Saturday, March 14, 2020

Planning to move teaching online (suddenly)

So it seems that we will be moving to distance learning, not the baby steps that we've been taking (in many iterations) over the last 23 years, but suddenly, all at once. A whole moderately large, very traditional University, with no time to plan, switching to distance learning... Exciting times!

Being a University, nothing can happen without a committee being formed, so naturally there's a committee, but I'm not involved in that. 

However, I have been working with learning technology for around 30 years and the vast majority of the almost £500k grant income I've had in my career has been related to on-line and distance learning. I've also got a degree from the Open University, so I've got a bit of relevant experience from the student perspective. Oh, and I also helped facilitate a cMOOC once, and have done a lot of distance collaboration as a member of IMS working groups. So, although I'm not an expert in suddenly switching a university to distance learning, and not really an expert on distance learning, maybe my background means that I can provide some useful insights and hints.  

It seems to me that there are probably going to be two distinct phases to this on-line experience - the first, starting on Monday for the University of Glasgow, will be largely unprepared. The second will start with the new academic year in September, by which time there will be quite a bit of preparation done. I hope that preparation will include providing teachers with some training and technology to make it easier to teach from home.

One of the things I have been doing this year is working on a proposal for a digital skills course for academic and support staff. A feature of this course is going to be that it focuses on using free and open source software to do things well enough, rather than using expensive professional software to do things to a media professional standard.  Events in the world have rather overtaken me now, and this up-skilling is probably needed right now rather than in six months time.What I'm thinking now, is that I should just start writing this course, making bits available as I complete them.

What I don't know is what's to do first. I was expecting my course to go from basic image creation and editing, through audio recording and editing and ending up with video editing, with accessibility and web publishing being themes running through it. However, while that order makes logical sense as a course, it probably isn't addressing immediate needs.

So, teaching staff, University of Glasgow or elsewhere, is there any tutorial that you would like provided, to help you do your teaching online next week? Please let me know in the comments. The sorts of things I could cover include anything that will be in my digital skills course, or using specific features of Moodle.

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