Research

OU COVID Research: Online Learning and Education

Decorative image

On 27th May 2021, IET hosted the OU COVID-19 Research: Online Learning and Education seminar.

This free event provided an online showcase of research projects led by academics and researchers from across the OU which have been funded to address key areas in the theme of online learning and education.

During 2020 and 2021, the OU’s Research, Enterprise and Scholarship unit launched a call for projects from academic and non-academic researchers in the University, to explore areas that have been affected by COVID-19.

The seminar also featured a panel discussion and Q/A with high profile researchers from across the HE sector, which was chaired by Academic Lead for the seminar Professor Denise Whitelock, Director of the OU's Institute of Educational Technology (IET). Denise explained:

"COVID-19 has raised unprecedented challenges for learning and education globally. This online shift has been difficult for institutions with face to face tuition however it has accelerated an appetite for Technology Enhanced Learning which can allow both learners and teachers to survive and thrive.

Research that has taken place in IET and throughout the OU has aimed to support colleagues both nationally and internationally in a number of new ways and through the evaluation of our efforts so that we can understand how improved pedagogy and distance teaching practices can improve skills, knowledge and experiences in online learning."

Here is some more information about the projects which were presented at the seminar:

Pathways: e-Assessment for African Higher Education

The Pathways e-Assessment for African Higher Education project, led by Professor Denise Whitelock, Director of IET, alongside Dr Tim Coughlan, Senior Lecturer in Educational Technology at the OU, and Dr Nashwa Ismail, Research Associate at the OU, expands on previous knowledge exchange programmes that the OU have run with partners in Africa.

Educational experts at the OU’s Institute of Educational Technology and Faculty of WELS have been working with partners in the African Council for Distance Education (ACDE) to promote professional development programmes for educators, professional staff and heads of department who share responsibility for providing quality distance and online learning across Africa.

The project has involved a participatory survey to identify specific regional challenges, raised by local educators across Africa, and address their needs.

Find out about the activities of the project in the article below, or download our informative one-pager here (PDF 150KB).

Editorial

Pathways: e-Assessment for African Higher Education

A project led by the Institute of Educational Technology has been funded by the OU to address the urgent need for online assessments across the African continent.

Read more

Effect of COVID on OU students

The project led by Dr Maria Aristeidou, Lecturer in Technology Enhanced Learning at the OU, and Dr Nashwa Ismail, Research Associate at the OU, has been funded to investigate various factors related to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on students at the OU.

Among the themes explored, the project has consulted students on the impact of COVID-19 on their academic progress, students’ communication with peers and tutors, their study behaviours and routines, and students’ recommendations on how the OU could better support students.

Find out more on the participant responses to the survey in the article below, or download our informative one-pager here (PDF 150KB).

Editorial

Researching the effect of Covid-19 on OU students

A project led by the Institute of Educational Technology has been funded to investigate the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on students at the OU.

Read more

Teachers’ professional learning during and after Covid: A role for open digital badges

Led by Dr Simon Cross, Senior Lecturer at the OU’s Institute of Educational Technology, the project seeks to build on previous knowledge exchange programmes in addressing the need for teacher professional development during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The project has involved work with researchers, state officials and policy makers in India to assess the opportunities for digital badges in supporting long-known regional challenges for learning, teaching and assessment.

Read more about the need for digital badges for TPD in India in the article below, or download our informative one-pager here (PDF 143KB).

Editorial

Open digital badges for teacher development in India

IET's Dr Simon Cross has been working with partners in India to establish the role for open digital badges in teacher professional development (TPD) during a future with COVID-19.

Read more

Race and Ethnicity Hub

The project is being led by Sas Amoah, Digital Media Producer at the OU, who is producing a short film to be published on the OpenLearn Race and Ethnicity hub.

The film will investigate race-related health issues, in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic, and the disproportionate negative impact on people of colour. The film will also dispel some of the problematic myths that have arisen in relation to biology.

Read more about the project here, or download our informative one-pager here (PDF 186KB).

Overcoming adversity through hope: the potential of picture fiction

The project, led by Prof Teresa Cremin, Professor of Education (Literacy) in the OU’s Faculty of WELS and Dr Sarah Mukherjee, Research Associate at the OU, has been funded to develop resources for teachers, practitioners and parents to help them support children’s wellbeing.

Read more about the project here, or download our informative one-pager here (PDF 164KB).

Open Centre for Languages and Culture

Dr Mirjam Hauck and Dr Sylvia Warnecke launched the Open Centre in October 2020 to support the learning of languages and cultures in a professional, academic and leisure capacity.

The centre provides short courses which cover general linguistic, intercultural communication and particular skills for work.

Read more about the project here, or download our informative one-pager here (PDF 152KB).

CPD for social workers

The project, led by Joe Hanely, Lecturer in Social Work at the OU’s Faculty of WELS, had been funded to produce a collection of free resources to enable keyworkers to upskill in disaster social work response.

The resources are designed to be accessible to people of any level of social work, from experienced workers to students.

Read more about the project here, or download our informative one-pager here (PDF 128KB).

Impact of COVID-19 on CPD requirements for organisational development in the UK

The project, led by Dr Hilary Collins, Senior Lecturer in the OU’s Faculty of Business & Law, will undertake in depth qualitative workshops with mid and senior management across COVID-19 affected industry sectors, notably hospitality and retail.

The online fact-finding process will contribute to the co-creation of training solutions with company professionals. This data will also be used to inform the content and online pedagogy of a new micro-credential in organisational development.

Find out more about this project by downloading our informative one-pager here (PDF 132KB).

Cardiff Commitment CPD Pilot

The project, led by Lynnette Thomas, Deputy Director, Strategy & Development (OU in Wales) was co-designed to support the professional development needs of teaching staff in their approach to blended teaching and learning pedagogy, both in response to the global pandemic as well as in preparation for the new curriculum for Wales. 

The project sought to develop and deliver a model made up of agreed work streams that supports teaching staff within schools and colleges in the online pivot and promotes blended learning pathways. 

Find out more about this project by downloading our informative one-pager here (PDF 164KB).

Panel discusses the impact of online-shift on HE sector

The seminar also featured a panel discussion and Q/A with high-profile researchers from across the HE sector. Chairing the panel, Prof Denise Whitelock was joined by:

Prof John Domingue, KMi, The Open University

Prof John Domingue is a Professor of Computer Science at the Open University, Director of the OU’s Knowledge Media Institute and the President of STI International, a semantics focused networking organization. John has published over 280 refereed articles (h-index 57) in the areas of semantics, the Web, distributed ledgers and eLearning.

Prof Allison Littlejohn, University College London

Professor Allison Littlejohn is Director of the UCL Knowledge Lab, a centre exploring the future of education with technology in the UCL Institute of Education. She is a learning scientist, specialising in professional and digital learning. Her current research focuses on the role of professional learning in addressing global challenges and her work has made contributions to the understanding of how people learn for work in diverse contexts and cultures across the Energy, Finance, Health, Education and International Development sectors.

Prof Mpine Makoe, UNISA, South Africa

Prof Mpine Makoe is the Commonwealth of Learning Chair in Open Education Practices/ Resources at the University of South Africa (UNISA) and a National Research Foundation (NRF) rated research professor in Open Distance eLearning (ODeL). She is also an OER ambassador for International Council for Distance Education (ICDE) and a director of African Council for Distance Education (ACDE).

Prof Albert Sangrà Morer, Open University of Catalonia

Prof Albert Sangrà, Director for the UNESCO Chair in Education and Technology for Social Change at the University of Catalonia. His main areas of research are the uses of ICT in education and training and in particular, policies, organization, management and leadership in the implementation of online education (e-learning) and the guarantee of its quality, as well as professional development for online education.

 

Find out more about the OU's Covid-19 research across the themes of online learning, inequalities, health and wellbeing, and more, click here.