|Screenshot from my Google music app.|
Since lockdown my usual gym trip in the mornings has been replaced by time spent on my exercise bike in the back garden listening to my music and making the most of the warm weather. My playlists have often thrown up some very apposite songs which have framed my reflections on work. This coming week I have been invited to contribute to a panel discussion hosted by SEDA (Staff and Educational Development Association) and as I will have just 5 minutes I have decided to put further detail here for anyone wishing to follow up on my thoughts, which will be particularly drawing on my experience as a language educator.
Firstly to frame my contribution please read the executive summary of this report. It is prefaced by this statement from Nick Hillman, Director of HEPI (Higher Education Policy Institute) regarding why we need to direct greater attention to language learning in the UK because:
"the decline in Languages is so great and because there is so much uncertainty about the UK’s future place in the world."
Many of us working in languages have seen the challenges coming over many years and have been pushing for greater recognition of the demands that come with the contextual shift happening in our domain of intercultural communications. Covid19 has brought this into sharper focus, revealing the capacity gap for leadership in effective online language learning and teaching in HEIs. It is not all bad news though - there are many opportunities ahead.
CALL (Computer-assisted language learning) and CMC (computer-mediated communication) have a good deal of literature to support professional development. The rise in virtual exchange, backed by research and financial support from the European Commission, offers skills development which empowers educators and a range of activities for students unable to travel due to the current crisis. This learning is being shared across disciplines through a new academic organisation, UNICollaboration.
When learning design is applied to the "new normal" of online or blended learning it is necessary to return to first principles and re-examine what you do with your students, why and how you do it. If you are spending your summer figuring this out, I suggest starting as a student - join a mooc . Establish your own professional online identity to reduce the psychological distance that is now part of how we must live and work. An important part of this preparation includes understanding copyright and ownership of your intellectual property. The Association for Learning Technology have brought together a great set of resources to help you.
Creating interesting and inspiring digital learning materials which will enthuse your learners may well include some advanced produsage. It will certainly require critical digital literacies in order to ask difficult questions of your academic technologists and question the institutional status quo. You may wish to consider working as an open educational practitioner.
This video illustrates the size of the challenge. Time now brings a new context to this recording which includes a section about Brazil's leadership in this area before Bolsonaro.
Take a look at your own learning, explore heutagogy and reflect on the opportunities that the digital domain and open educational practice offer to you and your students. This could be a summer of transformation.