SEDA conference

19th annual SEDA Conference: Opportunities and challenges for academic development in a post-digital age

19th annual SEDA Conference: Opportunities and challenges for academic development in a post-digital age

The autumn conference for the Staff and Educational Development Association (SEDA) was held in the middle of November at the NCTL Learning and Conference Centre in Nottingham. I was running a workshop session with Neil Currant, who was an OCSLD colleague when we put in the submission, but in the interim had moved to the University of Bedfordshire, so ‘our’ courses that we’d originally planned to talk about were more ‘my’ courses by the time of the conference.

Our workshop title was “Extending educational development through accredited open online courses – non-traditional participants’ perspectives on a UK PSF descriptor 1 (M)OOC”, and we planned to talk about the advantages of openness for the participants on our online courses First Steps in Learning and Teaching (FSLT), and Teaching Online Open Course (TOOC), and use that as a starting point to encourage our workshop participants to think about how they could do something similar in their own institutions.

Neil and I talked about our aims with the courses, and how they had worked for us as tutors, but we were keen to avoid speaking on behalf of our course participants, so we recruited Cat Taylor and Chijioke Nwalozie, who had taken the courses, to contribute their own feelings and experiences, Cat by attending and speaking in person, and Chijioke by recording a short video for us to show.

Voting on ideas

Voting on ideas

Once we’d shared our experiences as tutors and participants on the courses, we handed over to the other people in the room to brainstorm answers to two questions:

  • What rationale might there be to run open online courses?
  • Do you have any ideas for how such a move could be implemented in your context?

We used idea rating sheets to collect ideas, and Neil, Cat and I roamed around the room snatching away sheets as soon as the idea was written, to discourage lengthy discussion of the nuances of each. After the rationale brainstorm, we laid out the sheets at the back of the room and asked participants to vote and comment on each sheet, using the spaces on the ideas rating sheets to vote on a five-point scale from strong agreement to strong disagreement, express confusion, and suggest both  strengths and opportunities, and concerns and weaknesses.

Popular rationales included suggestions around diversity and widening participation, although with reservations because in many cases the typical OOC participant is already highly educated: one person wrote “How to reach the ‘excluded’ remains a challenge”. Also popular were ideas about the provision of flexible CPD, both for those running OOCs and those taking them. Unpopular options were efficiency, and testing material to produce learning analytics.

The suggested implementation ideas covered a lot of wide-ranging aspects, but the most frequently mentioned were about the need for time and money to do the job well, and about staff buy-in and enthusiasm.


Apart from our session, the other highlights of the conference for me were:

‘SEDA museum of educational curiosity’

The ‘SEDA museum of educational curiosity’

Beautiful lakeside setting

The beautiful lakeside setting

Conference delegates socialising

Talking to lots of people about all sorts of things, but especially about taking courses online, or opening up access to previously-closed courses

Helen Beetham's blended keynote

Helen Beetham’s blended keynote, delivered simultaneously face-to-face, and over Collaborate to participants who couldn’t make it in person.

Sunset over water

The gorgeous sunset just as we were leaving, which followed me a good chunk of the way back down the M1.


About the author

Elizabeth Lovegrove

Liz works in OCSLD developing, supporting and teaching on online courses. She also researches and teaches in the Oxford International Centre for Publishing Studies.

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