Thursday, 28 June 2012

Track H: Developing communication strategies to support remote teaching teams

Link to abstract
Presenters: Cathy Minett-Smith & Kirsteen Macdonald, Middlesex University

The challenges of supporting remote teaching teams are manyfold, and the roles of staff in developing a strategy to deal with them is often unclear. Cathy and Kirsteen explained how important the role of the module leader is as part of an international team, and suggested that in most cases there is a genuine desire to develop an effective partnership with staff overseas. However, there is an element of academic staff who are frustrated with the effort involved in including international students in their curricula, and are generally of the opinion that the phrase 'my students' refers only to their UK students.

It was explained that it is not easy to build relationships with remote teaching staff when the teams change so often, and lack of time and differing calendars can make communication difficult. When communication does occur, it is usually by telephone or email, which can be quite limiting. We were split into groups and given scenarios to discuss. Issues were raised such as consistent and fair marking while being aware of cultural differences, and the varying expectations that module leaders have of module co-ordinators.

The session highlighted the need for improved, natural communication with remote teaching teams. Tools such as online chat, video conferencing and lecture capture were discussed. It was emphasised that so-called 'virtual teams' consist of real people and communication should reflect that. The end goal would be to move away from the 'parent/child' relationship that exists between module leaders and overseas tutors, and towards a more collaborative team effort.

Paul Smith, CLTE

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