Fears, hopes and reimaginings: learning and teaching within, through and beyond the pandemic (#SOLSTICE2020)

For many years I have had the privilege of attending and presenting at a number of the annual SOLSTICE technology-enhanced learning conferences run by Edge Hill University, presenting in latter years in my role as a Visiting Professor in education within the Centre for Learning and Teaching at Edge Hill University.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic this year’s SOLSTICE 2020 conference, which occurs annually in the first week of June, was of course cancelled. In lieu of the conference taking place, the Centre for Learning and Teaching invited a number of their visiting fellows and professors to record personal reflections on the impact of COVID-19 on Higher Education both currently and looking towards the short and longer-term future.

Screen shot of title slide for recorded video presentation on the topic 'Fears, hopes and reimaginings: learning and teaching within, through and beyond the pandemic'

To play recording https://stream.uhi.ac.uk/Player/3I39cE90 (opens in new window)

I titled my own reflection for SOLSTICE 2020 ‘Fears, hopes and reimaginings: learning and teaching within, through and beyond the pandemic‘. Recorded late one evening (it shows!) after much thinking about the impact and implications of COVID-19 on both Higher Education and the wider education sector, I tried to distil some of my key concerns and hopes into the twenty minutes or so we were asked to speak for. While I say ‘my key concerns and hopes’ much of what I shared was either informed by or related to discussions, deliberations and relevant research undertaken with colleagues including in particular Sheila MacNeill and Bill Johnston.

Key themes within my reflection included the already precarious nature of formal education, the potential impact of COVID-19 on increasing precarity particularly for those learners who are amongst our less space and resource rich, and the readiness (or not) of students and educators who have not self-selected to study or teach fully or predominantly online and who potentially face a very different experience (and challenges) come the new academic year. More optimistically (perhaps hopelessly so) I pondered the potential ‘good’ that may come from COVID-19 in relation to rethinking access, collaboration, social action, and the space, place and co-location of the curriculum, campus and learning.

I hope to share some further written thoughts on the above, as we begin to tentatively move beyond lockdown and seek to find our own and our collective ways forwards.