Student engagement in blended and connected learning and teaching: a view from students
This article addresses two key issues in the context of the student experience at the University of Portsmouth in relation to Covid-19: lessons learned in the area of Blended and Connected (B&C) learning and teaching, and potential features of the post-Covid student experience.
Through the eyes of students, we address significant questions, including: Is the initial vision for B&C learning fit for a future where the student experience may be shaped by lower physical proximity and lower synchronicity? Did digital tools, such as content capture and virtual learning environments, play a different role in promoting active learning within a student-centred pedagogic mix? How will universities explain their student-centred pedagogic approach when students demand a return to face-to-face teaching?
The article begins by exploring the pre-Covid period by considering the pedagogic change journey that the University embarked upon in 2019, known as the institutional shift to B&C learning (Dunbar-Morris, 2020). It considers the principles and expected outcomes of our B&C approach at Portsmouth, and how it was received by students. It reviews feedback from students who experienced modules that had been redesigned for B&C learning, and the role played by academic staff in the roll-out and embedding of this approach. The analysis covers: (1) learning materials, (2) synchronous (real-time) activities, (3) asynchronous work (including tutor-facilitated activities, independent learning and learning in groups), and (4) organisational and timetabling aspects.
Student feedback is used to gain an understanding of the impact of the pandemic on student perceptions and experience of their studies. We review this data to provide insights into the extent to which the additional constraints associated with Covid-19 affected the student experience. The findings section reflects on the effect of the B&C agenda on the University’s response to the pandemic as all courses moved online in March 2020. The analysis is used to examine lessons learned from the pandemic so far and considers a number of features of potential post-Covid student learning experiences and students’ expectations within that future.
Based on these findings and lessons learned, the article concludes by putting forward a post-Covid scenario for learning and teaching at this University and potentially beyond.
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