In this episode I talk to some of our PGRs about their experiences of online training and development at the University of Exeter, including their advice to academics and Researcher Developers for delivering high quality, online training and development. You can access the show notes here.

 

Music credit: Happy Boy Theme Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com)
Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0 License
http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/

 

Podcast transcript

 

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Hello and welcome, R, D And The Inbetweens, I'm your host, Kelly Preece,

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and every fortnight I talk to a different guest about researchers development and everything in between.

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Hello and welcome back to R, D and the In Betweens. Hope you were all well during my hiatus.

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And I'm back with a really fascinating discussion this episode over the past few months during the COVID nineteen pandemic,

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we've all had to learn a new range of skills.

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For academics and for teachers, this is involved learning not only new technologies, but new pedagogies and for students, new ways of learning.

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At the University of Exeter,

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we've actually had a webinar programme that mirrors our face to face workshop training and development programme for about eight years.

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So our students are well versed in learning and undertaking training and development online.

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And a lot of the discussions we're having now on a sort of local and national level

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were talking about the experience of academics and moving into the online environment.

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And I don't think there's been enough focus on the student experience and what

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it's like to learn and what makes good online teaching and specifically for me,

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good online training and development. So I asked a few of our PGRs to join me to have a discussion about online training and development.

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What works for them and what it means for them to have a good rounded learning experience.

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Online. Is everyone happy to introduce yourself so.

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Can we start with Edward? Yeah. Hello. My name is Edward.

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I am just about still a postgraduate research student at the University of Exeter.

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I am in the awkward post submission PhD stage and I've been involved in quite a lot of online stuff.

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Kelly's been organising over the last few months from writing retreats to research development sessions.

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Great, Pauline. Hi, my name is Pauline McGonagle.

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I am doing a collaborative PhD with the British Library and Exeter and I'm

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at the end part of the PhD in that I'm in year five or six.

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And with a bit of extension now, it'll go on a little bit further.

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My work is generally archival, etc. And so I'm in a right writing phase at the moment, not being able to access that.

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But in terms of webinars and online activity with everything its actually been crucial for me because I live in Dover when I do go to the campus.

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Rarely is for periods of two, three weeks to do something specific or for meetings.

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So I've been using online and online careers webinar training and the shut up and write sessions which are really, really important to me as well.

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Brilliant. Thank you, Jennifer. Hi, I'm Jennifer.

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I'm a second year PhD student in Biosciences

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I am working with a fish farm in Anglesey to try and improve the production and welfare standards for fish being farmed.

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I have taken part in a couple of things with Kelly from before,

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and I've also facilitated a couple of sessions with the Research Development Programme,

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including designing research posters and presentation skills for researchers, which I facilitated both in person and as a webinar.

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Brilliant. Thank you, Megan. Hi, I'm Megan Maunder

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I'm about to go into my third year of the PhD in the mathematics department.

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I am in space for the department and I primarily look at coronal mass ejection, which a large balls of plasma that come off the sun.

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Broadly, I've been I've done quite a lot of the online research development courses, but also I do a lot of outreach and public engagement.

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So I've been translating a lot of my face to face sessions to online, which has been a learning curve,

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quite a bit about how to try and keep people engaged in the different mediums that also work for me in meeting sessions.

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Great. And Philippa. Hi, I'm Philippa.

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I am doing a PhD in the theology and Religion Department.

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My research looks at plural marriage within fundamentalist Mormon communities, primarily based in the United States.

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My experience with with with online webinars and teaching and so on extends back several years.

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So before this pandemic, looking at I've taught classes both online and in person and in a hybrid fashion.

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And I've also taken part as a student in a number of online classes as well.

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Actually, one one of my master's classes was was entirely online.

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So a bit of experience from both sides of the coin, so to speak. Fantastic.

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So I'm going to start with a kind of really basic one,

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which is what for you as a student are the benefits of having had training and development opportunities available online?

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I think for me, as someone who is actually lucky enough in some respects to be in Exeter most of the time and have access to in-person events.

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The question is one of flexibility.

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If you're not able to make it to campus for a given day, you don't feel excluded from the training and opportunities that are going on.

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And that's obviously less important to me than it might be for somebody who is based elsewhere.

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But it's something that I don't think we should underestimate. In my experience, the courses that I've done online were released in blocks.

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So it allowed me to again, as Edward was just saying, this element of flexibility.

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It allowed me to say over the course of a long weekend, for example,

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and bash out a few of the the week's worth of material and work through it and then

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put it to one side while I focussed on research and then reapproach it again.

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So the element of flexibility, particularly when the material is present it in in chunks, is very helpful.

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I think for me, I, I quite often struggle with passive listening.

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So particularly it comes to like seminars or when someone is giving you information, you don't have to necessarily act it straight away.

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Being online kind of enables me to do other things that let me really focus on what I'm listening to,

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which I know that some people will find that abhorrent, really.

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I've noticed a particular online seminars and yet things where you're listening passively doing the dishes

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or doing a bit of knitting or something actually allows me to take in that information much more easily.

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And that's not something that would be necessarily you'd be able to do face to face.

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People find that quite rude if you sit there and do something else. So listening to them.

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On top of what everyone else already said, I think, frankly, the fact that a lot of the webinars are recorded online makes that a lot more inclusive.

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And like what's been said before. If you missed something, you're able to go back and take an again, which I think is a real benefit,

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where obviously you can't do that in real life unless you have a Dictaphone or you have permission to record the lecture in another way.

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Yeah, you can revisit it in a completely different way. Just to add to that, that also extends within the within the seminar as well.

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So a lot of conversation about going online seems to have been about how can we preserve the benefits

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of Face-To-Face teaching in an online environment where we don't have people in the same room.

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You can look at it the other way as well. I think it's something that that I I think that we should give up and forgot to be doing

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in terms of what can online let you do that you're not able to do in face to face.

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An example of this, it's come from online teaching more than anything for me is that having a PowerPoint document,

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which you edit live while screen sharing is a heck of a lot faster than working on a whiteboard and screen.

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Sharing in general can be really useful for all kinds of teaching purposes if you want

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to demonstrate something that will go for any research development context as well.

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So it's it's also about what online teaching can offer the offline can't

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necessarily thinking in terms of how to preserve what we already have in offline.

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If that makes sense, that picks up on. One of the really key things for me is that, you know, like Edward said,

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there is this concern about what we're going to lose from face to face teaching.

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And certainly one of those main concerns seems to be about peer to peer interaction and community building.

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So I wondered if you could talk a little bit about your experience of that in the online training you've attended.

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Have you felt this sense of loss of being able to interact with your peers?

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Have you felt that you haven't had the opportunity to build a community?

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I've actually found that especially sort of in the time of COVID when webinars have become more common.

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I've actually found that in the time since lockdown started,

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I've made more links with people at the University of Exeter than I had in the months between joining the university in September until March.

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So so actually, I found that the online forum, especially in smaller groups,

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has actually led to better friendships, professional relationships with other students.

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I think it does depend and there is a balance and sometimes things do have to give.

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I found that a lot of the stuff webinars i;ve attended where

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You have the face to face interaction. It just doesn't work as well.

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Like people switching from a mainscreen to breakout rooms

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I've found works with some panel events, for example, but I haven't found it as worthwhile l in some traainging events.

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I've attended them within sort of my own research,

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but we have our own little virtual socialising media and that's worked quite well and just giving everyone a time to touch base.

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And I feel a bit more connected and less isolated. But I think it's very situational dependent, like it doesn't work in all mediums.

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And it does depend on how the facilitator. I guess it takes that how they choose to go forward with it, to make it inclusive as well.

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I am going to build on what Megan said. I completely agree that in some situations, breakout rooms work well and sometimes they don't.

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But what I find really helpful and really inclusive is when the host remembers to say, I'm going to into break room.

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If you don't want to go, if you don't want to take part in that part of the webinar, you do not have to.

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And I think that that's really, really helpful.

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I attended a conference online recently that was organised by the South Asia Centre at Exeter, which was international.

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It went to universities in Pakistan and India, etc., gave a paper over screen online, which I'd never done before.

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I know for a fact that that would not have been even offered if we hadn't been in the situation we're in now.

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Yeah. And I think that's been you know, we've had that feedback as well. Of course,

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we moved our three minute thesis competition online and that enabled distance students

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to engage where they wouldn't have been able to before if we were running it on campus.

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And so, actually, you know, it it has broadened and broaden the net.

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And, of course, you know, we know the conference attendance is expensive.

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We know that PGRs don't get a huge amount of money, if any at all, to attend them.

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And particularly for travel and accommodation and so running these things online.

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It does mean they can be more open and more accessible.

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I mean, we shouldn't just assume that the online is automatically accessible and inclusive.

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There are some issues that we might be had to pick up on those. We're gonna take a sidestep for a minute.

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And I want to know who did both sides of this. But first of all, I want to know what in your experience as a student,

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having been to lots of different online and training and conferences and groups and all sorts of things.

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What's been really good practise for you from the take from the teacher, the person delivering what?

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What kind of behaviours or approaches to be seen where you've gone?

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Yes, it's actually really brilliant for me. I think the big one is having a clear agenda.

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Like, I like to know what's going on, a way where my active participation is required and where it's a bit more passive.

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The other thing I think is important. I've actually yet to see is people providing the slides in a PDF format beforehand.

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So let's screen readers don't work with just like a standard zoom screen.

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And that could be difficult for a lot of people. But I think also for me, I sometimes have problems like following along in person.

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I know we've discussed the kind of.

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Use the time that when you want to look things up, but that's not always practical or possible for something you do so want to engage in,

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but you're not quite able to fully able and you don't fully able to do it in that day.

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So I think definitely good practise is the agenda, but also, you know, providing resources beforehand,

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that means people can follow along at their pace rather than just assume that everyone's got a great Internet connection,

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can move along as quickly as perhaps the person trained to. If they try to condense something into quite short space of time,

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I think one of the main things that I've seen that I think could benefit a lot of online sessions are having House rules at the start.

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So just in the first five minutes, ten minutes, either verbally saying or having up on the screen that reminding people that you're an adult,

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you're your to go to the bathroom when you want to. You don't have to ask permission. You don't have to have your camera on.

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You don't have to speak if you don't want to. And just making it very clear the expectations from the session.

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So if it is an engaging session, then please try and engage and speak up where you feel comfortable.

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But it's not necessary. Those are the main things I've really, really appreciated,

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as well as having scheduled breaks and just checking in on people and saying, you know, I've covered the first section.

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I was going to go into the second section before a break. But if people want a break night, that's fine.

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So constantly adapting your time management, because I've taken a couple of the facilitators, a couple of webinars,

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and I don't realise how quickly I talk or how difficult it is when you don't have people in front of you.

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I kind of sort of fly fine. It's been twenty five minutes and you've gone through all your material and you're supposed to be talking for an hour.

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But just saying, you know, we can now have fifteen minutes to just chat or you can log off or just adapting as you go and constantly keeping

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the group up to date with where you are as a presenter and making sure that someone can jump in and say,

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you know, please slow down or yeah, we've gone over this or anything like that.

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Yeah, I think that adaptability and being responsive is it's even more important than it is in a Face-To-Face environment.

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One of the best training that I attended very recently was an online.

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a writing day, actually. And it was outside Exeter, as it turned out, it was another consortium that includes me whenever they do things.

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But one of the best things they did was send preparation materials out in advance.

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And even though it was an online retreat for writing, it gave us some ideas about prepare by doing the following.

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The timings will be like this. Let us know if there is.

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And it just really made me think about how to make the most out of the day in advance.

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And I think it paid off more or seemed to be more so more productive because

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there was a lot of thought had gone in to helping you to prepare and so on.

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So I think all of the things that you've said, including the the rules and host rules so that everyone feels they know what you know,

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what's expected, etc., is very beneficial because it's the sort of thing you would do in real life.

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You know, when you go into a room, you have whether it's pointed at the fire exits or whatever it might be,

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you're doing something that's practical and taking note of the environment, just sitting.

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And, of course, you sitting behind a mike and you don't know anybody's personal circumstances or if they've got a,

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you know, a small child in the background or whatever it might be. But the point is that a little bit of prep in advance makes people more.

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I think what it actually makes them more proactive and engaged when they take part as well.

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And so a lot of it's interesting that a lot of the things that you've raised so

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far about good practise have actually been more kind of like organisational,

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I guess, about how you set out the virtual space rather than kind of content delivery.

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So I wanted to know about kind of how how good online teachers are making content, engaging for you and making interesting.

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I think one of the main things for me is when a session has been scheduled for two hours and it has got like

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one and a half hour mark and that person's done and they don't try and just waffle on the next half an hour.

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I think that that is really important. And I'm not saying this doesn't happen a lot in person.

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I do think that when you've been scheduled for a set amount of time,

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there is a certain amount of pressure to just keep talking and keep delivering, which isn't going to engage anyone.

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And it's probably going to make people switch off more than anything else.

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So I think that that's really important to keep in mind,

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that whether you're a professor and you've been teaching for years and years or whether you're going to be facilitating a webinar to

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just keep in mind that if you feel like you're waffling and it's likely that someone people are not engaged or not concentrating,

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and it's way better to get your point across concisely,

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but not rush through and just make sure that people are constantly are trying to try to make

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sure that people can be engaged throughout online teaching recognises the differences,

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I think, between it and traditional Face-To-Face teaching.

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So a lot of a lot of the really good zoom sessions I've been to, for example,

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have been hosted by people who have taken the time to actually investigate how the software works and what you can do with it.

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I mean, let's face it,

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we've all kind of very excited at the idea of using the thumbs up to react button or the raise your hand button or things like that.

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Sounds silly, but I mean, it's true. But that and things like screen sharing when used, well, let you do things you can't do with Face-To-Face.

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And that can help with both clarity for content and also think engagement as well,

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so that some of the best examples that I've seen have been where people have used quite an interactive format and also utilised universal design.

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So someone mentioned earlier about making sure that PowerPoint slides are distributed in advance to enable people to access screen readers and so on.

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But also, I think, making things interactive, not just having somebody talk to the group and then wait for questions at the end,

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pausing at different intervals and asking for questions, utilising the chat function.

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So questions can go into the chat function. And having either the presentation.

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Again, it depends on the size of the group. But it's either either the presenter or designated person who's monitoring the chat.

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You can sort of notify the presenter that a relevant question is in the chat, which should probably be addressed at that point.

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And then the presenter can say. What's your question?

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And then it can then form part of a conversation.

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But it's also the presenter needs to recognise at what stage too many people in the group means that certain things won't work efficiently.

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So there is an element where the person who's presenting needs to have a little

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bit of knowledge about what groups work best in what formats and and how intimate.

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You can't have an interactive session with two hundred people because everyone is just constantly going to talk over one another.

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But in a group of six or seven, that might be more appropriate.

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Yeah, I just kind of want to build on what Ed said about making sure you understand the functionality of your software,

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but also then talking to your participants about their functionality.

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So this is sort of a personal experience, but some friends and I did a pub quiz, as did everyone, during the lockdown.

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We set up around based on a popular TV game show where you had to guess where certain things were placed.

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And I assumed it would work fine for everyone. Turns out it was only fine for people using Zoom on a laptop if they were trying to use it on a tablet.

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Which did the touchscreen wouldn't allow them to press the button properly.

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So I think that getting to know your software but also getting to know how that translates to different devices than your participants.

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If this is something you can do in advance, it's definitely good practise to make sure that you're inclusive and accessible and just

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beforehand asking for accessibility needs like do you need me to send the resources in advance?

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You can have a screen reader making sure the agenda's clear, making sure you set up breaks with your content.

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clearly accessible for people to be able to digest that in their own time.

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Yeah, that's certainly something that we've encountered over the years in delivering I mean, previously through Skype for business is that,

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you know, some very simple things, like depending on whether somebody is on a Mac or a Windows computer and the interface looks different.

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And so, you know, being able to give somebody guidance and understand how different functionality works within a different operating system, you know,

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before like you say, Mac,

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and before you get into access on different devices and different versions of the software on different devices have different functionality.

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And if you're using a lot of that kind of. Interactive functionality.

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Then you need to be aware of how that may or may not work on all devices and therefore be able to offer alternative versions.

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Let's talk a little bit about interactive functionality.

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So thinking about all of the different systems that over the course of the past few months we've all become familiar with,

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everything's got variations on going to similar functionality, some of which is is a bit more flashy than others.

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What's your kind of your feeling about some of the interactive tools built into these systems?

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So we've had the chat box mentioned, we've had breakout rooms mentioned, but you can also have polls and white boards.

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And how how do you feel about these tools? And how kind of engaging do you find them?

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Right. If everyone knows how they work. And it is the host's responsibility to explain.

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I've seen I'm guilty of this myself,

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actually having started a poll and then not really explained it and then not had any engagement with because people didn't know it was there.

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So I think that they will really useful and they replace a lot of the things that universities have spent a lot of money on in recent years.

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And, you know, in. In-person voting handsets, for example, in face to face teaching.

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But it's the responsibility of the presenter to deliver that session, to explain quite clearly,

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clearly this new technology or something, we're not familiar with how it works.

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Yeah, I think broadly they can be used well. But as long as they're used

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Meaningfully people aren't just using them because they can.

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And I think even in face to face teaching, you see a lot of people using it so that they can take off their sort of digital box.

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I think broadly they work well if they are used to add to meaningful discussion.

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But sometimes I feel in some of the courses I've been in, it's it's been a bit pointless.

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I don't really feel like it's achieved anything or contributed to the session. Like I find sometimes the incessant polling a bit much.

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As we move to online need to consider are we doing this for the sake of doing it that worked

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Face to face or are we doing this? It's gonna give us something meaningful. Yeah.

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And that's a really important issue for me as somebody who's.

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Kind of been engaging with them, researching blended learning for some time, is it?

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It's actually about what the tools can actually add. To the learning into the session and actually, you know, over the.

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I mean, this is the sort of fifth year that I've been doing online teaching.

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It's been growing every year. And actually the tool that fundamentally, I think has had the most impact in online teaching is the chat box.

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It's possibly the simplest tool in there. But like, I can't remember, I think it was Philippa was it Philippa that was saying, you know,

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you can continue conversation and engagement and all those sorts of things throughout the session.

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And that's where the peer learning can happen. So we've talked about the good.

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It's probably about time we talked about the bad.

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So what in your experience of online training, what have you seen people do that hasn't been that great or hasn't been that, shall we say?

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Isn't that engaging for you? So I did a I guess it was a full day's session with an external company and I don't want to name and shame, but broadly,

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they expected you to be plugged in if your video on audio on the whole day, which was just exhausting for me.

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And I think also, you know,

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we it's not a natural thing to do when you go and do these things face to face your aren;t staring at someone's face all day and they scheduled in breaks.

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Just great. And I was like, oh, you know, go and take five minutes and go and get a cup of tea.

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That's exactly what I did. And I came back that and because at that point.

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So I went to get a cup of tea because at that point when I came back, it was just listening and it was passive.

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I went to drink my cup of tea and he literally stopped it. Oh, I hope you're enjoying that tea Megan

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And I was put out because I know no one. I don't really see why.

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I mean, I need my camera on right now. But number two, I'm literally just doing what you said.

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You know, I went to get my cup of tea and I think particularly during lockdown as well.

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Not something I've experienced that other students who've done some external

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training said that at one point they were told to go outside and have a walk,

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which I thought was ridiculous. And also so.

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It was ridiculous, but also it wasn't very inclusive because they didn't know who at that point was self isolating, who was shielding.

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So how could they talk about their experiences of a walk if they couldn't go outside?

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I think broadly, for me, the bad practise I've seen is think not thinking about people's inclusive situations.

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You know, as we've already mentioned, people might have children, might have pets, people away from home.

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People have lives. So I think the requirement to be switched on for a whole day is too much.

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But also just having respect, the people are not going to be just concentrating on you for the whole period.

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I was going about that, as we discussed in the past. Kelly Zoom fatigue is a thing.

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And some of the. Less successful events I've been to over zoom are the ones that don't acknowledge that.

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To come back to what was what was just said. The ones that require video to be on ones which which is quite easy to do.

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This is a facilitator, I think, to. Expects or to hope for the same.

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Indicators of engagement that you might get in a face to face meeting, for example.

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Expectant looks up at the camera in front of in front of all the audience is not something you can realistically ever get in a an online environment.

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Face to face.

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It's you know, if you've got an audience following you, that can be really quite exciting as it is in the delivery of this kind of content.

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So if you go into an online session expecting exactly the same behaviours from an audience who could be in a number of different places,

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have any number of different things in the room with them,

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haven't necessarily definitely haven't come to that place where you all fall out of their house slash office slash.

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I don't know private island. They will then you're you're you're setting yourself up effectively to mismanage, essentially.

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I'm basically going to echo what has already been said.

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But two things that are real negatives for me are when it seems to be a session session's sake,

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which is something that I've I've signed up to a series of webinars online.

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And the last one or one of the middle ones is just them of talking at you.

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And it felt very pointlee. That's something that I phrase that I saw on Twitter, which I would really like to echo, is we aren't remote working from home.

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We are living at work. We are living at the gym.

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And for so many people, you are literally living in one single room and it could be at the top of a 10 storey block.

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It could be that you have children or pets or whatever else.

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And so not being inclusive, it is so easy nowadays to say or take things at your own pace.

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The pace of life right now is slowed down massively, at least for me, because I've not been able to come to the lab.

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So it's very much been about what can I do for myself and other people when I'm interacting with them online?

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What can I do to make sure that they're engaged and happy?

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Because otherwise there's just no point to trying to force people to take part in polls or, you know, going on walks or one of them.

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I had to build a really a tower as tall as I could.

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Out of the things in my room. And I was thinking, I've been sitting, staring at someone since nine o'clock this morning it is now have past three.

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This could have ended by now. You've given me the worthwhile information, which I appreciate.

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But these like team building things when you if you want to take part in them, that's great.

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But forcing people to take part is something that does.

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It makes me not want to take part in any webinar type things again.

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Yeah, I think that's that's really powerful. And like, I think I think it was you that said earlier, Jennifer, like, you know.

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If you don't, it's what you do face to face, if it's come to an end and it's reach a natural end.

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Do not drag it out with the absolute worst thing.

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But you can do nothing, particularly in an online environment, because that fatigue of staring at the screen is very real.

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So it's kind of just going off the back of that. So I've seen it where materials have been distributed in advance of a session.

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And I'm not talking about a week in advance. I'm talking about just a few hours before the session.

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And those materials being completely inaccurate. And they're not the same version of the PowerPoint, for example, that are shown on the screen.

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And it's quite clear that whoever is presenting the session and I'm actually the example I'm thinking of is an external.

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But they they they distributed a PowerPoint presentation,

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which at either been adapted from something else or they'd in the in the hours between distributing it and actually presenting,

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they'd made a lot of changes to the presentation.

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And it just it it was frustrating as as a participant to have this information that wasn't relevant because I'm dyslexic and dyspraxic

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So I can't really deal very well with things that are just on the screen.

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So I like to have my materials in advance, print them out, and then I can make notes as the presentation is happening.

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Well, if those PowerPoint slides have been changed around in order, well,

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some of them have been added or taken away or the the verbiage has been changed.

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It makes it incredibly difficult for me to stay engaged.

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So I think it's very important that that people who are leading sessions have very relevant information and stuff that they're going to cover.

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Don't just send information for the sake of sending things. Don't send six journal articles for people to read.

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If realistically, people aren't going to be able to read that many articles and there's only room for discussion discussing one of them,

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because we've all been there where we've been to an in-person seminar where the

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material you're given to discuss in that seminar is much more than can be discussed.

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So who aren't just leaves us feeling a little bit annoyed that they've read all of this extra

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stuff when they that there are more important things they could have done with that time.

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So I think it's about making sure that the information that's distributed as relevant is up to date and is correct as it goes life.

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And also that any reading and prep that participants need to do in advance is kept to a minimum and a manageable amount.

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Are there any other things that you've seen or heard people do when you've gone?

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Actually, that's really off-putting for me. As a participant, it's one of the one of the technical gremlins that we will get, I think.

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But when feedback is there and not acknowledged by the by the host, by feedback,

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I mean, the kind of thing, thing, thing, thing, thing that happens opens up.

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So when someone is in any way bounces around different microphones and gets picked up and distorted when that's dealt with quickly and efficiently.

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That's why asking other people to mute themselves or just checking it out one by one.

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That's great.

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When it doesn't is one of the most infuriating things I think we've ever come across in zoom meetings I hope people will agree with me on that.

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The feedback  can be the bane of the presenters life sometimes. So another thing which is,

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is kind of it's a bit of an elephant in the room in that it's all of this sort of presupposes that people have good access to it,

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to access to a good Internet connexion. And some of the issues with feedback and poor quality can sometimes be due to the fact that someone is using

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a poor Internet connection or there might be several people trying to work from home at the same time.

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And I actually had a session that I was part of a few weeks ago when the person he was presenting kept having to come,

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come off the call and reconnect because their Internet was so strained.

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And so I think not. Not so putting the onus on the people who are presenting.

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But I think there's also a duty from, you know, thinking about this is a bigger picture from this.

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You know, we're all going through this global pandemic. And institutions need to be cognisant of what the means of their students in that, you know,

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some students might not be able to afford the tools they need in order to do what we're doing right now.

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You know, some some students may not have access to a decent computer. They might not have access to a decent Internet connection.

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And it's about institutions providing that for them as.

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As someone who has got learning differences, I get disabled students allowance.

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And once upon a time, and because I've been a perpetual student once upon a time,

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disabled students allowance used to pay for your Internet if you had certain disabilities.

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But that doesn't happen anymore because it's expected that everybody has access to good Internet and not everybody can afford that.

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Some students are living hand-to-mouth and will have previously been relying on going into the university every day and using university resources,

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including good Internet connections. So suddenly being thrown into this sort of lockdown scenario, people,

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if I've heard of people tethering their phones to their computers to use their phone data,

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then running out of that, not having access, you know,

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you can't just go down to Starbucks or or insert coffee shop of your choice in order to access Internet.

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And so it can be a real strain for a lot of people.

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And I think that needs to be acknowledged at sort of a DSA sort of government level, but also institutional levels as well.

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And I think you're actually doing a pretty good job at making sure that they are providing for students who have those needs.

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But I'm not sure that every institution is doing such a great job.

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Yeah, and I I think that that assumption of having a computer and having Internet access and is.

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Is really prevalent. And we've had those conversations with academics trying to teach undergraduates of kind of like.

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But we actually can't assume a certain mode or method of access.

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Even though we think of these things as being ubiquitous, we think that everybody's got them.

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But I mean, particularly one of the things that I know that we've had to deal with as researcher

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development over the years is that we've got students all over the world.

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So we've had to deal with time differences and we've had to deal with.

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You know, I remember somebody who was really struggled with the PowerPoint slides.

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They just wouldn't load for them.

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And it's because they were in a remote area of Thailand and they just did not have a good enough quality Internet connection.

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We had quite a lot of.

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Quite a lot of students who were abroad who were primarily accessing recordings because they just don't have the bandwidth to watch something live

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And so I think that's also where not just that recognition and that stepping up of

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institutions are saying you can't just assume these things are accessible and are ubiquitous,

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but also that. You need to provide alternatives for people in different situations.

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There is also another assumption at times, and one which I suppose I feel includes me and a sense,

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and it is my responsibility to, I suppose, train myself to keep up with and to learn new ideas as it comes along.

378
00:40:29,000 --> 00:40:34,000
But it's one of the things I've found very difficult, and it intimidates me to some extent.

379
00:40:34,000 --> 00:40:43,000
And of course, I've learnt an awful lot in recent times that I probably wouldn't have been forced to do so if we hadn't been in this situation.

380
00:40:43,000 --> 00:40:50,000
However. I think that there is an assumption of skill and a policy sometimes where, what,

381
00:40:50,000 --> 00:40:55,000
some one off or a couple of the worst sessions I've been in is where and polls come in to this

382
00:40:55,000 --> 00:41:02,000
That's where polls have been used. And I would say probably to four questionable means whether they were useful or not.

383
00:41:02,000 --> 00:41:11,000
And I have had difficulty even managing to keep up with the speed at which their responses were expected and, you know, felt really uncomfortable.

384
00:41:11,000 --> 00:41:17,000
And I couldn't keep up with that. I mean, it's not just because I'm in that particular age group.

385
00:41:17,000 --> 00:41:21,000
I'm trying to deal with new things that I'm finding difficult.

386
00:41:21,000 --> 00:41:27,000
It's there is an assumption of knowledge sometimes, which is quite difficult to keep up with.

387
00:41:27,000 --> 00:41:36,000
I mean, I forced myself to do that. But if to deliver webinars, et cetera, I'm one of the things which has still kept me from getting more involved,

388
00:41:36,000 --> 00:41:46,000
as I'm slightly afraid of having to deal with other people's I.T. difficulties and their remote connections that I could barely deal with my own.

389
00:41:46,000 --> 00:41:51,000
You're right, Pauline. And I think that we can't meet again. We can't make that assumption based on.

390
00:41:51,000 --> 00:41:55,000
There are lots of people who, you know,

391
00:41:55,000 --> 00:42:03,000
have grown up with technology that are still that still don't have a high level of technical experience or technical literacy and.

392
00:42:03,000 --> 00:42:11,000
And again, it's one of those really challenging assumptions, and so it's making sure that whether the person is an attendee or presenter,

393
00:42:11,000 --> 00:42:15,000
that they have all of the all of the support that they need.

394
00:42:15,000 --> 00:42:22,000
And certainly, I mean, in terms of the way we run our our kind of formal webinars,

395
00:42:22,000 --> 00:42:28,000
as we always have an administrator who deals with the technical kind of troubleshooting issues, part of that.

396
00:42:28,000 --> 00:42:33,000
So that presenter can focus on just that presenting rather than dealing with technical issues.

397
00:42:33,000 --> 00:42:40,000
But it also usually means that it's someone that's more experienced with the system and who has the

398
00:42:40,000 --> 00:42:46,000
experience and the knowledge to to answer those questions and to do that troubleshooting people.

399
00:42:46,000 --> 00:42:51,000
And it doesn't mean we can always answer everyone's problems. We certainly cannot.

400
00:42:51,000 --> 00:42:57,000
But. That seems to be a lot coming out that about.

401
00:42:57,000 --> 00:43:02,000
Inclusivity And are our assumptions around?

402
00:43:02,000 --> 00:43:08,000
People's set up and how people are accessing things. And.

403
00:43:08,000 --> 00:43:12,000
And how people want to engage, I guess, and particularly where, you know, Meghan,

404
00:43:12,000 --> 00:43:17,000
you talked about people expecting you to have your camera on or expecting you to go.

405
00:43:17,000 --> 00:43:19,000
You know, people saying, is it going to break out rooms?

406
00:43:19,000 --> 00:43:26,000
Actually, we're making a lot of assumptions there about how people want to engage, but also how people want to learn.

407
00:43:26,000 --> 00:43:36,000
You know, we we recognise that people learn differently. And so and yet we're not necessarily giving people the opportunity to learn differently.

408
00:43:36,000 --> 00:43:41,000
Yeah, I just wanted to really support and echo what you were saying in that I don't think the way

409
00:43:41,000 --> 00:43:47,000
a lot of people have moved things to online is inclusive for everyone's learning style.

410
00:43:47,000 --> 00:43:54,000
I'm happy to sit and read, but I'm also happy to sit and listen. Asked me to do both at the same time, and I really struggle with that.

411
00:43:54,000 --> 00:44:04,000
And I think that regardless of whether your neurotypical you struggle with visuospatial or other types of learning,

412
00:44:04,000 --> 00:44:08,000
providing multiple resources and doing things at a slower pace is help with that.

413
00:44:08,000 --> 00:44:13,000
But yet, like way in the move to online, I think we forget that not everyone bends in the same way.

414
00:44:13,000 --> 00:44:19,000
And I think, Ticky. So we've made great strides in how to make our lectures more inclusive and accessible.

415
00:44:19,000 --> 00:44:25,000
But now we've kind of looked online. I feel like a lot of the physical mechanisms we put in place and are no longer there.

416
00:44:25,000 --> 00:44:31,000
Yeah. And it's a whole new set of considerations. I actually and I link in the show notes.

417
00:44:31,000 --> 00:44:41,000
I, I did the accessibility of e-learning course at the Open University just as it was a free online course and.

418
00:44:41,000 --> 00:44:48,000
Was it's largely about kind of static. So, you know, asynchronous online resources.

419
00:44:48,000 --> 00:44:57,000
But nonetheless, it was really interesting to look at some of the some of the commentary around some really specific

420
00:44:57,000 --> 00:45:01,000
technical issues around things like screen readers and some of these things that we've talked about today,

421
00:45:01,000 --> 00:45:12,000
but also actually the fundamental pedagogical imperative of, regardless of accessibility,

422
00:45:12,000 --> 00:45:20,000
and inclusivity, we should be providing things in multiple formats and engagement in in multiple ways.

423
00:45:20,000 --> 00:45:23,000
Because because of that very thing. Because people learn differently.

424
00:45:23,000 --> 00:45:33,000
And so we should be providing things in a way that gives people the option of how to engage an in a way that's going to help them learn.

425
00:45:33,000 --> 00:45:43,000
I think that people presenting online should be encouraged to, like others have said, send out material beforehand,

426
00:45:43,000 --> 00:45:53,000
but then not be put off when someone would like access material and might like access the recording afterwards,

427
00:45:53,000 --> 00:46:02,000
then doesn't necessarily they're either not able to attend the actual session or for whatever reason they can engage with webinars.

428
00:46:02,000 --> 00:46:08,000
I think that that means we normalise a bit more. Because for me, I need to have something like hammered into me.

429
00:46:08,000 --> 00:46:15,000
I need to read it loads, write it, hear it. And so for me, getting the materials beforehand would help.

430
00:46:15,000 --> 00:46:19,000
Engaging with material during and after that would all be great.

431
00:46:19,000 --> 00:46:27,000
I know for some webinars, I've not been able to I've not been able to attend them in person.

432
00:46:27,000 --> 00:46:32,000
I've asked for the materials anyway. And some people have been great and said, yes, of course.

433
00:46:32,000 --> 00:46:36,000
Like, that's such a shame that you can't engage. But I'll send you the slides or the notes later.

434
00:46:36,000 --> 00:46:43,000
And some people said, well, no, if you're not able to come and engage in in person, in inverted commas,

435
00:46:43,000 --> 00:46:49,000
if you're not able to attend the back more than no, I'm not giving you my material, which is understandable.

436
00:46:49,000 --> 00:46:55,000
But I do think that it would be really nice if we could be a little bit more open in sharing our best practise.

437
00:46:55,000 --> 00:47:04,000
If there are people listening to this who are new to delivering online. What's the one thing you want them to bear in mind?

438
00:47:04,000 --> 00:47:15,000
Go slower than you think, you need to take it and be kind both to yourself and to the people in the seminar with you.

439
00:47:15,000 --> 00:47:24,000
Yes, that's I think that that's taking it slower. It's really, really important because, like somebody said earlier, your.

440
00:47:24,000 --> 00:47:32,000
All of the things that all of the communicative tools that someone read off you in person and that you would read off a screen are out of the window.

441
00:47:32,000 --> 00:47:40,000
And so. I find I get a lot more tired doing online teaching because I'm doing an awful lot more

442
00:47:40,000 --> 00:47:47,000
with my voice than I would normally to communicate and to make things more engaging.

443
00:47:47,000 --> 00:47:56,000
Accessibility, utilising universal design. I'm sort of almost horrified at the number of people who still don't do this.

444
00:47:56,000 --> 00:48:04,000
And especially considering that providing resources for people who have registered learning

445
00:48:04,000 --> 00:48:11,000
differences or physical disabilities that might prevent them from engaging in certain ways.

446
00:48:11,000 --> 00:48:16,000
The fact that some people are still not providing accessible resources.

447
00:48:16,000 --> 00:48:26,000
So it kind of shocks me in the year 2020. So I think just making sure that things are presented in different formats are accessible to those.

448
00:48:26,000 --> 00:48:35,000
And and even just emailing participants in advance and saying, what is that that I can do to make this session more accessible to your needs?

449
00:48:35,000 --> 00:48:41,000
And that the person leading the session doesn't need to know what the needs of the people are at that point.

450
00:48:41,000 --> 00:48:48,000
They don't need to be a member of the university who might get a copy if their learning.

451
00:48:48,000 --> 00:48:55,000
So what's the cool that they're the document that they get that that details

452
00:48:55,000 --> 00:48:59,000
what resources individuals need to put them on an equal par with their peers.

453
00:48:59,000 --> 00:49:05,000
But just emailing participants and saying, what is it that I can do to make this session more accessible to you?

454
00:49:05,000 --> 00:49:12,000
And then people can email and say power points in advance or please put on screen captions,

455
00:49:12,000 --> 00:49:16,000
or would it be possible to have a transcript produced afterwards?

456
00:49:16,000 --> 00:49:24,000
Those sorts of things would help a lot of people. I would say attend other online sessions.

457
00:49:24,000 --> 00:49:27,000
I'm down what you find helpful.

458
00:49:27,000 --> 00:49:37,000
What you didn't and then try and learn from that because it's such an on such a weird world being online and trying to keep people engaged.

459
00:49:37,000 --> 00:49:47,000
And so the more experience you have of being a participant, the better informed you will be trying to create sections that will be engaging.

460
00:49:47,000 --> 00:49:56,000
And there just one other thing that I wanted to see, which sort of links back to what we were saying about how amazing some webinars are and how we've

461
00:49:56,000 --> 00:50:02,000
been able to attend some of the world conferences that we otherwise wouldn't be able to attend.

462
00:50:02,000 --> 00:50:11,000
Also, being inclusive of industry or your non institutional partners.

463
00:50:11,000 --> 00:50:18,000
That's something really important to keep in mind as well. Yeah, just to kind of echo what's been said already, I think.

464
00:50:18,000 --> 00:50:22,000
Definitely be aware of your pace. Don't be afraid to take things more slowly.

465
00:50:22,000 --> 00:50:27,000
That is something I am very guilty of. And I have a habit of speaking quite quickly.

466
00:50:27,000 --> 00:50:30,000
So I very much, if I'm leading a session,

467
00:50:30,000 --> 00:50:39,000
remind people that I'm pretty comfortable with them asking me to repeat something, say something slower, go over concepts.

468
00:50:39,000 --> 00:50:44,000
But I think more broadly as well as is really focussing on the accessibility and inclusivity.

469
00:50:44,000 --> 00:50:50,000
So making sure that you've got a variety of resources accessible to as many different people as you can think of,

470
00:50:50,000 --> 00:50:53,000
but also echoing what's being said area,

471
00:50:53,000 --> 00:50:59,000
making sure that if this is something you could do in advance, get in touch of people and check, that they can have everything catered for.

472
00:50:59,000 --> 00:51:06,000
And particularly as a participant who potentially hasn't been involved in this before, they may not even know what to ask for.

473
00:51:06,000 --> 00:51:12,000
So making sure that you you get that clear agenda and structure of what you plan to do and what is expected,

474
00:51:12,000 --> 00:51:18,000
what the House rules are gives people an idea of what they may need from you as well.

475
00:51:18,000 --> 00:51:21,000
I think we're going to draw it to a close. That.

476
00:51:21,000 --> 00:51:32,000
Thank you so much for taking the time to speak to me this afternoon and offering your your insights into your experience as.

477
00:51:32,000 --> 00:51:39,000
As students, as the recipients of online training and development. And that's it for this episode, a long one.

478
00:51:39,000 --> 00:51:44,000
I know, but I think incredibly valuable with some really important discussions.

479
00:51:44,000 --> 00:51:55,000
And I was really. Heartened to hear coming through that that drive of accessibility, an inclusivity because.

480
00:51:55,000 --> 00:52:00,000
My own reflections during this period have been, yes, technology can be a leveller.

481
00:52:00,000 --> 00:52:06,000
But we can't just assume that because we've moved something online, it's more accessible and more inclusive.

482
00:52:06,000 --> 00:52:11,000
There's still a lot of work to be done. And that's it for this episode.

483
00:52:11,000 --> 00:52:14,000
Difficult to, like, rare and subscribe and join me.

484
00:52:14,000 --> 00:52:41,610
Next time we'll be talking to somebody else about researchers development and everything in between.

 

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