TLC Newsletter

Newsletter - October 2021

Newsletter - October 2021"What's next" on our academic journey?

A (wise!) colleague commented recently that students’ return to campus was marked by a collective attitude of acknowledging a difficult year passed, but eager to move on, ready for what’s next. While campus is thankfully getting busy again and we cautiously return to some normalcy, it’s certain that “what’s next?” will be impacted by the collective experience of the COVID year. So what can be next?

The affordances and limitations of technology in teaching and learning were undoubtedly a feature of the past 18 months. Our future directions can capitalise on lessons learned, especially those relating to student engagement and flexibility in delivery. But reducing lessons learned to technical merits alone omits the major lesson we have (re)learned and reaffirmed: teaching and learning is fundamentally a human endeavour.

The human experiences of learning – focussing on dialogue, on personal growth, on empathy and kindness – can be usefully considered under an umbrella of self-efficacy. Self-efficacy is focussed on the student and their sense of capacity to achieve. In a recent workshop (p.8) we discussed how this very human need can couple with technological considerations.

Self-efficacy is influenced by performance issues, obviously: nothing like a grade for a reality check about how we are getting on! But it is also influenced by our sense of place in a learning environment – connection with peers, and connection with teacher who provides signposts through useful feedback. This sense of place is easier in physical environments, but there are different and often complementary ways to do it in virtual settings.

We pick up many of these themes around dialogue and feedback, and the supporting of students’ connection and their growing independence in this month’s Newsletter. It’s clear from the perspectives shared here that there is already a lot of activity in ensuring the human connection in our teaching is a core part of our considerations of “what’s next?”.

Dr Michael Seery
Teaching and Learning Centre
Institute of Technology Carlow