life feels both too sociable and too solitary. Online, we are constantly available to others but they remain tantalisingly unreachable to us.

and, right at the end. 

Exiled from our desks, we are surprised to discover how much we miss them.

Meetings more meetings … 

Like many, I find frequent online meetings tiring – I’m not now thinking of the 1:1 or 1:2 – it’s when groups get bigger.  Mark Carrigan summed up my own feelings well, so I’ll not repeat them. However, I recently spotted a Tweet from Doug Belshaw about an email course (how quaint!) – The 7 Habits of Highly Successful Virtual Meetings! While I think I actually already knew most of it, to see it reiterated with images daily was nice – and it’s got a very people centric approach; recognising that we’re all different. Thanks, Doug! (Doug’s twitter account is currently deactivated, so can’t link to the tweet) 

Cartoons of people in video chats exhibiting various behaviours
Image created by We are Open Co-Op and shared with a Creative commons Attribution-NoDerivatives 4.0 International (CC BY-ND 4.0)  licence

This weekend I’m going to … 

  • Have a haircut! Yeay! Scottish hairdressers opened yesterday, I’m heading there tomorrow. 
  • Go away for a long weekend! We can also now stay away from home. We’re off to a lodge for a few nights, it’s got a hot tub & a view of the Cairngorms, and best of all, no Internet 🙂  Can’t wait!

Next week … 

I think it’s going to be a lot of meetings, planning for the next few months. However, I’m also hoping to start being able to have a bit of time to think, to reflect, and to feel that I’m not constantly playing catch up. So much has happened, I’ve only captured a microcosm here, often the bits I feel I can share. But there is much else that needs to be thought through. 

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