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).

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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.

Reflections

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 collborative and interactive fiction?

Bibliography

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]

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]

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)

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

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]

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

Zoom Video Communications (2021) Non verbal feedback and meeting reactions (Online) Available at:https://support.zoom.us/hc/en-us/articles/115001286183-Nonverbal-Feedback-During-Meetings [Accessed 11 September 2021]

Thoroughly Modern Technology: Zoom & the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance

Zoom has played a significant role in the pivot to online learning and the emergent ‘pandemagogy’. 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 not as well 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? 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).

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).

(Pirsig, 2004)

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, on 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! 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. Here’s to the hybrid ecosystem!

Check out the Tips & Tricks: Teachers Educating on Zoom. An interesting blog post can be found here entitled Let’s Reimagine Education Together.

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

Bibliography

http://www.abebooks.co.uk. (n.d.). ZEN AND THE ART OF MOTORCYCLE MAINTENANCE: An Enquiry Into Values by Pirsig, Robert M.: Used; Good Paperback (1983) | Brit Books. [online] Available at: https://www.abebooks.co.uk/ZEN-ART-MOTORCYCLE-MAINTENANCE-Enquiry-Values/30027423913/bd?cm_mmc=ggl-_-UK_Shopp_Tradestandard-_-product_id=COUK9780552101660USED-_-keyword=&gclid=EAIaIQobChMIw_mXsbz08gIVWunmCh2EiwClEAQYAiABEgI1tvD_BwE#&gid=1&pid=1 [Accessed 10 Sep. 2021].

Barnard, A (2020) [@avb_soc] (2020, 20th October) MY MOTHER HAS TRULY PRODUCED THE PUMPKIN OF OUR ERA [Tweet]. Twitter. Available at: https://twitter.com/avb_soc/status/1317990816783138817

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

Caines, A (2020) The Zoom Gaze Video conferencing offers an illusory sense of unilateral control over conversations (Online) Available at: https://reallifemag.com/t [Accessed 9 September 21]

Caines, A (2021) The Zoom Gaze w/Autumn Caines [Zoom] (Online)

Dalva, A (2021) ‘Digital Distortions: Reflections on Zoom and Body Dysmorphia’, Catapult, 29 June, , viewed 9 September 2021, https://catapult.co/stories/digital-distortions-reflections-on-zoom-and-body-dysmorphia-adam-dalva

Edwards, A (2012) New Technology an Education Contemporary Issues in Education Studies (London & New York: Continuum)

Hardwick, J (2021) Now is the Time to Be Brave: Pedagogy for a World in Transition https://wordpress.kpu.ca/tlcommons/ Pedagogy & Practice Blog [blog] (Online) Available at: https://wordpress.kpu.ca/tlcommons/now-is-the-time-to-be-brave-pedagogy-for-a-world-in-transition/#annotations:group:world [Accessed: 5 October 2021]

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]

Islam, M., Kim, Dan-A. and Kwon, M. (2020). A Comparison of Two Forms of Instruction: Pre-Recorded Video Lectures vs. Live ZOOM Lectures for Education in the Business Management Field. Sustainability, [online] 12(19), p.8149. Available at: https://www.mdpi.com/2071-1050/12/19/8149/htm

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

La Morte, P (n.d.) Let’s Reimagine Education Together. Blog.zoom.us.Zoom Education blog, [blog] 19 August. Available at: https://blog.zoom.us/lessons-and-learnings-from-zoom-academy-2021/ [Accessed 14 October 2021]

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)

Redd.it. (021). [online] Available at: https://external-preview.redd.it/sfxUcQ0Y8uYoBlW3eJXghJ2T-VkgG8yCfNBFylAqQSM.png?auto=webp&s=5bba1e944ccf278d14ad2f9f4a9f0e8b56a3093f [Accessed 9 Sep. 2021].

Sartre, J, P (2003) Being & Nothingness (Lonodn & New York: Routledge)

Masters, S. “From Classroom to Computer Screen: Redesign In-Person Training for Virtual Audiences”, in Zoomtopia. Online 2021. Accessed on:September 13 2021 [Online]. Available: https://zoomtopia.com/

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]

Yuan, E “Zoomtopia Vision and Product Keynotes” in Zoomtopia. Online 2021. Accessed on:September 13 2021 [Online]. Available: https://zoomtopia.com/

van Knippenberg, I & Taylor, J. “To Be And Not To Be: Physical Absence and Virtual Presence in Online Learning”, in Association for Learning Technologists Winter Conference. Online. 2020. Accessed on: September 9 2021 [Online]. Available: https://eu.bbcollab.com/collab/ui/session/playback

Zoom Video Communications Inc (2021) Zoom for Education (Online) Available at: https://explore.zoom.us/docs/en-us/education.html [Accessed 9 September 2021]

Zoom Video Communications Inc (2021) Zoomtopia (Online) Available at: https://www.zoomtopia.com [Accessed: 9 September 2021]

Zoom Video Communications Inc (2021) On Zoom Beta (Online) Available at: https://on.zoom.us/ [Accessed: 9 September 2021]

Zoom Video Communications Inc (2021) Zoom Rooms (Online) Available at: https://explore.zoom.us/docs/en-us/zoomrooms.html

Zoom (2020) Tips & Tricks Teachers Educating on Zoom [pdf] Zoom. Available at: https://explore.zoom.us/docs/doc/Tips%20and%20Tricks%20for%20Teachers%20Educating%20on%20Zoom.pdf?_ga=2.222650392.2000416044.1631133151-1248353776.1630937384 [Accessed: 9 September 2021]

Zoom Video Communications (2021) Zoom Academy (Online) Available at: https://academylearn.zoom.us/ [Accessed 14 October 2021]

Zoom Video Communications (2021) Zoom Certifications (Online) Available at: https://academylearn.zoom.us/certifications [Accessed 14 October 2021]

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? 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?

大家好运

Dàjiā hǎo yùn

Good luck everyone

Bibliography

Dickens, C (2020) Oliver Twist (Ottawa: East India Publishing Company)

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)

Headleand, C (2021) We shouldn’t confuse online engagement with logging in. https://www.timeshighereducation.com/campus. Higher Education Blog [blog] Available at: https://www.timeshighereducation.com/campus/we-shouldnt-confuse-online-engagement-logging [Accessed: 9 September 2021]

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]

Headleand, C (2021) Practical Pedagogy (Online) Available at: https://chrisheadleand.com/practical-pedagogy/ [Accessed: 9 September 2021] [Accessed: 9 September 2021]

Armellini, A (n.d.) Don’t Just Deliver: Teach. https://europe.educationtechnologyinsights.com Technology blog, [blog] (Online) Available at: /https://learning-management-system-europe.educationtechnologyinsights.com/cxoinsights/don-t-just-deliver-teach-nid-1542.html [Accessed: 30 September 2021]

Whitton, F., 2009. Conservationists are not making themselves heard. Guardian.co.uk Science blog, [blog] 18 June. Available at: <http://www.guardian.co.uk/science/blog/2009/jun/18/conservation-extinction-open-ground&gt; [Accessed 23 June 2009].

Love Productions (2021) The Great British Bakeoff (Online) Available at: https://thegreatbritishbakeoff.co.uk/ [Accessed 7 September 2021] Qingdau Agricultural University (QAU) (n.d.) Qingdau Agricultural University (Online) Available at: https://www.qau.edu.cn/ [Accessed 7 September 2021]

Presenter Media (2021) Presenter Media (Online) Available at: https://www.presentermedia.com [Accessed 7 September 2021]

Royal Agricultural University (RAU) (n.d.) Michael Heasman (Online) Available at: https://www.rau.ac.uk/about/organisation/staff/dr-michael-heasman [Accessed 7 September 2021]

Shandong Agricultural University (SDAU) (n.d.) Shandong Agricultural University (Online) Available at: http://www.sdau.edu.cn/ [Accessed 7 September 2021]

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]

Twitter (2021) #EdTechBakeOff (Online) Available at: https://twitter.com/search?q=%23EdTechBakeOff&lang=en [Accessed 7 September 2021]

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

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?

Bibliography

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]

Indiana Jones & the Temple of Zoom. Learning Technologists as ‘Digital Archaeologists’ & Online Classrooms as ‘Digital Temples’.

The University of Kent host monthly Digitally Enhanced Learning Webinars organised by Dr. Phil Anthony. The purpose of the webinars is to provide “…an opportunity to share examples amongst our colleagues when using digital technologies for teaching” (University of Kent, 2020).

The theme for March 2021 was pedagogy and practice when teaching online. For the SDAU project, we used Zoom to deliver the interactive sessions. I submitted a talk entitled ‘Indiana Jones & the Temple of Zoom. A Transnational Online Pivot Adventure‘. The talk explored Technology Enhanced Transnational Learning (TETL). Using metaphors as way to understand what we do as Learning Technologists seemed to be a creative approach. Can an online classrooom be understood as a digital temple? Could a Learning technologist be a Digital Archaeologist? If this is the case, perhaps we would take digital field notes such as those discussed by Rapport (1991) or Remsen (1977). In the temple of doom itself in the film, the main character Indiana Jones faced a range of different challenges including spiders, bugs and traps. As Learning Technologists we also face a range of challenges that we must overcome. This seems like a universal metaphor.

Zoom, Doom & Gloom to Zoom, Boom & Bloom!

The fundamental question is the extent to which using metapors can help us improve what we do? It is possible to observe that metaphors in learning technology were becoming widely used, for example the EdTech Metaphor Generator. One of the most compelling examples of using metaphors in learning technology was the article entitled VLEs: A Metaphorical History from Sharks to Limpets by Tom Farrelly, Eamon Costello and Enda Donlon. If the VLE was “dead“, then perhaps using metaphors can bring it back to life (The Ed Techie, 2007). Thinking about the VLE as a “digital car park” challenges us the use our imagination in different ways (Farrelly, Costello & Donlon, 2020).It is important to acknowledge that “Metaphor is pervasive in everyday life, not just in language but in thought and action. Our ordinary conceptual system, in terms of which we both think and act, is fundamentally metaphorical in nature” (Lakoff & Johnson, 2003: p3). To what extent can we use metaphors successful in a technology-enhanced transnational context with respect to “cultural coherence” (Lakoff and Johnson, 2003: p22).

The Microsoft Teams Live Experience

What was interesting about the webinars was that Microsoft Teams Live was used due to the high numbers of attendees. There are some key differences between a normal Microsoft Teams meeting and a webinar for example uisng the Q&A feature and automatic muting. Lots of the presenters, including me, had not used Microsoft Teams Live before, so it was very helpful to participate in the test session before the live event.

Could ‘Zoom Capital’ be a thing?

One of the points I was keen to make is the importance of capturing the voices of Learning Technologists particularly in research contexts. This formed the basis of a techno-autobiographic or techno-autoethnographic approach in order to capture the reflections of a Learning Technologist. In a previous collaborative blog post, I had explored this approach with an academic here. Can we improve the future by exploring the past? Back to the future?

(Wheeler, 2021)

Imagination is crucial in Education. Metaphors can be part of the imaginative process.

Attending a webinar exploring the use of Zoom delivered by Autumn Caines, an Instructional Designer from University of Michigan (@Autumm) was really compelling and informed many of the ideas I shared during the talk. She talked about the importance of exploring power and digital hierarchies in Zoom, for example being a host or a co-host and how it is possible to view different versions of meeting participants. Her article exploring the “Zoom Gaze” can be found here (Caines, 2020).

Perhaps the role of both the imagination and metaphor can be a platform to think and re-think what we do as Learning Technologists, particularly in transnational distance learning and online pivot contexts. Have educational institutions written off creativity in a systematic capacity? (Nelson, 2018). It can be argued that there are two critical points about imagination. Firstly, that imagination is “…a powerful, meaningful prize of a capacity” and secondly that imagination can be lost (Morris, 2021). Finding creative opportunities as Learning Technologists becomes important. Could the next adventure be ‘Indiana Jones & the Breakout Tombs?’. If this is just pseudo-archaelology, it has still been useful to use metaphor.

Check out the #CreativeHE group and the blog post about the February 2021 meetup, the hashtag #DigiEduWebinars to find out what people are saying about the webinars on Twitter. It is possible to submit an idea for a talk here. A video recording of the presentation is available here.

“Imagination is the beginning of creation”

George Bernard Shaw in Jackson, 2006 in Jackson, Oliver, Shaw & Wisom, 2006

Bibliography

Caines, A (2020) The Zoom Gaze Video conferencing offers an illusory sense of unilateral control over conversations (Online) Available at: https://reallifemag.com/t [Accessed 3 March 2021]

Caines, A (2021) The Zoom Gaze w/Autumn Caines [Zoom] (Online)

#CreativeHE (n.d.) Creative HE Community (Online) Available at: https://creativehecommunity.wordpress.com/ [Accessed 5 March 2021]

Fhaidy (2018) Animation – Indiana Jones Cartoon Clip Art PNG in FAVPNG (Online) Available at: https://favpng.com/png_view/animation-indiana-jones-cartoon-clip-art-png/287wNsWu [Accessed 5 March 2021]

Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, 1984. [film] Directed by Steven Spielberg. Available through Amazon Prime [Accessed 16 December 2020]

Indy in the classroom (2021) Indiana Jones Fonts (Online) Available at: http://www.indyintheclassroom.com/projects/fonts.asp [Accessed 5 March 2021]

Jackon, N (2006) Imagining a Different World in Jackson, N., Oliver, M., Shaw, M. and Wisdom, J. (Eds) (2006) Developing Creativity in Higher Education: An imaginative curriculum pp1-10 (London, Oxon & New York: Routledge)

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

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 3 March 2021]

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]

McDonald, P (2021) The Creative Empire Strikes Back. Exploring Creative Approaches to Building and Fostering Community with #CreativeHE. Digitalrau.wordpress.com Digital Transformation Blog [blog] Available at:  https://digitalrau.wordpress.com/2021/03/05/the-creative-empire-strikes-back-exploring-creative-approaches-to-building-and-fostering-community-with-creativehe/ [Accessed 3 March 2021]

McDonald, P (2021) Indiana Jones & the Temple of Zoom. A Transational Online Pivot Adventure, University of Kent Digitally Enhanced Webinars. Online. 5 March 2021.

Nelson, R (2018) Creativity crisis. Towards a post-constructivist educational future. (Clayton: Monash University Publishing)

Oxford Reference [Online]. 2021. Archaeology. Pseudo-archaeology [Accessed: 7 September 2021] Available at: https://www.oxfordreference.com/view/10.1093/oi/authority.20110803100351993

Rapport, N. (1991). Writing Fieldnotes: The Conventionalities of Note-Taking and Taking Note in the Field. Anthropology Today, 7(1), (Online) Available at: https://www.jstor.org/stable/3032670?seq=1 [Accessed: 2 February 2021] 

Remsen, J, V. Jr (1977) On taking field notes [pdf] (Online) Available at: https://sora.unm.edu/sites/default/files/journals/nab/v031n05/p00946-p00953.pdf [Accessed: 2 February 2021]

The Ed Techie (2007) The VLE/LMS is Dead. https://nogoodreason.typepad.co.uk. Educational Technology Blog. [blog] Available at: https://nogoodreason.typepad.co.uk/no_good_reason/2007/11/the-vlelms-is-d.html [Accessed 3 March 2021]

Wheeler, P [@Pennyjw]. (2021, 2 March) ONE OF MY PROBLEMS WITH THE PROLIFERATION OF INSTITUTIONS “RE-IMAGINING” THINGS IS THAT I’M NOT CONVINCED ANY IMAGINATION WENT INTO THE FIRST VERSION [Tweet]. Twitter. Available at:  https://twitter.com/pennyjw/status/1366864197611524103

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? I used comic templates from Presenter Media and Slides Carnival. Perhaps comics and graphic novels are an important part of visual literacy which can be defined as “…decribing 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 comibine 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 committment 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!

Bibliography

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: 14th 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: 14th 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: 14th 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: 14th January 2021]

Presenter Media (2020) Presenter Media (Online) Available at: https://www.presentermedia.com/ [Accessed: 14th 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: 14th January 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 “autobiographical incidents” (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. 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. 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 “…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).

Bibliography

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]

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: 12th January 2021]

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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.

Bibliography

Association for Language Learning (ALL) (n.d.) (Online) Available at: https://www.all-languages.org.uk/ [Accessed: 10th January 2021]

Castoriadis, C (1987) The Imaginary Institution of Society. [e-book] (Massachusetts: MIT Press) (Online) Available at:  https://books.google.co.uk/books?id=6UiOqYO0fx0C&printsec=frontcover&source=gbs_ge_summary_r&cad=0#v=onepage&q&f=false [Accessed: 10th January 2021]

IMDB (n.d.) Lost in Translation (Online) Available at: https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0335266/ [Accessed: 10th January 2021]

Guy, M & McDonald, P (2020) Presentation slides: The certainty of uncertainty: Transnational Online Pivot in China (Online) Available at: https://www2.slideshare.net/MariekeGuy/the-certainty-of-uncertainty-transnational-online-pivot-in-china-239927325 [Accessed: 10th January 2021]

Guy, M & McDonald, P (2020) Research poster: The Transnational Online Pivot: A Case Study Exploring Online Delivery in China (Online) Available at: https://www.slideshare.net/MariekeGuy/the-transnational-online-pivot-a-case-study-exploring-online-delivery-in-china-238494582 [Accessed: 10th January 2021]

Guy, M (2020) Quán lì yǐ fù: Delivering online teaching in China. Digitalrau.wordpress.com, Digital Transformation Blog [blog] 16 June (Online) Available at: https://digitalrau.wordpress.com/2020/06/16/quan-li-yi-fu-delivering-online-teaching-in-china/ [Accessed: 10th January 2021]

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Guy, M (2020) Yībù yīgè jiǎoyìn: Delivering online teaching in China. Digitalrau.wordpress.com, Digital Transformation Blog [blog] 29 June (Online) Available at: https://digitalrau.wordpress.com/2020/06/29/yibu-yige-jiaoyin-delivering-online-teaching-in-china/ [Accessed: 10th January 2021]

Guy, M (2020) Dēng gāo bì zì: Delivering online teaching in China. Digitalrau.wordpress.com, Digital Transformation Blog [blog] 31 August. Available at: https://digitalrau.wordpress.com/2020/07/31/deng-gao-bi-zi-delivering-online-teaching-in-china/ [Accessed: 10th January 2021]

Guy, M (2020) Dēng gāo bì zì: Delivering online teaching in China. Digitalrau.wordpress.com, Digital Transformation Blog [blog] 18 Sep. Available at: https://digitalrau.wordpress.com/2020/07/31/deng-gao-bi-zi-delivering-online-teaching-in-china/ [Accessed: 10th January 2021]

Guy, M (2020) The Certainty of Uncertainty: Transnational Online Pivot in China Digitalrau.wordpress.com, Digital Transformation Blog [blog] 11 Dec (Online) Available at: https://digitalrau.wordpress.com/category/china/ [Accessed: 10th January 2021]

Kaindl, K & Spitzl, K (eds) (2014) Transfiction Research into the realities of translational fiction. [e-book] (Amsterdam & Philadelphia: John Benjamins Publishing Company (Online) Available at: https://books.google.co.uk/books?hl=en&lr=&id=bUeNAgAAQBAJ&oi=fnd&pg=PR1&dq=transfiction&ots=_9ddOS3Knk&sig=HrL-qfZ-cFhV1kQRSrgPh6Sxcfk&redir_esc=y#v=onepage&q&f=false [Accessed: 10th January 2021]

Kaindl, K (2014) Going Fictional! Translators and interpreters ion literature and film: An introduction in Transfiction Research into the realities of translational fiction. [e-book] (Amsterdam & Philadelphia: John Benjamins Publishing Company. Ch.1 pp1-27 (Online) Available at: https://books.google.co.uk/books?hl=en&lr=&id=bUeNAgAAQBAJ&oi=fnd&pg=PR1&dq=transfiction&ots=_9ddOS3Knk&sig=HrL-qfZ-cFhV1kQRSrgPh6Sxcfk&redir_esc=y#v=onepage&q&f=false [Accessed: 10th January 2021]

Kress, G (2010) Multimodality A social semiotic approach to contemporary communication (Oxon, Canada & USA: Routledge)

London. Her Majesty’s Stationary Office. (1963) The Robbins Report. Available at: http://www.educationengland.org.uk/documents/robbins/robbins1963.html [Accessed: 10th January 2021]

McDonald, P (2019, April 18) Me, Myself and Multimodality [Twitter moment] Retrieved from https://twitter.com/i/events/1118963497638006785 [Accessed: 10th January 2021]

McDonald, P, 2016 in MacKinnon, T (ed) (2016) Close Encounters of the Multimodal Kind. altc.alt.ac.uk/blog, learning technology blog. [blog] 4 July (Online) Available at: https://altc.alt.ac.uk/blog/2016/07/close-encounters-of-the-multimodal-kind/#gref [Accessed: 10th January 2021]

McDonald, P (2020) Hold Your Digital Horses. Time for an Online Symposium. Digitalrau.wordpress.com Digital Transformation Blog [blog] 18 Sep. (Online) Available at: https://digitalrau.wordpress.com/2020/09/18/hold-your-digital-horses-time-for-an-online-symposium/ [Accessed: 10th January 2021]

McDonald, P (2020) Qiānlǐ zhī xíng, shǐyú zú xià. Laozi: Delivering online teaching in China.Digitalrau.wordpress.com Digital Transformation Blog [blog] 29 June (Online) Available at: https://digitalrau.wordpress.com/2020/06/29/and-remember-each-10000-mile-journey-begins-with-just-1-step-%e5%8d%83%e9%87%8c%e4%b9%8b%e8%a1%8c%ef%bc%8c%e5%a7%8b%e6%96%bc%e8%b6%b3%e4%b8%8b-qianli-zhi-xing-shiyu-zu-xia-laozi/ [Accessed: 10th January 2021]

McDonald, P (2020) SDAU Research Projects. SDAU Annual General Meeting. Online. January 7th 2021. Online.

Rossi, V. [@VirnaRossi] (2021, 2nd December) THIS LOOKS GREAT! ‘…THE DIGITAL UNIVERSITY MIGHT BE CONSIDERED, IN ITS TRANSLOCAL AND TRANSTEMPORAL FORM, AS AN OPENING UP OF THE IDEA OF THE UNIVERSITY; EMBODIED AND IMAGINED THROUGH STRONG CONNECTIONS ACROSS MULTIPLE LOCATIONS, TIMES AND TEMPORALITIES’ #LTHEchat [Tweet]. Twitter. Available at: https://twitter.com/VirnaRossi/status/1334246842176040973

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Nerlich, B & Morris, C (2015) Imagining Imaginaries. Blogs.nottingham.ac.uk, Public Science blog, [blog] 23 April (Online) Available at: https://blogs.nottingham.ac.uk/makingsciencepublic/2015/04/23/imagining-imaginaries/ [Accessed: 10th January 2021]

Sartre, J, P (2010) The Imaginary: A Phenomenological Psychology of the Imagination (Oxon: Routledge)

Qiānlǐ zhī xíng, shǐyú zú xià. Laozi: Delivering online teaching in China

In the next in our series of blog posts on delivery of online teaching to Shandong Agriculture University (SDAU) Pip takes over and shares highs and lows from the first week of interactive teaching.

And remember each 10,000 mile journey begins with just 1 step (千里之行,始於足下 Qiānlǐ zhī xíng, shǐyú zú xià. Laozi.

IMG_9810

I started working at RAU in May 2020 and immediately started on the online teaching project at SDAU in June 2020. Early in June it was acknowledged that students would not be able to return to campus and so all pre-recorded content was passed over to the SDAU team, they would take responsibility for delivering it to students. When teaching officially began on 15th June our biggest concern was the interactive sessions.

Interactive sessions using Zoom

We had changed from using WeChat to using Zoom a short time before teaching was planned to go ahead. It was time to ‘deep dive’ into exploring how to use Zoom as a platform on which interactive sessions would take place. Zoom had become used widely as a platform for remote and online learning and working throughout the pandemic. I had heard a great deal about new phrases such as ’Zoom bombing’ (O’Flaherty, 2020). Additionally, there was a great deal of discussion of ‘Zoom fatigue’ (Fosslien & Duffy, 2020). Whilst I had some experience of using Zoom before for example as a platform for delivering presentations using the chat and sharing screen features but I was not a Zoom expert and did not have experience being a ‘host’ so I felt that I needed to rapidly upskill if I was to support our lecturing staff using Zoom.

To support use of Zoom I offered ‘Zoom Drop In’ sessions to our lecturers who wanted to try out some the features before teaching went live. I was committed to exploring what ‘Zoom Literacy’ would be. When you have to teach someone else something, it is a good way of making sure you know how to use to first. I created approximately one hundred meetings so experienced my own version of ‘Pre-Zoom fatigue’. What we discovered during the first week was that it was not possible for the same host with the same account to host simultaneous meetings which prevented some of the interactive sessions from taking place on time or altogether. The error message ’The host has another meeting in progress’ became very familiar. This meant that we rapidly developed a workaround to solve the problems. For example, Chantal and Husna, the other RAU Learning Technologists created meetings. When it became clear that there were just too many parallel sessions required our IT Service Desk created some additional accounts for me to use. As a result, the timetabling process became very complex. Some of the interactive capabilities were restricted as the lecturers were not ‘hosts’. As a result, one of the Lecturers, Deepak Pathak and I decided to test out polling and break rooms in an exploratory longer case study interactive session. The two hour session involved exploring Starbucks. Deepak shared screens to reinforce the correct answers for example showing a Google Map of the location of RAU.

It was positive when the lecturing staff emailed me after their session to reflect on how it went. This helped identify ways to improve what we do for subsequent iterations of online teaching. I dropped into the majority of interactive sessions to see how teachers were using Zoom to engage students for example one of our lecturers, Nicola Cannon used a quiz format effectively.

Later on in the week I set up an online community of practice on Gateway, RAU’s Moodle VLE as part of a forum to share best practice.

“We all belong to communities of practice” (Wenger, 1998, p6)

An additional idea I had was to create a ‘sandbox’ approach on Zoom where all the Lecturers could share ideas of how to create interactive sessions without worrying about making a mistake during a live session.

I shared a Zoom webinar led by Eden Project Communities which was a ‘testpad’ for Zoom practices with Lecturers. I attended and it was great to see one of RAU’s Lecturers participate too. The session involved taking part in a breakout room as a student which was helpful to understand what the Zoom experience is like from the perspective of the student. One of the most helpful activities was a collaborative whiteboard led by host Samantha Evans where we explored games, collaborative activities, Zoom and other tools.

At this point in time we are currently starting the third and final week of teaching. My reflections are concerned with moving towards an evaluation of the project, I’ve recently created a problem-solution spreadsheet where I identified areas of development and potential strategies to overcome the problems.

Assessment

Throughout the three weeks of teaching, it was intended that assessments would take place every Friday. Accordingly, I tried to develop a workflow for assessment which involved the Lecturers creating the tests with the answers and articulating what invigilation might look like with Bonnie Wang and Lola Huo from SDAU. Early on in the process we found out that 30% of the marks were for attendance. We explored how Zoom can provide attendance monitoring reports and discovered that this was possible. Another challenge we experienced was that during week two of teaching, the Department of Education of Shandong informed SDAU that examinations need to be postponed. As a result, we responded by identifying alternative dates and ways of carrying out assessment.

The SDAU project journey began with one step. We learned a great deal in a short space of time and developed ways to overcome challnges rapidly. I’m looking forward to the next steps. In future, we would like to work with JISC to explore how their transnational expertise can help us improve what we do. We attended a webinar led by UCISA on the topic of Improving online access in China and had a positive meeting with Dr. Esther Wilkinson, Baoyu Wang and Anne Prior from JISC about how we can work together in a constructive capacity. JISC have recently launched a pilot to explore what quality online education looks like for Chinese students (JISC, 2020).

A huge thank you to Marieke Guy, Xianmin Chang, Steve Finch, Bonnie Wang and Lola Huo for their hard work and support to make the project happen.

In the next post we’ll look the final week of teaching delivery and lessons learnt.

By Falling We Learn to Go Safely, Chī yī qiàn, zhǎng yī zhì,吃一堑,长一智

Bibliography