Below are my brief notes from day one – I will post a more reflective post at the end of day two.

Chair’s Welcome Address – Professor Suzanne Cholerton. Pro Vice Chancellor – Education. Newcastle University

Top Tips for Maintaining Teaching Excellence and Ensuring Quality in Blended Learning
Professor Neil Morris. Interim Deputy Vice-Chancellor: Digital Transformation. University of Leeds

Lessons learnt at Leeds University: Problems of digital education generally – Digital exclusion, Inequality, technostress, technocentric, Digital lliteracy. Problems at Leeds uni: main area that was lacking -Virtual Laboratories, . New institutional strategy is labelled a Hybrid delivery (Student Centred Active Learning Approach – SCALA): Student centred: supportive
Active Learning: Cognitively involved students, engaged in diverse media
Digital Practice at Leeds:
Teaching and learning online
Accessible and inclusive learning
Delivery in virtual classroom
Student facing study support advise
Training and development
Online student support: Getting started (induction, preparing to learn) Comprehensive guidance.
Summing up: Fully embedded the SCALA approach, Focus on inclusive, engaging learning, Authentic assessment, Flexible approach

Delivering Blended Learning on a Socially Distanced Campus
Miranda Harmer, Chair Student Network for the Association of European Conservatoires. Ramy Badrie, Vice President – Education, University of Brighton Students’ Union. Maisha Islam, Student Engagement Research and Project Officer University of Winchester

Importance of universities consulting with students on efforts to create socially distanced campuses. Open dialogue, live feedback, what are the priorities. Don’t over promise. What do students want? Interactivity – need to move teaching online to free up space for those who need it on campus.
Digital poverty (elephant in the room) – Institutions need to become creative to address this – most affects BAME students
Truly connected campus –
Needs of all students are considered, including students with disabilities, students with religious and cultural needs and students with health concerns. Challenges faced by diverse student bodies. BAME students – experiences compounded vulnerabilities (more like to live at home or intergenerational household, digital poverty, overcrowded house holds, racial harassment, lack of belonging to university spaces, imposter syndrome/culture shock)
Barriers to understanding student needs (‘satisfied settling’) – ‘keeping tour head down’ and accommodating to the norms.
Unis should be conducting their own research..
Universities can ensure they are creating safe spaces where students feel connected to their classmates and a sense of belonging. Students experiencing lack of human interaction….causing anxiety and isolation. Synchronous session provide interactivity. PBL, group work. Safe spaces (lack of personalisation, Noninclusive languge, camera mics rules, students being segregated
Ways to ensure safe spaces – personalisation 3 Cs – code of conduct micro affirmations (active listening, recognising and validating experiences, affirming emotional resources)
Unsafe learning environment – very import to address for inclusion and motivation

What does the Future Hold for Online and Blended Learning Post Covid-19?
Dr Harriet Dunbar-Morris, Dean of Teaching and Learning, Reader in Higher Education,University of Portsmouth. Paul Driver, Senior Learning Technologist Anglia Ruskin University. Dr Andrew Turner, Associate Pro Vice Chancellor (Teaching and Learning), Coventry University. Professor Danielle George Associate Vice-President for Blended and Flexible Learning University of Manchester

Portsmouth Uni: Blended and connected approach included peer to peer support. Develop principles of bended learning that was pedagogically led and included inclusive learning. Support for staff via websites on elearning tool and an eLearning festival. Variety of training events led by academic developers and learning technologists. Built on excellent existing practice, Incorporated existing ‘content (lecture) capture pilot project, flipped classroom and ABC model. Moodle template was developed and promoted plus other tools such as Nearpod and Padlet.

Anglia Ruskin Uni: Resisted purchasing new technologies and looked at technologies that were being underutilised. Things that were working well were ‘simplicity and consistency’ were being utilised – plentiful meaningful communication. Created a series of workshops making sure things were ‘structured, accessible and engaging’ – led to new faculty template. Thus making the VLE more active (embedding VR simulations) Tug of war between creativity and consistency.

Coventry Uni. Accelerated existing plans. Edtech ecosystem. Accelerated their Aula project – moved all teaching from Moodle to Aula. Which is a platform that ‘’focusses on student engagement’. Used learning designers to do this. Based on 4 key principles of Hybrid delivery (Active, Applied, Social, Inclusive). Feedback: ‘2.5 more engagement on Aula compared to Moodle’. Good student satisfaction feedback so far this semester.

Manchester Uni. Created lots of ‘How to’ guides, getting started, assessment, etc. This semester involved many students in co-creation of courses. Created a staff Yammer group on online learning which is subject specific. Use Bb, Collaborate, Zoom, MS Teams, Nearpod, Padlet. Major challenges – 1. practical lab based courses. 2. Assessments – engaged in remote proctoring. Created CoP’s too which includes a mixture of academic, PS and IT.

Assistive Technologies: Embedding Inclusion into the Delivery of Online Learning
Dr Tim Coughlan, Senior Lecturer, Institute of Educational Technology Open University.

Blended learning is the new ‘normal’. This year sees new accessibility legislation.
What is accessible online learning? Learning can access materials and activities but also has to be equitable? Barriers often created by society and institutions. Following guidelines and standards are essential. Automated checking tools are important (BB Ally) dont give the whole picture (diversity of learners)
How can it be achieved? Accessibility is a process between a person and a resources – not a tick box exercise. Need to be proactive – when designing courses and acknowledge the diversity of learners. Process of improvement is embedded in the legislation, in course design, student testing, responsive judgements, and collaborative effort (academics, library, student groups).
OU Approach – Securing greater accessibility (SeGA) – champions/ knowledge sharing events/groups dealing with improvements and consistency.
Assistive technology e.g.’s 1. Screen reader – spoken version of content for students with visual impairments. 2. Speech recognition.
Challenges and opportunities: Getting students started – students get behind and hard for them to catch up. Processes for getting support are a major issue for students in unis. Impacts causing stress or exacerbate mental health. What can we do? One solution – Virtual assistants. Peer and collaborative activities cause issues. How do we make these inclusive? Need to build collaborative skills into the activities. Students feel isolated – engage students in participatory research is one solution

Health, Safety and Wellbeing: Supporting Staff in the “New Normal”
Dr Sally Jackson, Chief People Officer,Sheffield Hallam University

Ran a short staff survey in May and a second one in October at SH.
Key learning from lockdown:
• Strong leadership is essential
• Communication is key
• Shared experience makes us stronger
• Partnership with TUs is essential
Plus supporting the vulnerable, recognising the blurring of boundaries eg home/work
Supporting people:
Risk assessment essential. More personalised response (focus on the individual). Recognised the importance of physical and mental well being. Running network events. Winter wellbeing plan, pro-active signposting to support services – NHS providers/ employees assistance programme
Providing essentials:
Dedicated website – on online deals, Equipment for staff, ongoing support on Teams/webex/Zoom. Access to campus – bookable rooms.
Preparing campus: Inclusive as possible – govt. guidance
Student triangle of support: Employability, academic, student support advisors.
Further work undertaken at SH: Flexible approach for staff (flexible working), greater emphasis on equality, diversity and inclusion,
Lesson learnt:
• Good communications is key – clear and consistent
• Importance of health and well being – need invest in both
• Skills development – ever changing edtech tools must be underpinned by learning ‘how’
• Guidance and support
• Flexibility and ability to change direction
• Show appreciation!