Following the shift to online learning that took place during the pandemic, there is recognition that learning and teaching delivery in higher education will not return to the pre-pandemic experiences. Universities and student associations are keen to build on the momentum and lessons learned over the last couple of academic sessions as they work collaboratively to build a student experience that supports all students however and wherever they learn. HEIs in Scotland are currently reflecting on learning from the pandemic to continue to develop approaches that maximise the benefits of a more blended environment to support the diverse needs of their student populations.
Building on the work of the 2020-21 student-led project, Digital Student Communities, this 2021-22 project explored equity and inclusiveness in this context and how we can best develop representative systems and student/class representative skills to effectively support all the students they serve.
The Promoting the Equity of the Student Learning Experience project explored the following questions:
What do we mean by equity?
As one example, not all student groups were affected equally by the move to online learning Equity in the learning environment would mean providing additional support to students where it’s needed to ensure that all students, regardless of circumstances, have an equal opportunity to thrive and succeed in their studies.
- What do we understand by ‘equity’ in the context of learning and teaching and the student experience?
- How can we promote the importance of equity to support the diverse needs of students? What changes are still required from the student perspective?
- Recognising the diverse needs of students, what are the barriers to students having an equitable learning experience?
- How do we make blended learning and teaching as engaging and inclusive as possible for all students?
- How do we continue to develop representative systems and support Student Reps (class reps) to effectively support all of the students they represent?
The project also sought to promote examples of good practice in equitable learning and teaching practices.
Case studies related to equitable learning and teaching practices
This diverse set of case studies illustrates a range of practices and actions that have sought to create a more equitable learning environment for students. We invited submissions on three themes:
- Pedagogy - how learning and teaching design could be adapted to include equitable practices. We sought examples that investigated how education is delivered to students and how they were taught about equity in online and face-to-face provision.
- Accessibility - how to infuse flexibility and responsiveness into learning spaces so that a student's experience is not negatively impacted, regardless of the delivery mode.
- Digital technologies - how implemented alternatives counteracted the inherent biases of digital technologies and the influence of digital technologies in education equity.
The final set comprises examples from higher education institutions and students' associations.
To provide a solid grounding for colleagues interested in exploring the topic, the project team undertook desk research exploring key existing theory, practice and research relating to equity in blended learning and teaching.
This report gathers together resources around the five themes which emerged in the research:
- Pedagogy: How learning and teaching design can be adapted to include equitable practices. Examining how education is delivered to students and how they can be taught about equity in both online and face to face provision.
- Accessibility: Considering the impact of accessibility on the learning experience with guidelines and ideas for creating accessible spaces for learners. How to infuse flexibility and responsiveness into learning spaces so that a student's experience is not negatively impacted, regardless of the delivery mode.
- Digital technology: How digital technologies can contain inherent biases. Counteracting this with alternatives, and the influence of digital technologies in education equity.
- Datafication of education: The relationship between education, technology, surveillance and privacy. Exploring the extent to which technology is being given a greater role in recording, interpreting and reporting on social and educational activity, often in the name of security, trustworthiness, and equity.
- Equity diversity and inclusion: Race equality and decolonising the curriculum, showcasing work happening in the sector relating to inclusivity within learning and teaching. Resources relating to identifying bias, and embedding equity within learning and teaching.
TOP TIPS TO DEVELOP EQUITABLE LEARNING OPPORTUNITIES
This document presents the students’ perspective on things to consider to develop equitable learning practices. Its aim is to help break down barriers to developing equitable learning and teaching so that the diverse student community gets maximum benefit from their learning opportunities. It was put together by Amy McLuckie, Kevin Miguim and Patrycja Mitrut.
GUIDE FOR STUDENT REPS
This guide considers some of the key topics student reps may discuss this year in the context of equity in learning and teaching. Student reps have an important opportunity to work in partnership with their institution, identifying where issues of equity exist within learning and teaching, and working together on solutions. This guide is designed to act as a useful foundation and starting point for these conversations.