Open Voices on Covid-19: Covid challenges and opportunities driving the research agenda

Whitelock, Denise; Herodotou, Christothea; Cross, Simon and Scanlon, Eileen eds. (2021). Open Voices on Covid-19: Covid challenges and opportunities driving the research agenda. England: Open Learning: The Journal of Open, Distance and E-learning.



There have been massive disruptions in response to the COVID-19 pandemic in the world of teaching and learning with an unprecedented need for innovation and agility. Among the pressing concerns at the forefront of this pandemic are the best models and practices for e-learning at speed and within budget for areas of the sector moving to blended learning. A diverse range of responses has been observed from rapid curriculum redevelopment to upskilling teachers in designing and offering e-learning. Amongst the many challenges, teachers find themselves using teaching methods they have never used before, from synchronous lectures to sharing material and lecture recording, there is a lack of access to online tools and technology, a concern about a diminished quality of learning due to the sudden shift to e-learning, and a threat to students’ well-being, achievement, and future prospects. Yet, the unexpected shift to e-learning became a unique opportunity for rethinking education and promoting innovation, through for example, the design of flexible teaching and learning programmes, a skill-focused curriculum in which problem solving, critical thinking and reflection are prominent, and the use of effective and evidence-based pedagogical approaches. The following papers were selected for this special issue and address concerns associated with blended learning, which also includes the use of Hyflex, together with students declaring that they were not convinced that their courses were suitable for online delivery. Reflecting on these papers, together with a suite of other challenges faced by the higher education community, presents an opportunity to consider the new skill sets that will be required and which theoretical frameworks will drive the forthcoming research agenda.

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