Geography and Environmental Sciences (G&ES) programmes have diverse skill and method requirements needing specialized training ranging from spatial methods such as computer cartography and GIS via field and laboratory methods to qualitative and quantitative data analysis. Methods training often involves time intensive practical elements which have been particularly impacted by the COVID-19 restrictions highlighting the need for digital materials to complement, supplement and where necessary replace face to face discipline specific methods. Responding to the COVID-19 crisis has led to unnecessary duplication of effort and shown the skills gap experienced by many higher education (HE) academics facing the need to increase use of digital materials. This is a Europe-wide challenge which is not restricted to the current context but relates to a broader need to improve skills and use of digital technologies in HE.
Project objectives and outputs
The project aims to support the HE community in G&ES by enhancing capacity of HE teachers through training in digital and blended methods delivery as well as co-creation of high-quality, highly shareable open educational resources (OERs) for discipline-specific methods training, along with training resources on content creation and digital pedagogies, and disseminating these approaches through a participatory web platform. The platform will include a peer-reviewed participatory tool to support sharing of OERs beyond the partnership.
Individual universities offer unique programmes in G&ES, built around local needs and staff expertise, therefore a key element of this project is to ensure that all materials produced are highly flexible, offering HE lecturers a toolkit of OERs and skills that they can use to build custom modules appropriate to local needs in less time, and allowing them to focus on relationship-building and individual student support rather than content creation. It is aimed at HE staff involved in teaching and programme development. The project will also largely benefit students in G&ES through enhanced methods training.
The project partners will undertake scoping studies of best practices, competencies and needs in G&ES methods training. We will create and build a range of OERs for G&ES methods teaching including self-learning manuals on how to create online resources, templates, sample material and packages of teaching units. We will also build a participative web platform for dissemination. All OERs and the web platform will be tested using internal and external audiences. A number of methods specific training events focused on digital technology will enhance digital capacities and build competencies across partner institutions.
The project will employ a design-based methodology to provide solutions for online and blended methods teaching through design and development of OERs informed by expertise in pedagogy and research methods across partner institutions. Five work packages (WPs) are focused on the generation of intellectual outputs. WPs 2-5 are focused on discipline specific methods differentiating qualitative, quantitative, laboratory and field methods. These WPs are co-lead by two partners with contributions from all partners. WP6 develops the participative dissemination platform. Design, development, testing and implementation of outputs will be evaluated using standardized and semi-standardized approaches.