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Engaged learning in a COVID landscape – what we learnt from our latest Community meeting.

Engaged Learning sees students working as part of their curriculum in partnership with external organisation on real world questions. The joint Careers Service/ BILT Engaged Learning Community is a peer support network for academic and professional service staff working in this area to share best practice and develop useful resources. 

At the first meeting of the year, we shared the Engaged Learning tool kit, values and some summer research carried out with other Universities (see the PowerPoint slides).  We then split into groups to chat about current challenges to Engaged Learning and think about what the Community should focus on this year.  Conversations were recorded on this Padlet.

A couple of challenge themes emerged:

  • Academics have had the challenge of moving teaching online and so may not have the space to focus on developing new Engaged Learning opportunities or may decide to pause opportunities this academic year. 
  • Communities/organisations are struggling and may not have the time to work with students.  Some may no longer exist.
  • Having the time to identify ‘new’ communities and partner organisations, not just those that know how to access university resources
  • Ensuring that Engaged Learning is thought about holistically (mutually beneficial for all) and keeping sight of Engaged Learning goals while still focussing on the immediate challenge of COVID-19

Suggested Community focus for the year:

Building capacity

  • Build academic’s confidence in developing and delivering Engaged Learning opportunities including delivering Engaged Learning training though courses such as the digital design program
  • Equipping students with training (synchronous and asynchronous), tools (such as community engagement) and the confidence to connect with organisations

Best practice sharing

  • Provide digital case studies of best practice of how to run meaningful Engaged Learning activities online, to an internal and external audience such as other universities and partner organisations
  • Profile raising with senior management to develop further support to develop Engaged Learning
  • Link with the civil pillar of the new strategy

Coming together

  • In a time when students may be feeling isolated, Engaged Learning can be a way to create community and feel they are creating value and adding real life benefit

Coordination

  • Ensure schools, faculties and professional services are linked up when working with external organisations and not duplicating activity (this is wider than just Engaged Learning)
  • Look at using a CRM system

Next steps

We will be meeting again on December 9th to continue the conversation around how Engaged Learning ops can be delivered online. If you would like to join, we would love to see you there – please contact Hannah Tweddell, Engaged Learning Coordinator for details.

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