Reflections on Blended Learning

Mark Neild  blog by Mark Neild, EdD student, SOE, University of Bristol

This article is a personal reflection on the best and worst of blended learning from the perspective of a senior lecturer in innovation and entrepreneurship teaching a unit with 35 and another with 160 students, who is also a student at the School of Education.

The positives of online learning

In some ways the forced move to “blended learning” has enabled us to accelerate a move towards the “flipped classroom” in which students consume prepared material individually and come together for “meaning making” through shared dialogue. One advantage of individual consumption is that students can learn at their own pace, stop and rewind in a way impossible with a real time “lecture”. This has benefits for interactivity, particularly for students whose first language is not English.  Such “asynchronous” interaction allows those who (for whatever reason) process new information more slowly to still engage in online discussions rather than missing out because by the time they are ready to contribute, the discussion has moved on. We have also been able to invite visiting experts for 20-minute guest Q&A sessions without the need for hours of travelling and recorded some great guest interviews.  The weekly outline for our unit of 160 students looked like this. (more…)

Painful Endings, New Beginnings

Dr Zibah Nwako

Blog post by Dr Zibah Nwako School of Education, University of Bristol

Having recently completed my studies during the COVID-19 pandemic, I’ve been thinking a lot about managing life within these confines and how it affects my career aspirations. It’s one thing to shut one door and try to open another one in normal circumstances, but given the pressures of today’s uncertain world, these endings and beginnings are an entirely different challenge.

Whether it’s to do with our work, relationships, health, finances – some of us may have been standing at a crossroads for a while, seeking answers, wondering which direction to turn or even grasping at what we believe to be opportunities but are not quite in tune with what we desired or envisaged. This can be quite an uncomfortable, even painful, in-between place to be. If you are in this space, please know that you are not alone. (more…)

Children’s reflections on home education during the COVID-19 pandemic: Implications for the return to school

Claire LeeDr Lucy WenhamBlog post by Claire Lee and Lucy Wenham, School of Education, University of Bristol

As school leaders plan the return to school following the global pandemic, it is crucial that their educational decisions are informed by research into the everyday realities of enforced home learning for children. Much research attention until now has focused, importantly, on lost learning and widening inequalities (e.g. Andrew et al., 2020; Green, 2020). (more…)

Mirror Mirror on the wall. Who, is the fairest of them all?


Jessie AbrahamsDr Jessie Abrahams (Lecturer in Education and Social Justice, School of Education, University of Bristol)

As results time for the COVID cohort hits, and anxiety mounts for young people, the four nations of the UK have begun a worrying battle to prove that their system of allocated grades as a substitute for summer examinations is the fairest of them all. In reality- none of them are fair. As many academics have already exclaimed, they are all set up (much like our whole education system), in favour of white, middle (and upper) class pupils and families (see for example: Ingram, 2020). (more…)

Chart toppers from School of Education Summer 2020

By Helen Aberdeen,  Director of the Document Summary Service

Greetings from my local café in Bristol, which I can now frequent to have a change of scene. The music is a little too loud, and I am slightly distracted by 3 ladies at the next table (over 2 metres away) discussing mortgages, but it is an otherwise pleasant environment in which to write a blog post.

A couple of weeks ago, we finished our rollercoaster year here at the Bristol University School of Education where I work as subject coordinator on the MFL PGCE course. We celebrated with our student teachers via a Zoom meeting with quizzes, films and awards. I the won prize for the worst Spanish accent – always good to be reminded of one’s weaknesses.  Like many of you in education, we are now embarking on planning an autumn term programme amidst ongoing uncertainty. (more…)

“The government gives me £35 a week to buy food… During the lockdown, my kids do not receive free school meals”

Blog post as told to Jáfia Câmara, School of Education.

As a refugee and single mother, lockdown in the UK is hard. #HumansofCOVID19

My name is Maria*. I am an asylum-seeker single-mother who escaped to the UK because I felt unsafe in my home country.

My life in the United Kingdom before the pandemic 

I arrived in the United Kingdom two years ago. It was hard for me because I am a single mother. I am alone with my two small kids. Initially, the accommodation and support I received as an asylum-seeker were horrible. I had to share a house with strangers who liked to drink alcohol and smoke. It was depressing. It was horrible. My living conditions are better now, but my children and I have faced many new difficult challenges. (more…)

Education and COVID-19: Is Ghana ready to return to the classroom?

Blog post by Kenneth Gyamerah, Chevening Scholar, Professional teacher, and Global Youth Ambassador for Education.

Introduction

In March 2020, the government of Ghana announced a countrywide shutdown of schools as a precautionary measure to mitigate the spread of the coronavirus. In response, the Ministry of Education (MOE)  in collaboration with Ghana Education Service rolled out remote learning interventions to provide education for the students. Data from UNESCO as of 29th  May 2020  shows there are 9,696,756 children and youth currently out of school in Ghana due to coronavirus. Of this number, 1,852,028 are in Pre-primary, 4,549,875 are in Primary, 2,851,160 are in Junior High School (JHS) and Senior High School (SHS) and 443,693 are in the tertiary institutions. In this blog, I will examine the MOE’s education response to COVID-19 in Ghana. (more…)

The UK needs a new impact agenda

By Kat Smith Justyna Bandola Nasar Meer Ellen Stewart and Richard Watermeyer
Our new book, The Impact Agenda: Controversies, Consequences and Challenges, examines UK efforts to incentivise and measure research impact via REF2021 and research funding. It’s a strange time for a book to come out and we did think twice about promoting it. However, the COVID-19 pandemic is a startling reminder of both how important (how ‘impactful’) research can be, and also how vexed the relationship between research and policy decisions often is.

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Academic lives are in transition

Blog by Richard Watermeyer, School of Education, University of Bristol; Tom Crick, Swansea University; Cathryn Knight, Swansea University and Janet Goodall, the University of Swansea

A group of university academics set out to capture and profile academic lives-in-transition as a result of the pandemic. Here’s the results.

The physical closure of university campuses by the Covid-19 pandemic has almost overnight changed “how we do what we do” as academics, and the nature of our daily routines.

In an attempt to capture and profile academic lives-in-transition, we designed a large-scale international attitudinal survey coinciding with universities’ mass online-migration and for which we received an overwhelming response. (more…)

Alone together? Digital inequalities and the 2020 student experience of higher education

Dr Sue Timmis: Co-Director –  Centre for Knowledge, Culture and Society, School of Education, University of Bristol

Alone Together was written by Sherry Turkle (2011), a digital ethnographer, and explores how technology is helping to shape what it means to be human. It makes a rather one-sided claim that technology is replacing social interaction and human contact.  Writing in the midst of an unprecedented world pandemic, nothing seems further from the truth.  The need for social interaction is increasing and many of us are seeking ways to exploit technology to achieve this. (more…)