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Supporting student voice and students as partners in a blended environment

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The regular Experiences in Digital Learning webinars from the Centre for Online and Distance Education and the University of London Institute in Paris provide the opportunity to explore the rapid innovations and changes we are seeing in digital learning, teaching and assessment. Our next Experience in Digital Learning webinar takes place on Thursday 20 April 2023 at 14.00 BST. In this webinar we will consider how, from a student perspective, university education needs to keep up with the evolving digital world; and the opportunities and challenges of working with students as partners within an HE disciplinary context.


A panel of speakers will lead the discussion and engage with other participants to address these issues, led by Dr Linda Amrane-Cooper, Director of Academic Practice in Distance Education at the University of London and Director of the Centre for Online and Distance Education. The panellists are:

Eddie Plaskitt President of the Students' Union, ULIP Students' Union, University of London Institute in Paris

Eddie is currently a final year undergraduate student at the University of London Institute in Paris (ULIP) and is also serving as the President of the Students’ Union (SU), having served as the SU Education Officer for one year previously.

Donna Smith Senior Lecturer in Politics, and Deputy Associate Dean Teaching and Students in the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, The Open University.

Presentation summaries

Eddie Plaskitt

Having been at the heart of discussions around how ULIP should respond to the COVID-19 pandemic, Eddie has a particular interest in how blended learning and digital solutions can continue to support universities whilst simultaneously keeping material accessible and engaging for students, an issue that ULIP still contends with today.

COVID was a very difficult period for universities and higher education. Faced with an unprecedented situation universities such as ULIP managed to integrate digital learning right into the heart of the university experience. But did students become too reliant on technology during this period? And how much did staff and students both adapt to the new situation?
Starting university in September 2020 meant contending with online classes and lecture recordings, although these aren't always necessary anymore, digital solutions are more important than ever, with classrooms now being filled with students typing away on their laptops as opposed to pen and paper. This poses questions related to how university education and especially language courses and assessment needs to keep up with the evolving digital world.

Donna Smith  

The importance of retention has risen up the agenda of UK universities in recent years owing to much greater emphasis on this in government policy. Seen as key to retention is the ‘student experience’ and linked to this ‘student community’, the idea that creating communities of learning (academic and social) leads to a better HE experience which in turn makes it more likely students will persist in their studies. One way in which student community can be engendered is by working with ‘students as partners’ in their learning: students work with academics and each other to create and extend their learning, which in turn has a positive impact on student community and retention. This presentation discusses the opportunities and challenges of working with students as partners within a Politics and International Studies (POLIS) HE disciplinary context. In particular, it summarises an Open University POLIS student engagement project, part of the University’s partnership with UK Parliament.