University approach to planning
Planning for Quality Online Teaching and Learning at the Institutional/Faculty Level

Universities are exploring how to drive and support quality online teaching and learning during university closure to ensure that their students could meet the programme learning outcomes within the expected learning timeline.

Lim, Wang and Graham (2019) proposes a framework that guides the institutional strategic planning efforts to drive and support blended learning. As part of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO)—The Education University of Hong Kong (EdUHK) project, this proposed framework is the product of the collaborative efforts of blended/online learning scholars, policymakers and practitioners from leading universities in the Asia–Pacific region, in close consultation with higher education leaders, policy-makers and other key universities stakeholders. Although this holistic framework is developed in the context of blended learning, it is also applicable for distance and online teaching and learning. It comprises of seven strategic dimensions.

Seven Strategic Dimensions

Curriculum

Rethink curriculum matters beyond what is taught, how teaching staff deliver this content, how it is learned, when and where learning occurs and whether students are assessed in a way that places learning at the centre of educational activities.

Examples:

  • Stanford Online offers a wide range of accredited academic degrees and professional certificates of achievement designed to help students/learners meet their personal learning goals, wherever they are in their life or career.

  • University College London has now replaced all the planned assessment with capstone assessment to encourage first-year students to combine some elements of their learning from different parts of their programme. The capstone assessment also allows students to demonstrate accumulated knowledge and understanding of their area of study by integrating and applying their skills and knowledge to a problem or example.

Vision and policy alignment

Vision informs the formulation of policies and practices that drive and support online teaching and learning.

Examples:

  • In response to COVID-19, on 19 March 2020, World Bank’s Education Global Practice posted a rapid response briefing note on remote learning, with the aim to offer high-level guidance for policymakers on how to make informed and prompt decisions in very challenging circumstances. It summarizes and supports policymakers to make sense of emerging knowledge, expert opinions, and practical know-hows.

  • Asian Universities Alliance (AUA) held an online meeting to share experience with 15 universities around the world in combating COVID-19. The meeting featured the sharing of university response measures, with a view to identifying areas of cooperation on education and scientific research. The vision mainly focuses on universities playing an essential role in epidemic-prevention efforts, drawing on traditional strengths in academic research and innovation. Universities can demonstrate the aspiration of education by taking on social responsibilities.

Infrastructure, facilities, resources, hardware and support

Establish an appropriate plan for technological infrastructure, architecture and ongoing operations.

Examples:

  • Strengthen internet connectivity

  • Create a resource website

    • The University of Hong Kong has created a resource website to share free e-learning resources, latest updates and tips to support online higher education teaching and learning.

Professional development

As teaching staff play a pivotal role in the implementation of quality online teaching and learning, there is a need for universities to provide continuous and appropriate professional development and support (Garrison and Vaughan 2008). Teaching staff may not have the necessary expertise and experience to plan for and implement online teaching and learning in their courses.

Examples:

Universities/Faculties create and develop professional development resources for the support of online teaching and learning

Learning support

Acknowledge that not all students, especially in the developing countries, own digital devices that could be used for learning purposes.

Example:

Universities loan laptops or tablets to students in need, to bridge the digital divide.

  • Provide computer loan services for students who do not have digital devices

Partnerships

Build mutually beneficial partnerships that tap into each party’s expertise and experience (Shubber, 2008).

Examples:

Collaborate with publishers

Collaborate with online learning platform providers

Collaborate with organisations and institutions internationally

  • LinkedIn provides free courses on demystifying teaching online, including topics from leading practices for online teaching to EdTech tools like Canvas to collaboration software like Microsoft Teams, available for all Linkedin members.

  • International Institute of Online Education (IIOE), initiated by the International Centre for Higher Education Innovation under the auspices of UNESCO (UNESCO-ICHEI), has offered high-quality learning resources to the partner Higher Education Institutes (HEIs) in developing countries in order to enhance their capacity and expand access to quality higher education.


Research and evaluation

Revise and refine for quality enhancement of teaching and learning in universities is ongoing (Fry et al. 2009).

Example:

  • The Strategic Impact Evaluation Fund (SIEF) is calling for proposals regarding the theme: “Can technology accelerate learning and skills?“ in order to figure out how they can help children, parents, and educators deal with the COVID-19 crisis around the world.

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