What’s new in teaching? Watch parties and ‘walk-and-talk’ classes

New report seeks to engage with criticisms of distance learning and suggests ways they can be overcome

July 7, 2022
Saving online learning from bad television
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Watch parties and “walk-and-talk” sessions may be among the next pedagogical innovations post-pandemic, according to a report.

The latest edition of the Open University’s Innovating Pedagogy seeks to engage with some familiar criticisms of blended learning and suggests ways that some institutions are overcoming the problems.

Getting learners based in different locations to view videos or online presentations together simultaneously – known as watch parties – is one innovation highlighted in the report.

These can combine structured learning with the more sociable nature of an in-person class, and the addition of chat boxes and quiz functions common in video software can boost interaction, the authors found.

Capitalising on an increase in walking seen in most countries during Covid-19 lockdowns can also be an effective teaching method, according to the report.

Learners meeting for “walk and talk” sessions can stimulate better conversations and encourage creative thinking while helping overcome the loneliness many feel while studying online, they say.

Agnes Kukulska-Hulme, professor of learning technology and communication at the OU, said the pandemic had persuaded more lecturers of the benefits of adopting new teaching methods.

“[These innovations] may have been around for some time but suddenly they are more relevant than ever and there may be new ways of realising them,” she said.

One of the most hotly debated issues in the new report, she said, was the role of influencers and whether they are a good or bad thing for education.

Some so-called “edu-influencers” have built up large followings on social media platforms such as Instagram or YouTube, which has influenced universities to share learning content through their own channels.

The OU says academics should take note of the appeal and reach of some of these influencers and may wish to replicate some of their techniques but the lack of regulation – and the potential for spreading wrong or unverified information – is a cause for concern.

“While there’s a lot to be learned from the popularity of these influencers and how they connect with their audiences, there’s also an opportunity for students to engage critically with this phenomenon and think about what’s not so beneficial and why there might be problems around the materials they produce,” Professor Kukulska-Hulme said.

tom.williams@timeshighereducation.com

POSTSCRIPT:

Print headline: Watch parties next big thing in hybrid learning

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Reader's comments (1)

Walk and talk assumes staff and students are all mobile. What happens to those with severe mobility issues? Will they be excluded from this exercise?

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