DIGIFEST 2021

Shaping the future of education and learning

An event report by Debbie Holley, National Teaching fellow and PFHEA

Panel: Cameron Mirza Chief of Party for IREX (Jordan) top left, Debbie Holley, Professor of Learning Innovation, Faculty of Health and Social Sciences, Bournemouth University (top right). Jess Moore, Senior Digital and Content Editor, Jisc (host) bottom left, and Sarah Jones, Deputy Dean in the Faculty of Computing, Engineering and Media at De Montfort University.

New Year, New Lockdown.

This week the Office of National Statistics (ONS) reported that 37 per cent of students report being dissatisfied or very dissatisfied with their academic experience, compared with 29 per cent reporting the same at the end of November 2020. And a statistically significantly higher number (63 per cent) of students reported a worsening in their wellbeing and mental health, compared with 57 per cent reporting the same in the previous survey. In this new report, Jisc and Emerge Education outline the need for a fundamental realignment of the ways in which mental health and wellbeing are approached and look at the role of technology can play.

Against this rather gloomy background, our panel met to talk about shaping education of the future, as part of the series of vodcasts Jisc are creating to highlight the importance and significance of DIGIFEST 2021. We started talking about our students – and complimenting them for their resilience, tenacity and dedication. We could each articulate examples of students sitting on the stairs in the family home, with earphones and mobile phones, trying to catch a class as younger siblings needed the home tablet for

their schooling; for walking to a public wifi hotspot to access more robust internet connections, and, indeed, 39% have travelled back to rented accommodation to have a better study environment.

Our first conclusion: never assume. Internet access, access to devices of their own, access to their own study space in family homes

Staff implications?

We had a wide range discussion about our new roles – we too need to be agile and flexible, and be a subject expert, researcher and IT savvy in the new digital world. We all need to work together to create a safe and secure and supportive learning environment online, and it is unlikely the ‘lone’ academic will be able to achieve all of this on their own. Thus different team structures, skills and support from our professional colleagues are essential. We discussed rapid transitions is assessment design; and reflected on the usual pace of policy development in Universities. Bite sized learning, credit transfer and accumulation, understanding pedagogies such as hybrid learning and hyflex are key agenda items. These will underpin the lasting benefits of emerging new learning models the sector is adopting.

Our second conclusion: Universities are already starting to business reengineer their processes, and this work should continue through to considering the ‘student experience of the future’; the panel see these changes are essential in an area of very rapid HE policy change.

What are the challenges?

BIG unanswered question – what about the knowledge gaps with a generation of school students being home schooled, and inequalities? Need big investment and a national strategy to ensure parity and catch up; and Universities are key component between schools and employers, influencers in local communities, can implement strategic visions to build capacity and community.

Mental health and the continuum to mental illness – strategies to intervene early, intervene well, and at scale – the evidence suggests a need for a blend of digital and ‘real life’ professionals offering talking therapies. Simply pushing students towards an array of ‘self-help apps’ is not sufficient. We thought that good mental health policy was a political issue, nationally, regionally and institutionally, and welcomed the recent Government funding announcement allocating £20.million for student mental health and wellbeing.

Graduate employability is proving to be challenging for students and Universities. Data from the 2021 UK graduate market survey has graduate recruitment down by 15%. Graduate recruitment has fallen in 13 out of the 15 most sought-after industries and 50% of he UKs leading employers have reduced their graduate recruitment budget.

Our third conclusion: the sector faces a series of challenges, and we need to co-operate for successful scaling up and moving forward. Technology and the confidence about when to use (and when to step away) is crucial for shaping the future of education.

What are we hoping for at DIGIFEST?

Sarah summarised our hopes for Digifest:

“My session is about preparing for future with immersive technology within education. I’m also really interested to learn from one of the Jisc sessions on the data around how students are experiencing

learning online. I think it’s really, really powerful to help us inform thinking going forward. Changing cultures is really important – how can leaders support our staff some of whom are really struggling, like everybody, with homeschooling and delivery and workloads and research. How can we support people?

I’m hoping that by taking time off for Digifest my mind will become immersed with these great ideas and things for us to all to consider making Higher Education better”

Debbie Holley, Cameron Mirza and Sarah Jones are members of the steering group supporting Jisc’s four-day digital event, Digifest 2021. Registrations are now open at https://www.jisc.ac.uk/events/digifest-08-mar-2021/tickets

Speaker biographies: Cameron Mirza (@cmirza1) Cameron is Chief of Party for IREX for USAID Pre-Service Teacher Education in Jordan.

Cameron recommends:

· High Fliers Research Limited: The Graduate Market in 2021 https://www.highfliers.co.uk/download/2021/graduate_market/GM21-Report.pdf

· Emerge education and Jisc (2020) employer-university collaboration https://www.jisc.ac.uk/reports/the-future-of-employer-university-collaboration Dr Sarah Jones: (@virtualsj) The Deputy Dean in the Faculty of Computing, Engineering and Media at De Montfort University. Her practice and research sits within emerging technologies and the development of immersive experiential films.

Sarah recommends:

· Brown, M., McCormack, M., Reeves, J., Brook, D.C., Grajek, S., Alexander, B., Bali, M., Bulger, S., Dark, S., Engelbert, N. and Gannon, K., 2020. 2020 Educause Horizon Report Teaching and Learning Edition (pp. 2-58). EDUCAUSE. https://library.educause.edu/-/media/files/library/2020/3/2020_horizon_report_pdf.pdf

· Jisc (2020) The hyflex plus university: teaching and learning reimagined. https://www.jisc.ac.uk/learning-and-teaching-reimagined/the-hyflex-plus-university Debbie Holley: (@debbieholley1) Professor of Learning Innovation in the Faculty of Health and Social Sciences, and expert in blending learning, student centred learning and informal learning.

Debbie recommends:

· Kukulska-Hulme, A., Bossu, C., Coughlan, T., Ferguson, R., FitzGerald, E., Gaved, M., Herodotou, C., Rienties, B., Sargent, J., Scanlon, E., Tang, J., Wang, Q., Whitelock, D., Zhang, S. (2021). Innovating Pedagogy 2021: Open University Innovation Report 9. Milton Keynes: The Open University. Innovating Pedagogy 2021 – iet.open.ac.uk

· Cohen, A., Nørgård, R.T. and Mor, Y., 2020. Hybrid learning spaces––Design, data, didactics. https://bera-journals.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1111/bjet.12964

Jess Moore (@Jisc) Senior Digital and Content Editor

Jess recommends:

· Jisc and Emerge Education (2021) Student and Staff Wellbeing: From fixes to foresight: Insights for universities and startups. https://www.jisc.ac.uk/reports/student-and-staff-wellbeing-in-higher-education

Aspiring NTF event: New year, New network

Enhance your networking to promote your public profile

This workshop is for those considering applying for the National Teaching Fellowship (NTF) Scheme in 2022 or beyond, and will offer information about the scheme that will help you consider any future application that you may want to make.

In addition to this, we will offer  insights and thoughts from an interdisciplinary panel about using your existing networks, and targeting and reaching out to new networks as you build your NTF profile.

We ran a session about successful networking for impact at the Association of National Teaching Fellows symposium last year and will build upon this work. But how to get started, to move from your existing internal operational networks that enable you to get you work done, to personal networks?  Networks are built upon a reciprocal two way relationship with real people, says Prof Sally Brown. Harvard Business Review add an additional level – strategic networking  for linking up with, and creating, your role as an opinion leader. 

Facilitated by Professor Debbie Holley (NTF 2014) on behalf of AdvanceHE/The Association of National Teaching Fellows (ANTF)

Booking is open here: https://www.advance-he.ac.uk/awards/teaching-excellence-awards/national-teaching-fellowship#NTFS-Roadshows

Report on Third Webinar with ANTF “Tips for a successful application”

Many thanks to the panel: top left, Dan Amin, AdvanceHE;  Debbie Holley (NTF and facilitator) middle row Andrew Middleton (NTF) and Caroline Coles (NTF and Chair ANTF), lower picture Karen Hustler, Academic Development Officer, AdvanceHE. Thanks to Leonie Brown (not pictured) for the technical support.

Our final event in the series supporting aspiring National Teaching Fellows had a festive feel as the panel got in the December mood. Focusing on polishing final applications, and thinking about those all important institutional statements, the role of the Institutional contact; and of course more about how our panel NTFs ‘got theirs’ which have formed a part of this years’ online roadshows.

Andrew Middleton, Deputy Head of Anglia Learning and Teaching has developed an NTF ‘pipeline’ at Anglia Ruskin University, and as well as sharing his personal journey, he reflected on how some potential NTFs had to be ‘tapped on the shoulder’ as they really had no idea how fabulous their teaching was! In terms of   writing up of the three criteria, he recommends identifying your narrative; the use of plain English, and considering the evidence to be included in terms or reach, value and impact.

Caroline Coles is the Chair of the Association of National Teaching Fellows, and spoke about her journey from international retail, into law and then academic, and how to frame transferable skill sets in terms of a compelling NTF narrative. Caroline led the panel discussions about how to create opportunities to share and develop impact.

Karen Hustler and Dan Amin led the section on the actual judging process, and ran through how scoring works, the role of reviewers, and how important it was to submit all of the documentation required. Karen outlined ways in which AdvanceHe can support all of us on our journeys, and highlighted the current call for case studies, papers and presentations for different events:

Current calls:

http://link.advance-he.ac.uk/m/1/25291641/p1-b20339-98517bb3a499474fa0e0a454c0558f22/4/156/391bc5e8-aa69-41a3-a00c-b1b271f381fd

Our recording of the webinar:
https://advance-he.zoom.us/rec/share/6lZYwUmxUiQYKCaNFz2JydwiRXyHrKKvi-3zoIXZvCVSMf_FZUWkaj9L0L8M-uXU.IQSXVDL2dtW_KgzM Passcode: ut8&rN9W

@advanceHE @NTF_tweet @colesntf @andrewmid @debbieholley1

The ANTF committee and Advance HE colleagues wish all potential applicants every success, a peaceful Christmas, and a Happy 2021

Debbie Holley: Events co-ordinator and ANTF/AdvanceHE Roadshow facilitator.