#ALTC Blog

OER Guest Post: GO GO GO-GN Ghost writer

#ALTC Blog - 28/03/22

Guest post by H.J. DeWaard, G0-GN

This guest blog post is framed by the 2010 political thriller film The Ghost Writer, thus taking what appears to be an ordinary autobiographical story and turning it into a story of intrigue, suspense, and revelation. In the movie, it was up to the ghost writer to dive into the story and determine the true plot line, not just what appears on the surface. As a network member, I’ve elected to become the ghost writer for the Global OER Graduate Network (GO-GN) for this guest blog post. The warm welcome written by the team [A warm welcome to #OER22 from GO-GN!] provides some starting points to get to know what GO-GN is all about, but I’ll reveal some of the hidden characters, plot lines, and settings that may not be evident at first glance.

Consider this post as a story about GO-GN, stories as verification and justification of why GO-GN is a great fit for the #OER22 conference. Just as the ghost writer character in the political thriller film faced in detecting the mysteries of the true story within the writing venture, so too do researchers within GO-GN face challenges involving intrigue, diversion, suspicion, revelation, technology, and lots and lots of writing. Fortunately for GO-GN researchers, the writing process has a more positive ending than the one occurring in Ghost Writer film.

When preparing for this guest blog post I reached out to GO-GN members and received some suggested plot lines for the GO-GN movie production. One GO-GN member suggested the narrative as a spy movie with Martin Weller as a 007 James Bond styled character who would be known for speaking in metaphors as his deadly weapon. Beck Pitt would be a trusted supporting character who translates the metaphors into clues about the missions, so others would know and understand what is going on in the film. The villain would be an unnamed digital spyware company who has created a diabolical data bot that hides within OER and turns all remixable OER into non-adaptable, disposable objects, all the while spying on you through your laptop. Another member suggests a connecting plot line to one written for OER18! [Breaking open: Ethics, epistemology, equity and power]. These will be saved for another story, at a different time. For this #OER22 audience, the story written here is a simpler one, revealing GO-

GN characters, plots, and settings.

As with the film Ghost Writer, there are potential characters, plots, and settings that can be incorporated into the storyline. In the GO-GN network, there emerge themes through the organizational efforts and directions set out by the main characters as well as the research efforts of the supporting cast, the many members of GO-GN.

THE CHARACTERS:

The story begins with GO-GN founder Fred Mulder, who is commemorated every year with special awards to members of the GO-GN network. Getting to know some of the supporting characters in GO-GN can be found through a YouTube playlist [GO-GN Doctoral Researchers] where they introduce themselves and their research endeavours. Further research and webinar presentations are included on the GOGN-OER YouTube channel. The characters in the GO-GN network is truly a global phenomenon, as revealed in this members map.

Just as revealed in the Ghost Writer film, the main characters may appear to be the key individuals in the storyline, but there’s often subterfuge involved that isn’t always discovered until the very end. With the introduction of the penguin as a main character, the GO-GN network may have a new focus for their story. Farrow and Mathers (2021) describe the penguin as a genderless and unnamed mascot, a visual representation of the researchers’ efforts and actions. While the penguin may claim to be the boss of the GO-GN network [Instagram, GO-GN penguin], members know and understand who’s really behind the scenes, setting up all the plans and actions.

THE PLOT:

Every story has a beginning. You may be jumping into the story somewhere along the plot line, but eventually the beginnings are revealed. The vision for GO-GN began in 2013, as revealed on this GO-GN About page on the website, is free for members and friends [GO-GN Flyer]. The work in open educational research began much earlier, as outlined in this Openness and Education: A Beginners Guide, created as a GO-GN OER. The storyline is guided by the ethos of “Tuko Pamoja”, described by GO-GN member Judith Pete as a “shared sense of purpose and motivation” (GO-GN, 2017).

The plot thickens when GO-GN members meet-up in various physical and virtual locations where they talk openly about being open educational researchers. This is demonstrated in this blog post by Dr. Bea de los Arcos [What happened when we put 14 PhD researchers inside an IKEA hotel (2018)].

Circles of intrigue emerge when GO-GN members become embroiled in other stories that sometimes set up alternate storylines. Two that bring depth to the story of open education include the special edition of Distance Education (2020) [Critical Questions for Open Educational Practices], and the Journal of Interactive Media in Education (2020). In addition, the FemEdTech Quilt story, as connected to the OER20 conference involved many GO-GN members in creating a physical quilt block and sharing it to an open digital audience, and shared in this blog post [Visualising the Global Heart of GO-GN]. The writing and editing of special publications have been parallel plot lines for GO-

GN members. GO-GN has co-created two guides [Research Methods Handbook; Conceptual Frameworks Guide: GO-GN Project Outputs] and several research reviews. Narratives are written and rewritten every year, such as evident in the GO-GN End of Year Special gathering and the 2021 Year in Review.

THE SETTING(s):

Settings and contexts in stories are important. As a ghostwriter, settings can be revealed both directly and explicitly, or subtly with image and word. The challenge for a GO-GN ghost writer is that the actions take part in pretty much every corner of the globe. The settings are diverse and disparate. While the main location for the GO-GN network is connected to the Open University in England, the settings for the network actions and characters occur in locations around the world. The characters change and the plot develops through the annual seminars and online webinars. The greater challenge is the virtual nature of much of the actions

The settings for gatherings of the GO-GN open educational researchers is revealed in the writings and pictures of those who attend these events, in settings both picturesque and memorable. Some are listed and linked, potentially revealing hidden elements of intrigue:

2019 Galway, Ireland – The Galway GO-GN Experience by M. Weller

2018 Delft, Netherlands – Reflecting on #OEGlobal18 and GO-GN’s seminar by N. Chtena

2017 Cape Town, South Africa – Two and a half days in Cape Town by B. de los Arcos and Life after the doctorate by J. Miller.

2016 Krakow, Poland – I opened, OpenEd, an opening by J. Miller and @GO-GN OER days in Krakow Poland by C. Nerantzi

While these settings may shape the options and opportunities for GO-GN characters, the stories materialize through the collaborations and sharing that happens within these settings. The reading and writing are reciprocal and emergent. In the end, all GO-GN characters are ghostwriters, creating their own research narratives.

CC-BY Bryan Mathers Reading and writing the story together

The GO-GN story has no end, so the ending of this ghostwriter’s blog story is crafted as a mystery hunt where you can follow the clues to detect the GO-GN character that is the focus of this mystery plot line. By following the clues through the global connections, you will discover the true identity of these characters on the team. This mystery hunt is premised on the seven degrees of separation within any location in the world. Follow the seven clues written here will lead you to discover more about one person behind GO-GN, within seven degrees of separation. If you’d like to ghost-write your own mystery hunt in seven clues, please do so on your own blog and link to it on twitter with the #OER22 and #GOGN_OERGhostWriter.

MYSTERY story line – Who is the GO-GN member at the end of this mystery?

Clue 1: start with the Tweet that shares the OER22 conference program [OER22 tweet]. Click on the link to the program for the conference.

Clue 2: on the OER Conference program – find the Featured Speakers section,

then find the third plenary speaker’s name and click on the link on their name.

Clue 3: Once on this person’s website, find and click on the link to this person’s company website.

Clue 4: From this website find the article that references a Star Wars connection. Click on the link to this article/blog post. Scroll to the bottom where there is a link to a reference for a conference that is named for a wintery treat.

Clue 5: Find the name for the first presentation in this conference. Click on the link to the slides presentation for this session.

Clue 6: On the first page on this slide deck there are two links to an activity. Click on the first, uppermost link.

Clue 7: Find the remix created by one of the GO-GN illustrious leaders that is closest to the start of the collection (sub-clue #1: it’s not on the first page of cards; sub-clue #2: This person’s highest skill in research has an 84% rating.)

Congratulations! You’ve reached the end of the path. Now it’s your turn.

Please share a tweet with this mystery character’s name to @OERConf, @GOGN_OER and include this hashtag #GOGN_Ghostwriter.

Again, if you’d like to ghostwrite your own mystery hunt in seven clues, please do so on your own blog and link to it on twitter with the @OERConf and #GOGN_GhostWriter.

References

About GO-GN. (2017). [website]. https://go-gn.net/about/
de los Arcos, B., (2018). What happened when we put 14 PhD researchers inside an IKEA hotel.
https://oscailte.wordpress.com/2018/05/20/what-happened-when-we-put-14-phd-researchers-inside-an-ikea-hotel

Farrow, R., & Mathers, B. (2020). Conceptualising research methodology for doctoral researchers in open education (with penguins). International Journal of Management and Applied Research, 7(3). 349-359.  https://doi.org/10.18646/2056.73.20-025

Weller, M., (2021). GO-GN special collection: Editorial. Journal of Interactive Media in Education, DOI: http://doi.org/10.5334/jime.723.

Categories: #ALTC Blog, ALT

OER22 Guest Post: Achieving a more inclusive Open Education thanks to GO-GN

#ALTC Blog - 25/03/22

Francisco Iniesto, G0-GN

The Global OER Graduate Network (GO-GN) was founded by Fred Mulder to bring together active researchers on OER in a worldwide network and to promote investigations on OERs towards getting a real impact on society. Almost ten years after the creation of GO-GN and now hosted at the Open University, it can be concluded with enough perspective that the objectives for which this network was devised have been realised. Equally, it can be said with certainty that the acronyms chosen to define the association were selected with wisdom: 

  • Global. GO-GN is global because during its history it has brought PhD students and educators from all five continents into contact.
  • OER. In GO-GN, there is a common link to all members: their perspective of education and the promotion of Open Education. 
  • Graduate. GO-GN was created to support PhD students working on open education-related topics. To date, more than 100 PhD students are members or already alumni.
  • Network. GO-GN is a network that has brought together PhD students, educators, and researchers from all over the world, organising face-to-face, online seminars and many other events that promote support and collaboration among its members.

This is being quite an impressive journey where many GO-GN PhD students have become part of the alumni and even some of them are doing research in Open Education in close contact and thanks to the network. One good example is the GO-GN fellowship scheme. It has been designed for three years (2020-2022) to foster connections to other networks, promotion of GO-GN at strategic events and incorporate the outputs of the GO-GN EDI project to encourage applications from the Global South. The motivation for this fellowship scheme is to provide formal recognition of members after they have finished their doctoral studies to become an alumnus of the Network in the format of a post-doctoral scholarship. The Fellowship scheme provides visibility and recognition in return for specific contributions to the Network. This presents a means by which alumni can stay involved and share their expertise with the members.

The first cohort included four alumni: Johanna Funk (College of Indigenous Futures, Arts and Society, CDU, Australia), Judith Pete (Tangaza University College of Catholic University of Eastern Africa, Kenya), Chrissi Nerantzi (Manchester Metropolitan University, The UK) and Virginia Rodés (Universidad de la República, Uruguay). The second cohort of GO-GN fellows comprises two alumni: Verena Roberts (University of Calgary) and Sarah Lambert (Deakin University), while the third one includes Michael Paskevicius (University of Victoria), Viviane Vladimirschi (E-Connection) and Catherine Cronin (independent). Fellowships exemplify the diversity of the scheme, with fellows further developing doctoral research (Johana and Virginia), while others focused on network expansion in the Global South (Judith). Or fellowships centred on the development of OERs (a book and a set of podcasts) through community co-creation (Chrissi and Verena). Others are exploring OER opportunities in their local and national communities (Viviane and Catherine). Finally supporting ongoing research in social justice and open textbooks (Sarah) or investigating the use of frameworks such as TPACK for teachers’ use of OERs in their professional development (Michael). 

While the fellowship scheme was designed before the pandemic, it hit the first cohort from its start, mobilising agile response from fellows, for example, Judith had to promote the network in the online environment instead of travelling to visit partners, and Virginia used the opportunity to research the Uruguayan context during the worst moment of the pandemic. In the case of Viviane who is currently researching in 2022 can use the experience of these two years in the Brazilian context to understand OER’s impact on teachers from public schools with low resources.

Another good example is talking about myself and how grateful I am to belong to a community that accepted me as a member and now as a part of the team.  Since I first joined the second and the third GO-GN seminars celebrated during the Open Education Global Conference in Ljubljana, Slovenia, and OpenEd in Washington DC, USA, I ‘ve been collaborating with the network throughout these years, which has also made it easier for me to develop my research in the context of Open Education, particularly in inclusive and sustainable design. Through this process, I have been able (and I am) to research alongside other GO-GN members, alumni, and friends, one good example is presented as publication in a recent GO-GN collection at JIME.

Now tell us, what is your GO-GN inclusive experience?

Categories: #ALTC Blog, ALT

OER Guest Post: How did international postgraduate students make connections with others when they were attending Zoom University in their own country

#ALTC Blog - 21/03/22

Author: Yuhong Lei-PhD student at Lancaster University


The Covid-19 pandemic brings an ongoing and long-term impact on higher education from 2020, institutions have moved most teaching activities online (Peimani & Kamalipour, 2021). The United Kingdom, as a mainstream study abroad country, has attracted a large number of international students every year. A master’s degree in the UK is basically only one year, and international students are paying higher tuition fees.

International students who started their studies in 2019 or 2020, had a very special learning experience. In general, some students were attending the course online in their own country, while others stayed in the United Kingdom and also attended the classes online at their rented accommodation or apartment. Although the most difficult time has already passed, it is important to have a deep reflection of international postgraduate students’ learning experience during lockdown, which can bring benefits for improving the international students’ learning experience in the post-pandemic era.

As all the students (both stayed in their own country or in the UK) had to attend all the learning activities online, which led to a wide range of discussions of the students’ learning quality. However, from the perspective of students, their tuition fee should be decreased as their traditional learning became purely online, the learning facilities on campus were unable to be used, and the social activities with others were almost cancelled. Therefore, students were claiming they were studying at the “Zoom University”.

CC-By Bryan Mathers

Especially for students who were living in their own country and attending courses online. Although they only needed to pay the tuition fee, they saved a lot on living fees and accommodation fees. Unfortunately, they lost the opportunities to experience different cultures and have connections with others on campus. Students were stating that they did not have any connections and in-depth academic conversation with other students and supervisors, as well as difficulty making new friends or having connections with others in the community on campus during the master programme.

Moreover, some international postgraduate students need to conquer the time zone difference. For example, they need to attend the class late at night in their own country, which leads them to have to sleep during the daytime. Thus, they had less communication with their families, although they were living together. In addition, although universities were making a huge effort of making online communities through Teams, Moodle and other platforms, it is hard to make a real in-depth and ongoing conversation, the groups were always very quiet.

These students practical community was other students who also attended the course online and they already knew each other (eg. there were classmates or friends in their previous learning institutions), and new friends known by via social media (such as universities’ whatsapp or Facebook freshmen group). They can have a stable and on-going community because they shared the same learning time zone, they were living in the same city, other people around them might not understand their difficulties and pressure but they could understand each other and thus had the chance to have both learning and social activities altogether. It can be seen that they made a community break the boundary of the universities and majors. However, this community was made because they did not have physical boundaries.


Do share your ideas and experience around this in the comment box below.

Categories: #ALTC Blog, ALT

OER Guest Post: 10 Years of OERx Part two

#ALTC Blog - 18/03/22

Author: Robert Farrow, Open Education Research Hub​ / Global OER Graduate Network

This post follows on from Part One  in looking back over the last decade of OERx conferences.

OER17: The Politics of Open

OER17 took place in the capital at Resource for London. Looking again at the programme, I am struck by the increasing internationalisation and size of the conference.  There were presentations focused on lots of different countries in Europe and North America and all of the countries represented by the ROER4D project as well as regionally focused presentations on different parts of Europe.  I think that at this point there was a lot of sharing and exchanging experiences going on. A good example of this was Maha Bali’s keynote which shared a perspective from Egypt but also invited delegates to think about the operalisation of structural (and often subterranean) inequality across educational ecosystems.

Another key theme at this conference was open pedagogy, partly inspired by David Wiley’s argument that open pedagogy is about the 5Rs. This was an area where the ‘politics of open’ came to the fore as people asked whether all there really was to open practice was making use of the affordances of open licences.  This allusion to the wider political stance of open education to me recalls the same tensions as seen in the Open Research Agenda.

OER18: Open to All

OER18 was chaired by Vivien Rolfe and David Kernohan who were collaborating with on the UK Open Textbooks project at the time. The venue this time was Watershed in Bristol, another cool location with lots of things to do and places to encounter other delegates.

Watershed, Bristol (CC BY Robert Farrow) You know you’re in Bristol when… (CC BY Robert Farrow)

I feel like this conference largely followed on from OER17 in terms of the themes and scales of the questions being raised and the experiences shared. Momodou Sallah’s popular keynote was thematically complementary to Maha Bali’s the year before and emphasised the importance of disruptive narratives that can be supported or enabled by OER, making a clear connection with the category of praxis. For me, it’s tempting to see this period as one of strategizing and reflecting as people continued to try and make sense of their own perspectivity.

2018 marked 10 years of the Cape Town Declaration, and I think this was also a cause for thinking about accomplishments and strategic directions. David Wiley spoke at this conference about the importance of narratives in affecting change and appealed to the purist/pragmatist distinction in relation to various open movements.  He pointed out that by 2023 we will have the first generation of those who grew up using OER taking up positions as educators and people of institutional influence.

OER19: Recentering Open: Critical and global perspectives

I think a lot of people enjoyed the OER19 conference, not least because Galway is so charming and holding the conference in Ireland was a refreshing change. (Another reason might be more retrospective, since it would be three years before most of us would meet again.)

Galway Bay (CC BY Robert Farrow)

The conference was very well attended again, and saw another strong international showing.  If there was a key theme at this conference for me it was diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI).  DEI has become much more prominent as an open education focus in recent years and this conference had a lot to do with that, I believe.  Many presentations challenged colonial practices in education and wholeheartedly embraced the idea of ‘recentering’ our appreciation of the role and potential of open approaches in education. This was evident across all the keynote speeches and the keynote panel featuring Taskeen Adam, Caroline Kuhn and Judith Pete, all of whom are prominent researchers within GO-GN. 

Thinking about it now I’m encouraged to think of the bigger movement here as away from the UK focused (and perhaps more pragmatic) origins of the OERx conference in the UK OER movement and towards the kinds of wider, ideological explorations that were indicated in the Open Research Agenda outcomes. 

OER20: Care in Openness

Inevitably the OER20 conference had a different vibe when, because of the Covid-19 pandemic, the event was moved online.  Obviously this was originally going to be a face-to-face event and considerable planning must have gone into moving to an online conference during the first UK lockdowns. Thinking back now, the pandemic was felt as something much more disruptive then.  Things are hardly satisfactory now though a lot of things about it have now been more normalised after living with them for several years.

My kudos goes to the organisers of the 2020 conference because the timeline must have made things pretty challenging to say the least.  There was also the additional challenge of trying to create online spaces for socialising and hanging out which is never easy!  

The conference theme was particularly appropriate given the way that 2020 turned out; finding ways to express support for and within open communities is of critical importance and the pandemic has only accentuated this.  In April 2020, lots of people were already experiencing burnout and finding it harder to concentrate on (virtual) working.  I recall not attending many sessions other then the ones I was presenting in, feeling a bit guilty, and wondering whether others were doing the same.  I believe that online events can be successful, but there’s something different about the rhythm of a face-to-face event where people travel to (sometimes unfamiliar) places and have a shared experience.  I think a return to this mode of congress is welcome, even if we are still working out how to be that way again.

Rather than share the classic 2020 picture of people on Zoom, here are some of my experimental fermentations from the depths of lockdown… 

Fermentation (CC BY Robert Farrow)

OER21: OERxDomains

Necessity is sometimes the mother of innovation, and for this year the presentations were recorded and you can browse pretty much all of them.  I think this is a good thing, although it’s obviously a bit easier when everyone is online rather than speaking in different rooms of a conference venue.

Treating the conference feed almost like a streaming platform made it easier for me to keep up, and I think there was also something about being more used to things this way, too.  By now, a significant proportion of presentations included some aspect of the impact of the pandemic on our practices, reflecting the way that Covid-19 has dominated our lives.  There were more than 30 presentations framed this way, and it was a key element of the opening plenary.  (I presented the Pathways project on behalf of an international team working to employ resources from The Open University (UK) in several African countries.)

Another key theme at this conference was care; and by extension, I suppose, the ways we can express care and support at a distance.  This was the subject of our GO-GN session.  Others were perhaps braver and engaged with finding.  We heard about #joyfe (which is still going strong) and the OER picture book team.  There were also lots of presentations about the many ways in which open approaches are now explored across technology, pedagogy, strategy, and collaboration.  If you compare the diversity and complexity of presentations from this conference with the one from 2012 you can really get a sense of how far things have come over the last decade. Also, things got weird (if they weren’t already).

Reflections: Looking Forward

This has been quite a long post, but obviously it could have been a lot longer as there is so much more to say about each of these events. I’ve tried to pick out some personal highlights and look for some indications of the wider trends in the field. Personally, I get a real sense of progression and perspective from an increasingly international and diverse community.  I also perceive the growing importance and maturity of GO-GN as a presence at the conference.  

OERx remains a really important international conference (which has been very important for my own teams on various different projects).  Communities and events like these empower us to make important and lasting connections that help us all in our professional and personal lives. 

I often come away from very large conferences feeling like there was a lot more to see but you can only be in one place at one time. I find myself now reflecting on just the sheer volume of material that has been communicated to people online in the past couple of years.  Even if you’re primarily a teleworker there’s never been so much online activity to the exclusion of everything else.

As I’ve been looking through old blog posts, photos and websites to refresh my memory it has struck me how much I was doing before the pandemic:  going to new places, meeting new people and learning new things.  Most of us who have lived through lockdowns and restrictions on our behaviour in the last couple of years have been lacking various forms of stimulation. In-person conferences are already returning.  Even if it does feel kind of strange, it’s also good to be returning to more interaction with people in the room for one day, at least.

It feels like we are at a bit of a juncture with regards to the pandemic, and this is a theme I expect to come up at the conference in lots of different contextual variations.  At the very least, though, we have reached a kind of space in the process that allows for drawing (deep) breaths and reflecting on what everyone has been experiencing and hopes for from the future.

The programme will be announced soon, but I trust that we will continue to build on the legacy of important exchanges and reflections from the OERx community.  The key themes of the last 10 years will continue to be important so that progress can be checked and new approaches envisioned.  Going forward, it’s going to be important to keep the motifs of care and community foregrounded, fostering vibrant connections to others.

I hope you have enjoyed this trip down memory lane, and are looking forward to making more memories this April!

Register for the conference

OER22 will be the first hybrid edition of this much-loved event, taking place over three days, 26-28 April 2022. The first day of the event will take place in London, UK, and the second and third day of the event will take place online.

Categories: #ALTC Blog, ALT

Neurodivergence and online learning through the pandemic: Recommendations from the Support Services perspective Post 3 of 3

#ALTC Blog - 18/03/22

Authors: Neil Dixon (Learning Technologist, Anglia Ruskin University), Jennie Dettmer (Acting Senior PAD Tutor, University of Bedfordshire), Rob Howe (Head of Learning Technology, University of Northampton), Ben Turpin (Disability and Dyslexia Adviser, Anglia Ruskin University), Uwe Matthias Richter (Associate Professor, Anglia Ruskin University)

This is the third in a series of three blog posts that places the spotlight on the experiences of neurodivergent students from moving University teaching online in 2020 and 2021. This post explores the role of learning support staff in supporting neurodivergent students to overcome the difficulties they experienced with engaging with universities, assessments and course materials.

Blog post series

All content originated from an event organised by Association for Learning Technology (ALT) East England. See part 1 for further details.

Part 1 – What is neurodiversity?

Part 2 – Neurodivergent students studying in the home environment

Part 3 – Recommendations from the Support Services perspective

The role of learning support staff 

The Equality Act (2010) requires higher education providers to provide support for neurodivergent students to help them to overcome any disadvantages they may otherwise experience in conventional learning environments. There is not a standard approach to support for neurodivergent students within HE (Dobson, 2019). However, many universities have responded with inclusive learning policies, reasonable adjustment recommendations, and the provision of one-to-one additional learning support (Kendall, 2016). 

The COVID-19 pandemic significantly altered the way that students engage with universities and course materials (Marinoni, van’t Land and Jensen, 2020). As explored in the second post in this series, these changes have the potential to affect neurodivergent students differently to neurotypical students. As a result, learning support practitioners have had to adapt their practice and develop additional skills. The following sections explore some of the ways in which universities and learning support staff have adapted their practice to support neurodivergent students during the pandemic.

Managing home study environments 

By forcing campuses to close for significant periods of time, the pandemic forced many students to consider how they could adapt their living spaces for study. Whilst some students have been able to do this without significant difficulty, many students have limited space and distractions at home that can make maintaining concentration difficult (Meeter et al., 2020). As indicated in the second post in this series, although these difficulties have affected the student population generally, neurodivergent students may be more likely than others to experience problems because of difficult study environments.

Learning support staff have supported students in developing strategies to create home environments conducive to study. Practical examples include adapting kitchen tables into desks and using laptop trays to create mobile workspaces that can be moved around the house as needed. It has often been necessary to have a dialogue with the student to determine the exact nature of their difficulties with concentration and ascertain the resources available to improve the situation.

Engaging with online learning 

At our event, two students, one with Asperger’s, dyspraxia and being assessed for dyslexia and the other with ADHD and depression expressed difficulty with maintaining their motivation. Students with access to a Disabled Student Allowance (DSA) funded specialist tutor support can receive support with attention (Disability Rights UK, 2022) and those students who are not in receipt of DSA can seek academic support directly from their university if requested. Such support may involve encouraging the student to reconnect with their original motivations for enrolling on their course or developing strategies to manage procrastination. However, a delay in the clarification of DSA students being able to receive online support during the pandemic without direct authorisation from the Student Loans Company, was only clarified by the government in July 2021 (Disabled Students’ Allowance Team, 2021). Additionally, Disabled Students UK (2020) reported that potentially inadequate IT equipment can mean some disabled students may be able to fully access their online learning materials. For example, dyslexic students are often provided with screen reading software (e.g., Read & Write or ClaroRead) as part of their DSA package, which enables them to use software to read online documents. However, while they are waiting for their DSA arrangements, which can take up to fourteen weeks (AbilityNet, 2022), universities often provide access to the software on campus. 

The National Association of Disability Practitioners (NADP; 2020) reports that neurodiverse students find the multi-tasking involved in online teaching challenging. Therefore, Wilson et al. (2020) advised to, for example, switch off the cameras and microphones, give warning when switching to other functions and read aloud any questions from the chat. However, Disabled Students UK (2020) state that universities did not provide support around making online sessions accessible to disabled students.

Managing deadlines and assessments 

The pandemic resulted in significant changes to the ways in which many types of assessments were conducted. One of the most significant adjustments was that many timed exams were replaced with open-book assessments that could be completed at home within an extended period (Wilson et al., 2020). Support staff were often discouraged from meeting with students during exam periods. Instead, support offered for these assessments was often geared towards the preparation of accessible resources that can be referred to during the exam period and the development of strategies to make the best use of the time. 

Many universities also revised their deadline extension policies to enable students to apply to submit work late (Wilson et al., 2020). Although this has been essential in ensuring that students who have been most significantly affected by the pandemic are able to complete assignments, some students experienced this as an additional administrative burden (Coughlan and Lister, 2018). Often, however, support staff can advise students of how to apply for extensions and will work with them to develop a realistic plan for completing work on time. 

Conclusion 

The pandemic has resulted in both opportunities and obstacles for the accessibility of higher education in the UK. As the country emerges from the pandemic, universities should identify which of these have resulted in more accessible education and continue to offer this provision, although being mindful of the difficulties remote learning has presented and remaining attentive to the needs of neurodivergent students. Meanwhile, support staff should be encouraged to continue to develop their repertoire of support strategies to meet the needs of the changing higher education landscape.

Final recommendations 

The three blog posts provide an overview of the student and staff experience of the pandemic from the perspective of neurodivergence. Some key conclusions and recommendations are made from this work.

  • Students should make institutions aware of their neurodivergence using recognised channels
  • Institutions should ensure that all relevant staff are aware of students who have declared specific needs
  • Students may have complex needs based on their neurodivergence and staff need to be aware of the best ways to support them.
  • Institutions need to anticipate that students may not have declared needs but manage sensible adaptations which benefit the whole student cohort.
Acknowledgements

Thank you to the students who took part in the event, the organisers, and the speakers. 

References

AbilityNet (2022) Your questions answered about Disabled Students’ Allowance. Available at: https://abilitynet.org.uk/news-blogs/your-questions-answered-about-disabled-students-allowance [Accessed: 07 February 2022].

ADSHE (2018) Good Practice Guidelines. Available at: https://adshe.org.uk/good-practice-guidelines/ [Accessed: 07 February 2022].

Coughlan, T. and Lister, K., (2018) The accessibility of administrative processes: Assessing the impacts on students in higher education, in. 15th International Cross-Disciplinary Conference on Web Accessibility (Web4All 2018), New York: ACM Press. Available at: https://www.dropbox.com/sh/e2dz1y41fzrxsks/AADd5ZVDoPiGbCFHHgV7IusWa?dl=0&preview=21.pdf [Accessed: 07 February 2022].

Disability Rights UK (2022) Applying for Disabled Students’ Allowances (DSAs). Available at: https://www.disabilityrightsuk.org/applying-disabled-students%E2%80%99-allowances-dsas [Accessed: 07 February 2022].

Disabled Students UK (2020) Impact of the pandemic on disabled students and recommended measures. Available at: https://disabledstudents.co.uk/DSUK_Impact_of_Pandemic.pdf [Accessed: 07 February 2022].

Disabled Students’ Allowance Team (2021) Student support information note. Available at: https://www.practitioners.slc.co.uk/media/1887/ssin-0721-new-arrangements-for-remote-support-202122.pdf [Accessed: 07 February 2022].

Dobson, S., (2019) A documentary analysis of the support services offered to adult learners with dyslexia in higher education, Journal of Further and Higher Education [e-journal], 43(9), 1181–1195. Available at: https://doi.org/10.1080/0309877X.2018.1463359 /0309877X.2018.1463359 [Accessed: 07 February 2022].

Graham, C., (2020) Can we measure the impact? An evaluation of one-to-one support for students with specific learning difficulties, Widening Participation and Lifelong Learning [e-journal], 22(2), 122–134. Available at: https://doi.org/10.5456/WPLL.22.2.122 [Accessed: 07 February 2022].

Kendall, L., (2016) Higher education and disability: Exploring student experiences, Cogent Education [e-journal], 3(1). Available at: https://doi.org/10.1080/2331186X.2016.1256142 [Accessed: 07 February 2022].

Legislation.gov.uk (2010) Equality Act 2010. Statute Law Database. Available at: https://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/2010/15/contents [Accessed: 07 February 2022].

Madriaga, M., Hanson, K. and Walker, A. (2011) Marking-out normalcy and disability in higher education, British Journal of Sociology of Education [e-journal], 32(6), 901–920. Available at: https://doi.org/10.1080/01425692.2011.596380 [Accessed: 07 February 2022].

Marinoni, G., van’t Land, H. and Jensen, T. (2020) The impact of COVID-19 on higher education around the world. International Association of Universities. Available at:https://www.uniss.it/sites/default/files/news/iau_covid19_and_he_survey_report_final_may_2020.pdf [Accessed: 07 February 2022].

Meeter, M., Bele, T., den Hartogh, C., Bakker, T., de Vries, R.E. and Plak, S. (2020) College students’ motivation and study results after COVID-19 stay-at-home orders. Themes in Science & Technology Education [e-journal], 8(1), 63-79. Available at: https://doi.org/10.31234/osf.io/kn6v9 [Accessed: 07 February 2022].

NADP (2020) Ensuring your online webinars are inclusive. Available at: https://www.sparqs.ac.uk/upfiles/Ensuring-your-Webinars-are-Accessible-NADP.pdf [Accessed: 07 February 2022].

Richardson, J. T. E. and Wydell, T. N. (2003) The representation and attainment of students with dyslexia in UK higher education, Reading & Writing [e-journal], 16(5), 475–503. Available at: https://doi.org/10.1023/A:1024261927214 [Accessed: 07 February 2022].

Ward, D. and Webster, A. (2018) Understanding the Lived Experiences of University Students with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD): A Phenomenological Study, International Journal of Disability, Development & Education [e-journal], 65(4), 373–392. Available at: https://doi.org/10.1080/1034912X.2017.1403573 [Accessed: 07 February 2022].

Wilson, L., Conway, J., Martin, N. and Turner, P., (2020) Covid-19: disabled students in higher education: student concerns and institutional challenges. Report by the National Association of Disability Practitioners (NAPD). Available at: https://nadp-uk.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/05/NADP-Report-Covid-19-Disabled-Students-in-Higher-Education-Student-Concerns-and-Institutional-Challenges.docx [Accessed: 07 February 2022].

Categories: #ALTC Blog, ALT

Guest Post: 10 Years of OERx Part 1

#ALTC Blog - 17/03/22

Author: Robert Farrow, Open Education Research Hub​ / Global OER Graduate Network

As one of the conference co-chairs, I’ve been reflecting on my own journey into the field of open education research. As it’s 10 years (!) since I first attended I thought it would be of interest to look back over the conferences I went to and do a bit of reflection about the trajectories, tensions and themes and how they evolved over time to lead us to where we are now.  As there’s a lot to cover, I’ll be posting in two parts.

Feel free to share your conference memories and reflections in the comments!  

Cambridge 2012

The first OER conference I attended was in 2012.  This was the combined event which brought together OER12 and the Open Courseware Consortium Global Meeting 2012 into one event, called Cambridge 2012.  I was still pretty new to OER at this point, and not long out of my PhD.  It was by no means certain at this point I would continue to work on OER, in educational technology research, or even at The Open University.  But the work I was involved with was a great crash course in what was going on.  I came on board in the last stages of the OLnet project and my main input was to collect together the evidence about OER collected during the project and assimilate this into the Evidence Hub for Open Education being developed by colleagues in the Knowledge Media Institute.

Lots of things here were new to me.  Beyond open education and the complexities of OER I was working with collective intelligence approaches which could support and synthesize many stakeholder perspectives.  But the nature of reviewing and putting together evidence meant I was developing a decent overview of the subject.  I also benefited from the privilege of interviewing OLnet Fellows (such as George Siemens) for the project.

You can access the archived group presentation at https://presentations.ocwconsortium.org/uk2012_329_learning_lessons_of_openness/

I don’t know if it was because it was a combined event for two conference communities, but being at this conference helped me understand the global nature of initiatives in the open education space, and was the start of making really valuable connections and relationships in this space.  There was also something about a prestigious venue like Queens College, Cambridge, the internationalism, and the level the audiovisual/technical professionalism which left an impression.  Like many in this space, I also felt comfortable with the moral imperatives behind open education and could see the massive potential for impact.

OER13: Creating a Virtuous Circle – Experience, Evidence and Expectations 

By the following year the OER Research Hub project was beginning and I was part of a team assigned to systematise the available evidence around the impact of OER.  This again afforded  quite a privileged perspective on the proliferation of OER in different countries and contexts.  We worked with a wide range of collaborators, developing an international network that we are still using today.  One main difference in approach compared to OLnet was that we used a hypothesis testing approach to gather evidence relating to key claims made about OER.  

At OER13 (University of Nottingham) we were at an early phase and presented on this logic model.  You can read more here.  In a way though, the more important thing at this stage was making human connections and developing a network.  (I think this is sometimes overlooked by researchers, but it’s always important unless you’re restricted to doing some sort of autoethnography.)  The conference themes were particularly apt for where we were in the proces – and maybe also where most of open education research had got to.

For the OER Hub model of collaborative, open research to work it requires a strong network and also for people to have awareness about what we were trying to accomplish. One of the activities we were using in the exhibition space was ‘OERchery’, a way of collecting opinions about some of the OER Research Hub hypotheses and whether they were thought important and/or provable.

OERchery (CC BY Robert Farrow)

I also recall Doug Belshaw’s keynote from this conference which was my introduction to open badges as a way of recognising informal learning (and live blogging).   Since this was my first OERx conference without the OCWC event running in parallel, I felt it allowed me to focus more on understanding the national picture and what was happening in different parts of the country. 

OER14: Building communities of open practice

By the time of OER14 the OER Research Hub was in full swing and reporting results.  I co-presented with Sara Frank Bristow on OER policies around the world and the overall picture emerging from Hub research.  Looking at the list of abstracts I get a real sense of how different communities were brought together by this event, with many colleagues from The Open University rubbing shoulders with OER Research Hub collaborators and Fellows.

I think it was around this time that the OERx conferences started to attract more international delegates and to be seen as an event of international significance rather than ‘just’ the foremost OER conference for people in the UK and Ireland.

I also recall this conference as one where there was a lot of interest in OER policies.  Apart from the session already mentioned, there were presentations from Simon Thomson, Alek Tarkowski, Paul Bacsich and Giles Pepler, Lorna Campbell and Gareth Johnson on this theme.

The venue for OER14 was Centre for Life, which is a pretty interesting place that I was glad to check out.

OER15: Mainstreaming Open Education 

The growing international flavour of OERx was reflected in the participant map, which showed delegates had come from several continents to attend.

OER15 Participants  (CC BY Robert Farrow)

By the time of this conference, the primary activities of OER Research Hub were concluding and my focus was shifting to incorporate the OER World Map.  If you take a look at this blog post and then the OER World Map as it is today I think it really speaks to the growing internationalisation and community building that has taken place in the intervening years.  

There was an ongoing focus on policy at this conference and several international speakers with expertise in this area (including Cable Green and Nicole Allen).  There were also quite a few presentations on MOOCs and OER impact which were the main interest areas for many and reaching a point of maturity where the impact could be reasonably assessed – although lots of areas remained contested and many suspected open education as falling prey to some sort of Solutionism.

In his closing keynote, Martin Weller characterised some of these tensions as the ‘battle for open’ which happens when we move from utopian idealism about what we want to achieve into the area of pragmatic application.

The conference took place at the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama in Cardiff, another venue I was pleased to check out and otherwise might not have.

OER16: Open Culture 

Edinburgh is always a cool place to hang out, and OER16 was no exception.  The weather was also glorious, as you might recall.

Edinburgh, April 2016 (CC BY Robert Farrow)

(There’s a cool archive of (other people’s) photos from this event on Flickr.)

Around this time I was presenting a consultation exercise called Open Research Agenda which I brought to a range of different meetings and events to try and get a sense of what people felt should be the priorities for open education research.  From time to time I revisit the themes identified to try and get a sense of how well anticipated the future was.  The most pressing areas for research were OEP, pedagogy, adoption, impact case studies, quality, awareness and sustainability; while the less important areas included advocacy, credentialing, discoverability, access, MOOCs, lifelong learning, inclusion,  accessibility and ethics.  I’m not suggesting this is a definitive, scientifically proven list as the main point was to stimulate thought and strategizing – and this list includes data from international stakeholders.  But if we were doing the exercise again now I’d expect more emphasis on the social mission of open education rather than adoption and evidence.  In some ways though, your priorities depend on where you are in the world and how mature your open education systems are.  OER16 was a chance to solicit opinions from practitioners in the UK and Ireland, an important link between practice and research.

One output from this exercise I still use is the following table, which tried to capture the tensions between different kinds of responses we received – here characterised as a tension between the desire to pragmatically influence and the ideological commitment to enhance freedoms.

Pragmatic InfluenceIdeological FreedomsDesire for control and predictabilityDesire for freedom, exploration and innovationAdvocacy‘Pure’ researchA well defined community of practiceAn ‘open’ community“I have this problem and I need a solution…”‘I think research should be done in…’Local contextGlobal context

Open Research Agenda: Tensions in the Overall Picture 

Elsewhere at OER16, there were keynotes from Jim Groom and Catherine Cronin among others.  I think it’s possible to trace these same tensions across the themes they addressed and conversations had by delegates.

Another thing to note about this conference is that (I think) it’s the first time that GO-GN appears as an OER Hub led activity and I think must date from around the start of the transition of the network to The Open University.  Over the next few years there were more and more GO-GN researchers among the presenters as the network matured and increased its reach… 

Register for the conference

OER22 will be the first hybrid edition of this much-loved event, taking place over three days, 26-28 April 2022. The first day of the event will take place in London, UK, and the second and third day of the event will take place online.

Categories: #ALTC Blog, ALT

SCURL Coffee Morning Reflection

#ALTC Blog - 14/03/22

Author: Greg Walters on behalf of the ALT CoOL SIG

The Scottish Confederation University Research Library (SCURL), Copyright and Legal Matters Group was delighted to take part in the UK’s first Fair Dealing week (coordinated by ALT CoOLSIG), through hosting an online event on the 24th of February, 10am – 11am (GMT). We focused on the challenge of using the copyright exceptions for global teaching, as this relates to Fair Dealing and is relevant, given the sector wide pivot to online learning and teaching. The copyright challenges around the use and interpretation of the exceptions overseas, scope of licenses and assessing risk were addressed by Debbie McDonnell who is the Intellectual Property Manager from the British Council. This was achieved through a presentation delivered by Debbie, followed by a discussion with attendees.

This was as an informal event, and to encourage open discussion in a safe environment, the recording of the event was only used for note taking purposes.   

Note, none of the content within this blog entry should be considered legal advice. 

Debbie McDonnell Presentation: The challenge of using copyright exceptions for global teaching

Debbie delivered a fantastic presentation which examined the background of the British Council and highlighted the collaborative work they are involved in with arts and culture, education and the English language. The British Council delivers online education directly to students but also through working with governments, universities, and other organisations. Due to the global delivery of education both online and face to face, the British Council is confronted with numerous potential copyright challenges. In response to these, Debbie presented how they apply best practice, by assessing the associated risk when using the copyright exceptions (through the lenses of Fair Dealing and the Berne Convention). And considering whether there may be copyright free alternatives, e.g., images from Unsplash.com or any licences that may enable the materials to be shown in other countries.

Debbie’s presentation slides

Follow on discussion around Fair Dealing and copyright exceptions

The text below captures the key themes of discussion that occurred after Debbie’s presentation, based on questions directed to her from the attendees. 

The first point of discussion was “do the territorial limitations of some licences encourage you to rely instead on Fair Dealing?” This led to revisiting a key point made in Debbie’s presentation, where it is advisable to always examine the scope of a licence you’re looking to use, i.e., does it cover the countries you wish to make materials available in for online learning? Fair Dealing was discussed in relation to this, and to be mindful that copyright exceptions vary from country to country. 

A second conversation emerged around the assertion that Illustration for Instruction (section 32) only applied for online dissemination through a VLE and cannot apply to teaching content made available on the open web. Which led to the conclusion, that it’s a risk-based issue whether you put something up on the open web using Illustration for Instruction. The quotation exception (section 30) was suggested as an alternative from a risk management perspective, as there are still elements of section 32 that have still to be legally tested – the educational aspect and wording around giving and receiving of instruction. Further adaptability of the quotation exception was demonstrated which could potentially be used to enable materials being made available to people without needing to consider the educational aspect. This is due to the quotation exception having the balance to consider the rights of the copyright owner(s) from a fairness perspective, whilst being used in an online environment. An alternative to exceptions was suggested, which is to contact the rightsholders on a case-by-case basis to ask permission to use their work(s) although this would be time consuming and conflict with the intention that exceptions are available to help educational institutions. 

As can be observed in the above conversations, international copyright law is an expansive area, with complex themes, therefore the next discussion focused on where to find resources that can help navigate this area? In response to this query, the following were suggested: International copyright basics, digitising Morgan, and professor Seng’s WIPO report on international educational exceptions. It was also suggested to make use of a country’s community of practice, e.g., ALT CoOLSIG, SCURL, and  LIsCopyseek, to help navigate the complexities of its associated copyright law. 

The final point of discussion returned to a debate around the copyright challenges of showing an entire film in a secure online environment using the UK copyright exceptions, sections 32/30. Suggested best practice was emphasised again, by looking for a suitable licence (i.e., ERA, Netflix educational screening) before considering making use of the quotation exception in alignment with Fair Dealing factors through the lens of the Berne Convention.

This concluded the follow up discussion.

Key points from discussion:
  • Examine the scope of any licence you intend to use when intending to make materials available online
  • Remember, copyright exceptions vary from country to country
  • When making teaching content (containing copyright protected material) available on the open web, it’s a risk-based issue whether you choose to rely on Illustration for Instruction. Section 30 (quotation) is a viable alternative from a risk management perspective.
  • Consider Fair Dealing factors, i.e., only use the amount of work required to fulfil your purpose when making use of section 32 or 30
  • Aside from examining what licences are available, and using the copyright exceptions, you could also consider contacting the rights holder to seek written permission to use their work
  • Make use of online resources and communities of practice to help navigate the challenges associated with international copyright law
Conclusion

Through Debbie’s excellent presentation and follow-on discussion, we had the opportunity to robustly examine the copyright exceptions in relation to global teaching and discuss the best practice that emerged. It was fascinating to observe the key themes of risk management, assessing the scope of a licence, and considering “fairness” to the creator be applied to the use of the copyright exceptions in our discussion, as these were echoed in Debbie’s presentation. This illustrates the importance of having these types of conversations in communities of practice, as copyright both domestically and internationally are complex areas that require thorough examination. Once again, we would like to thank Debbie McDonnell from the British Council, for providing both an excellent presentation and leading our follow up discussion.

Categories: #ALTC Blog, ALT

Neurodivergence and online learning through the pandemic: Studying in the home environment and adapting to assessment adjustments Post 2 of 3

#ALTC Blog - 11/03/22

Authors: Neil Dixon (Learning Technologist, Anglia Ruskin University), Jennie Dettmer (Acting Senior PAD Tutor, University of Bedfordshire), Rob Howe (Head of Learning Technology, University of Northampton), Ben Turpin (Disability and Dyslexia Adviser, Anglia Ruskin University), Uwe Matthias Richter (Associate Professor, Anglia Ruskin University)

This is the second in a series of three blog posts that places the spotlight on the experiences of neurodivergent students from moving University teaching online in 2020 and 2021. In this post we describe how students at the event experienced both assessment adjustments and working in the home environment.

Blog post series

All content originated from an event organised by Association for Learning Technology (ALT) East England (see part 1 for further details).

Part 1 – What is neurodiversity?

Part 2 – Neurodivergent students studying in the home environment

Part 3 – Recommendations from the Support Services perspective

The Student Experiences Increased control over time and environment 

When moving to the online learning environment, neurodivergent students reported that they had more flexibility over their routine. This was especially true for students with ADHD and anxiety, who found that studying at home lowered the necessity for mentally preparing every step from getting up, planning the journey to campus, and moving between locations on campus. 

The benefit of choice and flexibility also carried over where courses changed from traditional to online (open book) exams. One student with Asperger’s and ADHD noted that moving to online assessments meant that it was much easier to work in a place of their choice over a longer period of time. Another student with ADHD reflected on the fact that they were able to select when to start their time-based assessment (within a given window), which lowered their stress levels, allowed for better planning of time and breaks, and helped them concentrate more fully on the assessment. 

The ability to work in their own location also reduced the stress of trying to find the exam hall and become familiar with a new environment. One of the students with Asperger’s and Dyspraxia pointed out that they were able to see improvements in their grades post-pandemic as the open book nature of some of the assessments was more suited to their way of working (Office for Students, 2020; Wilson et al, 2020, p11).

Ability to focus when studying online

The challenge of maintaining focus is a major characteristic of conditions such as dyslexia, ADHD, and dyspraxia. A student with Asperger’s and dyspraxia, for instance, found it easier to concentrate if they were also sketching. Working alone online meant they felt less inhibited especially if their webcam was turned off. However, studying in a physical environment normally associated with relaxation was a difficult transition for a student with ADHD, especially when there were personal distractions in the room such as Netflix.  Likewise, focusing on online conversations was also difficult due to the lack of social cues. Social cues are a way to know whether the other students online were listening or not, and for a student with ADHD and depression, social cues are an important part of conversing with others (Disabled Students’ Commission, 2020, p10-13; Disabled Students’ Commission, 2021, p18-22).

Lack of physical presence

The lack of physical presence made one student with depression and panic disorder uncertain and uncomfortable about gaining the opportunity to speak to lecturers. In addition, students who studied practical subjects felt they were disadvantaged because the digital adjustments were inadequate. One student said they chose the specific course because they preferred a hands-on learning style, and felt that they had a lesser experience learning in the digital realm due to the lack of kinesthetics (QAA, 2021).

Changes to practical assessment adjustments

The suitability of practical adjustments was most stark with assessment. The change to certain types of assessment (i.e., timed essays) were not always seen as supporting those with neurodivergence. One of the students with ADHD noted that institutions seem to be measuring how fast a student can write down facts when, for them, managing time and structuring essays in a rigid timeframe was problematic. One student with panic disorder and anxiety interestingly noted that institutional policies for adding extensions to every assessment gave them more time to be stressed and aggravated their panic disorder (Coughlan and Lister, 2018). These students would have preferred adaptations like the no-detriment policy and just have the option for an extension if they chose it. Two students with ADHD noted issues in dealing with their institution. On some occasions, for example, institutional replies regarding accommodating specific needs on an assessment were being sent out after the actual deadline. On other occasions, broken personal laptops and isolation issues were not considered as reasons to grant extensions as the students were seen as having accommodations for their learning disabilities already.

Conclusion

This post reflects on students’ experience of studying in their home environment and assessment practices. It can be concluded that there may be conflicting demands for institutions that need to be addressed depending on individual needs. Students generally value control over their time and environment. For some, focus in online environments is enhanced through the camera being on, and the camera being off for others. The practical nature of some courses also determines how students coped with the changes from physical to online presence. Assessments remain an ongoing point of discussion for institutions. The rapid nature of the onset of the pandemic impacted the student experience but it remains to be seen how institutions change because of the lessons learnt. 

The blog post series finishes by exploring the role of learning support staff in supporting neurodivergent students during the move to online learning in 2020/21.

References

Coughlan, T. and Lister, K., (2018) The accessibility of administrative processes: Assessing the impacts on students in higher education. In: Proceedings of the 15th International Cross-Disciplinary Conference on Web Accessibility (Web4All 2018). ACM Press, New York. Available at: https://doi.org/10.1145/3192714.3192820 [Accessed: 07 February 2022].

Disabled Students’ Commission (2020) Three Months to Make a Difference. Available at: www.advance-he.ac.uk/news-and-views/three-months-make-difference [Accessed: 07 February 2022].

Disabled Students’ Commission (2021) Annual Report 2020-2021: Enhancing the disabled student experience. Available at: https://s3.eu-west-2.amazonaws.com/assets.creode.advancehe-document-manager/documents/advance-he/AdvHE_DSC_State%20of%20the%20Nation_1611157499.pdf [Accessed: 07 February 2022].

Office for Students (2020) Disabled students. OfS Coronavirus briefing Note 8, 25 June. Available at: https://www.officeforstudents.org.uk/media/8f61cef7-4cf7-480a-8f73-3e6c51b05e54/coronavirus-briefing-note-disabled-students.pdf [Accessed: 07 February 2022].

QAA (2021) How Good Practice in Digital Delivery and Assessment has Affected Student Engagement and Success – an Early Exploration. COVID-19 supporting resources. The Quality Assurance Agency for Higher Education. Available at: https://www.qaa.ac.uk/docs/qaa/guidance/how-good-practice-in-digital-delivery-and-assessment-has-affected-student-engagement-and-success.pdf?sfvrsn=a6b1d381_8) [Accessed: 07 February 2022].Wilson, L., Conway, J., Martin, N. and Turner, P., (2020) Covid-19: disabled students in higher education: student concerns and institutional challenges. Report by the National Association of Disability Practitioners (NAPD). Available at: https://nadp-uk.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/05/NADP-Report-Covid-19-Disabled-Students-in-Higher-Education-Student-Concerns-and-Institutional-Challenges.docx [Accessed: 07 February 2022].

Categories: #ALTC Blog, ALT
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