‘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: https://dx.doi.org/10.4135/9781483381411.n169 [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: https://doi.org/10.25304/rlt.v28.2389 [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: http://www.nova.edu/ssss/QR/QR15-6/djuraskovic.pdf

Kunst Matrix (n.d.) (Online) Available at: https://www.kunstmatrix.com/en [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:https://doi.org/10.21954/ou.rd.c.5752247.v5 [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. 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/ [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: https://doi.org/10.25416/NTR.17709860.v1  

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: https://ordo.open.ac.uk/articles/poster/Exploring_the_impact_of_Techno-biography_on_the_development_of_Digital_Literacy/17212457?backTo=/collections/UNESCO_Inclusive_Policy_Lab_Education_and_Digital_Skills_A_Conversation_Event_8_December_2021_Collection/5752247 [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: https://ordo.open.ac.uk/collections 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: https://en.unesco.org/inclusivepolicylab/ [Accessed: 8 December 2021]

Women in Academic Support Network (WIASN) (2022) Virtually Undisciplined: Diversifying Higher Education and Research through interconnectivity (Online) Available at: https://www.wiasn.com/conference-call/?fbclid=IwAR3IFIrUjpwDp0nLvMRZko7nGYzkvzBAIKOQaDccmpIhkZ7yNgLr3cEtabo [Accessed 7 January 2022

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: https://agilestationery.com/ [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: https://www.emerald.com/insight/content/doi/10.1108/S2055-364120210000040006/full/html [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: https://www.meetup.com/Agile-Games-Workshop/ [Accessed 26 October 2021]

McDonald, P (2021) Technology to Transgress. Spinoza, Energy & Expeditions of Joy. Exploring Critical Zoom Literacies with #ukfechat https://digitalrau.wordpress.com blog, [blog] 21 Oct. Available at: https://digitalrau.wordpress.com/2021/10/05/technology-to-transgress-spinoza-energy-expeditions-of-joy-exploring-critical-zoom-literacies-with-ukfechat/ [Accessed 26 October 2021]

McDonald, P (2021) Indiana Jones & the Breakout Tombs. Exploring Student Zoom Literacy https://digitalrau.wordpress.com blog, [blog] 9 Oct. Available at: https://digitalrau.wordpress.com/2021/10/09/indiana-jones-the-breakout-tombs-exploring-student-zoom-literacy/ [Accessed 26 October 2021]

Tate Modern (n.d.) Found Objects (Online) Available at: https://www.tate.org.uk/art/art-terms/f/found-object [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: https://wakelet.com/wake/A5H5cVpqqNamjw5nsy6Wk [Accessed 26 October 2021]

Zoom Video Communications (2021) Nonverbal feedback and meeting reactions(Online) Available at: https://support.zoom.us/hc/en-us/articles/115001286183-Nonverbal-feedback-during-meetings [Accessed 26 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: https://agilestationery.com/ [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: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1747938X20300531 [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: https://www.conventiondundeeandangus.co.uk/attending/conferences/carnival–raised-voices-collaborative-action-research-network-carn-online-conference-2021 [Accessed 11 September 2021]

Fawns, T (2021) Postdigital Education http://timfawns.com Education Blog [blog] June 19 (online) Available at: http://timfawns.com/postdigital-education/ [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: https://twinery.org/ [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? https://postpandemicuniversity.net/ Post Pandmeic University blog [blog] Jan 10th (Online) Available at: https://postpandemicuniversity.net/2022/01/10/how-can-practices-with-international-students-be-made-more-ethical/ [Accessed: 13 January 2022]

Morris, S (2021) Humanizing Digital Pedagogy: the Role of Imagination in Distance Teaching. https://www.seanmichaelmorris.com/. Digital Pedagogy Blog [blog] Available at:  https://www.seanmichaelmorris.com/humanizing-digital-pedagogy-the-role-of-imagination-in-distance-teaching/amp/ [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 https://escholarship.org/uc/item/6s0491j5

Spinney, L (2021) The big idea: Should we leave the classroom behind? The Guardian, [online] (Last updated 08th November 20210. (Online) Available at: https://www.theguardian.com/books/2021/nov/08/the-big-idea-should-we-leave-the-classroom-behind?

Stanford University Teaching Commons (n.d.) Successful Breakout Rooms in Zoom (Online) Available at: https://teachingcommons.stanford.edu/news/successful-breakout-rooms-zoom [Accessed 10 November 2021]

Stanford University Teaching Commons (n.d.) Successful Breakout Rooms in Zoom (Online) Available at: https://teachingcommons.stanford.edu/news/successful-breakout-rooms-zoom [Accessed 11 September 2021]

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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: https://bit.ly/3Efxgf8 (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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Fairchild, N, Taylor, C, Benozzo, A, Carey, N, Koro, M & Elmenhorst, C 2022, Knowledge Production in Material Spaces: Disturbing Conferences and Composing Events. Routledge, London. https://doi.org/10.4324/9781003029007

Global Education Monitoring Report Team (GEM) (2021) WHAT’S NEXT? Lessons on Education Recovery: Findings from a Survey of Ministries of Education amid the COVID-19 Pandemic (Online) Available at: https://en.unesco.org/gem-report/node/3512 [Accessed: 17 November 2021]

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Henrikson, L (2016) In the Company of Ghosts Hauntology, Ethics, Digital Monsters. PhD Thesis. [pdf] (Online) available at: http://liu.diva-portal.org/smash/get/diva2:918869/FULLTEXT01.pdf [Accessed: 19 December 2020]

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Kirwan, C (2021) The machine in the ghost: An Educational Design Research study that explores the teaching of Computational Thinking of Irish second-level students. Dublin City University (DCU). Dublin

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Nordmann E, Horlin C, Hutchison J, Murray J-A, Robson L, Seery MK, et al. (2020) Ten simple rules for supporting a temporary online pivot in higher education. PLoS Comput Biol 16(10): e1008242. (Online) available at: https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pcbi.1008242 [Accessed 4 November 2021]

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O’Riordan, T (2021) Cameras on or off? Different perspectives of the same live lesson experience in FE during the COVID-19 emergency – Tim O’Riordan YouTube video, added by ALT [Online] https://www.youtube.com/watch?app=desktop&v=t8KBPVKv0kk&list=PLxoWy14N6f8uF1mOBaQtzN5xLhgMGjms7&index=20 [Accessed 20 September 2021]

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Nietzsche, F (1998) Beyond Good and Evil (s. L:Digireads)

Raes, A. (2021) Exploring Student and Teacher Experiences in Hybrid Learning Environments: Does Presence Matter?. Postdigital Science and Education (Online) Available at: https://doi.org/10.1007/s42438-021-00274-0 [Accessed 15 November 2021]

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White, D (2021) Pedagogy, Presence and Placemaking: a learning-as-becoming model of education. http://daveowhite.com/ Digital Learning blog [blog] (Online) Availabl at: http://daveowhite.com/ [Accessed 5 October 2021]

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Great (Digital) Expectations. ‘Please Sir, Can I Have Some More Zoom Licences?’.

Please Sir Can I Have Some More Zoom Licences? Image created by Presenter Media, 2021

On Monday 6th September, teaching started with the students based at Qingdau Agricultural University (QAU). For the last six months, the Digital Innovation team has been preparing for September. For the Learning Technology team, (@husnaahmed @chantalschipperraut and Peter Tolley) this took a variety of forms:

  1. Creation of a dedicated SharePoint to act as a document repository for staff
  2. Setting up of assessment and feedback workflow using Turnitin
  3. Creation of pre-recorded lectures using Panopto
  4. Scheduling of interactive sessions using Zoom with dedicated Zoom Pro licences

We also welcomed new staff from China to the team who have provided support for the preparations for September. Khloe, Hayley, Kara and Sherry for SDAU and Leah and Amber for QAU. One member of the new China team, Leah introduces herself and shares her ideas about teaching and learning:

My name is Leah and I was born in a small city of Yantai, Shandong Province. I had an experience of studying in the UK for two years. I have a Master of Science in Project Management from the University of Sussex in the UK. I have deep affection for the UK, and I am honored to have this opportunity work for RAU. About teaching, I think one ofthe significant differences between British education and Chinese education is that it is that the British apprach is highly interactive. I learned that the function in zoom called poll is a good way to achieve it. At the same time, it is good to could check the students’ understanding of the main points and to encourage students to pay more attention on learning“.

RAU welcomes Leah and the new team working in China to support our transnational projects

At RAU, we welcomed new staff to teach the modules. Michael Heasman, International Teaching Fellow in Agri-Food Studies is teaching Principles of Marketing and Introduction to the Agri Food Industry. Michael Morris is teaching Species & Ecosystems. Stephen Chadd is also teaching Introduction to the Agri Food Industry and Maxwell Mutema is teaching Principles of Marketing. Michael Heasman co-authored a a book entitled Food Wars the Global Battle for Mouths, Minds and Markets with Tim Lang.

A range of induction sessions for students were delivered using Zoom where an example lecture in Panopto was played and a poll was used to engage the students. Additionally, Lecturers talked through how the modules would work and there was an opportunity for students to ask questions at the end.

Induction for QAU Students in June 2021

During his induction presentation, Michael Heasman referred to the television programme The Great British Bakeoff as an example of British food culture. Check out the #EdTechBakeOff on Twitter where the Learning Technology community came together to share their creations. Perhaps a virtual bakeoff would be a creative way to engage students. A Thousand Gateaux?

(@Puiyin, 2021)

Our China team were trained on how to schedule Zoom meetings for the online interactive sessions. This provided us with an opportunity to work on getting the workflow right. We started the training session with a quiz about the RAU.

Exploring immersive view and carrying out a poll in Zoom with our new China Team

Preparing for teaching for the QAU project enabled us to reflect on our other transnational projects particularly in terms of workflow, assessment, feedback and processes. For example, developments in exploring automated marking of multiple choice questionnaires (MCQs) for QAU could help us with improving teaching and learning with Shandong Agricultural University (SDAU). With regard to the interactive sessions in Zoom, it was important to reflect on enabling both co-hosts and alternate hosts in case the meeting host was not available.

“Please Sir Can I have some more please?” (Dickens, 2020) Image adapted from: https://amzn.to/2VvWiVD

Ensuring the interactive sessions on Zoom are really interactive is an ongoing problem particularly in virtue of Leah’s pedagogical reflection on interaction being one of the core differences between education in the UK and China. What is the relationship between interaction and engagement? Independent of the learning context, whether it is face-to-face or not, it is always important to ask ‘are students engaged?’. We must never “…confuse online engagement with logging in” (Headleand, 2021). We should also aim to ask the question “What does ‘student engagement’ mean to you? And you? And you?” (Headleand, 2021). Chris Headleand is also organising a Practical Pedgogy conference in September 2021. It is possible to find out more and sign up here. One of the most powerful tweets from the conference itself was:

(@DrWGarnham, 2021)

Don’t just deliver: Teach. This seems like pluasibdle approach to pedagogy. Perhaps we need to reflect on our expectations of what we consider good teachers do in a wider sense and also what good teachers do in online settings? If good teachers differentiate, do Lecturers who teach in an online capacity provide opportunities for digital differentiation? What could digital differentiation mean? How is it different to non-digital differentiation? Do we need to be aware of trying too hard to provide engagement activities or ‘over-engagement?’. Perhaps the majority of conversations about learning technology are really just about learning. When does (digital) teaching become (digital) learning? Zoom has been a big part of the development of technology enhanced “intercultural praxis” (Zamora, Bali, Mehran & Cronin, 2021).

The blog post title makes explicit reference to “expectations” drawing on the Dickensian narrative (Dickens, 2016). Managing expectations has been a significant part of the transnational projects. A Dickensian digital Journey?


Dàjiā hǎo yùn

Good luck everyone


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Dickens, C (2016) Great Expectations (Los Angeles: Enhanced Media Publishing)

Garnham, W [@DrWGarnham] (2021, 13th September) “THOSE WHO CAN, TEACH. THOSE WHO CAN’T DELIVER CONTENT” EXCELLENT QUOTEFROM @ALEJANDROA [Tweet]. Twitter. Available at: https://twitter.com/DrWGarnham/status/1437388930840662021

Heasman, M & Lang, T (2015) Food Wars the Global Battle for Mouths, Minds and Markets. 2nd ed.(Oxon: Routledge)

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Headleand, C (2021) What does ‘student engagement’ mean to you https://www.timeshighereducation.com/campus. Higher Education Blog [blog] Available at: https://www.timeshighereducation.com/campus/what-does-student-engagement-mean-you-and-you-and-you [Accessed: 9 September 2021]

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Sidebottom K. (2021) A Thousand Gateaux: Rethinking Deleuze and Guattari Through The Great British Bake Off. In: Barnes N., Bedford A. (eds) Unlocking Social Theory with Popular Culture. Critical Studies of Education, vol 15. Springer, Cham. (Online) Available at: https://link.springer.com/chapter/10.1007/978-3-030-77011-2_12 [Accessed 7 September 2021]

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Wong, P [@puiyin] (2021, 30th August) LADIES & GENTS, THE JUDGES, @JATENAS @LEOHAVEMANN@JOSTROUD@LORNAMCAMPBELL AND I HAVE MADE OUR DECISIONS! #EDTECHBAKEOFF [Tweet]. Twitter. Available at: https://twitter.com/Puiyin/status/1432468163288084493

Zamora, M., Bali, M., Mehran, P. , & Cronin, C. (2021). Equity Unbound as Critical Intercultural Praxis. The Journal of Applied Instructional Design, 10(4). (Online) Available at: https://edtechbooks.org/jaid_10_4/equity_unbound_as_cr [Accessed 5 December 2021]

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 higher 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-transnational pivot? Has the pandemic made pre-existing inequalities worse? (Mok & Zhang, 2021).

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)

Mok, K, H & Zhang, Y 2021, ‘Remaking international higher education for an unequal world’, Higher Education Quarterly. (Online) Available at: https://doi.org/10.1111/hequ.123 [Accessed: 29 November 2021]

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]

Work in Progress. Digital (De)construction & (Re)construction. Developing a Technology Enhanced Transnational Toolkit (TETL)

In September 2020, The Royal Agricultural University (RAU) created a Joint Institute with Qingdao Agricultural University (QAU). The aim is to “…expand transnational higher education in the land-based sector” (Royal Agricultural University, 2020).

Join Institute

The UK-China Joint Institutes has set up an online symposium series exploring student experience.

“This series of workshops seeks to bring together members of the UK-China Joint Institutes to share best practices in assessing student learning and experiences. As Joint Institutes we have a range of issues unique to our situation: portability of content from one campus to another, quality and consistency of content, high staff turnover, teaching students whose native language is not English, and cultural differences between Western and Eastern thought. How are our students doing? How are they learning, and what is their experience? And how do we know?”

UK China Joint Institute (2021)

Attending the sessions every Monday to explore how other institutions were navigating their technology-enhanced transnational learning (TETL) journeys was very helpful.

Joao Ponciano (University of Glasgow) – Using Digital Badges in Monitoring and Student Engagement presentation delivered on Monday 13th April, 2021

On Monday 15th April, I presented a short 10-minute presentation exploring the development of a technology-enhanced transnational learning (TETL) toolkit. The recording can be accessed here.

UK-China Joint Institutes – A Supporting Community to Share Ideas

The emergent toolkit included a range of dimensions including research-informed practice, testing, demo sites, digital accessibility, capturing the range of pedagogic actors and their voice, and this blog particularly the China series. The presentation also explored the Transnational Education Toolkit created by AdvanceHE here.

Exploring the (De)construction & (Re)construction of a technology-enhanced transnational learning Toolkit (TETL)

Perhaps it is the case that the use of toolkit, is “…few and far between” in Education (Reinking, 2019: p2). Transnational education is not just an activity exclusively for teachers; other roles are involved too (Smith & Jarvis, 2020: p2). Roles can experience a different “Transnational reality” (Roldán Vera & Fuchs, in Roldán Vera & Fuchs, 2019: p4). An online questionnaire was used to capture the perspective of the different ‘actors’ involved with RAU’s transnational activity. As transnational education evolves, our toolkits will change too.

A recording of the presentation is available on YouTube here.

The schedule can be accessed here.

It is possible to register as a participant here.


AdvanceHE (2017) Transnational education toolkit (Online) Available at: https://www.advance-he.ac.uk/knowledge-hub/transnational-education-toolkit [Accessed: 24 March 2021]

Evaluating the student experience. Pip McDonald (Royal Agricultural University). Signed, Sealed & (Digitally) Delivered. Available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zhSr56anEXs [Accessed: 11 July 2021]

Jonciano, J (2021) Using Digital Badges in Monitoring and Student Engagement. UK-China Joint Institute Symposium. 13 April, Online.

Reinking, A (2019) Difficult Conversations: A Toolkit for Educators in Handling Real-Life Situations (Maryland: Rowman & Littlefield)

Roldán, V, E & Fuchs, E (eds) (2019) ‘Introduction: The Transnational in the History of Education’ in The Transnational in the History of Education Concepts and Perspectives (Switzerland: Palgrave Macmillan) pp1-49

Royal Agricultural University (RAU) Royal Agricultural University extends global reach with launch of Joint Institute in China (Online) Available at: https://www.rau.ac.uk/about/news-and-events/news/royal-agricultural-university-extends-global-reach-launch-joint-institute [Accessed: 18 October 2021]

Smith, K & Jarvis, J (2020) Engaging in Transnational Education (Critical Practice in Higher Education) (St. Albans: Critical Publishing)

UK-China Joint Institutes (2021) Evaluating the student experience at the UK-China Joint Institute (Online) Available at: https://evaluatingthestudentexperience.org/about/ [Accessed 15th April 2021]

Digital Winter is Coming. Exploring the Brave New Digital Worlds at the EdTech Winter Conference 2021. A Reflective Audio Comic

The Irish Learning Technology Association (ILTA) organised the EdTech Winter Online Conference 2021 Paradigm Shift: Reflection, Resilience and Renewal in Digital Education that took place on 14th-15th January 2021 on Zoom.

Having experimented with using both comics and graphic novels in education boefore which was presented at the Association of Learning Technologists (ALT) Winter Conference entitled ‘It’s Beginning to look a lot like learning. Using Sanako technology to support the language learning process’, in 2016, I was familiar with the potential of the pedagogic value of comics. Having worked in a University Language Centre, I discovered we had Frankenstein The Graphic Novel: Original Text (British English) in the collection. The teacher resource pack had a CD ROM with supplementary audio material. A free sample of the comic is available to download here. What if students continued the story by creating blank comic frames for them to fill in? Comic templates from Presenter Media and Slides Carnival were used. Using graphic organisers in online learning contexts can be argued to be beneficial (Wang, Mayer, Zhou, & Lin, 2021).

Perhaps comics and graphic novels are an important part of visual literacy which can be defined as “…describing the complex act of meaning making using still or moving images” (Fisher & Frey, 2008: p1). It has been argued that comics “…are on the cutting edge of pop culture” (Fisher & Frey, 2008: p29) Using a popular cultural artifact as a frame can help to engage students. The idea to combine audio and the comic came from the Star Wars Audio Comics on YouTube available here. Combining two modalities could be argued to have a positive pedagogic impact as a commitment to multimodal learning using “semiotic resources” (Bezemer & Kress, 2016: p3).

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The’ brave new digital world’ idea in the title of the blog draws on the novel Brave New World by Aldous Huxley in 1932. Perhaps Learning Technologists will support the creation of digital environments by being a “World Controller” (Huxkey, 1932: p38). In the same way that I finished writing this blog post, let us embrace “Brave New Digital Classroom” (Blake, 2013). It’s not all Zoom, Doom & Gloom, but rather Zoom, Boom & Bloom!


Catalina, J (2021) Colorful Comic. Free PowerPoint Template & Google Slides in Slides Carnival (Online) Available at: Themehttps://www.slidescarnival.com/jachimo-free-presentation-template/1393 [Accessed: 14 January 2021]

Bezemer, J & Kress, G (2016) Multimodality, Learning and Communication: A social semiotic frame (Oxon: Routledge)

Blake, R, J, Guillén, G & Thorne, S, L (2020) Brave New Digital Classroom: Technology and Foreign Language Learning (Washington DC: Georgetown University Press)

Classical Comics Ltd (2021) Frankenstein Teacher Resources Pack (Online) Available at: http://www.classicalcomics.com/product/frankenstein-teaching-resource-pack/ [Accessed: 14 January 2021]

Classical Comics Ltd (n.d.) Frankenstein The Graphic Novel: Original Text (British English) [pdf] Sample pdf Available at: FrankensteinOriginalTextSamplerOpt.pdf (classicalcomics.com) [Accessed: 14 January 2021]

Fisher, D & Frew, N (eds) (2008) Teaching Visual Literacy: Using Comic Books, Graphic Novels, Anime, Cartoons, and More to Develop Comprehension and Thinking Skills (California, New Delhi, London & Singapore: Corwin Press)

Huxley, A (1932) Brave New World (Great Britain: Penguin Randon House)

Leschallas, W & McDonald, P (2020) 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/ [Accessed: 14 January 2021]

Presenter Media (2020) Presenter Media (Online) Available at: https://www.presentermedia.com/ [Accessed: 14 January 2021]

McDonald, P (2016), ‘It’s Beginning to look a lot like learning. Using Sanako technology to support the language learning process’ In: Association of Learning Technologists (ALT) Winter Conference, 6th-8th December 2016. Online.

Shelley, M, Bryant, C, Shalvey, D, Wiley, T, Cobley, J, Wenborn, K, Haward, J, Cardy, J, Nicholson, K, Placentino, J & Wheeler, J (2008) Frankenstein The Graphic Novel: Original Text (British English) (United Kingdom: Classical Comics Ltd)

Star Wars Audio Comics (n.d.) Home [YouTube Channel] (Online) Available at: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCtt_HbmqOrM6fQMQBr4oVDA?reload=9 [Accessed: 14 January 2021]

Wang, X., Mayer, R. E., Zhou, P., & Lin, L. (2021). Benefits of interactive graphic organizers in online learning: Evidence for generative learning theory. Journal of Educational Psychology, 113(5), 1024–1037. https://doi.org/10.1037/edu0000606 [Accessed: 26 November 2021]

Techno-autobiography & the Transnational Online Pivot: Exploring a Lecturer’s Experience of Teaching Online

“The stories we tell ourselves, about ourselves, are incredibly powerful”

(Dennis, 2021)

In previous blog posts in the China series, content was created by the Learning Technology team and Bonnie and Lola from SDAU. Therefore, we actively welcome a contribution from a Lecturer who taught on the SDAU project. It is with great pleasure to both work with and interview William Leschallas, Head of School of Real Estate and Land Management. William was able to provide a unique pedagogical insight into the experience of teaching in China in both a face-to-face and online capacity. When I first met with William, he showed me pictures of his China trip and the work students had produced in a group in the form of a poster. We then worked together to adapt a face-to-face assessment task to an online activity.

William was asked a series of questions exploring the theme of the transnational online pivot.

PM: Describe your ‘techautobiography’ in a couple of sentences. A techno-autobiography is the history of your relationship with learning technology in the past.

WL: 2.5 years ago I had no idea about learning technology and I amnow  teaching 140 Chinese in Tai’An from my home. It has been so rewarding and great to see the student engagement.

PM: How do you compare the being in China in a F2F capacity to teaching online?

WL: ? I did miss not being in front of the students. Whilst student engagement on my module was good, I think both the students and myself missed out on that face to face interaction. However the quality of the work they produced was still very good.

PM: How did you find adapting your lectures for online learning? 

WL: Adapting the lectures was not that difficult as I had to be well organised before going to China.

PM: How did you adapt delivery and content for the interactive sessions? 

WL: Building on the answers above this was the most challenging part of the teaching. My subject benefits from seeing how the students react to what is being said and requires team work. The latter is much better placed when done face to face. Therefore I had to deliver in a way that I thought would be interesting and spur them on in the practical activities that were given to them.

PM: How can we improve support for Lecturers for the move to online learning? 

WL: I thought the support I was given was excellent. More training on using the technology would be brilliant so that we can be more creative. This applies whether delivering remotely and in the room.

PM: If you could tell the story of the move to online learning in three words, what would your (micro) story be? 

WL: Challenging, time consuming, rewarding (apologies 4 words!!)

PM: How did you adapt the poster assessment for online learning? 

WL: The poster assessment that I set just needed a clear explanation in the record lectures. Judging by the results this seemed to work. However the students have to take a lot of credit for engaging so well and enthusiastically. Poorang (Poorang Piroozfar also taught on the SDAU project with William for the Y3 Business Practice & Project Management module) managed to achieve the same result with his recorded presentations. Poorang’s presentations also were assessed for 10% of the module so there was an added incentive in our absence.

PM: What was the hardest part of online teaching? 

WL: Not knowing how the students were reacting to each lecture. Not knowing how engaged the students were in the online seminar sessions. Not seeing the students in person. See comments below about language

PM: What was the most enjoyable part of online teaching? 

WL: Seeing the work the students churned out and the fact that on request, they sent through photographs of themselves working in teams on their projects. We could therefore see them at work, which made such a difference.

PM: What advice would you give to a Lecturer who has not taught on the SDAU project before? 

WL: Do not under-estimate the time and care that is needed to prepare and record the lectures and assessments.

PM: How do you think the SDAU project will be in future given the impact of the global impact of the pandemic?

WL: Provided the students like our style and the results are good and we at the RAU learn from our experiences and improve our delivery then no problem. However being face to face makes all the difference especially with the language barrier. This latter point applies to some of my answers above as well. 

Reflection: A Pivot with a Pivot. A Digital Wheel within a Digital Wheel. Exploring Hope, Tropes & Pivot Folklore.

It is possible to think about significant “autobiographical incidents” taking place (Tripp, 1993: p97). From the perspective of a Learning Technologist, I was able to ‘drop into’ the interactive sessions taking place on Zoom. The online classroom can be a challenging online environment to get used to, particularly in light of the “Zoom Gaze” (Caines, 2020) ontology, transparency and “(in)visibility” (Gallagher, Breines & Blaney, 2020). It was fascinating to see how different Lecturers approached planning and delivery of their interactive sessions. The variety of pedagogical approaches really added value to the digital student experience. Whilst training was provided to prepare Lecturers for teaching on Zoom that covered the ways that it is possible to engage students such as sharing scree, using chat, whiteboard and polling, teacher autonomy and Lecturer’s bringing putting their own ‘pedagogical stamp’ on the sessions can be acknowledged. Perhaps we are “Shaped by Stories” and that narratives have an ethical dimension (Gregory, 2015).

Meeting the Lecturers before the sessions went ‘live’ was a unique opportunity to find out about them, their subject specialism and ideas about online teaching. Drumm (2019) identified the idea of “folk pedagogies” as a way to describe how Lecturers explore their ideas about online pedagogy. It is also the case that Learning Technologists have ideas about how they perceive pedagogical reflections and how to support Lecturers with the online pivot. The critical question is always how can we work together effectively and explore our ideas together? Whatever “folk pedagogies” we have or have not, I would like to thank the Lecturers involved with the SDAU project for their willingness to embrace the challenges that teaching online can bring to make a success of the opportunity (Drumm, 2019). In future, given that it can be argued that teaching online is different from teaching in a tradition face-to-face setting, it may be possible to explore peer review of online teaching in a supportive capacity. The positive student feedback was acknowledged at the RAU & SDAU annual general meeting. I reflected on the AGM in a blog post here.

The term techno-autobiography was discovered in a presentation here (Zheng, 2015). When educators ask themselves what about what their relationship with learning technology has been in the past, it is a powerful process which opens how we can overcome challenges in speculative futures.

“In his Introduction to Cyberculture, David Bell argues that cyberspace is created through the stories we tell about it: material stories…symbolic stories…and experiential stories”

(Bell in Kennedy, 2003: p120)

The idea of “technoparticipation” can mean “intermeshing performative pedagogy
and interruption” (Campbell, 2016).

@leejjcampbell, 2021

For me, my techno-autobiography was realised with the awareness that it is possible to be enthusiastic about learning technology, yet critical at the same time. The critical lens through which it is possible to view learning technology is a helpful way to embrace complexity and navigate uncertain pedagogic worlds.

What is your techno-autobiography? How does it impact your approach to online pedagogy? Can we re-frame our narrative?

Group 1 of William Leschallas’ student group in the interactive sessions created a poster using the visual structure of an octopus.

Group 1’s poster with the visual structure of an octopus

In this blog post, tropes were identified as a way to make sense of the transnational online pivot. It has been argued that metaphors are “…pervasive in everyday life, not just in language but in thought action. Our conceptual system…is fundamentally metaphorical in nature” (Lakoff & Johnson, 2003: p3). After having been award a Global OER Graduate Network (GOGN) fellowship, a picture book about open education was co-created where a question in the survey was asked about animal came to mind when reflecting on open education (Nerantzi, 2020). If it was possible to choose an animal that the project could ‘be’ in a metaphorical sense, perhaps it could be an octopus in terms of seamlessly gliding through the ocean of challenges both technological and pedagogical, perhaps this what Learning Technologists strive to do. The #creativeHE group is a helpful community of practice to support what they call “pedagogical rebels and free-thinking innovators in experimenting with, developing, sharing and getting support for novel learning and teaching ideas” (#creativeHE, n.d.). Perhaps a case can be made for creative approaches to learning technology and further research can be carried into the extent to which creative approaches can cross disciplinary and transnational boundaries to improve the digital student experience. Here’s to the “Brave New Digital Classroom” (Blake, 2013). Here’s to the “Brave New Digital Classroom” (Blake, 2013).


Blake, R, J, Guillén, G & Thorne, S, L (2020) Brave New Digital Classroom: Technology and Foreign Language Learning (Washington DC: Georgetown University Press)

Caines, A (2020) The Zoom Gaze in Real Life (Online) Available at: https://reallifemag.com/the-zoom-gaze/ [Accessed: 8th January 2021]

Campbell, L (2016) TECHNOPARTICIPATION: Intermeshing performative pedagogy
and interruption [pdf] (Online) Available at https://eprints.lincoln.ac.uk/id/eprint/24893/1/leecampbell.pdf [Accessed: 12 January 2021]


Dennis, N. (2021). The stories we tell ourselves: History teaching, powerful knowledge and the importance of context. In A. Chapman (Ed.), Knowing History in Schools: Powerful knowledge and the powers of knowledge (pp. 216–233). UCL Press. https://doi.org/10.2307/j.ctv14t477t.15

Drumm, L. (2019). Folk pedagogies and pseudo-theories: how lecturers rationalise their digital teaching. Research in Learning Technology, 27 (Online) Available at: https://journal.alt.ac.uk/index.php/rlt/article/view/2094 [Accessed: 12 January 2021]

Kennedy, H (2003) Technobiography: Researching Lives, Online and Off in Biography, vol. 26, no. 1, University of Hawaii Press, 2003, pp. 120–39 (Online) Available at: http://www.jstor.org/stable/23540390 [Accessed: 29 November 2021]

Gallagher, M, Breines, M &  Blaney, M (2020) Ontological Transparency, (In)visibility, and Hidden Curricula: Critical Pedagogy Amidst Contentious Edtech in Postdigital Science and Education (2020) [e-journal] (Online) Available at: https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s42438-020-00198-1 [Accessed: 10 January 2021]

Gregory, M (2015) Shaped By Stories The Ethical Power of Narratives (USA: University of Notre Dame Press)

Lakoff, G & Johnson, M (2003) Metaphors We Live By with a new afterward (Chicago & London: University of Chicago Press)

McDonald, P (2020) Lost (and found) in Translation: Transfiction, Tropes & Transnational Imaginaries  Digitalrau.wordpress.com Digital Transformation Blog [blog] 7th Dec. (Online) Available at: https://digitalrau.wordpress.com/2021/01/11/lost-and-found-in-translation-transfiction-tropes-transnational-imaginaries/ [Accessed: 21 January 2021]

Nerantzi, C (2020) GOGN Fellowship Project: Co-creating an open picture about open education. http//go-gn.net/research Global OER Graduate Network Blog [blog] 22 October (Online) Available at: http://go-gn.net/research/fellowship-open-picture-book/ [Accessed: 12 January 2021]

Nerantzi, C (2020) Open invitation to seed ideas for a collaborative open picture book story about open education, a GOGN Fellowship (Online) Available at: projecthttps://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSemyGWWm4orA72VlEnZ1Gzk8lAkvG_GFWWn8rKOV-_ezapH2g/viewform [Accessed: 12 January 2021]

Global OER Graduate Network (n.d.)  http://go-gn.net/ (Online) Available at: http://go-gn.net/ [Accessed: 12 January 2021]

#creativeHE (n.d.) CreativeHE Community (Online) Available at: https://creativehecommunity.wordpress.com/ [Accessed: 12 January 2021]

Tripp, D (1993) Critical Incidents in Teaching: Developing Professional Judgement (London & New York: Routledge)

Zheng, I (2015) Techno Autobiography [Prezi Presentation]. (Online) Available at: https://prezi.com/8seyqaa4rk82/techno-autobiography/ [Accessed: 12 January 2021]

Royal Agricultural University (RAU) Biography William Leschallas (Online) Available at: https://www.rau.ac.uk/about/organisation/staff/william-leschallas [Accessed: 12 January 2021]

Lost (and found) in Translation: Transfiction, Tropes & Transnational Imaginaries.

The RAU & SDAU annual general meeting took place on Thursday 7th January 2021. It was a privilege to be invited to contribute to the meeting and share a summary of the research Marieke Guy, RAU’s former Digital Learning Manager (@digitalrau) and I carried out on the transnational online pivot in 2020. The presentation can be accessed here. The China blog series can be accessed here.

The RAU & SDAU annual general meeting was an opportunity to hear from a range of individuals from both institutions deliver their annual reports and reflections. SDAU staff attended the meeting in a face-to-face capacity on campus, RAU staff attended the meeting in a virtual capacity using Zoom, the popular videoconferencing tool.

A Road Less Translated

We heard from Prof. Ran Zhang Vice President of SDAU in the opening speech with translated version in English.

A slide from the presentation delivered by Professor Ran Zhang, Vice President of the SDAU

It was possible to relate to a great deal of what Prof. Ran Zhang was saying particularly the trope, concerning how the “…road ahead is long and striving is the only way forward” and how both staff and students have been “…striving hand in hand, together at heart to overcome challenges posed by the Covid-19 pandemic” (Zhang, 2020). This felt like an incredibly positive narrative, almost poetic, to both in order set the tone of the AGM itself and to share the transnational partnership narrative with SDAU. The translation intrigued me and led me down a path of exploring how we can make sense of translated text in a meaningful way.

Translation has been argued to be a “…a travelling concept” (Kaindl, 2014: p2). a “master metaphor epitomizing our present condition humaine in a globalised and centreless context, evoking the human search for a sense of self and belonging in a puzzling world full of change and difference” (Delabastita, 2009: p111 in Kaindl, 2014: p2). Having worked in a University Language Centre in a technical capacity working with translation and interpreting software called Sanako and having taught English for Academic Purposes (EAP), I was keen to explore translated texts of presentations and the verbal contributions of both institutions. A trope “…can refer to any type of figure of speech, theme, image, character, or plot element that is used many times. Any kind of literary device or any specific example can be a trope” (Literary Terms, n.d.). What tropes have we used and can we use to make sense of transnational learning realities? Transfiction can be defined as “…the introduction and (increased) use of translation-related phenomena in fiction” (Kaindl, 2014: p4). It felt like the stories were telling and the way that language was used in the meeting in a translated capacity and other contexts was compelling and opened up new ways of framing transnational projects. Drawing on fiction as a tool helps us to frame the transnational narrative as an opportunity to tell stories in a collaborative capacity. How can we use the translated realities to create new transnational imaginaries? Whilst it may seem odd to draw on translation as a lens through which to reflect on the AGM itself, it has been argued that translation can be applied in an interdisciplinary capacity in virtue of its “chameleonlike changeability” (D’hulst. 2010: p54 in Kaindl, 2014: p1).

A really positive message from Prof. Ran Zhang was that the “…epidemic did not stop the pace of cooperation. Our cooperation was more profound, more extensive and more fruitful” (Zhang, 2020). The use of the word “pace” invoked the idea of acceleration and speed.

A slide from the presentation delivered by Professor Ran Zhang, Vice President of the SDAU

The part of the speech exploring the idea of building “…a community with a shared future for mankind in higher education” reminded me of the question of the purpose of education. This question has a long genealogy. For example, in the Robbins Report in 1963, it is acknowledged that “The question is not a new one” and the  goes on to ask “…what purposes, what general social ends should be served by higher education?”  (London. The Robbins Report. 1963, p6).

@pipmcdonald delivering a presentation at the RAU & SDAU annual general meeting

I was required to submit my presentation a few days before the meeting itself for the purposes of translation. It would have been interesting to see the translated version.Whilst it is important to “…to acknowledge a plurality of aims”, it is identified that “There are controversial issues here concerning the balance between teaching and research in the various institutions of higher education…” (London. The Robbins Report. 1963, pp6-7). The tension between teaching and research is an issue I discussed in the presentation I delivered. It was argued that research-informed practice was an important professional value.

A slide from the presentation delivered by Professor Ran Zhang, Vice President of the SDAU

The final message about friendship and fruitful cooperation was also positive. Ultimately, learning  is about relationships and I hope this transnational partnership will also continue to be “fruitful” in a cooperative capacity (Zhang, 2020).

Positive messages for the future from the SDAU

Prof. Neil Ravenscroft, Pro Vice Chancellor at RAU then delivered a speech. I am very grateful to both Prof. Neil Ravenscroft and Dr Xianmin Chang, Associate Pro Vice Chancellor for the opportunity to be involved with the AGM. Steve Finch, Director of China Programmes, who taught on the cohorts during both summer and winter in 2020, Tiger Wang, Director of RAU China Office & Daniel Wang, Deputy Director of RAU China Office were also present.

Professor Neil Ravenscroft delivering his speech at the RAU & SDAU annual general meeting

Lola Huo, who supported the SDAU project, contributed to a blog post about the SDAU project previously with Bonnie Wang here, delivered a presentation. We are very grateful for the contribution of both Lula Huo and Bonnie Wang to the SDAU project.

It was helpful to see how staff and students from SDAU experienced what I had been curating from RAU in both synchronous (interactive sessions) and asynchronous (pre-recorded lecturers in Panopto) capacities.

How the work we did at the RAU was turned into a pedagogical reality at SDAU

Lola’s thoroughly presentation included key points from the digital learning evaluation which was positive.

Positive Digital Learning Evaluation

Imaginaries have a rich genealogy and application and can be argued to be “…a jargon term that has been gaining currency in a number of social sciences” (Nerlich & Morris, 2015). A history of the term imaginaries and the different types including sociotechnical imaginaries can be found here (Nerlich & Morris, 2015). Castoriadis explored the imaginary and the “institution” in the book The Imaginary Institution of Society (Castoriadis, 1987: p115). Having studied Philosophy at Durham University, I discovered discussions about imagination in The Imaginary: A Phenomenological Psychology of the Imagination by Sartre. The critical question is how can we collectively re-imagine the transnational partnership?

It could be argued that the AGM itself was a multimodal experience in that visual, audio, and video modalities were present simultaneously. Multimodality can be defined as “…representations in many modes…” (Kress, 2010: p22). One of the core findings from the poster presentation delivered at the University of East London Learning & Teaching Symposium and the and the presentation delivered at the University of Manchester #ChinaHE2020 China and Higher Education: Navigating Uncertain Futures conference was that multimodal learning was identified as a significant type of learning that was taking place. I have explored multimodality in the context of technology enhanced language learning (TELL) in a blog post for the Association of Learning Technologists (ALT), in the Twitter conference, PressEd Conference in 2019 and at the MFL Twitterati conference in 2019 oragnised by the Association for Language Learning (ALL). Perhaps the presentations containing both text and image were more powerful than those containing text alone. Potentially, the case for the multimodal imaginary is compelling.

Both text and image: a powerful multimodal message for future intentionality?

There is a sense that the transnational online pivot has enabled us to travel “…through sociocultural space” (Kaindl & Spitzl, 2014). I concluded the presentation I delivered with a tweet from Virna Rossi, an Education Developer (@VirnaRossi) which I also discussed in the presentation co-delivered with @MariekeGuy at the University of Manchester #ChinaHE2020 conference in December 2020. The slides are available here, blog post here, and recording is here. The idea of of the university operating in a “…translocal…[and] transtemporal form…” is compelling (Ross, 2020). This echoes the idea of translation as acting as a ‘deterritorialisator’, perhaps “virtual space” creates “non-places” (Rapport & Dawson, 1998: p6 in Kaindl, 2014: p3).

(Rossi, 2020) @VirnaRossi

It felt like what was discussed in the SDAU AGM helped us reflect on what the university is and what it could be in the context of adaptive, resilient, and hopeful transnational partnership. Lost in Translation was a film in released 2003 exploring how strangers meet in Tokyo (IMDB, n.d.). The title of this blog draws on the notion of being ‘lost’ but then also stresses being ‘found’, a critical transformational process. This blog is entitled the ‘RAU Digital Trasformation’ blog. Supporting the SDAU project through the lens of learning technology has truly been a transformational opportunity.


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