Narratives of innovation and resilience: Supporting student learning experiences in challenging times

Blaj-Ward, Lia; Hultgren, Anna Kristina; Arnold, Ruth and Reichard, Bella eds. (2021). Narratives of innovation and resilience: Supporting student learning experiences in challenging times. Renfrew: BALEAP.



For international students around the world, 2020 was a year like no other. The very dream of travel and study in another country itself was threatened by a pandemic that spread across the globe resulting in travel restrictions, health lockdowns and grounded flights. Some students who had their cases packed to study in another country found themselves studying at home in another timezone. Others who had looked forward to gaining language skills through direct teaching and the ease of social interaction found themselves grappling with online education in their student accommodation. We all learned new vocabulary – Teams, Zoom, break out rooms – as we attempted to take ourselves and our students Off Mute. Of course, it wasn’t only students who were affected. 2020 saw professionals in English for Academic Purposes themselves locked down, teaching from home from spare rooms or kitchen tables, and in the process undertaking an intense period of professional development as we learned in real time how online teaching and support could help us reach and sustain our students. Barely any aspect of our practice was unaffected as challenge drove our own innovation and learning. Necessity is said to be the mother of invention. So what did we learn? And what do we want to retain and share with one another as the pandemic continues, and in the knowledge that international education may be permanently changed after the storm has passed? In the eight narratives included in this collection, colleagues from different UK universities generously share their experience of developing context-appropriate solutions in the early stages of the 2020 pandemic. They reflect on what they learnt from the experience and on what they themselves and others can take forward into future practice.

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