In this post, the Teaching Matters team share updates and new developments of the Teaching Matters blog, including the relaunch of our podcast, and increasing our engagement with students…
The pivot to hybrid learning and teaching has made platforms such as blogs and podcasts ever more relevant. In March, 2020, we noticed that the blog series we launched to respond to the rapid move to remote learning during the first lockdown dramatically increased our readership. Departing from this initial observation, we endeavoured to make the blog a more dynamic and inclusive space, with a focus on diversifying our contributors, especially students. Their enthusiastic response to our efforts at reaching out to them via various channels only confirmed that Teaching Matters can be a space for productive conversations and boundary shifting.
In this post, we would like to highlight some of the pilot projects and new developments of the blog. More importantly, we would like to emphasise our aim to make Teaching Matters a multi-media space in which blogging, podcasting and videos cohabit to offer multiple ways of engaging with the scholarship of teaching and learning.
In October 2020, we ran the first Teaching Matters event during the Edinburgh Global Africa Week. We invited two students from the Mastercard Foundation Scholars Programme to write a blog post about their experience as international, socially engaged students at The University of Edinburgh. During the event, hosted by Joe Arton, Co-editor of Teaching Matters, and Johanna Holtan, Manager of the Mastercard Foundation Programme, students were invited to reflect on their creative process of writing a blog post as a reflexive exercise that greatly complements the rigor of academic writing. You can find the full recording of the event here, or if you’d prefer having a listen to part of the students’ interventions, tune in to these two bite-size podcast episodes. Finally, if you want to dig a bit deeper, have a read at both Brindley Fortuin and Martine Irakoze’s insightful and moving blog posts. Their posts are part of a wider Spotlight Series on the Voice of Movers and Shakers that showcases writings and reflections from scholars of the Mastercard Foundation Programme.
In 2020, we also relaunched the Teaching Matters podcast, and made changes that have helped grow our audience and further enhance teaching and learning at the University. Podcast episodes are now shorter; with an average listening time of 10-15 mins. This is to reduce the cognitive load of each episode, mitigating the challenges of digital fatigue and supporting the mental health and wellbeing of our academic community. We have also moved towards a documentary format incorporating expository and storytelling modes of production to provide context and more effectively stitch together narratives and arguments for our listeners. Last month, we introduced our first Teaching Matters Out Loud episode which is a new project that involves IAD staff reading some of their favourite Teaching Matters Blog posts with an introduction to provide context. Finally, we have moved towards a participatory culture and encourage contributors to work with us to create their own episodes in the same way that we work with authors on themes and individual blog posts.
Another development is a slight change in how we run themes and series for the blog. Since the month of March, we are running two parallel themes every month: a ‘Hot Topic’ theme and a ‘Teaching and Learning Enhancement’ theme, the former replaces what we previously referred to as ‘Monthly Themes’ and the latter replaces the co-edited mini-series. ‘Hot Topics’ are themes relating to time-sensitive events, conference, anniversaries, all taking place at the University. These are an opportunity to shed light on specific events, initiatives, and important stepping-stones. The ‘Teaching and Learning Enhancement’ themes will address a topic relating to pedagogical approaches, programmes, and schemes. All the themes will now run for two months with one blog post per week. Some of the themes are co-edited by University colleagues or students while others are products of our own curation here at Teaching Matters.
Here’s a look at the upcoming themes’ schedule for 2021. We are always looking for contributors so feel free to get in touch if you’d like to share an idea, write a post for one of these themes, would like to make a proposition for a theme, or even co-edit one with us!
Showcasing students’ art work
Finally, in the spirit of involving more voices, highlighting student talent, and making the blog a more collaborative space, we are excited to announce the launch of a pilot project with the Edinburgh College of Art. From March through June 2021, five design students will be illustrating some of the blog’s posts with their original artworks! You can get to know the students and their artworks in this introductory post.
We are keen to keep this project running, and are always happy to develop new partnership and projects with Schools and Departments at the University – do not hesitate to get in touch!
Dr Jenny Scoles is the Editor of Teaching Matters. She is an Academic Developer (Learning and Teaching Enhancement) in the Institute for Academic Development, and provides pedagogical support for University course and programme design. Her interests include student engagement, professional learning and sociomaterial methodologies.
Dr. Joe Arton is an Academic Developer at the Institute for Academic Development at the University of Edinburgh, he is the co-editor and producer of Teaching Matters blog and podcast and curates The Edinburgh Hybrid Teaching Exchange, the University of Edinburgh’s internal site for Hybrid Teaching and Learning resources and best practice.
Joséphine is doing a PhD in Sociology at The University of Edinburgh. Her research looks at the intersection between art and politics. She works with Joe Arton as the Teaching Matters Co-Editor and Student Engagement Officer.