James Bond & the Quantum of Quality. A View to a Transnational Pivot.

“It is important to acknowledge that “Globalisation is affecting the rise of the quality industry”

(Morley, 2003: p1).

The Society of Research into Higher Education (SRHE) hosted an online event entitled Qualifying the debate on ‘Quality’ on the Zoom platform in June 2021. Quality presents a series of complex challenges in igher education. Given the challenges of the pandemic and emergency move to online learning, the critical question is how to ensure we provide a good quality digital experience. In what way(s) is a transnational pivot different from a non-transational pivot?

During 2020, discussions took place exploring observation of the interactive sessions for the SDAU project. We explored a range of approaches used for this purpose including the adaption of an existing form designed for the observation of face-to-face teaching for online learning. It is important to acknowledge how face-to-face and online teaching can be different. To an extent, delivering interactive sessions in Zoom involves the development of ‘Zoom Literacy’ in terms of how to share screen, use the chat function, setting up polling and breakout rooms. Can peer observation of interactive sessions in Zoom help us to improve what we do?

Can peer observation help us to provide pedagogic quality in a technology-enhanced transational context?

When I completed teacher training, observations were an important part of the pedagogical journey. Being observed by peers can be a powerful way to share best practice, build up a range of tools and approaches to support student interaction and also to help us to identify and respond to areas of development in constructive ways. In the long term, perhaps we could build up a community of practice to explore technology-enhanced transnational learning (TETL) (Lave & Wenger, 1991: p30). Starting a conversation about quality opened up a variety of pedagogical doors and started a a unique learning journey.

Presenting at the Society of Research into Higher Education (SRHE) Qualifying the debate on ‘Quality’ event

The quality project pilot was carried out in three ways. Firstly, Lecturers delivering interactive sessions were invited to attend online lessons delivered by another Lecturer and then filled in a short online questionnaire. This was helpful if a module was shared by more than one Lecturer. Secondly, the RAU’s Teaching Fellow was invited to observe two interactive sessions followed by an online interview with semi-structured questions. Finally, our colleague in China, Bonnie Wang was invited to fill in an online questionnaire to capture perceptions of quality in the transnational context.

It can be argued that metaphor can be used effectively in “intercultural education” (Hanne & Kaal, 2019: p149). The metaphor of quality was a cocktail can be a useful way to understand how it is made up of multiple aspects, is complex and dynamic. What ingredients make the perfect quality cocktail? Digital differentiation, inclusion and accessibility? Perhaps pivot quality can only understood as work in progress, something to be ‘brewed’.

James Bond & the Quantum of Quality?

One of the highlights of the event was the lightning presentation delivered by Dr Michelle Groves, Director of Education, Royal Academy of Dance (RAD). She presented an autoethnographic monologue about her perceptions of teacher trainees and their reactions to the online pivot. This linked to the idea of ‘techno-autobiography’ in an earlier blog post. What would ‘techno-autoethnography’ look and feel like?

It can be argued that the online pivot has caused professional identities to change. Building digital capacility has accelerated. Have we witnessed the “death of the Lecture(r?)” (Matthews, 2021). Perhaps new identities are being constructed, postdigital professional identities?

“An uneasy relationship is playing out in education between humans and technology”

(Matthews, 2021)

The title of the lightning presentation I delivered explicitly used the well-known phrase from the James Bond films. We need not be shaken or stirred by the challenges quality present. It is an opportunity to share best practice, develop community of practice and ultimately improve what we do (Lave & Wenger, 1991: p30). Pivot Royale, A View to a Pivot or Live and Let Pivot!

The programme can be accessed below:

In terms of the future of transnational pivot qualities, perhaps we have arrived at a ‘pivot precipice’. New territories or ‘digital parishes’ can The QAA recently announced TNE enhancement (QE-TNE) in March 2021 (QAA, n.d.). The definition of TNE by QAA is:

‘The delivery of higher education level awards by recognised UK degree-awarding bodies in a country, or to students, other than where the awarding provider is based.’ 

(QAA, n.d.)

What sort of technology-enhanced transnational artifacts could be used as an indicator of quality? How can ‘transnational actors’ use those artifacts in a ‘transtional theatre?’. Revisiting the use of metaphor as a way to understand the complexity of both the pivot and quality could help us to make sense of the future. A digital rubix cube?

Transnational Pivot Qualities Metaphor – Digital Rubix Cube?


Hanne, M & Kaal, A, A (2019) Narrative and Metaphor in Education: Look Both Ways (Oxon & New York: Routledge)

Lave, J & Wenger, E (1991) Situated Learning: Legitimate Peripheral Participation (Learning in Doing: Social, Cognitive and Computational Perspectives) (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press)

Leschallas, W & McDonald, P (2021) Techno-autobiography & the Transnational Online Pivot: Exploring a Lecturer’s Experience of Teaching Online.Digitalrau.wordpress.com Digital Transformation Blog [blog] 12th Dec. Available at: https://digitalrau.wordpress.com/2021/01/12/techno-autobiography-the-transnational-online-pivot-exploring-a-lecturers-experience-of-teaching-online/

Matthews, A (2021) Death of the Lecture(r)?-Rhetoric or the End in Postdigital Science & Education (Online) Available at: https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s42438-021-00239-3 [Accessed: 24 June 2021]

Morley, L (2003) Quality and Power in Higher Education (Maidenhead: Society for Research into Higher Education & Open University)

The Quality Assurance Agency (n.d.) Transnational Education (Online) Available at: https://www.qaa.ac.uk/international/transnational-education# [Accessed: 24 June 2021]

The Quality Assurance Agency (n.d.) QAA announces quality enhancement review of UK transnational education provision in Egypt, Germany and the United Arab Emirates (Online) Available at: https://www.qaa.ac.uk/news-events/news/qaa-announces-quality-enhancement-review-of-uk-transnational-education-provision-in-egypt-germany-and-the-united-arab-emirates [Accessed: 24 June 2021]

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