Universities plot to keep teaching online after ‘digital investments’

0
41

Universities are plotting to keep some teaching online after the pandemic and could also replace exams with quizzes and open-book assessments.

Institutions are seeking to “capitalise” on the investments they have made in the “digital transformation” of degrees, according to a briefing from Universities UK (UUK), the vice-chancellor membership group.

Many institutions plan to continue with online lectures, freshers’ week activities, virtual open days, careers fairs and digital internships, it says.

The briefing explained that universities are “re-thinking” what is meant by the terms “lecture”, “teaching” and “assessment”. It added the higher education sector is now “challenging established thinking that has become dominant sometimes only through habit”.

It pointed out that assessment “does not have to happen in an exam hall” and that a lecture “doesn’t need to be restricted to a one-hour one-way presentation”.

The briefing said that during lockdown, different types of assessment were developed including open-book exams, quizzes and digital portfolios.

Discussing the positive ramifications of these new testing methods, UUK said that staff were able to “focus more on supporting students’ learning, designing assessments with real-world and workplace scenarios and tasks, instead of exercises in memory as traditional exams often have been”.

They added that the move away from traditional exams also had mental health benefits for students, who reported less “assessment anxiety” as a result.

The briefing says: “We need to make the most of the benefits and capitalise on investment in the digital transformation that higher education has undergone while at the same time bringing back the advantages of in-person experiences, as the pandemic allows.

“Significant activity is already under way, and institutions are working with their staff and students to explore new ways of doing things.”

In-person teaching and social activities have increased during the autumn term but some universities are still keeping some lectures online as they adopt a blended approach to learning.

In some institutions, moving traditional in-person lectures online is being considered to free up timetables for more face-to-face tutorials while others are considering a mix of online and in-person lectures, according to the report.

Dr Peter Bonfield, vice-chancellor of Westminster University who chaired the UUK discussions, said: “Our work has found that digital learning has given an array of clear benefits for different student groups that need to be considered and included alongside those offered by in-person education.

“For example, for students who may be juggling work, family and caring responsibilities alongside their studies, for those with disabilities, for international students and more.

“Whilst we almost all love and enjoy working and studying as physical communities together on campus, it is important that the advantages of digital delivery alongside face-to-face delivery are not lost and are implemented to further improve the student experience and the quality of education offered to them.”

He added: “The sector needs to, and will continue to, develop blended learning options because it is clearly in the interests of students to do so.”

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

− 3 = 3