Podcast: Learning together in a global pandemic (19 mins)

Teacher on computer screen with title, with three images of students on laptops and phones
Created by Eric Berger

In this podcast, the Institute for Academic Development’s (IAD) Dr Catherine Bovill, Senior Lecturer in Student Engagement, and Celeste McLaughlin, Head of Academic Development for Digital Education, discuss a collaborative international research project that sought to understand the changes to teaching practices as they went online during the initial period of the Covid-19 pandemic. This episode complements Monday’s blog post, “Learning together during a global pandemic: Practices and principles for teaching and assessing online in uncertain times”.

The onset of the Covid-19 pandemic saw educators rapidly adjust their teaching and assessing practices to accommodate online learning.  This posed challenges worldwide, but the ways in which these challenges have been addressed hold tremendous value.  Luckily, there are academics like Celeste and Catherine, who took part in an international collaborative research project aimed at understanding these changes in Edinburgh, Queensland, and Lund.

Celeste and Catherine’s conversation begins with an overview of the project and transitions into a discussion about the insights gathered from their research.  They observe how the nature of the pandemic forced these changes to occur at different times, in different locations, and for different durations.

I think listening to other people’s experiences of COVID and how they’ve dealt with it within different institutions is fascinating. We saw a range of differences in the different ways that staff had coped or being creative with their teaching in those different settings, and perhaps because some of the policies within the institutions were different, as well as the governmental policies around covered. I think we’ve gained a huge amount from listening to different perspectives and recognizing that different institutions have faced different challenges throughout this.

Catherine Bovill

Catherine and Celeste’s conversation considers fascinating questions about how teachers have collectively adapted to the pandemic, as well.  How did sentiment towards online learning change from the onset of the pandemic to six months in? How has online teaching led educators to rethink their practices? How has the pandemic changed the practices of teachers who were already teaching in a digital space? What did educators consider to be the ‘biggest losses’ from transitioning to online teaching?

To hear these questions discussed, and more, listen to Catherine and Celeste’s thought-provoking conversation about the Universitas 21 funded research project.

Listen Now:

1:05 – Celeste and Catherine introduce themselves and their research project 
6:29 – Celeste and Catherine discuss educators’ sentiments about the ’emergency period’, and how these compare to the responses gathered well into the pandemic 
9:00 – Catherine introduces the idea that teachers have had the opportunity to ‘step back’ from their normal teaching practices, and the two discuss 
14:50 – The pair discuss how smaller blocks of recorded content has been used as an adaptation to digital learning


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Dr Catherine Bovill is Senior Lecturer in Student Engagement at the Institute for Academic Development (IAD), University of Edinburgh, Visiting Fellow at the University of Bergen, Norway and Visiting Fellow at the University of Winchester, UK and previously a Fulbright Scholar. She is Principal Fellow of the Higher Education Academy and Fellow of the Staff and Educational Development Association. Cathy leads the IAD programme and course design team, leads the UoE Student Partnership Agreement and funding scheme, is Convenor of the UoE Principal’s Teaching Award Scheme and is co-chair of the Curriculum Transformation Programme Student Engagement Strategy Group. Her research focuses on student-staff co-created curriculum – she has published over 50 articles and books in this area and is regularly invited to present her work internationally.


Celeste McLaughlin is Head of Academic Development for Digital Education and is based in the Learning and Teaching Team within the Institute for Academic Development. She has worked in tertiary education for over 20 years and has gained valuable experience of teaching in blended and online contexts during this time. She worked for the digital technology agency Jisc for over 10 years where she provided expertise in the use of digital technologies for learning, teaching and assessment. Her role in IAD gives her the opportunity to advise and support colleagues as they develop their digital teaching practices. She is a Senior Fellow of the Higher Education Academy and is currently undertaking a part-time PhD in educational research with a focus on hybrid teaching.

Produced and edited by:

Photo of the authorJOSEPH ARTON

Dr. Joe Arton is an Academic Developer at the Institute for Academic Development at the University of Edinburgh, he is a member of the University’s Curriculum Transformation Programme Team and curated The Edinburgh Hybrid Teaching Exchange, the University of Edinburgh’s internal site for Hybrid Teaching and Learning resources and best practice. He has a PhD in Film and Media and specialises in digital media for academic development and multimodal teaching.

picture of editor/producerERIC BERGER

Eric is a Mathematics and Statistics student at The University of Edinburgh, and a podcasting intern for Teaching Matters. Eric is passionate about university student mental health, interviewing researchers for the Student Mental Health Research Network at King’s College London, leading the University of Edinburgh’s WellComm Kings Peer Support Scheme, and conducting research on stigma for People With Mental Illnesses (PWMI).  In his free time, he enjoys watching and playing sports, over-analysing hip-hop songs, podcasts, and any sort of wholesome shenanigans.

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