Edubytes — Looking back at 2021

This month, the Edubytes editorial team looks back on the resources, articles and stories that stood out across the year in teaching and learning. The Edubytes editorial team consists of Sunah Cho, Manuel Dias, Will Engle, Marie Krbavac, Stephen Michaud, Jeff Miller, and Jason Myers.


2021 in review

As we reach the end of the year, many of us tend to reflect on the year that’s been. What has changed? What have we learned? The year 2021 — like 2020 before it — has seen the continuation of major changes and challenges for the teaching and learning community, and beyond.

Looking back on this year’s Edubytes, we noticed four particular themes that resonated with our readership: teaching and learning during the pandemic, academic integrity, the use of technology in learning, and teaching and curriculum development tools. In this special issue, we’ve highlighted the resources and reflection pieces that were most popular among our readers in 2021. We hope you enjoy revisiting them — or diving into any you may have missed.

From all of us on the Edubytes team, we wish you and yours a safe and restful winter break, and all the best for the year to come.


Teaching and learning during the pandemic

Over the last 21 months, Edubytes followed the transition to online instruction, then back to campus as the teaching and learning community rose to the challenge to support student learning. From presenting UBC’s perspective on the transition to sharing what we have learned as a community, the following articles look back at this most unusual time.


UBC’s pivot to emergency teaching and learning: perspectives on the transition at the Vancouver campus

After over a year of teaching remotely due to COVID-19, it can be difficult to remember the rapid change that most post-secondary institutions had to make back in the spring of 2020. The Celebrate Learning Week’s special edition of Edubytes featured a February 2021 research study authored by Dr. Silvia Bartolic and Dr. Neil Guppy in the Department of Sociology. It focuses on the pivot to remote emergency instruction at UBC Vancouver, particularly in the early days of the transition. As part of this study, personal interviews were conducted with faculty, senior administrators, learning support professionals, and over 1200 students from 50 randomly sampled courses, to highlight the diverse experiences of the university community at˜ the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Explore the report


Teaching online in the COVID crisis: what we have learned

Shared in January’s Edubytes, Ray Schroeder reflects back in fall 2020 on the transition to online teaching, and identifies the key findings and lessons learned. Among these is the importance of training instructors, so as to integrate effective online practices to enhance student engagement, develop a teaching presence and promote student wellbeing. Another lesson learned is to pay close attention to instructor, student and support staff workload, with extra hours and days spent on developing course content, training and resources or preparing for live classes. A key finding was the differing levels of access to technology among students (e.g., smartphones), with efforts needed to improve Internet access.

Read the reflection


10 lessons for a post-pandemic world from COVID-19 for Canadian universities and colleges

Also in the January edition, Dr. Tony Bates, Research Associate with Ontario’s Distance Education & Training Network, shares 10 lessons learned during the pandemic that can be used to help inform what is coming next. One lesson is that Dr. Bates sees blended learning as the future of higher education, and with the development of numerous materials online, there is space for reusing that content and repurposing it to support face-to-face instruction more effectively. Dr. Bates emphasizes the importance of providing support to instructors to accompany them in this transition. There is also a note on the advantages of media and open educational resources for teaching and learning, with more opportunities for sharing course content between instructors to facilitate the development of online materials.

10 lessons to take forward


Academic Integrity

One area that has been forced into the spotlight very prominently has been the assessment of learning — and the integrity of both assessments and students — within the remote teaching environment. The three articles below offer different viewpoints and perspectives on a broad and complex series of assessment and integrity issues.


Let’s talk about the other pandemic: Academic Cheating

In this post shared in the March edition of Edubytes, Dr. Sarah Eaton, associate professor in the Werklund School of Education at the University of Calgary and one of the most prominent academic integrity scholars in Canada, foreshadows many of the issues around academic integrity that have since become widely discussed in the academic community. She highlights a number of concerning behaviours being reported by instructors and institutions to address misconduct during the shift to remote instruction, and cautions against approaches that are focused on cheating.

Instead, she emphasizes the importance of cultivating a shared institutional value around academic integrity, with responsibilities for both faculty and students. She encourages educators to work with students instead of against them, keeping their best interests at heart while maintaining focus on how best to help them learn.

Read more


The real devil behind the rise in academic teaching during the pandemic isn’t online learning

The June edition of Edubytes also featured an interview with Dr. Eaton, exploring the increase in instances of academic misconduct during the pandemic. Although many are quick to implicate the nature of online learning itself for the increase, Dr. Eaton discusses other factors such as students being forced online when they didn’t want to be, and instructors rushing to conduct courses remotely with little time and training. As a result, students have become easy prey for a rapidly growing US$15 billion global industry supporting contract cheating that has not been well regulated and often utilizes aggressive practices to market services to students.

Factors in student misconduct


Dartmouth Cheating Debacle: 3 initial observations

In the June edition, we learned that, regarding academic integrity, information can be a double-edged sword. Dartmouth College, in an excess of zeal, applied a very coarse analysis to learning analytics data that was meant for statistical and diagnostic purposes, not tracking. The story demonstrates the need for detailed knowledge of the nature of a set of data — its sources, strengths, and weaknesses — before building a tower of shaky conclusions on an unstable base.

3 observations on the case


Technology in learning

The use of technology in learning is another topic that has seen a leap in interest following the necessary shift to online teaching and learning. From big corporations’ looking to disrupt the traditional learning landscape, to using computational analysis of learning process data to better understand and improve how we learn, these articles explore technology’s role in this ever-evolving landscape.


How Google’s new career certificates could disrupt the college degree

In April ‘s Edubytes, we explored how Google intends to help people bridge skills gaps and get a high-growth job — without obtaining a college or university degree. Google has found that there are not enough skilled candidates for the positions they have available today, and expect the same in the future. As such, they are developing a framework for career-based credentials that use self-paced, online learning. These are not new ideas, but they garnered more interest during the COVID pandemic as mainstream post-secondary education went online.

Learn about Google’s plan


Career certificates and more ways Google is helping job seekers

Five months later, in the September edition of Edubytes dedicated to digital credentials, our guest editors Director Michelle Lamberson, Flexible Learning Special Projects in the Office of the Provost, UBC Okanagan, and Executive Director Larry Bouthillier, UBC Extended Learning, listed Google career certificates as one of many industry-sponsored credentials appearing in five key professional disciplines on the Coursera platform.

How Google is helping job seekers


Learning analytics 101

July’s Edubytes focused on Learning Analytics (LA) and the new challenges it must face to continue to meaningfully support teaching, learning, and learning design. This new and accessible Learning Analytics 101 resource from NYU’s Learning Analytics Research Network (LEARN) provides introductory material and examples for readers new to LA.

Discover Learning Analytics


Teaching and curriculum development tools

Finally, throughout this year of Edubytes we shared many tools, guides, and other resources to help the teaching and learning community expand their knowledge. Among all of them, those that gathered the most interest were in the areas of curriculum renewal, open educational resources and UBC’s teaching development program for new faculty.


University of Toronto’s guide to curriculum renewal

In last month’s Edubytes on curriculum and program renewal, the CTLT’s curriculum and course services team pointed to numerous resources, including the University of Toronto’s guide to curriculum renewal, which offers a six-part process for the exercise, beginning with a robust preparation phase.

Access the guide (PDF)


Open educational resources

The October edition of Edubytes focused on the use of open educational resources (OERs) in STEM and beyond. In her editorial, Dr. Agnes d’Entremont, associate professor of teaching in UBC’s Department of Mechanical Engineering, shares some of the unique challenges and opportunities for OERs in STEM fields, and provides background and resources on what OERs are, why they matter, and how to implement them into a course.

About OERs


UBC’s Teaching development program for new faculty

August’s Edubytes was dedicated to the beginning of the 2021-22 academic year, an always special time for new students and faculty members alike. In this edition, guest editors from the CTLT’s Teaching and Learning Professional Development team highlight some of the ways that the CTLT supports career development and community building for new faculty. The Teaching Development Program (TDP) for New Faculty is a cohort program that helps participants build a foundation for their teaching careers by providing a network of support around teaching and learning. Participants complete a combination of required (e.g., Instructional Skills Workshop) and elective components (e.g., Winter Institute workshops) over the nine-month program duration.

Stay tuned for more information on the 2022-23 program!

Explore TDP resources for new faculty

Enjoyed reading about curriculum renewal? Learn about other topics we covered in the December 2021 edition by reading the complete Edubytes newsletter. To view past issues, visit the Edubytes archive.

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