I’ve been a technologist for more than 20 years now. Although my brain is definitely slower to pick up new technologies now the one thing I do bring to my role is experience. Most often that not, I’ve seen a similar tool or a similar issue or a similar time. What we are currently facing is new, to all of us, but we aren’t starting from scratch – we do have experience to fall back on.
We’ve got a page with advice on teaching continuity at the University of Edinburgh which talks you through the tools and services we recommend staff use going forward. Why are we making these recommendations and why do we provide these tools? Here are my thoughts:
- It is important, at times like this, when our abilities to work and study may be impaired by illness, a requirement to care for others or for any other number of reasons, that we keep things simple! The advice we are giving points you towards the easiest methods to continue your teaching during what may come to be a very trying time. We’ve all heard the expression, ‘Perfect is the enemy of good’ – I won’t go into the details of where it came from but it makes an important point. This is not the time to be perfect.
- Use the tools we recommend. No tool is perfect – it may look like there are better tools out there but my experience has shown that it’s likely you’ll adopt a new tool and realise it’s good for somethings and less good for others. We’ve done the work to ensure that the tool is the best fit across the board, that we are safe to share the personal data of students and staff with the tool providers – working with our lawyers & our excellent information security team to ensure GDPR compliance. We’ve done the work to ensure these tools are integrated with our VLE so they are easier for you to use. We support the tools and so if you run into problems, there will always be someone available to help.
It is hard to predict the future just now, we are all second guessing what may happen. I, personally, think it’s likely that synchronous sessions will become less tenable as time ticks on – with international students returning home to different time-zones and staff and students requiring to care for their children or other members of the family. I may be wrong but that’s why we’ve provided a range of suggestions.
I’ve taken inspiration from a number of twitter conversations and blog posts over the past week, two excellent reads on this same subject are:
- Please do a bad job of putting your courses online [Rebecca Barrett-Fox, Assistant Professor of Sociology , Arkansas State University]
- A super useful Twitter thread by Melanie Stefan [Lecturer at Edinburgh Medical School: Biomedical Sciences]
A few other thoughts:
- The library has an excellent collection of existing electronic resources – eBooks, eJournals, relevant databases. Start pushing students towards these.
- We have access to other excellent digital resources such as LinkedIn Learning, Box Of Broadcasts and a large collection of pre-made but openly-licensed materials on Open.Ed. You may find some gems in there!!
We’ll be adding advice about our suggested alternatives to exams going forward and training for the tools we are recommending, so keeping watching the teaching continuity web page!
The important thing just now is to look after ourselves and to support and help each other!