Collaboration and catnaps

As we head towards the end of 2020, I keep looking back and thinking, wow what a hell of a ride it’s been! The experiences many of us have had, particularly with teaching online, has made many of us realise how important it is that we support and help each other to get through this, so that we can provide the best online learning experience for our students.

In that vein of hope, Sage (a publishing company that specialise in research methods) asked me to share my experiences of online teaching our large intro statistics course, for an online event they were planning, for tertiary academics from the UK and USA.  Here’s a link to the event:

Since the academic year tends to follow the seasons across the planet, the northern hemisphere have had a long break in the middle, whereas places like NZ have been teaching right through (with the end in sight!). Speaking to academics in the UK and USA, it was clear that many of them were nervous and unsure as to how they would deliver their courses, but more importantly, keep students’ engagement in an online environment. 

My talk was aimed to provide advice on exactly this topic, and is at the core of several other blogs I have made:

Here’s a short video about my talk:

The main message I tried to convey was for academics to think about the student experience of being in an online environment. Talking from slides and uploading them to a virtual learning environment would leave their students feeling isolated and deflated. I wanted them to take a risk with their teaching and encouraged them to share a little something of themselves with their students, to include activities and learning opportunities that weren’t necessarily content linked. These approaches can then help to remind everyone (students and each other) that we’re human.

The talk was well received and formed a key theme at the event. By focusing on the well-being of students and each other, we can create an engaging and motivating learning experience. There was also a unanimous agreement that we form an online collective, mediated by Sage, to help support and encourage each other, and to share experiences of online learning. We also agreed that we needed a forum to tell others what went well, but also what hasn’t worked well. 

Watch this space for more developments! And also, if you would like to be part of this collective, get in touch and I’ll make sure your name is added to the list.

So . . .. you may be wondering well why is part of the title catnaps? That’s mainly to remind me (and potentially those of you reading!) to take a catnap and try to take some sort of break this year. We’ve all worked so hard and I know many are feeling depleted. So, don’t feel guilty about giving yourself a well-earned break and recharge!

Take care and farewell for now!

In summary, I feel like nothing says it better than the words of Jerry Springer: Take care of yourselves and each other 😊 Oh and take a catnap if you need it!