Preparing to blend
Planning for teaching in 2020-21 is challenging with so many (known) unknowns. However, there are a few things we do know we need to consider, whatever the impact of social distancing is on campus access.
Inclusivity in a digital learning context has a different focus to inclusivity in other UAL contexts. It relates to students’ differing circumstances in terms of access to digital devices and internet connectivity. But also, more broadly to students’ circumstances in terms of suitable study spaces, potential caring responsibilities and so on.
Our approach for Summer Term was strongly influenced by a need for inclusive online teaching to ensure all students were able to continue their studies. For example, the emphasis on low bandwidth and asynchronous learning activities. Inclusive approaches that meet the needs of all students must always be a cornerstone for online learning activities.
Building a strong community is essential within courses and more broadly across the College. This is more challenging, but still achievable, online.
For the Summer Term we had the advantage that there was already a sense of community, as staff and students had been studying together for 7-months. While this will still be the case for returning students, developing a sense of community and connectedness amongst first-year undergraduates and new PG students will be essential.
The induction process and some level of access to campus will play an important role here but courses will also need to include online activities that build a sense of community.
Asynchronous & Synchronous Learning Activities
Central to the teaching approach for Summer Term was consideration of the balance of asynchronous and synchronous teaching activities.
The technological challenges faced by many students, alongside the difficulties of studying from home during the pandemic, led to a recommendation to focus heavily on lower bandwidth and asynchronous activities over synchronous activities, particularly those involving video.
Both modes have strengths and weaknesses; both will need to be utilised in 2020-21 to continue to support an inclusive approach.
Digital accessibility relates to websites, digital platforms, videos and electronic documents. Digital content is accessible if it can be accessed, navigated and understood by everyone.
Digital accessibility is sometimes referred to as universal design, which means designing content and services so they can be used by everyone, including people using assistive technologies.
Assistive technologies are tools that help people work more effectively. For example, screen-reading software that converts text to audio.
- Further Reading: Creating Accessible Documents (Canvas)
Guidance and Support
We will be providing staff with guidance on how best to plan for 2020-21 over the coming weeks and months. For now:
- The existing resources created for Summer Term available on Teaching Online are all still relevant
- The RASE framework is a useful tool for thinking about online teaching.
- A college staff development offer is being planned for July. This will include an asynchronous online course for staff with a focus on digital pedagogy and the topics highlighted above.
- This LCC Teaching Hub and the Teaching @ LCC Microsoft Team will continue to be used to share ideas, current practice and up-to-date information.
- UAL are also running events including a practice-sharing event at the end of the month: Extra-ordinary Conversations. Further UAL online training sessions for the digital learning platforms and digital pedagogy will be available in September.
- The existing LCC Digital Learning staff will be available throughout the summer and in the run-up to the start of term for additional support and guidance.