Some of the links from my presentation at the University of Derby Online Learning Summit on Tuesday.
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When I wrote this presentation originally, I thought the shift in pace and place I would be talking about would be the new online microcredentials – Micromasters ™ – courses we have been piloting this year.
Little did I know that we would, as a sector, experience a seismic shift to remote learning online in little more than a week. At University of Edinburgh we have all shifted place- we are now working from home or are stranded and trapped. We have all shifted pace. Things which we thought would take months and years to do suddenly gained urgency and we ‘flipped’ or ‘pivoted’ to remote learning and working outwith the university at very short notice.
I can tell you about what we have been doing at Edinburgh in online distance learning, because it is this previous work which has given us the capacity, capability and vision to respond quickly now.
We know that distance is a positive principle, not a deficit. It can generate meaningful learning opportunities and a positive student experience; it can build community; and it can advance a values-led and professionalising position of teaching, one that does not downgrade teaching into (mere) facilitation.
New futures? who knows what will happen next? I won an EduFuturists Award recently for an individual ‘who embodies a vision of where education could be 20 years from now’ , and suddenly it seems like I should come up with this vision pretty fast. This is a new era and a paradigm shift for ‘business continuity’. In the past i warned my colleagues to ‘expect locusts‘. I wanted them to think big. I asked them to think about what happens if for some reason we can’t operate as usual. I admit, I thought the challenges would be strikes, snow or rogue volcanos, but I like a bit of Biblical scale…..
Some of my emerging thoughts for possible futures:
- After this current ‘panic pivot’ to teach out the current academic year. Universities will quickly start to think about semester 1 next year. Will university campuses re-open or will we teach semester 1 online?
The online learning landscape
- A rush to online delivery by many universities will see skillful course design for accessibility, quality and learning communities become key.
- Even if the on-campus learners return, this is not a one-off, they will need reassurance that they can go home, if called home and still complete their studies.
- The undergraduate online market in the UK will be transformed. Things we thought impossible will become pragmatic.
- Some universities will collaborate with peer institutions to develop courses and deliver together. Some will not.
- Interoperability, licensing, IP, technical standards and open development will be as important for sharing, interchange, reuse, local adaptation of materials as they always have been. Expertise in this area will be prized.
- Learning technologists who know about staff development, course design and open educational resources will realise they can work from home and work for any institution in the world. Their salaries will increase, and the work will be more flexible, more compatible with family life.
- The (already) global market for academic colleagues who teach well online will thrive.
- On campus service such as counselling, wellbeing, welfare, disability support, finance, careers will need to find new elements of quality in delivery online.
- Traditional face to face exams will become antiquated, and the purpose and methods of assessment will become increasingly diverse.
- ‘Halls of residence’ will be forever known as ‘petri dishes’.
- The global platforms ( Coursera, Edx, Futurelearn, Linkedin Learning) will finally see return on their business model and they will own all the student data.
- Home-based learners will sacrifice privacy and personal data in the rush to use Zoom and Houseparty et al.
- Vendors and suppliers will try to renegotiate the costs of VLEs, streaming video and virtual classroom tools.
- Libraries will finally invest properly in digitisation and digital collections and no-one will believe publishers’ protests that they cannot offer open access any more.