Advance HE has delivered a highly successful, online teaching programme for the British Council in Ukraine, following the postponement of a three-year face-to-face Teaching Excellence programme designed to develop teacher trainers in Ukraine.
Advance HE has been working with the British Council in Ukraine for several years, including delivery of a three-year leadership programme and supporting a scoping exercise for a national teacher development programme.
The Teaching Excellence programme was intended to begin in spring 2020 but was curtailed by the global pandemic and the subsequent travel bans rendering face-to-face teaching impossible.
With an extremely swift turnaround, programme leaders Kathy Wright and Caroline Brennan developed a brand new Introduction to Teaching Online programme, to help guide the delegates with the shift to online teaching. The programme was underpinned by research into higher education teaching, whilst helping staff to apply these directly to leading online or blended learning courses. It uses a range of digital technologies, such as webinars, breakout rooms, forums, polls, interactive whiteboards and the use of social media groups, along with asynchronous activities, so that participants can experience a range of approaches to support online teaching.
Lyudmila Tatsenko, Head of Education at the British Council Ukraine, said: “We are delighted with the online teaching programme that Advance HE developed for us. When our face-to-face programme was delayed because of Covid-19, we were really pleased that Advance HE would work with us to support participants with their immediate challenge of teaching online.
“The programme was highly professional and interactive, and we look forward to building on it as part of the wider Teaching Excellence programme.”
Programme Leader and Assistant Director of Knowledge, Innovation and Delivery at Advance HE, Kathy Wright, said: “The willingness of all parties, The British Council Ukraine, the participants from universities across Ukraine and Advance HE, to act speedily to make this programme happen was testament to everyone’s total commitment to enhance the experience of students who are continuing to study in very challenging circumstances.
“By using digital communication tools which are commonly used in Ukraine and introducing other freely available apps, participants put together a toolkit of ideas from those demonstrated on this short programme. It was very pleasing to hear that all were disseminating the knowledge to colleagues in their home universities and that there are already many examples of the ideas being put into practice across Ukraine.”
Participants found the remodelled programme very informative due to the number of online teaching techniques introduced to them at a time of rapid change.
“The most valuable element of the programme for me was the progressive information and an accessible form of teaching new pedagogical approaches and techniques in the conditions of distance learning.”
Another participant said the programme had inspired them to completely rethink their teaching practices: “It was great that organizers did not give us a ready knowledge about teaching, but food for thinking. They introduced many kinds of tools giving us the ability to choose the most appropriate ones for our educational environment. I enjoyed our activities and the best one was the micro-teaching session! It was a nice challenge for me that provoked me to rethink all my teaching practice. I want to do something similar at my university.”
The British Council is the UK’s international organisation for cultural relations and educational opportunities. Founded in 1934 as the British Committee for Relations with Other Countries, the British Council is one of the oldest cultural relations organisations in the world and provides learning opportunities all over the world for those wishing to learn English as a foreign language or progress to studying in UK higher education.
In response to the impact of Covid-19 on opportunities for face-to-face learning, teaching and assessment on campus, blended, hybrid and online learning approaches, Advance HE has developed a suite of support for institutions including Active Digital Design and Teaching Skills Masterclasses. These aim to help institutions to develop curricula fit for the 'new normal' and to provide staff with the tools and skills to deliver teaching in this flexible environment.