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Archive for the 'Further higher and lifelong education' Category

Rethinking assessment: is the ‘oral essay’ a realistic alternative to the written essay in HE?

Blog Editor, IOE Digital31 May 2022

Students prepare for oral exam

© MINES ParisTech / S. Boda 2020 via Creative Commons

Katia Dowdle.

‘I own the words I speak more than I own the words that I write’. (student’s sentiment recorded by Joughin)

Higher education students in the UK are predominantly assessed through the medium of writing, with essays being the most common type of assignment. As an academic writing tutor, I have been ‘part of the system’ for several years now, preparing foundation students to understand and appropriately address essay tasks in their university studies.

The mere existence of my job has depended on the long-lived and cherished tradition of essay writing as a means to facilitate learning, diagnose students’ progress and assess understanding. I have always admired the format of academic essay that has an inherent potential to give learners space for expressing new and original ideas and, at the same time, demonstrating their deep understanding of the existing knowledge.

Students have not always shared my enthusiasm though. Moreover, the combination of independent thought and experts’ (more…)

Floating on the ‘cloud’ or living in the material world`? Teaching online in the time of Covid

Blog Editor, IOE Digital16 February 2022

Lesley Gourlay.

At the beginning of the pandemic, schools and universities were forced to ‘go online’ at short notice. We often refer to this as ‘virtual learning’, but is that really a good description? We think about the internet as something separate from the ‘real world’ we see in front of us, full of objects and people. The language used to describe it suggests this too – we talk about ‘the cloud’ and ‘the ether’, giving the idea that the online world is a special place, free from the messiness of the material world.

However, the reality of ‘online learning’ is also part of the that world. Computers, laptops and smartphones are objects, and we work with them in ‘real life’ settings. During the pandemic, millions of people had to set up and use digital devices at home for work or study. As we (more…)

Levelling up education and skills: a recipe for success?

Blog Editor, IOE Digital3 February 2022

Claire Crawford, Laura Outhwaite, Sam Sims and Gill Wyness.

It’s finally here: an answer to the question of what the government means by ‘levelling up’. On the education and skills front, it seems to involve some seriously ambitious targets: a massive increase in the percentage of children achieving the ‘expected’ level in reading, writing and maths at age 11 over the next eight years across all areas, with more than 50% rises needed to meet the target in most local authorities. Alongside these national targets, a set of 55 ‘Education Investment Areas’ – roughly the poorest performing third of local authorities in terms of primary and secondary school results – were identified, in which some new (and some re-announced) policies would be targeted.

It is good to have specific, measurable and stretching goals, but given the scale of ambition involved, there was very little detail of how we will actually get there – and no evidence of significant new resources to do it. Complex issues, like inequalities across the life course, require holistic solutions and joined up thinking across all aspects of the journey – things that simply cannot be delivered without appropriate funding. There was also little evidence of the embedding of new announcements within existing strategies – certainly in terms of the plans for educational technology, with the white paper championing the creation of a new online UK  (more…)

How has the pandemic affected young people’s job skills?

Blog Editor, IOE Digital16 December 2021

Francis Green, Golo Henseke and Ingrid Schoon.

With skill shortages widely reported, you may be wondering what’s been happening to the learning of job skills among young people during Covid. It is already obvious that, following Brexit, we in Britain cannot rely as much on the skills of migrants – and this doesn’t just mean for picking apples or driving lorries. Across the board it is widely accepted that we are going to need to step up the training of Britain’s young people, our future workers for decades to come, if standards of living are to be sustained while the economy adjusts to post-Brexit realities and to climate change.

But hasn’t the pandemic put a large damper on hopes of an upturn in our skills? How could Britain’s youth get on with their education when so many schools were closed, and how could they train for careers when they (more…)

Disruptive relations with the EU and institutional resilience in the UK and Switzerland

Blog Editor, IOE Digital8 December 2021

Tatiana Fumasoli and Lucy Shackleton. 

The UK and Swiss higher education systems share characteristics: strong academic performance, high levels of internationalisation in the staff and student body, and a global reputation.

They also share an uncertain future regarding their relationship to Horizon Europe, the European Union’s flagship research and innovation programme.

While provisions for UK association to Horizon Europe were included in the terms of the EU-UK Trade and Cooperation Agreement (TCA), at the time of writing, UK association has not been formalised by the EU, and EU Research Commissioner Mariya Gabriel has indicated that no progress can be made before ‘transversal’ political issues regarding the implementation of the Northern Ireland Protocol (more…)

Women in science: has Athena Swan lost its way?

Blog Editor, IOE Digital30 November 2021

Alice Sullivan and John Armstrong.

The Athena Swan charter was established in 2005 to advance the careers of female academics in science, technology, engineering, maths and medicine (STEMM). Yet it now discourages academic departments from collecting data on sex.

Athena Swan awards were designed to incentivise academic departments to support women. Monitoring gaps between men and women in recruitment and career progression was an essential criterion. Yet, Advance HE, which runs Athena Swan, now recommends data collection exclusively on gender-identity, not sex. As they state:  “Advance HE recommends asking a question about gender rather than asking a question about sex. This ensures equality efforts are … inclusive of a diverse range of gender identities.”

In common parlance, the term ‘gender’ is used as a synonym for sex, while sociologists often use ‘gender’ to (more…)

The 2021 Autumn Budget and Spending Review: what does it mean for educational inequalities?

Blog Editor, IOE Digital29 October 2021

 Claire Crawford, Centre for Education Policy and Equalising Opportunities.

The pandemic has disrupted life for everyone, but children and young people have seen perhaps the biggest changes to their day-to-day lives, with long periods spent away from school and their friends leading to significant rises in mental health difficulties and a substantial reduction in learning. Moreover, these challenges have not been felt equally: the evidence suggests that the pandemic has also led to a rise in inequalities between children from different socio-economic backgrounds, from the early years through to secondary school and beyond.

A budget and multi-year spending review delivered against a backdrop of the highest peace-time borrowing levels ever, and by a chancellor on a ‘moral’ mission to limit the size of the state, was unlikely to deliver the sort of investments in education that Sir Kevan Collins hoped to see when he took the role of ‘catch-up tsar’ earlier this year. But what did it deliver for education? And is it likely to help roll back the rises in educational inequalities that the pandemic has generated? (more…)

Inspiring teachers to learn together: why our partnership with schools enriches deep learning for early career teachers

Blog Editor, IOE Digital19 October 2021

Qing Gu, Mark Quinn, Hilary Adli and Sue Hellman.

14995841 / Pixabay

The Department for Education’s proposal to radically restructure Initial Teacher Education (ITE) has renewed an ongoing debate about why universities must have a key role to play in the education of our future teachers.

As we have successfully launched our  Early Career Teacher Full Induction Programme nationally,  we feel obliged to contribute to the debate by sharing what we have learned from leading partnerships with like-minded schools and universities to provide the professional development pathways that enable early career teachers to fulfil their passion, purpose and commitment as lifelong educators. Our Full Induction Programme is established in the early roll-out areas through the UCL Early Career Teacher Consortium and our national roll-out provision with 21 school-led Delivery Partners.

Schools and universities have a century-old history of working together. Our experience reinforces (more…)

Why dyslexia support for university students can feel ‘like going to a sexual health clinic’

Blog Editor, IOE Digital4 October 2021

Charlotte Hamilton Clark.

The week of Oct 4-10th is Dyslexia Awareness Week, when organisations promote public engagement with dyslexia, often on a specific theme. In 2021 the focus is on invisible dyslexia, including overlooked dyslexia among adults in higher education.

My new study highlights how UK university students experienced dyslexia as an often unrecognised and invisible phenomenon. The study contributes fascinating insights into students’ decisions regarding disclosure and concealment of dyslexia as an invisible identity at university and the impacts of these decisions on their self-esteem.

In the qualitative project I explored the lived experience of dyslexia from the perspective of students who had registered for dyslexia support at four UK universities. The study used both email and phone discussions to investigate students’ views and theorised the impact of universities’ approach (more…)

Universities: learning outside the lecture hall

Blog Editor, IOE Digital22 September 2021

Allison Littlejohn.

Lockdown led to the largest transformation of teaching in the history of UK higher education. In March 2020, the entire university workforce had to transition to working online. This was remarkable transformation for institutions that, founded on tradition and convention, tend to be slow to change.  As the 2021-22 academic year begins, record numbers of UK students are about to enter our universities once again.

National reports suggest that both students and staff found the lack of face-to-face learning and social interactions over the past year or so difficult. Enforced isolation during lockdown had an impact on student mental health, while students’ representatives have run campaigns questioning the value of online education under lockdown conditions and called for a refund on student fees. They have been arguing for a return to face-to-face lectures and on-campus social activities.

As for staff, our study of the experiences of university staff as they moved to online teaching during lockdown found that academics, especially those with little prior experience of digital education, had to invest considerable extra time redesigning courses, recording lectures and connecting with students to provide (more…)