Introducing Lisa 

There has always been a buzz around education for me and I started my journey by volunteering at playgroup when my eldest child joined. A primary school gardening club followed and, around then, I decided that I wasn’t interested in my ‘office job’ anymore and started to study with The Open University. I will always be grateful for the chance to study alongside of work and family, an opportunity that eventually bridged the gap between my A Levels and an MSc in Medicinal Chemistry. Consequently, I fell in love with both education and science but could never quite decide which bit of science I preferred, although one of my absolute highlights was a week-long residential at the Astronomical Observatory of Mallorca. Cloud scuppered the chance of observing almost anything I had studied in my Astronomy module but the experience of working with lecturers and students, and using the equipment and techniques, was priceless

An opportunity to get more hands-on during an Open University residential week.

Shortly after completing my degree in Natural Science, I trained to teach secondary science with a physics specialism, and started my career in education. It’s hard to beat the buzz and excitement of a busy classroom but I have also gained a lot from working with individuals in focused support or tutoring roles. Personalised support has allowed me to develop a deeper understanding of individual learning challenges and it is so rewarding to help students make progress – particularly when those, hardened to disappointment, realise that they can achieve. Another highlight during this period was volunteering on a youth programme run by the Bath Royal Literary and Scientific Institution. These workshops were collaborations with the local universities and industry experts, and it was wonderful to work outside of the curriculum, guiding teams of students who had chosen to spend their Saturday mornings doing science!  

Of course World Book Day reaches the Science Department!

The thrill of practical science attracted me to my most recent role as Senior Science Technician in a small secondary school. Working with subject experts to develop activities to support learning is very rewarding. There is never a one size fits all, regardless of a shared curriculum, experienced teachers know the challenges of their subject and will carefully select activities around their students’ needs. Outside of that though the role demands good chemical knowledge, safe hands, the ability to plan and manage a rapid turnaround of equipment across multiple labs and lessons, and the ability to fudge something that just doesn’t work as it should!  

Separating inks with chromatography is simple, and popular.

My journey has brought so many rich experiences, and a deep appreciation of educational opportunity. So, here we are. Equipped with a love of learning, a tendency to produce visual guides for everything, a need to be organised and to organise, and a strong desire not to let the digital world move on without me – the RAU has ended up with me as the newest member of their Learning Technology Team. I am very much looking forward to working on projects and excited to get involved with the learning areas. 

‘A Little More (Digital) Conversation and (Inclusive) Action Please’. New E-Learning Ecologies? From Techno-autobiography to Techno-autoethnography.

UNESCO Inclusive Policy Lab Education & Digital Skills Conversation Event took place on December 8th 2021. The event was organised by Dr Katharine Jewitt from The Open University and Lee Dunn from the Scottish Digital Academy at The Scottish Government. The team can be followed on Twitter @UNDigitalSkills. A keynote was delivered by Dr. Debbie Holley from Bournemouth University. The interdisciplinary event explored four key themes:

1. School Education and Digital Literacy

2. Professional learning, training and capability

3. Digital futures and emerging technologies,

4. Praxis of digital transformation.

‘A little more (digital) conversation and (inclusive) action please’

In an earlier blog post, the idea of techno-biography was explored with William Leschallas, Head of School of Real Estate and Land Management at the RAU. Responding to the theme of Professional Learning, Training and Capability, a research poster was submitted that aimed to both outline the techno-biographic apprach and identify a further development of techno-autoethnography. This method can be used as an opportunity to provide an “identify performance” (Clark, 2020).

“Ethnography is a qualitative research method in which a researcher—an ethnographer—studies a particular social/cultural group with the aim to better understand it. Ethnography is both a process (e.g., one does ethnography) and a product (e.g., one writes an ethnography). In doing ethnography, an ethnographer actively participates in the group in order to gain an insider’s perspective of the group and to have experiences similar to the group members”

Allen 2017

Telling our pedagogical stories could be argued to be part of a “world-centered education” (Biesta, 2022). It could also be part of a new “e-learning ecologies” (Cope & Kalantzis, 2017: p1).

Research posters could be viewed in an immersive virtual gallery created by a tool called Kunst Matrix. This tool “is a unique tool that enables you to create beautiful 3D showcases of your art to impress art lovers and collectors. Digitally present and manage your art, including an augmented reality app to show a preview of your work in any space you like!” (Kunst Matrix, n.d.). The virtual gallery with the research posters cna be accessed here.

Exploring the research posters in the Virtual Gallery using Kunst Matrix

Another potential development could be to explore heuristic inquiry.

“Heuristic inquiry attempts to discover the nature and meaning of phenomenon through internal pathways of self using the processes of self-reflection, exploration, and elucidation of the nature of phenomenon that is being studied”

(Douglass & Moustakas, 1995, in Djuraskovic & arthur, 2010: p1572)

The implication for the role of the researcher is that it is possible to “…explore openly and pursue the creative path that originates inside of one ’s being and that discovers its direction and meaning within oneself” (Djuraskovic & Arthur, 2010: p1572).

The hashtag on Twitter for the event was #UNDigitalSkills.

The research poster can be accessed online here and the entire collection of research posters can be both accessed and downloaded here.

A PDF version of the research poster can be accessed below:

‘I’m a Learning Technologist. Get Me Out of Here’. A techno-autoethnographic poem’ is a development of the techno-biographic approach exploring techno-autoethnography and is published in the Being creative in the face of adversity. The #creativeHE Annual 2021. Creativity for Learning in Higher Education Community, #creativeHE here. “Ethnographically based poetry” can an a creative opportunity to share our stories (Prince 2021). A further opportunity to develop the techno-autoethnographic approach will be at the Virtually Undisciplined: Diversifying Higher Education and Research through interconnectivity conference organised by Women in Academic Support Network (WIASN) in March – April 2022.


Allen, M (ed) Ethnography in The SAGE Encyclopedia of Communication Research Methods (Online) Available at: [Accessed: 8 December 2021]

Biesta, G (2022) World-Centered Education A View for the Present (1st ed) (New York & Oxon: Routledge)

Clark, D. (2020) Tech and me: an autoethnographic account of digital literacy as an identity performance. Research in Learning Technology, 28. (Online) Available at: [Accessed: 8 December 2021]

Cope, B & Kalantzis, M (eds) (2017) ‘Conceptualising Environments‘ in e-Learning Ecologies: Principles for New Learning and Assessment. pp1-46 (New York & London: Routledge)

Djuraskovic, I & Arthur, N (2010) Heuristic Inquiry: A Personal Journey of Acculturation and Identity Reconstruction [pdf] in The Qualitative Report Volume 15 Number 6 November 2010 pp1569-1593(Online) Available at:

Kunst Matrix (n.d.) (Online) Available at: [Accessed: 8 December 2021]

Jewitt, K (2021): UNESCO Inclusive Policy Lab Education and Digital Skills: A Conversation Event. 8 December 2021 Collection. The Open University. Collection. (Online) Available at: [Accessed: 17 December 2021]

Prince, C (2021) Experiments in Methodology: Sensory and Poetic Threads of Inquiry, Resistance, and Transformation. Qualitative Inquiry. [e-journal] 2022: 28 (1):94-107. DOI: 10.1177/10778004211014611

Leschallas, W & McDonald, P (2021) Techno-autobiography & the Transnational Online Pivot: Exploring a Lecturer’s Experience of Teaching Online. Digital Transformation Blog [blog] 12th Dec. Available at: [Accessed: 8 December 2021]

McDonald, P (2021) ‘I’m a Learning Technologist. Get Me Out of Here’. A techno-autoethnographic poem’ in Tasler, N., O’Brien, R, E. & Spiers, A. (eds.) (2021) Being creative in the face of adversity. The #creativeHE Annual 2021. Creativity for Learning in Higher Education Community, #creativeHE [e-journal] pp24-27 DOI:  

McDonald, P & Leschallas, W (2021) Exploring the Impact of Techno-biography on the development of Digital Literacy. Poster presented at: UNESCO Inclusive Policy Lab Education and Digital Skills: A Conversation Event. 8 December 2021 (Online) Available at: [Accessed: 17th December 2021]

The Open University (n.d.) UNESCO Inclusive Policy Lab Education and Digital Skills: A Conversation Event. 8 December 2021 Collection (Online) Available at: UNESCO_Inclusive_Policy_Lab_Education_and_Digital_Skills_A_Conversation_Event_8_December_2021_Collection/5752247/5 [Accessed: 17 December 2021]

UNESCO (n.d.) Inclusive Policy Lab (Online) Available at: [Accessed: 8 December 2021]

Women in Academic Support Network (WIASN) (2022) Virtually Undisciplined: Diversifying Higher Education and Research through interconnectivity (Online) Available at: [Accessed 7 January 2022

The Pedagogical Panopticon? Pivot Parables, Praxis & Paradigms

Definition of panoptic. being or presenting a comprehensive or panoramic a panoptic view of the city

Merriam-Webster, n.d.

The Panopto User conference took place in November 2021 at the Royal Society of Medicine in London. In its most basic form, Panopto is a tool to “…record and share videos” (Panopto, 2021). However, it is much more than this. At the RAU, one way we use Panopto is to create pre-recorded lectures, particularly throughout the pivot to online learning as a result of the global pandemic.

Panopto User Conference at the Royal Society of Medicine

What is the Panopticon?

It is possible to understand the panopticon in two ways. Firstly, from an architectural perspective, the structure provides an opportunity for observation. Secondly, from a metaphorical point of view, the panopticon could be seen as a form of surveillance. The panopticon has been explored by both Bentham and Foucault. (McMullan, 2015).

(McMullan, 2015)

“The basic setup of Bentham’s panopticon is this: there is a central tower surrounded by cells. In the central tower is the watchman. In the cells are prisoners – or workers, or children, depending on the use of the building. The tower shines bright light so that the watchman is able to see everyone in the cells. The people in the cells, however, aren’t able to see the watchman, and therefore have to assume that they are always under observation”

(McMullan, 2015)

(The Audiopedia, 2016)

Perhaps reimagining the panopticon through the lens of the Panopto tool could provide an opportunity reflect on the ability to access a range of recordings and pedagogical content in an both an inclusive and accessible way. Analytics provide insights to help us improve what we do as educators. To revisit the idea of Panopto as a metaphor, we could view Panopto as a bit like a tardis, it has more capability than we realise.

After a truly inspiring key note presentation by Claire Lomas MBE (@claire80lomas) where she presented her journey after being paralysed in 2007 and what she has achieved since that time, including the Great North Run in a robotic suit, there was a panel discussion exploring hybrid learning followed by a road map presentation from the CEO, Eric Burns.

Some of the key ideas and questions were:

  1. As we move back into delivering in a face-to-face and hybrid capacity, we have an opportunity to ask what we want to keep from the pandemic practice?

2. It is important to ask ourselves, “Am I doing right be both hybrid and local audiences?”. Lets raise the parity.

3. It is important to play to the strengths of both hybrid and face-to face mediums

4. We need to use the right tool for the right task

5. What about content “living on”, the content in the sky?

6. What is equitable viewing?

7. Do we have to record everything? What is recording normativity?

Future developments include:

  1. Non linear and non sequential experiences
  2. Content tagging
  3. Re-using content in a VLE
  4. Creating deep copies
  5. Use of remote recorders
  6. Video shortcuts
  7. what could a “beautiful library” be?


Panopto (2021) Panopto (Online) Available at: [Accessed: 10 November 2021]

McMullan, T (2015) What does the panopticon mean in the age of digital surveillance? The Guardian [online] (Last updated Thu 23 Jul 2015 08.00) (Online) Available at: BST [Accessed: 10 November 2021]

Merriam-Webster (n.d.) (Online) Available at: Panoptic [Accessed: 10 November 2021]

Arvorum Cultus Pecorumque. Caring for the (Digital) Fields and the Beasts.

‘Look after the (Digital) land, and it will look after You’

The Royal Agricultural University’s Latin motto is from Virgil’s Georgics. The recent move to online learning due to the impact of the global pandemic and with the implications for a potential future hybrid pedagogical model, could mean that we can conceptualise the possibility of care in a digital context.

For both SDAU and QAU, RAU teaching staff deliver 45-minute interactive sessions to approximately 150 students. An ongoing pedagogical challenge is to encourage as much interaction as possible. Often students are reluctant to turn their cameras on and unmute to speak during these sessions. It could be argued that students are ‘lurking’ in online envirnoments.

“Lurking is often seen as a problem in online education, particularly in fully online,

distance/distributed learning contexts”

Kuhn, Havemann, Kogeoglu & Bozkurt, 2021: p2

During an interactive session on Zoom, verbal communication is relied on for example if a student is delivering a presentation and sharing their screen. A majority of functions in Zoom are concerned with the development and practice of the verbal mode, for example mute/unmute. What if there was a different way to communicate that does not involve using the camera or microphone? This is where non-verbal feedback came in. Whilst meeting reactions have been used in the past, non-verbal feedback provides a new layer of communication and an opportunity to interact effectively.

Non-verbal Feedback Panel in Zoom

In October 2021, SDAU students were shown how to use non-verbal feedback and meeting reactions in Zoom. “…Meeting participants can place an icon in their video panel and beside their name in the participants panel to communicate with the host and other participants without disrupting the flow of the meeting. For example, selecting the Slow down icon places the icon in your video panel and beside your name to indicate you would like the host or presenter to go slower” (Zoom Video Communications, 2021).

Exploring Non-verbal Feedback

Providing students with an opportunity for non-verbal communication can help to provide the Lecturer with a confirmation that students are listening and/or have understood. Students can use non-verbal feedback as a way to build confidence in developing verbal feedback skills.

Perhaps non-verbal feedback is connected to dual coding:

“Human cognition is unique in that it has become specisalised for dealing simultaneously with language and non-verbal objects and events”

(Paivio, 1986 in Kirschner in Caviglioli, 2019

Exploring Zoom

Agile stationary was demonstrated to the students in the form of a deck of video conferencing cards. Showing the cards on the screen with the camera on can help with communication in a live meeting. I also suggested that students could create their own cards. This could enable students to create a personalised learning experience. It is also possible to suggest improvements and there is an Agile Games Workshop Meetup.

Exploring Agile Stationary

“We believe that physical products support embodied cognition without becoming distracting and provide the fastest feedback loop in the simplest possible setting” (Agile Stationery, 2021).

(Agile Stationery, 2021)

Having reflected on Zoom literacies as part of the #ukfechat here, the extent to which breakout rooms could improve student engagement in a blog post here and here, artifactual literacy has been explored (Pahl & Rowsell, 2010). How can we use found objects to improve the interactive experience of the Zoom sessions. When does an object become an artifact and vice versa?

“A found object is a natural or man-made object, or fragment of an object, that is found (or sometimes bought) by an artist and kept because of some intrinsic interest the artist sees in it”

(Tate Modern, n.d.).

What could students create in a Zoom session that could relate to agriculture? I explored the range of creative packs in a local shop.

Found Objects

A Microsoft Form was used to evaluate what students thought about non-verbal feedback, meeting reactions, agile stationary:

1. The majority of students thought that found objects improved engagement

2. The majority of students thought that non-verbal feedback tool and meeting reactions were a positive way to interact in the session?

3. For the question “How can the non-verbal feedback tool and meeting reactions be improved?” one answer was “The teacher can initiate a vote during the lecture and ask the students to answer. Through the data analysis, the students can grasp the situation and infer the points of doubt“,

4. For the question “How did the agile stationary help with interaction in the session?” one answer was “In some way, it can help teacher know about how much knowledge students has masterd,and adjust the process of class.”.


Agile Stationary (2021) Agil a Stationary (Online) Available at: [Accessed 26 October 2021]

Caviglioli, O (2019) Dual Coding for Teachers (Woodbridge: John Catt Educational Ltd)

Kuhn H., C., Havemann, L., Koseoglu, S., & Bozkurt, A. (2021). Three lenses on lurking:
Making sense of digital silence. In J. Hoffman & P. Blessinger (Eds.), International
perspectives in online instruction (p. 83-93). Emerald Publishing Limited. (Online) Available at: [Accessed 3 November 2021]

Pahl, J & Rowsell J (2010) Artifactual Literacies: Every Object Tells a Story (Language and Literacy Series) (Amsterdam & New York: Teachers College Press)

Maro, P.V. (29 BCE). Virgil: Eclogues, Georgics, Aeneid. Translated by H.R. Fairclough. Loeb Classical Library. Harvard University Press: Cambridge, MA. 1916.

Meetup LLC (2021) Agile Games Workshop Meetup in London (Online) Available at: [Accessed 26 October 2021]

McDonald, P (2021) Technology to Transgress. Spinoza, Energy & Expeditions of Joy. Exploring Critical Zoom Literacies with #ukfechat blog, [blog] 21 Oct. Available at: [Accessed 26 October 2021]

McDonald, P (2021) Indiana Jones & the Breakout Tombs. Exploring Student Zoom Literacy blog, [blog] 9 Oct. Available at: [Accessed 26 October 2021]

Tate Modern (n.d.) Found Objects (Online) Available at: [Accessed 26 October 2021]

Taylorson, L (2021) ukfechat curation: 30/09/2021 – Technology to Transgress: Critical Zoom Literacies hosted by @PipMac6 Wakelet Collection (Online) Available at: [Accessed 26 October 2021]

Zoom Video Communications (2021) Nonverbal feedback and meeting reactions(Online) Available at: [Accessed 26 October 2021]

A Room with a (Digital) View. Exploring the #JoyFE #IdeasRoom

In October 2021, I attended my first #IdeasRoom on Zoom. I discovered the #IdeasRoom on Twitter as a result of submitting a poem to the #JoyFE magazine. The #IdeasRoom was more than just an #IdeasRoom. It is a part of #JoyFE – “Joyful Education💛 was founded by Stefanie Wilkinson and Lou Mycroft in the summer of 2020, following the momentum experienced in Covid-lockdown around the need for change in education. It is the enterprise arm of the non-profit movement and constellation, #JoyFE💛” (Joyful Education, 2021).

(Mars maths, 2021)

#IdeasRooms draw on the thinking of Nancy Kline and the idea of the thinking environment (Kline, 2020). What was really interesting was that “Nancy Kline purports that the quality of everything we do depends on the quality of the thinking we do first” (Hey Teach, 2021). I attended a presentation entitled JoyFE More than a hashtag at the OER Domains 21 conference in April 2021 delivered by Sammy White.

(White, 2021)

What is a room? According to the Cambridge Dictionary, a room can be defined as “a part of the inside of a building that is separated from other parts by walls, floor, and ceiling” (Cambridge Dictionary, 2021). What is an #IdeasRoom? They are “…a one-hour, virtual space where efficient thinking happens, in an environment of encouragement, attention and ease. Everyone is welcome to join the #JoyFE💛 public Ideas Room at 8pm every Wednesday…” (Joyful Educatiom, 2021). It is possible to join an #IdeasRoom by sending a direct message to the @JoyfulFE Twitter account for the Zoom joining instructions.

“I have taken part in an ideas room more than 100 times and each time I have left feeling refreshed, ‘with my brain on fire’, inspired to do more. But this is a different kind of ‘more’. It is often an idea, turned into a project, that has been enriched by many other beautiful minds since its proposal in the first round of the #ideasroom”

(Mars Maths, 2021)

When you join the #IdeasRoom, it is important to use the camera. Participants share who they are and how they are. This is followed by identifying an idea that each participant has been thinking about. The ideas are shared in the chat and there is an opportunity to vote on the idea to discuss. Participants then go into breakout rooms where the main idea is discussed. Questions such as “What is live for you?” are asked and answered. When participants rejoin the main room, there is an opportunity to share ideas, praise others and reflect on how to embed ideas discussed in our own context.

“There is something beautiful about having a sense of purpose that guides you to send positive messages out into the world”

(Mycroft & wilkinson, 2021)

It was undoubtedly the case that I felt better after participating in the #IdeasRoom. It felt like I was able to listen in a constructive way and focus in a meaningful capacity. Sammy White identified generative listening in her presentation (White, 2021). One of my initial thoughts was to share the #IdeasRoom with the RAU and suggest using the approach with staff and students alike. If CPD was framed in this way, as a #ThinkingEnvironment, then perhaps it would be more joyful.

(@LouMycroft, 2021)

Benefits of #IdeasRooms:

  1. Inclusive environments
  2. No exclusive ownership
  3. Bring about positive change
  4. Opportunity to listen to others and be listened to
  5. Opportunity to focus
  6. Open environment
  7. Accessible environment
  8. Collaborative environment
  9. “Common feedback from people who attend the IdeasRoom include a refreshed outlook, excitement about the future, optimistic creative thinking and a buzz about feeling connected” (Joyful Education, n.d.).
  10. No hosts, just shared task-based facilitators (White, 2021)
  11. In the last three #Ideasrooms I attended, the facilitator stressed how “role, rank and ego” can be left out of the room. This can be a refreshing opportunity to enjoy ideas in a collaborative capacity.

In Sammy White’s presentation, a reference is made to floo powder from the Harry Potter films. An additional Harry Potter reference struck me as being relevant to #IdeasRooms – the Room of Requirement. If the wand chooses the wizard, then the room chooses the participants?

“The wand chooses the wizard, Mr. Potter”

Mr. Ollivander, Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone (2001)

Lou Mycroft (@LouMycroft) facilitated the #IdeasRoom. She shared how time seemed to slow down in the room and I could definitely relate to this. In the OER Domains 21 presentation, she also discussed how #JoyFE was like “rhizomatic professional practice” and was similar to Rhizo14 (Mycroft, in White2021). “Communities of practice” are not new (Lave & Wenger, 1991: p89). However, #JoyFE is more than a community. As a collaborative community, perhaps the facilitators are like the “Keepers of Hope” (hooks, 2003: p105).

In future, perhaps Zoom Rooms could help to facilitate #IdeasRooms. Despite the fact that I do not work in FE, the #IdeasRoom is an inclusive #ThinkingEnvironment to bring all educators together. Perhaps we can from #JoyFE to simply #JoyE.


ALT (2021) JoyFE More than a hashtag [Accessed 17 October 2021]

Cambridge Dictionary (2021) Room (Online) Available at: [Accessed 17 October 2021]

Canopy Education (n.d.) Sammy White (Online) Available at: [Accessed 17 October 2021]

Cormier, D (2016) Rhizo14 – The MOOC that community built. Education Technology Blog. blog, [blog] 13 April Available at: [Accessed 17 October 2021]

Hey Teach (2021) Call Me a Revolutionary. Teaching Blog blog, [blog] 15 Oct. Available at: [Accessed: 18 October 2021]

hooks, b (2003) Teaching Community: A Pedagogy of Hope (Routledge: London & New York)

IMDB (2021) John Hurt: Mr. Ollivander Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone (2001) (Online) Available at: [Accessed 17 October 2021]

Joyful Education (2021) The JoyFE Magazine (Online) Available at: [Accessed 17 October 2021]

Joyful Education (2021) Welcome to Joyful Education (Online) Available at: [Accessed 17 October 2021]

Joyful Education (2021) Ideas Room (Online) Available at: [Accessed 17 October 2021]

Joyful Education [@JoyfulFE] (Online). (n.d.). Tweets [Twitter profile]. October, 2021 from

Lave, L & Wenger, E (1991) Situated Learning: Legitimate Peripheral Participation (Learning in Doing: Social, Cognitive and Computational Perspectives) (Cambridge, New York, Madrid & Cape Town: Cambridge University Press)

Mars Maths (2021) What is an #ideasroom (based on Thinking Environment principles)? . Available at: [Accessed 17 October 2021]

Mars Maths (n.d.) Why turning up to an #ideasroom without an idea, is a good idea. Education Blog. [blog] 27 February. Available at: [Accessed 17 October 2021]

Mycroft, L & Wilkinson, S (2021) How #JoyFE has been a source of connection for many. Education blog [blog] 13 May Available at: [Accessed 17 October 2021]

Taylorson, L (2021) ukfechat curation: 30/09/2021 – Technology to Transgress: Critical Zoom Literacies hosted by @PipMac6 Wakelet Collection (Online) Available at: [Accessed 26 October 2021]

Time to Think (2020) Nancy Klein (Online) Available at: [Accessed 17 October 2021]

The Harry Potter Lexicon (2021) The Room of Requirement (Online) Available at: [Accessed 17 October 2021]


Zoom Video Communications (2021) Zoom Rooms (Online) Available at: [Accessed 17 October 2021]

Indiana Jones & the Breakout Tombs. Exploring Student Zoom Literacy

Indiana Jones & the Breakout Rooms

As part of a transnational partnership between the Royal Agricultural University (RAU) and Shandong Agriculture University (SDAU) that pivoted to online elarning due to the global plandmeic, Lecturers delivered 45-minute interactive sessions to students using Zoom, the well-known video conferencing tool. Since June 2020, three successful online cohorts have taken place. It is fundamental to acknowledge the differences between teaching in a face-to-face and online capacity, that distance learning “…cannot be the same as teaching in a walled classroom” (Morris, 2021). A significant part of the transnational online pivot involved training staff on how to use Zoom effectiely for pedagogy. What about the students? In September 2021, a Lecturer reported that a student had disrupted the class by not putting the microphone on mute. Initially, this ‘pedagogical incident’ could be explained as showing a need for greater online classroom management and/or student behaviour. However, I asked myself, “Have we created an opportunity to support students on how to behave in an online classroom, have we assumed they know how to use Zoom?“. Perhaps the teacher-centrered approach needed to be transformed into a student-centred approach. As a result, four critical questions were asked

1.How can we support students to make the most of their interactive sessions in Zoom?

2. How do students know how to behave in an online classroom setting?

3. How do students know how to use Zoom?

4. How can we support students whose first language may not be English with technology-enhanced transnational learning (TETL?)

Asking the four questions above, led to three further questions:

1.What is literacy?

2. What is Zoom Literacy?

3. When does knowing how do use a tool become literacy?

Perhaps literacy “…has become a process of commodification in which literate learning is entangled with commodities” (Mills, 2015: p2).

A strategy we explored was the use of breakout rooms in Zoom to facilitate an escape room. What is an escape room? Escape rooms (ERs) can be defined as “…live-action team-based games in which players encounter challenges in order to complete a mission in a limited amount of time” (Veldkamp, van de Grint, Knippels & van Jooingen, 2020). Escape rooms are nothing new. They are popular in education Sanchez & Plumettaz-Sieber, 2019 in Veldkamp, van de Grint, Knippels & van Jooingen, 2020). One of the core benefits of breakout rooms is that the “allow[s] groups of one or more participants to break out into any number of smaller Zoom meetings from within the initial Zoom meeting (Stanford University Teaching Commons, n.d.). It can be argued that an escape room is a type of game. Embedding gamification is also nothing new in education. There are a number of advantages to using games, for example, games can provide an opportunity to “increase both engagement and motivation” (Kim, Song, Lockee & Burton, 2018: p5).

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is image-26.png
Can an escape room help to engage stduents with Zoom Literacy?

In 2021, a presentation was delivered at the University of Kent Digitally Enhanced Education Webinars entitled Indiana Jones and the Temple of Zoom. A Transnational Online Pivot Adventure which explored the idea of online classrooms being like ‘digital temples’ and Learning Technologists like ‘Digital Archaeologists’. This blog post is a development of this as the next transnational adventure. In the film Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, Indiana Jones faces a series of ‘tombs’ that he needs to break out of by solving problems. From the ‘Temple of Zoom’ to the ‘Breakout Tomb’.

Exploring the use of a digital badge

In our escape room, students are faced with different situations that they may face in an interactive session in Zoom. A PowerPoint file with animated content was shared to created a multimodal experience. Students need to answer the questions correctly using chat and find the code to ‘escape’. A password-protected blog post was created. Once students escaped, they could download a digital badge and had an opportunity to access a Microsoft Form to evaluate their escape room experience.

Student names are not shown

In October 2021, a presentation was delivered at CARNival, an event entitled Raised Voices: Collaborative Action Research Network (CARN) Online Conference, 2021 to discuss the escape room approach in the transnational context.


In terms of what Zoom Literacy could be, perhaps it could be made up of different dimensions of practice. For example, using non-verbal feedback or agile stationary could be a form of artifactual literacy which can be defined as an approach that “…examines objects and their meanings in everyday life and also acknowledges the situated nature of texts in places and communities” (Pahl & Rowsell, 2011: p130). What is important to note is that “Some stories are more powerful than others in that they are more visible” (Pahl & Rowsell, 2011: p129).

Create your own Bayeux Tapestry here

Zoom is not immune from digital inequalities. From Teaching to Transgress to Technology to Transgress & Progress (hooks, 1994). It is important that we must not view the online classroom as a digital “mini-kingdom” with unequal power relationships, particularly if the online classroom is designed to be an interactive environment (hooks,1994: p17). If it is true that “every object tells a story”, then every online classroom has a narrative too (Pahl & Rowsell, 2010).

Using non-verbal feedback in Zoom. Artifactual Literacy?

Perhaps one aspect of the narrative was the Chinese character transforming the escape room into an opportunity for into digital storytelling.

奕辰 (Yìchén)

Key Points

Curating the virtual support presence – It is a good idea to adopt a team teaching approach. More than one Lecturer/Learning Technologist provides the students with more support and workload can be shared e.g. one person shares screen while the other monitors the chat.

Planning for breakout rooms or ‘tombs‘ – Breakout rooms need to be planned in advance either by pre-assignment with student emails or in a manual capacity. If the group has a large number of students, then manual breakout rooms can be the best approach in a synchronous capacity.

Second language awareness – creating a document with core vocabulary and phrases to support students with understanding, particularly if the topic involves specialist terms of reference.

Involve students in the development of their own Zoom Literacies – create an ice breaker activity proving students an opportunity to decide their on ground rules and expected behaviours in online settings.

Be open to exploring a range of tools and approaches – another interesting tool is Twine “…an open-source tool for telling interactive, nonlinear stories” (Interactive Fiction Technology Foundation, n.d. ). Could students co-create collaborative and interactive fiction?

How has the global pandemic enabled us to reimagine the pedagogical possibilities of what a classroom has been, is currently and could be? It is possible to reflect on the “Brave New Digital Classroom” of the future (Blake & Guillén, 2013).

“Digital tech has permeated classrooms, homes and social spaces, and so on campus or classroom education is, to a significant extent, digital and online”

(Fawns, 2019)

What if we left the classroom behind? (Spinney, 2021). What could replace the classroom? To what extent could Zoom Literacy could be part of a wider, and potentially platform agnostic Brave New Digital Literacy?

“We can’t just choose a pedagogy and then a technology. In fact, technology is part of pedagogy: “pedagogy is the thoughtful combination of methods, technologies, social and physical designs and on-the-fly interactions”

FAWNS, 2021

Perhaps when we think about student Zoom Literacy, we always need to think about the student and question how to support our international students as much as possible prioritising an ethical apprach (Mittelmeier, Lomer, Lim, Cockayne & Ploner, 2021).


Agile Stationary (2021) (Online) Available at: [Accessed 11 September 2021]

Alice Veldkamp, Liesbeth van de Grint, Marie-Christine P.J. Knippels, Wouter R. van Joolingen (2020) Escape education: A systematic review on escape rooms in education in Educational Research Review, Volume 31, 100364 (Online) Available at: [Accessed 11 September 2021]

Blake, R, J & Guillén, G. 2nd ed. (2013) Brave New Digital Classroom: Technology and Foreign Language Learning (Washington DC: Georgetown University Press)

Dundee & Angus Convention Bureau (n.d.) Raised Voices: Collaborative Action Research Network (CARN) Online Conference, 2021 (Online) Available at:–raised-voices-collaborative-action-research-network-carn-online-conference-2021 [Accessed 11 September 2021]

Fawns, T (2021) Postdigital Education Education Blog [blog] June 19 (online) Available at: [Accessed 10 November 2021]

hooks, B (1994) Teaching to Transgress Education as the Practice of Freedom (Oxon & New York: Routledge)

Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom. 1984 [film]. Steven Spielberg. dir. Paramonun Pictures & Lucasfilm

Interactive Fiction Technology Foundation (n.d.) Twine (Online) Available at: [Accessed 24 September 2021]

Kim, S, Song, K, Lockee, B & Burton, J (2018) Gamification in Learning and Education Enjoy Learning Like Gaming? (Switzerland: Springer International Education)

Mills, K, A (2015) Literacy Theories for the Digital Age: Social, Critical, Multimodal, Spatial, Material and Sensory Lenses (New Perspectives on Language and Education (Bristol, Buffalo & Toronto: Multilingual Matters)

Mittelmeier, J, Lomer, S, Lim, M, Cockayne, H & Ploner, J (2022) How can practices with international students be made more ethical? Post Pandmeic University blog [blog] Jan 10th (Online) Available at: [Accessed: 13 January 2022]

Morris, S (2021) Humanizing Digital Pedagogy: the Role of Imagination in Distance Teaching. Digital Pedagogy Blog [blog] Available at: [Accessed 3 March 2021]

Pahl, J & Rowsell J (2010) Artifactual Literacies: Every Object Tells a Story (Language and Literacy Series) (Amsterdam & New York: Teachers College Press)

Pahl, K & Rowsell, J (2011) Artifactual Critical Literacy: A New Perspective for Literacy in Berkeley Review of Education, 2(2) (Online) Availbale at: Education

Spinney, L (2021) The big idea: Should we leave the classroom behind? The Guardian, [online] (Last updated 08th November 20210. (Online) Available at:

Stanford University Teaching Commons (n.d.) Successful Breakout Rooms in Zoom (Online) Available at: [Accessed 10 November 2021]

Stanford University Teaching Commons (n.d.) Successful Breakout Rooms in Zoom (Online) Available at: [Accessed 11 September 2021]

Thoretton, M, Leonard A-L, Mathieu, Maria (2015) Historic Tale Construction Kit (Online) Available at:!/ [Accessed 30 September 2021]

Zoom Video Communications (2021) Non verbal feedback and meeting reactions (Online) Available at: [Accessed 11 September 2021]

Technology to Transgress. Spinoza, Energy & Expeditions of Joy. Exploring Critical Zoom Literacies with #ukfechat

“The [online] classroom remains the most radical [online] space of possibility in the academy”

(hooks, 1994)

What about the online classroom? Is the online classroom the most radical virtual space? what is (techno) trangression?

Every Thursday at 9pm, a series of questions, ideas, and provocations in the form of tweets are curated on Twitter with the hashtag #ukfechat to prompt discussion. Tweetchats have become increasingly more popular and one of the core benefits of using this approach is that discussions can take place without the need for face-to-face or location-based restriction.

The format is a question followed by a number. Twitter users who want to respond to a particular question are able to respond by typing ‘A’ and the number of the question. Whilst there is an explicit focus on further education, the majority of ideas, topics and themes explored are relevant to all educational settings. This was the case with using Zoom, particularly during the pandemic as a pivot approach and also as post-pandemic hybrid tool.

In addition to #ukfechat, there are a number of weekly Twitter accounts and hashtags used a tool to prompt online discussion about education. For example #APConnect, #CreativeHE and LTHE Tweetchat which is “a collaborative project to discuss learning & teaching in HE with the wider community vie tweetchats…” (@LTHEchat). LTHEChat takes place every Wednesday 8pm-9pm and the WordPress conference (#PressEDconf21) “…on all things education, pedagogy and research” (@pressedconf). Two blog posts have been published about tweetchats here and here:

In 1994, bell hooks wrote a pivotal book entitled ‘Teaching to Transgress Education as the Practice of Freedom‘ (hooks, 1994). What is transgression? Can technology as a platform for transgression? Can technology be used as a platform for freedom? What about “The Public and their Platforms?” (Carrigan & Fatsis, 2021). What is literacy anyway? What is Critical Digital Literacy?

“Defining what is meant by digital literacy however has proven complicated, as the spaces, texts and tools which contextualise such practices are continually changing”

(Pangrazio, 2016: p163)

Perhaps literacy is a “commodity?” (Elsasser & Irvine, 1992). On Twitter, there is an account that asks what “if bell hooks made an LMS” which is “A bot that mashes up marketing statements from Learning Management Systems and passges from Teaching to Transgress ” (@bellhooksLSM).

Created uisng Presenter Media

As part of both the SDAU and QAU projects, the RAU delivers 45-minute interactive sessions using Zoom. Therefore, the topic of Zoom Literacy became relevant for both staff and students. The first tweet asked ‘What would bell hooks say?’

What would bell hooks say about Zoom? A video tweet.

A range of questions was asked for example:

  1. Have you heard of artifactual literacy? Does every object tell a story? (Rowsell & Pahl, 2010). How can we use objects in Zoom online classrooms effectively?
  2. To what extent are non-verbal feedback & agile literacy an important part of Zoom literacy? I have used before.
  3. How have you used Zoom to create an opportunity for collaborative learning?
  4. How can we carry out digital differentiation using Zoom e.g. sending a message to an individual student & the whole group using the chat
  5. Camera or off? That IS the Zoom question. Or is it?
  6. Since the return to face-to-face teaching in some contexts, how can Zoom support a hybrid pedagogical approach?
  7. To what extent can Zoom be used to create multimodal learning opportunities or for dual coding?
  8. What do you think about a Zoom literacy certificate or formal qualification? Could there be a Zoom college or university?
  9. How did you support teaching staff & students on how to use Zoom? Can you share any practical examples or links? One suggestion I have is to adopt a team-teaching approach in Zoom. Students get more energy!
  10. Is it more about joy not literacy or can we have both?
  11. What is critical digital literacy anyway? What makes it critical? Who decides? Can a tool-specific literacy exist? Would it be helpful and for who? To what extent is literacy transgressive?
  12. How are you currently using Zoom for pedagogy? What features do you use e.g. polling, breakout rooms and/or whiteboard. How can we improve these features?

A good place to start would be to ask what critical digital literacy is anyway? In 2019, I presented Association for Learning Technology (ALT) West Midlands Group at Warwick University exploring Digital Champions and Critical Digital Literacy. Can critical digital literacy evolve over time? To what extent have the global pandemic and pivot to online learning had on our definition? One response from the #ukfechat was that it is about “making a difference” and being “boundary-less of what is possible…” which could link to transgression (Scattergood, 2021). Perhaps bell hooks would agree!

(KMScattergood, 2021)

Another question concerned how objects can be used during Zoom meetings with respect to artifactual literacy. Does this add a new socio-material dimension to using Zoom?. “Does every object tell a story[?]” (Rowsell & Pahl, 2010). A helpful suggestion was made by @tessmaths:

Embedding Numeracy in Zoom classrooms
Embedding numeracy into Zoom meetings using found objects

The use of agile stationery (@agilestationary) can be used in Zoom classrooms as a paper-based solution – “We believe that physical products support embodied cognition without becoming distracting and provide the fastest feedback loop in the simplest possible setting” (Agile Stationary, 2021).

Exploring the Agile Stationary card deck

Perhaps embedding gamification approaches can increase student engagement?

(@agilestationary, 2021)

One of the tweets connected literacy to joy. Joy has been a positive narrative, particularly throughout the pandemic and beyond. Joyful Education “…was founded by Stefanie Wilkinson and Lou Mycroft in the summer of 2020, following the momentum experienced in Covid-lockdown around the need for change in education” (Joyful Education, n.d.). It is possible to follow the #JoyFE hashtag on Twitter.

It was useful to find out how other educators are using Zoom and also what other tools they are using to enhance the student experience, for example the HUE camera:

(@tessmaths, 2021)

Two tweets really stood out in terms of reflective responses to the questions from @LouMycroft. The first tweet explored how Zoom can be used as a platform to build relationships. The second tweet explored the idea of energy from Spinoza and the idea of a joyful expedition. The metaphor of the journey/expedition was powerful.

Tweet 1:

Tweet 2:

What would Spinoza say about Zoom? Does energy create energy?

Does a journey imply a destination? The discussion about journey raised some further ideas:

(@KMSCattergood, 2021)

One of the tweets explored the idea of a Zoom University. Zoom Academy offer both training and certifications for example for Educators here.

The tweets from tweetchat exploring Zoom Literacy can be accessed here organised as a Wakelet collection.

The collections of curated tweets for #ukfechat have been organised as a Wakelet collection here:

If you would like to curate a topic of #ukfechat, it is possible to sign up using Padlet here:

Let us end on an amusing Tweet from Eric Yuan, Founder & CEO of Zoom:

Dr. Rikke Toft Nørgård, Associate professor, Aarhus University & Center for Higher Education Futures presented at the Philosophy and Theory of Higher Education Society (PaTHES) Thematic Webinar Series 2021: Foresight, speculative design and preferable higher education futures in September 2021. In this presentation, the idea of ‘hopepunk’ was identified. What if we had ‘Zoompunk?’.


Agile Stationary (2021) (Online) Available at: [Accessed 11 September 2021]


Carrigan. M & Fatsis, L (2021) The Public and their Platforms Public Sociology in an Era of Social Media (Bristol: Bristol University Press)

Elsasser, N. and Irvine, P. (1992) ‘Literacy as Commodity: Redistributing the Goods’, Journal of Education, 174(3), pp. 26–40. doi: 10.1177/002205749217400304.

Fibonacci, C (n.d.) #UKFECHAT (Online) Available at: [Accessed: 5 October 2021]

Joyful Education (2021) (Online) Available at: [Accessed: 5 October 2021]

Nørgård, T, T (2021) What comes after the ruin? Speculative design for preferable university futures [Online]. in PaTHES Fall 2021 Thematic Webinar Series on “Foresight, speculative design and preferable higher education futures. September 2021.

hooks, B (1994) Teaching to Transgress Education as the Practice of Freedom (Oxon & New York: Routledge)

HUE (2021) HUE (Online) Available at: [Accessed: 8 October 2021]

LTHEChat (n.d.) LTHEChat (Online) Available at: [Accessed: 5 October 2021]

Pahl, K & Rowsell. J (2010) Artifactual Literacies: Every Object Tells a Story (Language and Literacy Series) (Amsterdam & New York: Teachers College Press)

Pangrazio, L (2016) Reconceptualising critical digital literacy, Discourse: Studies in the Cultural Politics of Education, 37:2, 163-174, DOI: 10.1080/01596306.2014.942836



McDonald, P (2021) Unpacking the PressEd Twitter Conference Experience. A Digital Assemblage? Digital Transformation blog [blog] (Online) Available at: [Accessed 5 October 2021]

McDonald, P (2021) EduTwitter as Rhizome. An Online Athenaeum? Tweeting on the Shoulders of (Digital) Giants cDonald, P (2020) When a Learning Technologist became a DJ – For One Night Only. Digital Transformation blog [blog] (Online) Available at: [Accessed 5 October 2021]



Presenter Media (2021) Presenter Media (Online) Available at: [Accessed 5 October 2021]

Scattergood, K [@KMScattergood] (2021, 30th September) NOT A JOURNEY-I HATE JOURNEY AS IT IMPLIES THERE’S A DESTINATION. CAN WE HAVE JOY IS THE ADVENTURE OR JOY IS THE EXPEDITION INSTEAD? #UKFECHAT [Tweet]. Twitter. Available at: [Accessed 7 October 2021]


Taylerson, L [@LyneeTaylorson)] (2021) ukfechat curation: 30/09/2021 – Technology to Transgress: Critical Zoom Literacies hosted by @PipMac6 (Online) Available at: [Accessed 5 October 2021]

Taylerson, L [@LyneTaylorson)] (2021) ukfechat curated archive (Online) Available at:/wake/n0OovqWy5sLeNx_2cpHIO [Accessed 5 October 2021]

Taylerson, L, Pinny, K & McDonald, P (2019) West Midlands Group Meeting: Critical Digital Literacies West Midlands Association of Learning technologists [blog] (Online) Available at: [Accessed 5 October 2021]



the bell hooks LMS [@bellhooksLMS] (n.d.) Twitter. [Twitter] Available at: [Accessed 7 October 2021]

Zoom Video Communications (2021) Zoom Certifications (Online) Available at: [Accessed 14 October 2021]

Thoroughly Modern Technology: Zoom & the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance

Zoom has played a significant role in the pivot to online learning and the emergent ‘pandemagogy’.

‘The Pandemic will not be on Zoom’

(Costello, Brown, Donlon & Girme, 2020)

Zoomtopia took place on 13th-14th September 2021. A part of Zoomtopia was the opportunity to explore the Imaginarium. It was possible to customise the Imaginarium and download the creation. This involved an interactive map including Global Stage, Pavilion of Progress, Product and Industry Showcase, World of Creation, Hall of Sponsors and the Gallery of Stars.

Exploring the (Zoo)m Imaginarium: Incursion or Innovation?

Zoom identify the following capabilities of its platform for education:

  1. Manage your classes
  2. Increase engagement
  3. Customise the learning experience
  4. Ensure accessibility
  5. Enable security and compliance
  6. Support flexible learning environments (Zoom Video Communications Inc, 2021)
Eric Yuan, CEO of Zoom delivered a keynote.

It might be a surprise to find out that Zoom is celebrating its ten-year anniversary (Zoom Video Communications Inc, 2021). For many of us, our perception is that it was a tool that was heavily used in 2020. Before that, Zoom was used but perhaps not as widely known. Since 2020, Zoom has been used as a core tool on which interactive sessions for both the SDAU and QAU projects to take place. Reflecting on the tools we have used to adapt face-to-face teaching to online contexts is important. A presentation was delivered at the University of Kent’s Digitally Enhanced Webinars in February 2021 exploring the use of zoom entitled Indiana Jones & the Temple of Zoom. Learning Technologists as ‘Digital Archaeologists’ & Online Classrooms as ‘Digital Temples’. If a metaphor for an online classroom can be a ‘digital temple’, could we ask when does video conferencing meeting become an online classroom and vice versa?

“Is the university education model forever changed?”

(Mosley, 2021)

Over the past year, it is possible to see how it has improved and evolved in a variety of ways. It is possible to acknowledge new vocabulary entering popular culture. Who has not heard of “You’re on mute”, “zoom fatigue” and “zoombombing?”. Critically, the “Zoom gaze” has become entrenched into everyday work practices (Caines, 2020). Autumn Caines, an Instructional Designer from University of Michigan (@Autumm), led a webinar exploring Zoom in terms of digital power hierarchies (Caines, 2021). A great deal has been discussed about how to avoid “algorithmic bias” (Rankin & MacDowell, n.d.). Are digital inequalities ‘baked in’?. Check out @ZoomGaze a Twitter account that tweets instances where “Video conferencing offers an illusory sense of unilateral control over conversations” (@ZoomGaze, n.d.).

I Know What You Taught On Last Summer – Zoom.
Image created by Presenter Media, 2021

Some of the most innovative product developments included the Zoom Phone with bring your own carrier, the hot desking tool to support hybrid working, a Smart Gallery with artifical intelligence, and the use of virtual reality with the Oculus headset to create an immersive experience. There was an emphasis supporting remote workers in terms of an inclusive approach to hybrid collaboration. Some of the key words and phrases from the presentations were ‘frictionless’, ‘seamless”putting the video back in videogame’ and ‘Zoom fidelity’. Additionally, I attended an education specific session ‘From Classroom to Computer Screen: Redesign In-Person Training for Virtual Audiences’ which was really useful in terms of improving the interactive RAU delivers using Zoom. For example, the presenter, Sandy Masters identified the ‘90 20 4‘ model: provide a break every 90 minutes, activity or assessment very 20 minutes and finally provide an interactive opportunity every 4 minutes (Masters, 2021).

Sandy Masters delivering ‘From Classroom to Computer Screen: Redesign In-Person Training for Virtual Audiences’

Zoom Literacy has almost become a fundamental 21st-century skill for the modern workplace including working from home. How has a video conferencing tool been transformed into an educational tool we do not seem to able to live without? From Zoom, doom and gloom to Zoom, boom and Bloom?

Zoom: the Modern Sceance? (Reddit, 2021)

During the Association for Learning Technologists (ALT) Winter Conference in 2020, one of the sessions entitled ‘To Be And Not To Be: Physical Absence and Virtual Presence in Online Learning’ led by Dr. Stuart Taylor, University Tutor at University of Glasgow (@SJamesTaylor), and Dr. Ingeborg van Knippenberg, Lecturer at Edinburgh Napier University (@icvk) explored the idea of of “hauntology”, “spectral presence” and the “haunted subject” (Henriksen, 2016: p37). To what extent is the Zoom experience haunting? Are hosts digital ghosts? What are digital monsters? (Henriksen, 2016: p37). We are familiar with the idea of the ghost in the digital machine. But what if the machine is the ghost? We need to be more concerned with the machine in the ghost (Kirwan, 2021). Is Zoom a digital zoo? If it is a haunting experience, then is it like a night at a digital museum? To what extent is digital dysmorphia a real threat? (Dalva, 2021). Are we experiencing zoom nihilism? Perhaps we need to ‘curb our digital enthusiasm’ of using video conferencing platforms. If Sartre re-wrote Being & Nothingness for the 21st century, would the “phenomenological ontology” concern Being & Digital Nothingness (Sartre we do we dissolve into Zoom? If we stare too long, do no the ‘Zoom abyss’? – “He who fights with [digital] monsters should be careful lest he thereby becomes a monster. And if thou gaze long into an abyss, the abyss will also gaze into thee.” (Friedrich Nietzsche, Beyond Good and Evil. Aphorism 146).

(@avb_soc, 2020)

One of fundamental debates about using Zoom is whether the camera should be on or off or camera normativity. Does using the camera improve the digital student experience? What is impact of the camera on teaching and learning? Is it best for students to be able to’see’ their teacher and for the teacher to ‘see’ their students?. What is ‘seeing’ anyway?

Tim O’Riordan presented at the Association of Learning Technologists (ALT) annual conference in 2021 exploring cameras on or off?

Having trained staff and supported students on how to use Zoom effectively, I was keen to find out the latest product developments at Zoomtopia such as On Zoom (Beta) and Zoom Rooms. Over the past year, we have seen some significant improvements to the platform itself. For example, security improvements and immersive view which provides a visual reimagination of a meeting for participants. Truthfully, Zoom is a multimodal platform with a range of pedagogical affordances that can be used successfully in an interdisciplinary capacity.

(Zoom Video Communications, 2021)

It is important to acknowledge that Zoom can be used in conjunction with other tools to provide a positive digital student experience. Perhaps an over reliance on Zoom exclusively might not be sufficient. For example, we used Panopto as a platform to allow lecturers to pre-record their lectures and Zoom for interactive sessions for the SDAU project. Comparing tools and approaches may not help us in the way that, we may need to both combine and curate the use of tools to meet the unique needs of our students as a commitment to digital differentiation (Islam, Kim & Kwon, 2012). In the same way that we might be concerned by the term “technology determinism”, perhaps we are experiencing ‘Zoom determinism’ (Edwards, 2012: p8).

Zoom and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance. Image adpated from: (Abe Books, 2021)

The blog post title draws explicitly on the well-known book by Robert Pirsig Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance. In the Afterward, Pirsig asks “Who really can face the future? All you can is do is project from the past” (Pirsig, 2004: p393).This is a powerful question when we frame it in terms of the future of teaching, learning and working. Is the art of hosting a Zoom meeting a bit like the art of motorcycle maintenance. Perhaps it is. Here’s to the “hybrid workforce” (Zoom Video Communications Inc, 2021). Zoom is undoubtedly bound up in our pedagogical consciousness “The phenomenon of being and the being of phenomenon (Sartre, 2003: p4). Perhaps the online classroom has become a form of the academic conference in that it “…materializes neoliberal academic life”. To what extent can online classrooms be “neo-liberal material discursive space[s]…” (Fairchild, Taylor, Benozzo, Carey, Koro & Elmenhorst, 2022: p3-4). The If can ‘disturb’ the academic conference, can we disrupt the online classroom? (Fairchild, Taylor, Benozzo, Carey, Koro & Elmenhorst, 2022).

(Pirsig, 2004)

The architecture of the Zoom meeting in terms of the structure of the host, alternate host, co-host and meeting participants could relate to Derrida’s idea of hospitality (Campbell, 2021). Perhaps Zoom meeting hosts provide a type of digital hospitality.

“For Derrida the hospitality given to the ‘other’ is an ethical marker, both for an individual and a country…being open and accepting the ‘other’ on their terms…opens the host to new experiences—the possibility of ‘crossing thresholds of hope”

(O’Gorman, 2006: p55)

Moving forward and reflecting on post-pandemic pedagogic realities, Zoom will still play an important role in the “brave new digital classroom” (Blake, Guillén, & Thorne 2013). Perhaps now really is the time to be brave (Hardwick 2021). For example, in their dedicated Zoom for Education website, they refer to hybrid learning and talk about an “education ecosystem” (Zoom Video Communications Inc, 2021). Zoom sent me a an official Zoomtopia mug, pin badges and stickers which was a nice touch!

“Online education, better, worse or different?”

Mosley, 2020

Perhaps we need to think about the art of “placemaking” (White, 2021). Zoom classrooms are a bit the digital non-places (Augé in White, 2021). Zoom acknowledged the creative ways the Zoom has been used. Zoom provide the tools and the platform, and it is up to us to bring the agency to Zoom.

“What’s next..[?]”

Global Education Monitoring Report Team (GEM Report), 2020

Zoom seem to have acknowledged the difference between “…emergency remote teaching and online learning” (Hodges, Moore, Lockee, Trust and Bond, 2020). Here’s to the hybrid ecosystem! Perhaps it will important to create “conceptual clarity” of hybrid possibilities (Raes, 2021).

Is hybrid a desirable ‘new normal’ for academic events?

Carrigan, 2021

Zoom has played a significant role in the emergency pivot to online learning. What next? Perhaps a helpful way to explore “possible futures” of online learning could be to carry out a “helicopter analysis” which include convergence, massification, openness, interactivity and diversification (Brown, n.d.)

Will the use of Zoom change in future? What types of pivots will we encounter?

“Rule 1: A temporary pivot is not the same as emergency remote teaching or online distance learning”

Horlin, Hutchison, Murray, Robson, Seery & MacKay, 2020

Check out the Tips & Tricks: Teachers Educating on Zoom. An interesting blog post can be found here entitled Let’s Reimagine Education Together. Could we speculate on what life will be like after Zoom, a post-Zoom pedagogical reality?

Zoom Academy offer both training and qualifications including for Educators (Zoom Video Communications, 2021).

The Zoomtopia sessions have been recorded and are available in the On-Demand Library here.

Zoom sent a Zoomtopia beach ball, badges and mug. Thank you

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New Junior Learning Technologist Opportunity at the RAU

We have now advertised for a Junior Learning Technologist to work in the Digital Innovation Team at the RAU.

Salary details: £26,341 – £31,406 per annum (DOE) 

Location: Royal Agricultural University in Cirencester, Gloucestershire

What will you do?

You will work with and support the Learning Technology team in providing technical and creative expertise, in the areas of online and blended learning, particularly in transnational education. You will support the team in designing and developing a wide range of digital resources to enhance teaching and learning and make the RAU the leading specialist University in land, agri-food and rural enterprise sectors. 

You’ll have an innovative and creative approach, practical instructional design expertise (both online and face to face). With excellent communication and organisational skills, you will work with academic and professional staff, designing and delivering innovative and engaging training resources. 

 This is an opportunity to make a real and lasting difference to the learning experience, that will benefit both our students and staff. 

Join us in developing a wide range of new digital learning experiences.

The role will be full-time (35 hours per week) in a permanent capacity. The University is currently trialing a hybrid approach to work and as a result there will be some capacity for working remotely.

The closing date for the Junior Learning Technologist is Monday 11th October 2021. Interviews are expect to take place on Wednesday20th October 2021.

Find out more about the role and to apply here.

You can find out more about the Royal Agricultural University (RAU) here

Explore the Candidate Information Pack here.

If you would like to know more about what the Digital Innovation Team looks like and gets up to you can see our recent video.

Informal enquiries can be directed by email to Geoff Kendall Smith, Director of Digital