Panic Not: The Pandemic Pedagogy Handbook

In 2020 History departments suddenly had to think seriously about how to move teaching online. For most, this ‘emergency phase’ was a daunting and challenging time, but for some historians, there was also a sense of cautious excitement.  As a subject-area, we have tended to prefer physical settings and interactions over digital ones. The Canadian historian Dr Sean Kheraj has observed that COVID is making us use tools that are unfamiliar to many historians and forcing us to upskill to work within a digital landscape that we have often overlooked.

At History UK, we recognised a need to support the history community during this time of transition. From late May 2020, a group of Steering Committee members have been meeting to discuss how to do this. Our Pandemic Pedagogy subgroup have run a series of Twitter chats to see what colleagues have learned from the new role online learning has come to play. As part of this process, we have written a series of short posts (on learning design, lectures, contact hours, assessment, accessibility, and community building in the classroom and in wider cohorts) and gathered feedback from the wider community.

As a result of this work, we have produced a short guide to help colleagues in thinking about what it means to move our teaching online – The Pandemic Pedagogy Handbook. You can access it at the The Pandemic Pedagogy Handbook webpage, where you can also download the full Handbook and each of the individual sections in PDF format. 

We framed the Handbook around a number of questions:  

  1. What happens to our students’ experience of learning, in and out of the ‘classroom’?
  2. What happens to accessibility?
  3. What happens to community?
  4. What happens to seminars?
  5. What happens to primary source work?
  6. What happens to lectures?
  7. What happens to assessment and feedback?

This is not the end of our commitment to creating a space for collaborative conversations around pedagogy in the time of a global pandemic. We invite colleagues to write short posts that we can share on our blog in order to keep the conversation going. Topics could include (but are not limited to): practical case studies of teaching online, think-pieces that address any aspect of the move online such as equity, diversity and inclusivity, community building, teaching and learning. technology, digital humanities. Please share your insights into any of these areas, especially if you have practical examples of approaches to teaching History online, and encourage colleagues to do the same. 

We are also interested in receiving feedback on the Pandemic Pedagogy Handbook itself. Please do let us know if it has informed your practice using the comments section on the Handbook webpage and/or @history_uk.  

We would like to thank everyone involved in putting together this guide. The project was led by Kate Cooper (Royal Holloway/ @kateantiquity); steering committee contributors were Lucinda Matthews-Jones (Liverpool John Moores/ @luciejones83), Yolana Pringle (Roehampton/ @y_pringle), Manuela Williams (Strathclyde/ @ManuelaAWill), and Jamie Wood (Lincoln/ @MakDigHist). We were joined by Louise Crechan (Glasgow/ @LouiseCreechan) and Aimee Merrydew (Keele/ @a_merrydew) as Pandemic Pedagogy Fellows.

Report on New to Teaching event, September 2017

Peter D'Sena
Peter D’Sena

A one day New to Teaching event for early career historians took place in early September at the Institute of Historical Research (IHR), London.  Peter D’Sena, Learning and Teaching Specialist at the University of Hertfordshire and a Senior Research Fellow at the IHR, ran several events of this kind when he was Discipline Lead for History at the Higher Education Academy (HEA). However, in 2014 the HEA relinquished its direct interest in supporting discipline-specific events of this kind and so Peter sought funding and support from the Royal Historical Society, History UK and the IHR to keep the event going. It’s become an annual event since then. Peter has provided a summary of the event, which follows:

“Over twenty people attended the event, and participated in a series of interactive workshops designed to develop their understanding of innovations in teaching and learning with a focus on curriculum design and authentic assessment, teaching seminar groups, using digital technology in the undergraduate classroom, quality assurance and preparing for the academic job market. Peter led with an interactive session about curriculum design. Historians at Indiana University, such as David Pace, Joan Middendorf and Leah Shopkow have been pioneering the work of decoding the disciplines in order to rethink the ways in which teaching and curriculum design can be more finely tuned to address the conceptual bottlenecks that hinder student progression. In a practical exercise, participants combined this pedagogic strategy with the more well-trodden approach of Constructive Alignment to improve one area of their teaching. Jamie Wood (University of Lincoln), then facilitated a session about small group/seminar work. Some of us may take for granted what a seminar is and what it can be for. By modelling several best practices, Jamie showed participants some of the ways in which seminars can be used to encourage small groups of students to deepen their historical understanding through hands-on and collaborative learning. James Baker (University of Sussex), carried on this theme in his session, though with a specific focus on improving student engagement with historical information and enquiry through the vehicle of the digital humanities. .

Not all of our students are so-called ‘digital natives’ and struggle to understand the ways in which technology can be used to both support their own learning and interrogate the past. Peter’s second session took on the thorny subject of job applications. As you would imagine, in the current climate, this was a session that grabbed participants’ attention. 

Finally, we were also fortunate, on this occasion, to have a session from Adele Nye (University of New England, Australia) about quality assurance and standards in history. Her work about recent changes in the ways in which undergraduate achievement is measured in Australian universities gave participants to compare their strategies and processes with the ways in which expectations for history in higher education in the UK have been set out by the most recent QAA benchmark statement (2014). Also present, supporting and prompting participants during these workshops, were Jakub Basista (Jagiellonian University, Poland) and Ken Fincham, chair of the RHS Education Policy Committee (University of Kent).”

All of the presentations from the event can be accessed here.

Historians on Brexit

Universities face much uncertainty over the coming years because of Brexit. We want your help to spread information about how Brexit is affecting you!

Brexit EU pictureThe aim of this blog is not to take sides in debates about Brexit. Instead, we wish to present this as a platform where historians can exchange information about how Brexit is affecting us personally and professionally, as individuals and within our departments and universities more broadly. Groups like Scientists for EU have very successfully gained wider coverage about scientists’ views on Brexit. This means that much of the coverage and government interest in Brexit and Higher Education has focused on how these issues affect scientists. While we admire their success, we partly wish to provide an alternative voice, to remind politicians and the general public that Britain’s university sector is a diverse community.

This has inspired us at History UK to offer a platform for historians and History programmes throughout the UK to express their views. In order to do this, we need your help. All you have to do is send us a short email or tweet. This can be anecdotal evidence about your experiences or links to relevant research or articles. We want to know about how Brexit is affecting funding, travel, and future plans, both at an institutional level and at a personal level. We will use this blog and our Twitter feed to provide a forum for the exchange of such information (anonymously, if desired).

History UK will also draw on your evidence to inform our activities as we negotiate Brexit, the upcoming REF, the introduction of Teaching Excellence Framework, and a variety of other proposed changes to Higher Education in the UK.

This will help us present History experiences and views to the wider public and policy makers, ensuring these potentially seismic shifts in Higher Education recognise the importance of one of the most popular subjects in the UK.

Rachel Bright
11 April 2017

HEA Innovative Teaching Workshop in UG History

Higher Education Academy Innovative Teaching Workshop in Undergraduate History
Location: Canterburry Christ Church University
Date: Thursday, 27 April, 2017, 13:45
In November 2016, I was delighted to receive the Times Higher Education Most Innovative Teacher of the Year award for my delivery of early modern history courses at Canterbury Christ Church University. On 27 April, I am hosting a free Higher Education Academy fellow-led workshop to share some of the underpinning ideas behind my successful application. Although I am an early modern historian, the workshop is aimed at graduate teaching assistants, early career academics, teaching fellows and lecturers working in History and the Humanities more generally. 
 
Academics working in the UK Higher Educational sector today cannot avoid the national focus on teaching excellence, whether it is in relation to the Teaching Excellence Framework or discussions over the future of the National Student Survey. The afternoon will introduce delegates to some key innovations within my courses where I seek to challenge my students, as well as to address broader concerns surrounding graduate skills and holistic development. I will demonstrate how I have used online assessments; the workshop model to encourage shared learning; role-play and re-enactments to understand key historical events; and embedding of employability skills within assessment. 
 
Delegates attending the event will also hear from Professor Maureen Meikle, Leeds Trinity University, on the benefits of the workshop model for undergraduate history teaching. The afternoon will be interactive with a seminar reconstruction that uses Canterbury Cathedral Archives and Library. The day will end with a ‘live’ student assessment, as delegates attend the launch of my second year student exhibition, Sex, Deviance and Death in Early Modern Britain. This event will be accompanied by a wine reception sponsored by Dr. Keith McLay, Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Humanities.
 
This free event is focused on assisting scholars who wish to explore different methods of teaching and assessment away from the traditional lecture model or essay assignment. People applying for Associate Fellowship, Fellowship or Senior Fellowship of the Higher Education Academy may also find this workshop helpful, although seeking HEA fellowship status is not a requirement to attend.
 
If you would like to attend, please note that spaces are limited and booking is via https://www.heacademy.ac.uk/training-events/teaching-innovation-undergraduate-history
Please address any queries to sara.wolfson@canterbury.ac.uk
The exhibition flyer can be downloaded here: Sex, Deviance and Death in Early Modern England

I look forward to seeing you there,
Sara