I’m speaking at the Learnovation Summit on 14th October and was interviewed prior to the conference. Learnovation is organised by ‘The Learnovate Centre’, a leading research and innovation centre in learning technologies, based at Trinity College, Dublin.
I thought you might like to read the interview. I was asked about whether the dominance of the college or university campus is likely to return - as the world’s most traditional universities adapt for different futures. And I was asked whether institutions have opportunities to ensure students will continue to experience a ‘rite of passage’ - by increasing online collaboration and peer-to-peer interaction through their studies.
The original was written by Martha Kearns, from StoryLab
Professor Salmon is the founder and CEO of Education Alchemists and spent 30 years in the university sector in the UK and Australia holding various academic and senior positions including Pro Vice-Chancellor (Education). She says:
“I don’t think we will be going back to the dominance of campus; some of the very high-end, research-based, traditional universities across the UK are preparing for sustainability and impact of online. The ‘new normal’ looks different but the focus should be on increased flexibility so that students can go to campus if it is safe and appropriate, but they are offered equivalent experiences if that’s not possible. This might not be the last time this happens so we need increased flexibility for the future and the ability to switch, in an agile way, between one mode and another.
“The concept of ‘going’ to university is completely embedded in our cultures. Students see it as a ‘rite of passage’; a moment of freedom - to explore and find new ways. Universities and students will have to work even harder to enable people to make cross-cultural connections and understand the world of the future through their digital learning, rather than only by immersion in the university campus through place based encounters and ‘chance’.
“To provide such experiences we have to embrace the idea of the ‘university in your pocket’ : all the components of university life can occur through digital and mobile. So, students carry their university or college with them rather than going to a campus! But they need to have all the features that a physical campus would have – places to meet socially, places to listen to and engage with their lecturer and, crucially, places to work with other students.
“Already there has been a been a marked increase of attempts to bring courses completely online and take them out to the world because of the importance in Europe of overseas students. We’ve probably seen the halcyon days of being able to import students to our campuses. Instead, we can export learning out to where they are. That has been going on for a while but there will be a major ramp up in trying to reach students that are not located in our countries in a range of new, digital ways.”
Professor Salmon adds that people across the corporate and the university world stepped up massively during the worst part of Covid but now it is time to learn, reflect, design and re-think the future.
“It might take a bit of time and I am sure this academic year will still be very disruptive and will not meet some expectations. But we should be hopeful that this is the moment of pivot; our opportunity to change to something that is successful for all. There are many advantages to moving online. It is more equitable for everyone and saves time as well. So, it’s not all bad, it’s different.”
Other speakers at the Summit were also interviewed on this topic:
The Learnovate Centre Director Nessa McEniff said:
“There is no doubt that this year’s college experience is very different for students across Ireland. However, we believe this is the perfect time for third-level institutions to embrace the benefits of elearning and see how it can add to the university experience. Online learning has huge advantages for both students and the institutions as it increases equity across the student body and universities can increase their offerings to students in Ireland and elsewhere.”
Learnovate Academic Director and Director of Research at Trinity College Dublin, Dr Ann Devitt said:
“In all the changes that we have had to make in our lives and our education settings over the last few months, sometimes the procedural aspects of learning have been to the fore – getting people into school or online, getting materials online and so on. But we don’t know how long this situation is going to last so we must make sure that those things that make us human stay at the very centre of what we are trying to achieve in education. We need connection to learn and to keep us motivated. In an online context, it takes imagination and careful consideration to make those happen, but we must be committed to always trying to achieve that.”
The Learnovation Summit takes place on October 13-15, 2020. It's called ‘Living and Learning in a Changing Workplace’, this year’s Learnovation event focuses on how to transform learning experiences for employees, students and customers in online learning’s biggest year ever.
My talk is entitled ‘Seizing the Pivot for New Learning: pursuing principles and practice post-Covid’. I will explore achievable ways of imagining and implementing the best learning concepts for the ‘new normal’, ranging from design, equivalence, scaffolding, engagement and learning futures.
Professor Gilly Salmon's Website
Education Alchemists Services
Learnovation Summit 2020