Preparing for a new academic year in a pandemic: an interview with academic Cecilia Goria
Cecilia Goria, is a Digital Learning Director for Faculty of Arts at the University of Nottingham and has recently been involved with implementing a Talis Elevate in the Faculty.
We wanted to speak to her to find out more about why they felt Talis Elevate was a good fit, and what they hope to achieve with it in the new academic year.
It’s going to be an unusual start of term for most academics and students. How will you be managing the new term?
We have been working closely with staff throughout the quarantine period as they shifted to online teaching, but what has changed from that first phase of COVID-19 to now is our experience in terms of what support we can provide to staff.
We are now able to be more responsive to staff needs, and we’ve tried to put support in place where it’s needed. There is constant monitoring of what kind support is required, and as you can imagine, this changes all the time, almost weekly. For instance, at the moment there is especially a need to support the recording of lectures and how to construct teaching around pre-recorded lectures that are to be provided asynchronously to the students. We’ve taken a very responsive and pragmatic approach that looks at providing members of staff with demonstrations on the tools to use and providing examples of best practice. From there they can build their own approach.
How does Talis Elevate fit into that?
With COVID-19 and the prospect of going online, where Talis Elevate came in nicely was that it could provide a platform for synchronous activities as well as asynchronous activity. The concept of a collaborative annotating tool that works both asynchronous and synchronous is great. It could provide continuity between the online sessions and the autonomous studying we want students to do.
One of the biggest problems for academics who are not used to teaching online is making the shift and adapting their content accordingly. What came out of a survey that was circulated within the university in July 2020 was that staff were concerned about student engagement.
The staff that were not used to teaching online found it difficult to see how they could engage students, and what activities or resources they could provide. They wanted to ensure students were engaged in terms of communicating with their peers and staff, but actually engaging with the content too. It confirmed that there is a clear need for a tool and Talis Elevate struck me as the right too to address student engagement.
In fact, a few colleagues had already been piloting Talis Elevate before COVID-19 with great success. As Digital Learning Director I was keen to become involved in the conversation as I saw the pedagogical potential of Talis Elevate.
Talis Elevate is the right tool for the Faculty of Arts; in Language Teaching it is ideal for text analysis, translation, reading comprehension, vocabulary learning and work around videos; its functionalities around images are a plus for subject around Classics and History of Arts.
It’s also very intuitive, very easy to use. The learning curve for teachers and students is very manageable and was certainly one of the drivers for me to push for faculty-wide pilots in Arts.
Are you planning to use Talis Elevate in your classes?
I’m not currently teaching, but when I do teach later this year I am planning to use Talis Elevate for commenting on texts, encouraging reflective work, writing statements on literature, to help with research on specific topics. I can see how we could benefit from Talis Elevate by taking excerpts from literature and asking students to comment to build this up.
Have you had any feedback?
Mostly that it’s very user friendly and easy to use.
It has been well received because it’s precisely what we needed: collaborative annotation around a resource. We tried to do this with other platforms but it wasn’t as satisfactory as I think Talis Elevate will be.
Often the first reaction when you introduce a new tool, is ‘no thank you we don’t want to learn anything new’ and that was absolutely not the case with Talis Elevate. That’s because it really hit the right buttons and it was needed.
What will success with Talis Elevate look like in your case?
Good uptake from staff and students. It would be great to see it incorporated into weekly activity.
I’m hoping for positive feedback after the first few weeks of term once it is being used. The ultimate measure of success will come from student feedback on how the tool has helped them to improve the quality of their learning experience.
Thank you to Cecilia for contributing to this article.
If you have any questions about how Talis Elevate could be introduced at your university, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org
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