I attended a brilliant seminar* given by @digisim (Simon Thomson) last week on Flipped Learning hosted by the University of Sussex’s Technology Enhanced Learning division. Under his guidance the group explored many different themes. The one that resonated for me most was tension between teaching and research within Higher Education.
Here are my thoughts on a model to integrate practices traditionally associated with teaching and others traditionally associated with research with a heavy chunk of thinking on flipped learning and open education. Instead of a stark distinction of teaching | research, I’ve chosen to organise inputs, effects and outputs around two important activities: Inform & Impact. These came out strongly in Simon’s seminar and I am indebted to him for the inspiration and guidance. More wordy stuff and explanation below.
There will be other posts to come from me on the process of change and adoption of digital media in teaching and I’ll link to them as they are published. Right now, having worked in HE for years I know the emphases on research vs teaching can be a major barrier to improving student learning experiences AND individual academics cannot surmount them alone. With tuition fees in the UK now higher than ever and increasing competition to attract students, quality of teaching matters.
According to Simon and contrary to popular belief, undergraduate students alone account for a significant chunk of revenue for most UK universities. Quality of teaching is not a fluffy ideal for a better educated future (though I passionately believe this is important): in a market of increasingly savvy student customers, it directly impacts the bottom line.
Many institutions are seriously busy with figuring out how they can use new technologies (mobile, online digital content, digital / social platforms) to improve teaching practice and meet student expectations. While the digital tech available is impressive and useful, it is bugger all use without really good teaching practice and well structured adoption planning. I have long believed this (in fact, this is the basis of my consultancy work in communication and change management in any sector) and am glad there are plenty of other people saying the same thing.
My thinking is that if both teaching & research can benefit, as well as both students and academics then that is change worth working for! The above diagram charts my thoughts on how it might work and is a conversation starter , not a recipe! Simon is developing tools to explore the teaching and tech side in more detail (e.g. the Four E framework) and I’m excited to see what transpires at the University of Sussex as they develop their technology enhanced learning service.
If anyone has any thoughts to share please do, I’d be fascinated to hear them including if you want to tell me I have it all completely wrong ;-)
*he'd prefer it be labelled a conversation, and if you follow the link at the beginning on flipped classroom / learning you'll understand why ...