Fit for Future – Learning and Teaching for 2021 and beyond

Written by Dr Susan Laing


A recent article by Cowell, posted on the World Economic Forum website, proposed five changes that would be valuable to embrace as we consider our evolving learning and teaching strategies.  In this blog, I consider these areas, and encourage the EEUK network to submit papers to IEEC 2021 to share what your institutions have decided to adopt as part of your ‘new normal’ for 21/22 and beyond.

  1. Technology for learning

Pre COVID-19, it was a minority of HE in the UK who had successfully moved to the online space and effectively used the platform to its full impact. As the dust settles on 20/21 teaching, we need to accept what was done at speed out of necessity, and now give a more considered reflection on the richness of learning possible online. We need to ensure the full gamut of technology tools available are appropriately embedded in teaching pedagogy going forward.

  1. Redefining engagement

The last year has been fraught with concerns that students have been ‘fully engaged’.  Traditional definitions of engagement required academics to detail per module directed and indirect learning contact hours.  The directed learning was in most instances the physical presence at activities on campus.  What we have learnt over the last year is, online has created global opportunities to engage in valuable learning and do so at a time and place to suit individual students.  It is now an institutional challenge to create suitable definitions, in collaboration with the student population, on what engagement is.

  1. Creative assessment

I have long been an advocate of practical and applied assessments, believing that exams have a very limited role to play in our arsenal of assessment strategies.  An opportunity now exists to co-create authentic and useful assessments which will potentially assist graduates in their employment endeavours.  The EEUK network have a strong reputation as innovators in this space, and should be leaders in their organisations to showcase the range of creative assessments already adopted

  1. Students as partners

The pandemic, I would suggest, has forced this conversation to the top of the list, as we have witnessed University teams urgently seek feedback from students as to the value of online learning experiences.  Again the EEUK community, I believe are trail blazers in this context, and I encourage all members to work across faculties to share best practice and accelerate institution-wide embracing of students as partners.

  1. Changing the formula

Face to face lectures and tutorials have, pre COVID-19, formed the bedrock of engagement in HE.  It has taken a global pandemic to stop us in our tracks and pivot to deliver learning in an alternative way.  The challenge we now have, is to move forward on this new path, and not slip back.  Face to face, virtual and hybrid interactions all have valuable roles to play – it is our willingness to embrace and change that is the limiting factor.

In summary, I believe the return to campus will look, feel and be different to the world we left in March 2020.  The five dimensions offered by Cowell / WEF provide us with some timely pointers, to ensure our learning and teaching is fit for future, for the unpredictable world in which we now live.

Dr Susan Laing, EEUK Director

Susan is Principal – Academic & International Faculty, Academy of Leadership & Management

Susan is also currently Interim Head of School of Management & Marketing, University of Westminster