This weekend the sun has come out, the light and heat bring nature back to life. As I’ve been pottering around outside this morning enjoying simple things like potting out some seedlings, repainting the garden bench, it’s easy to forgot that the world has changed so much in the past for 4 weeks.
Over 15,000 people have now died of COVID-19 in the UK. There’s still not enough PPE for frontline workers. There is at the UK level anyway a void in leadership. We are feed platitudes by interchangeable cabinet minsters at 5pm each day . . . We are told this is not the time to be angry, but maybe we should be. This piece by Steven Methven in the London Review of Books blog is a powerful, personal response to that.
The past week has been quite busy for me. There was a welcome break and indeed quite a bit of excitement (more of the nervous kind for me in the lead up to it) and much needed energy boost from the Gasta Goes Global online event on Tuesday night. A huge congratulations to Tom Farrelly and everyone (too many to mention) who pulled this event off. The speakers and and a limited audience were in a zoom room that was live streamed to YouTube for everyone else to watch and comment on. I was so impressed that there were summaries of the twitter and youtube chatter at the end, and what a way to finish with a song from Tom.
I felt that all the presentations from Maha Bali, Martin Weller, Leigh Graves-Wolf, Frank Rennie, Mark Brown and me, give a really diverse set of reactions and perspectives around what is happening just now in education and what might happen in the future. Of course I missed out half of what I wanted to say but really I wanted to highlight the danger of the spotlight effect or observational bias that I see particularly around the use of technology just now and in particular around the use and development of online proctoring systems. You can catch up with the recording of the event here.
On Wednesday night I joined another international session, this time with Virtually Connecting and a conference session hosted by Alan Levine and Maha Bali as part of the TCC Online Conference . The session was really lovely example of experiential learning as it illustrated the concepts, ethos and reality of Virtually Connecting through a virtually connecting session.
Care is so important right now. Maha’s Gasta session encapsulated the need for care so well, do watch it – it really is only 5 minutes!
Care and sharing and extending opportunities for conversations is really at the heart of Virtually Connecting. I really am so glad to be able to be part of this community – and if you haven’t tried a VC session yet, dear reader, then I do urge to do join one soon. The principles of hospitality are just as, if not even more important in an online setting. It was inspiring to here Alan and Mia Zamora share how they have used the principles of Virtually Connecting with their students. You can catch up on the recording here.
Being self employed I have felt a bit removed from what has been happening on campuses in the past month. Whilst this does give me a bit more of an objective view, I have felt slightly useless at points. However during the week I was really pleased to see that a project I was in involved in last year, The Edinburgh Model for Online Teaching is now being made available to all staff at Edinburgh (originally it was developed for staff involved in developing micro masters courses), and that it is proving really popular.
During the design phase the team and particularly Michael Gallagher and myself designed and wrote the course were keen to focus on teaching, and really the principles of good teaching generally not just online teaching.
I also spotted but haven’t quite got the courage to watch them yet, that some video material I recorded for the Learning and Teaching Academy at Heriot Watt University back in January are now available and part of their openly available Watt Works Guides. God, January that does feel like years not moths ago. I even drove there and that’s nearly 50 miles away!
I’m trying to keep my creative activities going just now, but like everything that has peaks and troughs. However, this week I have been looking a bit more closely at COVID-19, well some of the images from microscopes, and this is one of my more visual reactions.
Stay safe dear reader, until next week.