Typically, Online Learning Management Systems sequence activities in linear ways; a first activity is inevitably followed in-step by the next activity. For teachers of creative disciplines this is a source of frustration. Is it not possible to open curriculum flow to greater student participation, decision making and co-creation?  However, through the COVID-instigated seismic shift to remote learning, innovative educators have found strategies to incorporate student engagement in online and hybrid modes of learning, making the most of opportunities for flexibility, adaptability, and partnering in learning design.

 For example Trinity College Dublin grasped the power of such an approach – “revolutionising student engagement through embedding a culture of collaboration and partnership” as detailed in Students as Partners: a model to promote student engagement in post-COVID-19 teaching and learning.

 Kadenze partner institutions have also been experimenting with ways of engaging students as partners in the online learning environment in the following five ways.

1.      Offering choices for students in the learning design of curricula – choice of pace, timing, sequence, and mode with options to specialise in content areas.

2.      Collaborating with students as critical friends to shape learning design, test online learning journeys, review assessments and give feedback for improvement.

3.      Focussing explicitly on digital literacy by deliberately using proven technologies to share and learn from each other in partnership.

4.      Building learning communities with their students. The online environment supports networking, giving teachers opportunities to collaborate with students on projects; to debate ideas through online discussion and critique forums; to mentor students to become ambassadors for courses.

5.      Showcasing creative work in public showings online and promoting student work to the industry (through digital portfolios) via online platforms and social media.

 These strategies transform what it means to be a ‘student’. An exciting element of the ‘new normal’ is that students grow to become co-creators and co-teachers. Teachers and institutions enable students to become active, independent learners, following their interests, learning at their own pace and collaborating to enrich the learning of others. In this ‘new normal’, educators recognise that students play an important role as partners in their education – its design, implementation, and review – no matter what the delivery mode.

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Dr Amanda Morris, Director, Higher Education Engagement, Kadenze, Inc.

Credit for Image: Shane Rounce on Unsplash