When the editorial board of the Journal of Teaching and Learning asked Nick Baker, director of the UWindsor Office of Open Learning, to guest edit an issue on digital learning in higher education for its spring 2020 edition, he thought the timing was great.
“The journal felt it was time to address all sorts of digital practices and open opportunities for people to discuss the related issues,” Baker recalls.
“None of us could have predicted just how perfect the timing would end up being, with the emergence of the novel coronavirus and COVID-19 leading to global-stay-at-home orders and the sudden need for emergency online learning.”
The journal, based in the University of Windsor’s Faculty of Education, recruited Baker and Gareth Davies of the University of Highlands and the Islands as guest editors. The 10 papers published Friday range from exploring the use of virtual reality for learning biochemistry to involving students in creating Open Educational Resources.
“The range of global ideas is timely and varied,” says education professor Kara Smith, the journal’s editor. “This issue on digital learning research in higher education contains articles that are among the first few to emerge in a peer-reviewed publication on the challenges instructors and institutions have experienced during the global pandemic, moving from a face-to-face milieu to a wholly online environment.”
Baker believes the publication will find a wide audience.
“Never has the spotlight on digital and online learning shone more intensely,” he says.
While the pandemic poses challenges to educators and those supporting the development of engaging online learning, Baker sees an upside.
“The rapid move to online teaching has created an opportunity to re-examine curricula and pedagogies that have long been entrenched in our institutions and programs,” he says. “The global higher education community has come together to try and work through these challenges, with many sharing openly the existing resources they have, as well as those they are rapidly creating on an unprecedented scale.”