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  • Writer's pictureMs Willbaforce

It ain’t what you do it’s the way that you do it!

Updated: Jul 23, 2020

Personal development is one of the key priorities in academia with the aim of helping academics to manage their own learning and growth throughout their career. Ultimately this enhances their practice and helps to keep atop of the latest developments in their field - Digital pedagogy is now high on the list.

Zoom, MS Teams, Skype, Bongo, Blackboard Collaborate Ultra and Wherby et al are some of the virtual spaces that we can use to teach online and in general are pretty much the same e.g. a camera with shared screens, a microphone, a chat feature, presentation facility (pretty standard stuff) and if you are lucky features that enables one to record sessions, screen share, add breakout rooms, share a whiteboard and utilisation of hands up functionality.

When academic faculties were confined to digital classrooms from the onset of CV19 lecturers worldwide raced to put out the raging fires stoked from converting analogue course content to digital course content. Now those fires have been subdued or have they?

With good reason many of the academic faculties I work with have completed assessments and getting ready to take a well deserved break over the Summer. Some institutions will return to traditional academic calendars whilst others are delaying the beginning of the new Autumn term by a month, a wise decision by my account as this will give staff a chance to rest and recuperate.

Additionally, the delayed return will give staff a chance to plan and prepare for the forthcoming new term whereby blended and hybrid learning will most likely become adapted methods of teaching.

Many academics I have worked with admit they have little or limited experience of teaching online and incorporating digital tools. Covid 19 has pushed their hands and whilst many were successful in putting out the fires at the beginning of the pandemic throughout March and June 2020 we now have to ensure we don’t create a ‘backdraft’ by reigniting those flames by being unprepared.

Going back to the same methods of practice and not introducing tangible methods of online teaching practice academics may expose themselves to a catastrophic explosion, a ‘backdraft’.

How do we ensure that we refresh our practice? We need to examine, discuss, and investigate freely and openly previous methods that were put in place and give academics and more importantly students a chance to breathe.

Most recently discussions have been underway with some of the academics one works with, however, the added benefit of giving staff the chance to rest and recoup over the summer allows us to find a place of ‘restoration and renewal’ as college professor John Spencer highlights in his podcast

More so than ever wellbeing has fast become one of the key areas for employers to focus on. It is not the buzzword that some would like to think it is and “personal development helps to create a workplace culture devoted to helping employees thrive in all areas of their lives” as executive wellness coach and consultant Naz Beshesti highlights in her article about wellness.

My interests lie in outlining the benefits of inducting academics at the beginning of their employ along with subsequent updates within their career span. Could more informed training in digital practices enhance digital pedagogy? Time will tell, I will be updating the blog on my experiences and I will share some case studies.

Ms Willbaforce

Photo by Markus Spiske on Unsplash

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