Welcome to the Autumn 2020 issue of LINK. This issue comes out in unprecedented times as we are all getting used to using on-line resources for teaching and learning. One of the most interesting aspects of the situation is the way in which people have managed to find new affordances in which to develop the way in which they are teaching and have overcome the constraints facing them. This issue starts with an article by Suzanne Fergus from the School of Life and Medical Sciences, at the University of Hertfordshire. In her article Suzanne explores these very questions through a lens based upon cognitive load theory (Kalyuga, 2009), recommending that student interactions are distributed between pre-lecture and post-lecture sessions as well as within the sessions.
This article is followed by a thought piece by Elizabeth White and Claire Dickerson which gives us an overview and highlights of a ‘personalised and needs-led approach’ to research mentoring which has developed within the School of Education at the University of Hertfordshire. Mentoring partnerships are often seen as a method to tackle the difficulties of managing a heavy teaching load with the expectation of carrying out research and the pressures that militate against creating a research rich environment. The shifting landscape brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic, as we have had to move teaching and student interaction on-line, and to learn new skills and techniques overnight, has perhaps accentuated such pressures. Elizabeth and Claire’s article is a helpful reminder of the importance of sharing our expertise and of learning from one another in these circumstances.
Ute Ward’s article about using positioning theory in early childhood research is timely. Her consideration of positioning theory as a way of thinking about the fluidity of roles when working with parents and practitioners is useful to those of us who have found many aspects of our roles changing in the conditions of the lockdown and in our dealings with colleagues, students and families. Ute’s clear articulation, of the usefulness of research in beginning to understand how questions of rights, responsibilities and duties need to be navigated, opens new perspectives for us all.
Amanda Roberts’ thought piece reflects upon online learning and teaching in a palliative day therapy programme in the conditions of lockdown over COVID-19. We have all experienced, or have had loved ones who have noticed, the amplification of social, emotional and spiritual difficulties as the lockdown became more protracted. We can only imagine how much harder this must have been for people facing end of life. Amanda discusses how the Better Together on-line programme opened possibilities for creative curriculum development and helped to enhance people’s agency.
The final article in this issue is Judith Nash’s insightful consideration of how headteachers might navigate challenging circumstances to make sustainable changes in their schools. Although this article was initially written before the recent pandemic, the circumstances facing headteachers could hardly have been more challenging in recent months, where uncertainty and shifting parameters faced schools and teachers in the light of shifting contexts and the need to make complex decisions on what to do about the COVID-19 pandemic. All the factors highlighted by Judith in this article have been accentuated further, making her article even more relevant.
We hope you enjoy this issue of LINK and that if you are part of the University of Hertfordshire or a partner organisation you might consider contributing to the next one.
Dr Bushra Connors and Professor Philip Woods