The role of belonging and community in ensuring quality of learning in a digital environment

Braithwaite, N. ORCID: 0000-0001-6424-8919 and Snow, M., 2021. The role of belonging and community in ensuring quality of learning in a digital environment. In: Qualifying the debate on quality in higher education, Virtual, 22-23 June 2021.

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The shift to online at the start of the Covid-19 pandemic presented a pressing challenge to maintain the sense of belonging and community, that has always rested so comfortably in the physical teaching space for our students. As educators we recognise the integral role that a student’s sense of identity and personal engagement with their learning, peers and tutors has in ensuring a quality learning experience. Our paper discusses our response to this challenge. Tutor reflections and research with students within our fashion business courses, evidenced a sense of loss in community, particularly amongst cohorts in their first year of studies. This resulted in a lack of engagement and participation in the online teaching sessions, which we felt compelled to resolve. Our solution was the creation of the Virtual Shoe Salon. The objective of the salon was to create an innovative approach to teaching our students about qualitative research and data analysis. Using the ordinary and personal objects of shoes our students were asked to engage in collaboration, conversation, and peer to peer learning. By sharing their shoe images and personal stories with peers, the salon fostered a sense of social presence in the digital space, encouraging community and the development of interpersonal relationships, through the process of learning about research methods. Post session reflections and qualitative research has evidenced the value of the salon in ensuring a quality learning experience that is underpinned by the sense of belonging and community that Covid had threatened.

Item Type: Conference contribution
Description: Conference Paper (unpublished)
Creators: Braithwaite, N. and Snow, M.
Date: June 2021
Divisions: Schools > School of Art and Design
Record created by: Laura Ward
Date Added: 27 May 2021 08:22
Last Modified: 27 May 2021 08:22

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