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About Simon Paul Atkinson

Educational developer, educational technologist, social scientist, e-learning researcher, practitioner, advisor. Experienced presenter and facilitator. Associate Dean (Teaching Enhancement) BPP University UK

Originally Posted to LinkedIn on Thursday 2nd April.
Visualisation of the SOLE model related to roles
SOLE model related to spaces

Change is often difficult. Actors who were adored as Vaudeville artists, glamorous or heroic, sounded unconsciously like clowns on the radio or looked clumsy and inarticulate on television. Many fell by the wayside, drifting into obscurity.

Does the current global shift into supporting learners online mean the end of some academic careers? Probably. Some will decide for themselves that they do not want to perform on this new stage, they will miss the smell of musty stage curtains and the face paint, the fever of anticipation, of adulation. There are many who will miss the lack of personal presence of their students enough to think it's a profession they no longer feel a part of. We, as leaders in tertiary education, whether as team leaders, Heads of Departments, Deans, Pro-Vice Chancellors, Proctors and others, need to understand this.

It is not just about 'shifting your content online', move your weekly lecture into a recorded version of the same or set yourself up with webinar software and substitute your seminar. The change that is being asked of many of our academic colleagues is profound. Most can transition into online delivery, and some will excel at it. Others will not. Both will need support. I want to suggest I may have a tool to help leaders talk through some of the challenges of changing roles with faculty.

A learning model: visualisation

Some years ago, 2011 to be precise, I produced a poster for a conference that mapped roles against a working learning model I had developed over the previous five years. The Student-Owned Learning Engagement model, SOLE for short (with apologies to Professor Sugata Mitra), is designed for course designers to map out their courses to ensure the curriculum is balanced, well-constructed and aligned. It also represents, I believe, an accurate picture of all of the facets of learning that a student should experience for that rounded education we purport to offer. Written on the assumption that courses reflect well-crafted intended learning outcomes across multiple domains of learning, the SOLE Model comes with an open Excel toolkit to support that process. The poster was a visual mapping of the SOLE Model against online and face-to-face spaces (and associated technologies), and the different student support roles that were required.

The details of the SOLE Model are available elsewhere, so I do not think it necessary to unpack it here. Suffice it to say, there are none elements that students need to have addressed in any course design, to varying degrees depending on discipline and level, but all are required. These are illustrated here;

SOLE Model:simple overview
SOLE Model: simple overview

Different spaces, different solutions

Traditional campus-based teaching has undergone a quiet revolution in recent years. Libraries have been at the forefront of developing social spaces, community forums, shared-working clusters, study pods and any manner of imaginative configurations. These designs have been a response to the belief that students want, and expect, to learn socially. Alongside this, there has been a steady number of lecture theatre refits that see u-shaped, parliamentary style, seating configurations rather than straight theatre styles. Seminars rooms are more likely to have reconfigurable desks, chairs on wheels, and writable walls. This has been in the belief that students learn better in cooperation with others rather than being 'lectured at'. My visualisation against the SOLE Model was about identifying the different types of spaces that support different forms of learning. It was designed to stimulate conversation at my institution about a ‘learning spaces’ strategy. Illustrated below, you can see that I used the SOLE Model to structure this classification of spaces. It is in no way presented as a 'complete' list of anything. It is merely a starting point.

Visualisation of the SOLE model mapping spaces
Visualisation of the SOLE model mapping spaces

Different roles

What is significant is that in thinking about the changing nature of learning spaces in the face-to-face world and the online environment, seen through the prism of the SOLE Model, it also became apparent that the same thing could be done with respect to those that support learners. Again, the SOLE Model was used to articulate a range of 'traditional' academic roles in their face-to-face context, mapped against each element of the Model, and this was then extended to the online world.

Visualisation of the SOLE model mapped to faculty roles
Visualisation of the SOLE model mapped to faculty roles

 

I would hope that some fairly apparent conclusions can be drawn from this exercise. The first is that in many institutions, the academic role is incredibly diverse. An individual academic may be course material author, lecturer, seminar lead, supervisor, pastoral carer, coach, marker and personal tutor. In other institutions some of these roles are subdivided and delegated, academics concern themselves primarily to inform-connect-engage, leaving others to assess-feedback. Yet others have groups of staff who support students to collaborate-contextualise-personalise and reflect.

The second thing that becomes evident is that the transition from any face-to-face role into its online substitute (and I carefully avoid the word ‘equivalent’ here) requires a whole range of particular skills to be developed. Going from producing your own in-class PowerPoints with no real concern about the ownership of images grabbed from Google to being a digital curator is for most a steep learning curve. There is no direct equivalency between running a face-to-face seminar from moderating a discussion forum, or between running an in-class role-play scenario and attempting to do the same online over the course of a week.

Yes, they are both teaching. There are still learners, and there is an established curriculum. But there is no smell of the musty curtains or the face paint. There is no bustling of the audience or the adrenalin rush when the lights go up. We, as academic developers, are not just helping people to ‘get their courses online’, we are helping them to redefine what it means to be a contemporary, agile, flexible and multifaceted academic.

If I see another VC or Pro-VC demand that their faculty, ‘just adjust’ and ‘get their courses online’, heckling from above, I am likely, Lord help me, lose it and storm the Royal Box.

You are not alone! If you are faced with putting an existing course online for the first time, see it as an opportunity to refine it, invigorate it, enhance the experience offered to your students. If it's a new online course there is all the more reason to make sure it's as good as it can be. This short video (5'30") suggests two partnerships you may want to factor into your design and development process, peers and students. Your peers will doubtless have ideas that can supplement yours, so now is not the time to 'practice the dark arts behind closed doors'. On the contrary, your online courses are likely to be more open for critique than most other forms of teaching and learner support. Embrace it. The second partnership worth forging is that with your existing or previous students (alumni). Both cohorts will be able to ensure your teaching materials, course structure and sequence, are pitched at the right level and will tell you if they are stimulating and meaningful.

#highered #learningdesign #id These resources from 2013-2017 are being shared to support colleagues new to teaching online in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic. Consultancy for International Higher Education from Simon Paul Atkinson

'Dyslexia: a guide for tutors' was originally developed in 2013 in the context of the UK. It's a relatively long online lecture but it has some fairly simple message. Dyslexia is not a disease or a mental illness, it is a different way of seeing the world. This presentation invites colleagues to think about dyslexia, and its associated concerns, in the light of 'multiple intelligences' and look for the opportunity to meet the needs of dyslexic students by enhancing the way they do everything to support all learners. I am not a dyslexia expert, this presentation has no diagnostic function. It is simply one practitioner's view of good practice in being inclusive.

These resources from 2013-2017 are being shared to support colleagues new to teaching online in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic.

 

This brief presentation (6'15") introduces some themes around guiding and motivating students online. These different facets are mentioned; being clear in instructions, avoid confusion, modelling behaviours, motivating, congratulating, anticipating motivational hurdles. This presentation was the basis for online webinar discussions with educators. It will hopefully prompt you to check your own practices against these fundamental principles.

These resources from 2013-2017 are being shared to support colleagues new to teaching online in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic. Consultancy for International Higher Education from Simon Paul Atkinson

As so many new faculty are being compelled to teach online for the first time, many heads of department, quality assurance colleagues and academic developers are unprepared for the support the needs of faculty. Developmental peer observation is a frequently used approach to provide a reflection on an individual's practise. Most of us will be familiar with Peer Observation in a classroom context, here is documentation that supports the process in the online world.

This is a brief walkthrough of the documentation designed to provide supportive peer observation online. The documentation, available as an unrestricted Microsoft Word document (see below), can be amended to your context. It is designed for developmental, rather than managerial, observations but could be easily adapted to serve both purposes. It follows a three-stage process, pre-observation, observation, and post-observation templates are provided.

Word Document: Peer Observation Online

These resources from 2013-2017 are being shared to support colleagues new to teaching online in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic.

 

 

This online lecture, first delivered as part of a UK University PGCert for educators, reviews the concepts of pedagogy and andragogy before going on to examine the applicability of Mezirow's transformative learning theory to professional education. It also identifies Paulo Friere and bell hooks as radical thinkers in education worthy of note. Please note that this lecture was originally intended to be supplemented with a synchronous webinar and additional readings.

These resources from 2013-2017 are being shared to support colleagues new to teaching online in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

 

Some quick tips on how to engage students and manage your interventions in online discussion forums. Faculty unfamiliar with supporting learners online sometimes create a huge workload for themselves by poorly structuring discussions. They may also perceive their role to answer each and every posting, which is impossible when teaching at scale. This short video is designed to at least guide you to set up your discussions appropriately.

These resources from 2013-2017 are being shared to support colleagues new to teaching online in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic.

This six-minute screencast (6'06") is a top-level set of guidelines for developing effective teaching materials. For some, it may feel like going over well-worn ground, for others it may provide pause for thought. Rationalising what constitutes learning materials seems superficially straight-forward but when one considers the different institutional interpretations of what represents 'direct' learning versus 'delf-directed' learning it soon becomes apparent that judgement is needed even here.

These resources from 2013-2017 are being shared to support colleagues new to teaching online in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic.

This ten-minute video (10'17") is a series of screen captures from live synchronous webinars taught using Adobe Connect (2015). It is annotated to give you some sense of how to manage interactivity, manage your tone, reflect on the importance of personal presence and to make use of the visual nature of the webinar interface. These examples are taken from a postgraduate teaching qualification but the 'content' is irrelevant. While it is not intended to be a blow-by-blow explanation of how to construct your webinars, once you have access to a webinar room, Connect, Collaborate or other solution, this might give you some ideas as to how you could adapt your teaching practice for this form of synchronous distance teaching. #highered #teaching #webinars

These resources from 2013-2017 are being shared to support colleagues new to teaching online in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Short vodcast (3'25") outlining four dimensions to the choices of media that IDs and academic faculty might consider as they make selections to support student learning. Originally a vodcast to accompany internal development it is long enough to provoke some reflective practice, short enough not to waste your time! It invites educational practitioners to think about how they solicit participation from students through media choice. #edtech #teaching #highered

These resources from 2013-2017 are being shared to support colleagues new to teaching online in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic.

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