Notes for a Friday [2]

Three bits of news and content that caught my eye this week:

Accreditation and lifelong learning

A new post from at on the relations between accreditation, digital education and lifelong learning. The post is mainly concerned with access to education and social mobility in the context of Covid and so makes the case for a diversification away from the standard 3-4 year degree started at about 18 years old, straight from school and likely away from the family home town. More flexible option for experiencing lifelong learning should reflect the increasing flexibility and complexity of likely employment and career paths for potential students where skils and knowledge need to be developed and redeveloped at different phases of an individuals life. What is particularly useful here is that the post identifies the limited adaptation of pedagogical practices in universities to reflect the increased use of digital approaches – where academics seek to replicate traditional lecture and tutorial models in online environments without questioning whether these are the best, most effective, approaches.

Secondly, the post recognises the importance of credentials and the legitimisation of any new forms of credentials – something digital badges never seemed to manage. The recognition of newer forms of credentials seems to me to be key if higher education is to make an effective impact on people’s lived experiences in ‘new normal’ scenario.

Learning and Teaching Reimagined

The new JISC report, “Learning & Teaching Reimagined” looks to be very disappointing. It seems to take an instrumentalist view of what it calls Technology-Enhanced Learning. The report also takes a perspective firmly rooted in the notion that the digital is distinct from and must be in deficit to on-campus and face-to-face teaching. So the report ignores all the research on the quality and effectiveness of online teaching and the degree to which ‘the digital’ is already integrated into teaching practices regardless of mode. Also, why the reference to the widely debunked idea of ‘digital natives’?

Then, instead of reimagining learning and teaching, the recommendations are incredibly anodyne – periodically check student attitudes to online learning, improve staff digital skills, learning design is important, mental health and well-being may be an issue, etc … This is not reimagining teaching and learning in higher education but stating what should be fairly basic current practice.

The purpose of higher education

A good quote from @timkastelle on academic power structures:

Universities should be at the forefront of a socially just democratic society, & to do this we have to change real structures of control & power. We have a choice… continue to celebrate rituals of rebellion or engage in acts of transformative change.” >

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