Conversations on online learning

Episode 12. Sarah Lambert

April 19, 2021 Digital Support Partnership Episode 12
Conversations on online learning
Episode 12. Sarah Lambert
Show Notes Transcript

In this episode, we speak with Dr. Sarah R. Lambert, Honorary Research Fellow at Deakin University, Australia.

You can find Sarah on Twitter @SarahLambertOz 

Her two publications we discuss in the episode are:  

Lambert, S. R. (2019). Six critical dimensions: A model for widening participation in open, online and blended programs. Australasian Journal of Educational Technology, 35(6), 161-182. 

Lambert, S. (2020). Do MOOCs contribute to student equity and social inclusion? A systematic review 2014–18. Computers and Education, 145, 103693–. 

The rest of Sarah’s publications are listed on Google Scholar 

Sarah recommended the following:  

Hamad, R. (2020). White Tears Brown Scars: How White Feminism Betrays Women of Colour. Hachette UK. ISBN: 9781398703087 

Moreton-Robinson, A. (2000). Talkin'up to the white woman: Aboriginal women and feminism. Univ. of Queensland Press. ISBN: 9780702231346 

Saad, L. (2020). Me and white supremacy: How to recognise your privilege, combat racism and change the world. Hachette UK.  ISBN-13: 978152941376 

Louise Drumm (LD): hello i'm louise drumm and welcome to conversations on online learning a podcast in which we discuss online learning and how to support it in each episode we'll ask our featured guest to relate their own particular area of expertise and experiences relating to online learning and we'll discuss how this has informed their understanding we'll also ask our guests to share their advice for teaching and learning support staff who want to enhance and develop their own online learning support our guest today is sarah lambert who is an honorary research fellow at deakin university welcome sarah 


Sarah Lambert (SL): thank you it's lovely to be here 


LD: we're super excited to have you here today so let's kick off and our first question is what do you do and how did you come to do it 


SL: so i i worked in uh education technology um for nearly 20 years in in a big regional university in australia the university of wollongong and and i think my career as an education technologist and practitioner and then a manager of those processes and an evaluator and a sort of change manager around that um it really has followed um the development of edtech has become mainstreamed into higher education so you know it's been quite um an interesting time to be have that career over that span and then um i was doing that from a regional university perspective very interested in the kind of um experiences of our regional students in australia and i think just uh the fairness of those of access was a really big deal for the the community we had a lot of um what you might call i suppose in a simplistic way disadvantaged or first in family communities and and um those guys and girls are amazing and and they just have particular complexities in their lives and we had regional campuses and so education technology for me was was was a lot about access and and getting um you know having a fair go and and getting um getting your teeth into an education program and doing something with your future i suppose and and so um i just found after a long period of seeing a lot of trends come and go a lot of management come and go a lot of rhetoric come and go that there were some real deep and abiding uh concerns and questions that i had about why those sorts of technologies were not really making education better and fairer for those students and and so i just departed um and did a phd that looked at that question so so i became an educational researcher specializing in higher education widening participation equity and diversity and social justice broadly and what i do today is is try and follow you know follow that expertise and and do some good works with it and so um i'm looking at social justice and technology and online learning research programs i'm currently doing uh one in the australian national scoping study for open educational resources and textbooks from a social justice perspective um so looking at how we can deliver some justice for for underserved students through those sorts of open resources um and yeah just looking for opportunities to put a pause on some of the more thinking aspects of the researcher and and kind of do some doing so i'm kind of looking at how i can enact and and partner and collaborate to enact some of those sort of recommendations that have emerged from my research and um and just encourage and lift other other practitioners up who who might be in a position to run with some of those ideas and recommendations that have come come through that social justice based research program so that's what i am doing at the minute 


LD: and there's there's so much in there sir i want to ask you so many questions maybe just going a little bit into some of the aspects of your research can you explain maybe to our listeners what what is an open textbook what what is and how does that relate to social justice at the moment 


SL: i think uh open textbooks are more commonly known as those free free textbooks that don't have copyright restrictions so that you can share them with your students online for free you can those students can share them with their friends for free they can go with it on a usb stick to the local shop and print it out for just the basic paper printing costs and um and that in the australian context at the moment and i think it is very similar worldwide is hugely um a boost for disadvantaged students who might be um financially stretched or they just don't have financial parental support they could be mature age you could have kids of their own and a mortgage and two jobs so that the sort of financial side of things is is is part of that uh education justice but also what i'm very focused on uh with the social justice and textbooks at the moment is that we should look at the justice of what's inside the textbook because they're remarkably um they can be remarkably out of date and some of that out of datedness and this is what my research last year's research has really landed on some of the out-of-dated is that they're just lingering sexism and racist views and that's that's well that's a bit it's a bit sh*t really isn't it to put it very bluntly it's a bit disappointing it's not what you want a textbook is supposed to be like i think for many students it's it's it's like the the gold standard you know the truth around the important things that you have to know and and if those stories of the discipline exclude black researchers and women's contributions to the field then it can tend to reinforce the kinds of absences that exist in many professions and indeed in many degree programs where we don't we tend to see certain types of privileged people progressing through and people who have more complex and challenging lives sort of dropping out sooner and not making it through to postgrad or professorship so you know that's a lot to say that the justice of trying to reduce those um sexist and racist kinds of stories and absences in our curriculum in the way that textbooks are part of the curriculum right it's what we teach it would be really good if we could um have a bit of focus on uh changing that and so um yeah though if we could if we could change what was inside the textbook make it more up-to-date right so by making it up to date take out those kinds of sexist and racist assumptions and just you know restore the the history of you know anthropology or psychology or geology you know was was developed in this way by these kind of privileged white dudes and that's why we keep having to talk about them but these days actually anyone can do this work and these are the contemporary people leading and they're from all over the world and this is really fascinating and you can get on with it i mean you know this is a sort of simple way that you can restore the foundations of a field to not just say oh so many dead white guys so marvellous they are god we all rest at their feet and build on their marvelous white dead shoulders which is just really not good enough anymore it really isn't so yes and then of course let's put those revised and re newly written books let's find some institutional and philanthropic funding so we can put them out with a creative commons license which is an alternative to to copyright so that anyone can also have it for free let's make it representative and in recognition of all the kinds of peoples and knowledges and it's also make it um free and those are all of the uh three sides of of um what social justice is actually about it's not just economics it's the social and the political equality and justice and i think education is a microcosm of the world and at the moment we you know sexism and racism is on the nose right like it's in the news people from um black deaths in custody it's it's it's very poor statistics in australia it's pretty shocking in america and i i will be honest i'm not sure how things are going in the uk but um the the the sort of track record on um women's achievements through and despite the organizational and institutional sort of misogyny and sexism that's very on the nose and i think that's um there's a lot of demands for change and i think as educators we need to be part of that conversation and um you know it might not be your curriculum but you can be part of it by making sure your curriculum doesn't bring forward some of those outdated types of um perspectives and absences i suppose 


LD: yeah i think this is a really timely conversation sir and it echoes a lot with a lot of conversations happening in within institutions in the wider society within the uk certainly and beyond and and obviously we've we've have conversations around decolonization of the curriculum um and so on i love your term restory i think that's really powerful because and one of the things that i was thinking about as you were talking there about textbooks is is about the the fallacy that um because something is free then we have to put up with it that there's something that you know the quality is compromised that we can't expect better from what we get if it's well free as an oer it's an open education resource but that adaptability and that um seeking out things that have that openness to being changed to repurposed and adapted for context and and given that you know if textbooks are being used in different different countries different cultural contexts that there needs to be that understanding that that things need to be changed that that otherwise becomes another form of colonialism in a way when it's being expressed 


SL: yeah yeah it does and and i think the um there are some really crappy free oer out there that haven't had any peer review they haven't been reviewed by anybody they're just somebody's brain dump on a day and they just whacked it out as a pdf and shoved it in a repository and it hasn't been looked at since i mean sure but um when it comes to textbooks um there are some like that of course as well but there are many many that have gone through exactly the same sorts of quality processes of selecting expert authors paying them paying them you know like it's just um the money comes from somewhere else that's all the money comes from government or philanthropy and they simply say like many researchers research grants do these days right we give you the money you put all the outputs out into the public domain because we give you the money and that's what we say you're going to do so it's we can see um very quickly that the quality in those products is is it's the same quality process and and it's just the funding and and the the output is different just purely because of the um the way that they're funded so it's not magic you know the free bit it's not magic at all it's just someone else has paid for it you've got to be a bit more creative gotta ask nicely 


LD: yeah so on a practical level um if an educator was looking to find something to look for things to make you know that approach to their materials and the way that they're teaching from this perspective either in terms of reusing or adapting or restorifying uh learning materials where would they start what would be the thing that you would advise somebody starting out wanting to to take this approach? 


SL: so i think when i speak to two educators they just have a standard process of getting ready for next teaching semester that involves reviewing what they've got planned to teach and that tends to involve reviewing what readings they've got on the list and there are some teachers who personally prefer to keep things pretty same samey and they feel comfortable with it and they just like to go again there's other teachers who get really bored very quickly and like to freshen it up so you've got these kinds of realities but whichever kind of teacher you are in the approach you take there's still a process of eyeballing what's going on and having a think about it so so i just think at that time have a look at your reading list and do an audit audit of it a little eyeball and see who are you citing who who gets to say what is you know knowledge who gets to be an expert in your reading list and ask yourself is that really the latest and the best that you can present to your students right now not just from a gender perspective but from an indigenous perspective or from a um you know where is exciting work happening in the field and i think then you just might find that oh you know maybe we can replace this one with this one here maybe i can bring some newer perspectives in or or you know you might actually instead set an assignment and ask the students to have a crack at that too so i think that you also would do really well to just consider how white your your discipline is and what the issues of diversity are in your discipline and just be super upfront about that to the students like in week one or two because you might not be able to find uh authors of color on a whole range of topics after having a look and i would certainly encourage academics to talk to the disciplined librarians and get some help but if you've had a bit of a dig and there really are some gaps then there's it's going to be naturally a process of reflecting on why no one you know from these sort of other world perspectives are writing in your discipline and and there's some really fruitful conversations happening in many disciplines about the problem of of lack of diversity and what that means for not being able to come up with more nuanced and diverse answers to the problems of the discipline because you're kind of talking in the same bubble to the same sorts of people so whereas in other disciplines i think the health and psychologies um there is in the environmental sciences land management there's a a great a heart moment of wow indigenous knowledges wow traditional knowledge is huge amount of answers and different ways of doing things and maybe even different questions that we hadn't thought of and and so how can we elevate some of those voices to um to talk about how they think through this problem and then how they might come up with different ways of doing things so so some disciplines are you know there's probably more you can find on youtube more on the conversation blog or more on professional blogs or conferences that are specifically given to decolonizing different disciplines you can link to but you know if you genuinely have a go at those kinds of things with your the help of colleagues you know tweet out about it and the librarians and there's gaps then don't feel bad like you've had a go you can only do what you can do just be up front to the students about look can you believe it there's just no one from all of vlad talking about these things i'm sure you know what else am i missing and and how can we make this a richer conversation and i think what i find from talking to students is that they hugely value that response they love that reality check you know they love that honesty and they like to be asked we had um one one student who was interviewed in the recent study about textbooks and how um you know what what kind of textbooks experience they had and how is diversity in the textbook what's missing and so on and then how how does that sort of impact them and this one student said that in the particular topic the lecturer gave an example and it was you know xyz abc and this student sort of lit up and went oh you know in my culture which is a different culture we have this similar thing and this thing like this and this that and the other thing and wow we have this kind of thing too thinking this would be you know a great contribution but the lecture just shut it down completely completely shut it down perhaps they felt that they didn't know about that so they felt therefore bad that they didn't know or just nervous about not knowing but the student felt really personally upset and affronted like they their culture had been you know shut down and so i just would encourage i suppose people to just open up that conversation to students experience and their different cultural perspectives and when they come you know just try and um you don't need to be an expert on that you know just just acknowledge that sounds interesting just acknowledge that sounds similar just acknowledge that's something worthy of study you know encourage others to engage and and maybe to draw it into to their assessment or you know their activities so that it can be meaningful for them and that again is about not having to be the expert on every world thing um and to let their students have their moments so that was a very interesting and insightful um interview 


LD: i bet it was it sounds it 


SL: and and i think there's there's an an issue there maybe for some people who feel a little bit vulnerable just like you say i feel like i should be knowing i should know everything that's going on in my subject and i'm saying that there's pockets of of a lack of understanding of either cultural context or or you know that that i'm not representative of different minorities or so therefore i i can't open up the conversation and there's maybe conversations that happen in classrooms or online classrooms where people feel like they don't have the lived experience to be able to speak to things therefore they shut it down but it's so it's such a good learning opportunity for us as educators to bring in students to bring their lived experiences and to bring their knowledge and their cultural context as a real proper co-construction of learning opportunity there and it does it does take a certain amount of vulnerability to be able to open up in a teaching situation to say that this is this is the discipline there are gaps here and you know it moves forward all the time you know it's it's marching forward on all these interesting elements this is my background this is where i come from as an educator this is how i did my phd and this is where i continue to research and i sort of got some thoughts about these other things over here but you can't be across all of it right so yeah just um taking pressure off yourself and it makes it makes spaces and places for for students to visualize themselves within the discipline as well it's like this this is your discipline as well and you can contribute to it um by bringing it into this classroom or into other spaces yeah so there's sort of phrases like um you you might be reading a nursing textbook like we have you know here in australia you might be teaching a cohort of indigenous nurse practitioners you could be reading this and just because you you know you're a little bit awake to these sort of issues you you'd be you could say look i've read through this chapter again and i i must say i can't see any kind of discussion here about how these services play out in a rural environment let alone in an indigenous community you know i'm i'm guessing there's probably a lot more to it what do you think you know let's just step back and see what happens so but the act of observing the absence i think that's such a powerful way to model critical thinking in the classroom for all of the students and it's so important for the other white students to to not gloss over that stuff and to learn to critique what they read for for the gaps in absences and so i think that you're going to get in a mixed classroom um so the example i just gave was very specific around indigenous nurse practitioners so that's going to be particular cohort but in a standard nursing program where people could be going anywhere you know that's a great conversation to open up and all of the students from all of the backgrounds and abilities are going to have modeled that critical thinking about what could be missing and that they might have something very valuable and new to offer that the textbook doesn't have and and indeed perhaps as i hear myself say this perhaps they might all acknowledge the textbook is not the be all in the end or all the reading list australian academics use a lot of curated reading lists a lot of the time i think the uk is very similar 


LD: yeah thank you um i want to kind of take a step back and i know you've got there's a number of research projects including your phd that i'd like to ask you about um and one thing i want to ask about is about moocs and the work that you've done on investigating moocs can you give us an insight in where i mean we're like in 2021 now and moocs kind of hit the headlines nine ten years ago 2013 2013 was that was the big year of the mooc so yeah so what where are we now and what what's what's your um what insights have you gained into the world of moocs and learning 


SL: i think that it's fairly well acknowledged that the first wave of moocs were full of social justice rhetoric about you know educating the masses and all of those poor people who are whoops brown in poor brown parts of the world you know that didn't get to go to stanford you know oh and it was just it's such a colonial conversation it's it's really quite in retrospect and it took a while for those other you know critical voices to to gain narrative but the silicon valley investment machine just absolutely cranked the narrative of technology as savior and um it was um it was very deeply uncomfortable to be a practitioner in that space i know a number of colleagues lived through the whole chapter with a a a sort of increasing sense of alarm and then got involved and tried to make um try to take the core idea of well you know in theory yes if we put a whole lot of really useful free resources in like a useful scaffolded order you know where there's actual curriculum online not a random set of things to do but actual activities and guidance like any well-designed online course if we didn't do that and we did offer it for free then likely it would definitely reach a larger audience and that would take university knowledge you know into into the community and that's community outreach lots of good things there um so i think there were people like myself many of us who who had a crack at trying to stay true to that kind of community outreach approach but the the money-making machine just was too big and it soon became a um a kind of it just it just became something it became a commercial arm of the university became an investment in the university's brand and it became just part of the rankings game and where you you know were you sexy enough as a university brand to do online learning and and if not will we partner with a more sexy brand to lift yours up and all of that sort of thing happened and so i think that um eventually in that in that in that period um there was a lot of already educated white guys who just went wow look at all the stuff i can now learn for free and get myself all this extra certification and get an even better job and that was not what the investment was supposed to be about and but for some people that worked remarkably well and it did prove a concept i suppose and then i think institutions have gone back and and then worked out well how can we you know we might have gotten a whole bunch of people up on fully distance online learning in a short space of time that could be useful you know so each university with its different challenges has gone back and and kind of cherry pick some learnings from from that you know fully online burst of activity and come away with some different sorts of models so whether or not it's just um doing all post-grad online in a particular way or you know partnering with community organizations or fee for service moocs where you know they pay a fee and you just produce it really nicely for them but at the end of the day it became just more online learning we all have online learning centers that crank out online learning and they got more resources for time and then i think it just it just went back to sort of similar funding so um i think then um yeah as i said different unis decided to do different things and it became tucked back under the arm of their online learning in many cases so yeah we sort of i think then uh we had like covert and then people had to go online really fast again so you know i kind of like to think that some of that madness might have helped some people step in you know so maybe you know some of those learnings institutionally and individually might have been helpful you know to get sort of a critical mass of people not totally terrified of fully online learning you know not not saying things like oh you can't do that in discipline x you know that has to be done face to face you know like there's a lot less of that right definitely there's there's been a lot of uh switching fast changes of conversations and uh understandings of what what can and can't be done it's been fascinating actually and different thing education moving at a pace that we never perceived as ever being possible before really really interesting and yeah i'd like to think that the the learnings from from moocs and and you know what the successes and failures have been helpful for institutions and people within institutions um over the past year and they have and they've gotten smaller louise like the numbers have just gotten so small again you know the free courses have just gotten so small it's like a community outreach again so great numbers to philanthropic and and ngos are running great courses out there for the for the public but you know a lot of retirees do them a lot of people who are already learning do them you know so if if um organizations really want to break the patterns of underserved organizations if they really want the mooch to reach a hard population that they haven't been able to reach through other means they typically end up having to do a small group tutorial type of work whether face-to-face or online in the community so in libraries running running facilitation to help students make sense of all of this stuff you know so which is what the open university's been doing forever right is running yes it's all online but you can pop down to the library and have a chat with someone so i think that the versions of that study group type of model is is is often at the basis of um some of those more truly community moocs where they are breaking they're reaching groups who they don't they don't know anything about uni they've never been to uni they don't hang out at unis they don't google mooc they don't know anything about this if you want to reach some of those populations then there's often a community partner at the core of it they're often co-creating the mooc with the community and they're often putting some sort of more smaller even face-to-face facilitation on to help those students kind of make make sense of things and and then there has been some amazing results from from people getting skills and employment and and just empowerment through through through moocs so you can do a social justice mooc but it won't be done by flinging a lot of glossy videos out there and hoping the world comes to them that's uh that would be the colonial way we are we are very very grand and special love our stuff you know it's like nope nobody nope nope we don't even know you exist go away see some yeah yeah i think that's that's a really important point around and what what models work for for true social justice moocs and and you know the the fallacy behind the idea of of moocs being for everybody and the reality of what actually happened um that's right every white educated body yeah who speaks english or are they i mean other countries did get into alternate languages platforms are sure but and in terms of digital equity 


LD: i suppose that must be part of it as well in terms of access and and how uh you know it in terms of access to technology to connections and and to that knowledge like you say that outreach of um these things exist for people to get um access to like how what is what are the ways that uh i suppose institutions or individuals within institutions can address that when it's something that's outside of the institution but you're wanting to make that outreach 


SL: um that's right so your partnership is what happens and you need long-term investments in partnerships and they've got to be super respectful and equal and have a win-win um so you got to know your community that you're serving and find ways to to partner there and um and can do beautiful things when you go there with an open mind and you learn about the strengths of that community that they already have and the power that they already have and the people who are doing amazing thing and and if you can convince some of them to come on that journey with you because you share common goals and you let them front the mooc not the white professor in the white coat like really not on you let the community front the mood can you let the community leaders you know be on camera and all of those sorts of things and and the community members who have experience in in the topic talk about how they do that sort of thing um you know you can you can do really um incredible powerful things and and break down break down barriers for sure but yeah videos um and accessibility i think that's another good thing moocs kind of kind of went well you got to have a transcript like no more excuses transcript just get on it you know and for many institutions that was just far out too expensive too hard too difficult and i think many institutions are only just now really getting on top of those sorts of softwares which and this is one area where technology has definitely really improved and made it easier um so transcripting is really important and also i i'm i think we all got over videoed you know what i mean and um and i think it's this particular medium that we're experiencing today you know we're coming back to audio and this is another thing that i think the pandemic has um facilitated is the grand appreciation for not being present like the visibility of one's face oneself one's room um you know facing up um to you know having to present your person you know how important is that all the time and um and so um from an equity spec perspective you know forcing students to have cameras on and be you know look like bright-eyed and bushy-tailed because the you know the presenter the teacher just doesn't feel um sufficiently um acknowledged if you don't you know that sort of stuff's really challenging and i think there's some great conversations at the moment about turning cameras off and and using audio and students and staff talking about the value of what they can listen to and just listen just deeply listen just the audio no visual stimulus you know it's a it's um it's something that works for for um many people and it enables us to not also obsess about what we look like which is rather nice yeah i think that's that performativity of learning that's being required of people at the moment is quite problematic and it's almost like a presenteeism that we're that's uh is expected of students online but it doesn't equate to learning or quality learning experience and i think there's a mistranslation there of active learning by having your camera on 


LD: that’s  not acting learning 


SL: exactly that's your finger your finger going on or off that's not it's the same as a bums on seat count for lectures isn't it really exactly nothing more or less 


LD: yeah and i think that's you know deep listening that's that's a great phrase because i think deep listening and and deep thinking and slow thinking and all of these things that we're kind of missing out a little bit on now with with the the zoomification of all of our communications so um there's one other there's another thing i'd just like to ask you about you've you've got lots of research published and um and we'll be linking to it in there in the episode notes but um in particular i'd like to ask you a little bit about the six critical dimensions and can you give us an overview of what you found what what that research was about and what are the kind of the takeaways for people and then they can go off and read the papers as well 


SL: well i think if you've been doing it take for a while and you're starting to research various kinds of interventions with with cohorts um invariably you start to wonder um well perhaps we shouldn't be you know reinventing wheels what you know what kinds of models you know help help us think through what's happening with online learning and and when it comes to contemporary online learning as distinguished from you know what was happening 50 years ago we we have had a massified system right so we we have just broadened and widened our participation and part of that's been ethical part of it's been financial you know the the pool of private school educated wealthy people is fairly static and the universities keep being asked to go bigger and bigger and that's a whole other problem that we won't discuss but i will flag it um expand permanent expansionism is a bit of a problem anyway that's been the mission um in some ways can go bigger and keep the quality the same so but the students who have aspirations and can see you know what you can get from an education who you know who has parents haven't been to uni you haven't been to private schools you know they they have just such strength such resilience such work ethics you know they they want to work hard get a job make a you know meaningful contribution and they they just might not have the same notion of what success is you know they might not really be interested in getting high distinctions on anything and getting a job with price waterhouse coopers so you know i know that sounds a bit right but it's actually a thing you know that notion of what what makes um more diverse students want to get up and go to uni is often about giving back to community especially if they if they've had struggles in their community is enormously powerful and strong narrative in indigenous students they want to make their communities you know lift their communities up make them stronger they're already strong but bring that forward and turn that into success you know in different ways so so i think the whole mission of educating a much more diverse student base over a period of 50 years has happened and and we're more um attuned to the fact that online learning with these different communities means that online learning the different blends of technologies and conversations and how they prioritize and what motivates them to you know get stuck in it's not really the same as the sorts of students they were testing things out on 50 years ago who were really much more white and male frankly and i found out when i was when i was really doing my phd and reading a lot of the um seminal sort of distance education theories transactional distance theory is really powerful and communities of inquiries sort of got so many spin-offs similar concepts so that sense of the distance between a person and uh the content or each other and so on and people that sort of really is based on those students being like similar like fairly homogenous in and also being very dis being a distance theory so it's not really accounting for all of that community learning opportunities campus learning the blended type of thing as well and it it doesn't take into account what's possible with ubiquitous internet and mobile so i just found those models they didn't they didn't really ring true to me as even as you know as a student and then someone who'd worked in the area i was feeling like it wasn't quite enough and so that became the bottom line for me wasn't really accounting for the sorts of differences in students and the sorts of differences in online learning so i went i went forward and tried to come up with something that was a bit more up to date that did more fully account for those sorts of variations that that made sense for a more diverse student population and a more blended and online kind of way of doing things i kind of started with the literature and then tested that against a whole lot of examples and come up with these six critical dimensions and so each of those started off with a bit of a broad idea but as i tested them against actual curriculum online curriculum i found that they had quite specific kinds of definitions i suppose you'd say you know you could think about them in particular ways and and so that's how that paper came about so if you if you read through that or you flick through to the back page there's a diagram of the stitch of the six with a bit of a shorthand dot list of what's included in that dimension and what i mean by social support for example which is broader than than than learner support used to be thought of and includes in for example in my studies of regional students parents and school teachers in the community who who are no one that the university thinks is worth you know typically um someone you should consider when you're studying but i found to be often core learning team members for rural students who are studying online so just how you can think about what it is that a student can draw on who even just you know rethinking what your ideas social support is you know that was something that was really interesting that came out of that the six critical dimensions and and also um the purpose the actual purpose of that learning that comes back to that internal motivation it can be actually different than what you might assume is the person's there for and so and and i just found the technology dimension to be um particularly fascinating and in that that it was very unlikely to be a big contender in what was um critical but it did have a place to amplify the other dimensions and that was a conceptualization of where technology fits that i had not read before so technology is an amplifier of the other dimensions and when it amplifies the bad of the other dimensions just how awful that can be you know when it's used as a blocker you know in various ways so so yeah that paper it's pretty it's got a lot going but if you want to go backwards and look at the diagram and then then the definitions and just think about some of the online courses that you've designed or learned from and just see does it fit does it make sense to you as an explainer for for what kinds of dimensions enable or constrain the online learning because each of them is not like a good you know it's not like a magic silver bullet that you add and the course is good in actual fact each dimension can be done really well or it can be done really poorly so so um it's more of a how do we consider this dimension how does how does this look to be done really well for this particular bunch of students and their needs and that is again a slightly different narrative right on how you can design online learning not like oh we must have lots of conversation because students love talking to each other that's an assumption or maybe they're actually socially anxious and they're going to vomit i mean that's a bit extreme but you know they're just exhausted from work and they just want total quiet for an hour while they read some stuff and and might get back to the conversation later or maybe never you know so yeah it has to be um the dimensions can enable and constrain and and so the examples there i think eliminate that and i i think it's very humbling when you look at this and you go you know what as an educator i i just you can't kick goals all the time you know it's just it's very complicated you can really reduce the worst of all the things that's really handy you can really try and maximize all the enablers as you can understand them but there's just in a big course there are going to be some modules and some sections which just don't keep goals for all those students and no one's perfect but we we can certainly use these kinds of thinking tools to improve and to get feedback from students on how that can keep going and understand who is you know the diversities of the students who this enabling is is trying to work for and that becomes a hopefully an interesting an interesting process for an educator to go through so they can just feel like they're on a continuous sort of learning and improving journey yeah yeah that's really fascinating so thinking back to where we are now in terms of um education and obviously uh educators in institutions um and universities the world over have had uh nobody's a beginner anymore in online learning um most people a lot of people have had a baptism of fire of some in some shape or form what practical um advice would you have for people now to kind of kick it up a notch you know what are the things that you know that we should that people should be focusing on to develop their practice and to uh in particular in relation to what we we've been talking about around um social justice and and equity and digital equity i think if if i was you know a practitioner and i i haven't been you know at the cold face for many years so you know that for that question you know i would be saying practically probably you know speak to your colleagues and speak to your teaching and learning center and speak to your librarians but from myself personally since you've given me the go i would really suggest that colleagues think about solidarity because the university is a tough place to be the people left with the positions you know with all of the redundancies and losses and and if you're still in there then think solidarity with your you know your casual stuff think solidarity with your peers think about the kindness you can offer them at all times think about not saying anything if it can't be a kind thing because it has just been a tough it is a tough place there are a lot of forces pushing tighter and tighter business models onto people and a lot more bureaucracy and it is really hard to maintain an open justice sense of self and what you can achieve you can't win every battle but um you can try you can most certainly try for the most just outcome in each option by just if you can just remove some of the worst of the possibilities is helpful you know not to be surveilling students to be to be working with your peers to produce evidence to encourage management not to be doing those sorts of surveillance types of things those kinds of privacy incursions those kinds of things that increase students anxieties and diminish their ability to learn you know but the reality is we can't win all of those but um if we if we can't maintain solidarity with our peers we're going to have a reducing capability to to connect and have impact and justice for students and staff in the future i think you know encourage and get behind the women you know in your organizations and get behind um the the staff who have english as a second or third language and let them lead things you know let them go first in things you know talk last in the meeting you know chair share your meetings with your colleagues so that women always speak first and there's a research reason for that because if you do that you're going to get representation through the meeting like learn about that stuff and bring a solidarity to your work practice and you will become you not only do good but you'll feel good and i think have a longer lasting professional career solidarity absolutely and i think if one thing that people have proven over the last year is that students and colleagues can be trusted you know we we have earned and shown that that there is value in trusting people um to get on with it and you know that their surveillance and and all there's no place for a distrust um 


LD: and i think that i think that that the important point there about precarity of of roles of you know research students of of colleagues who are on um contracts you know it's it's about getting behind them and and supporting them and at all of what you've said so so here here thank you sarah before i ask you any recommendations um for any resources uh that you'd recommend that we go off and read um is there anything else that we haven't touched on that you'd like to tell us about? 


SL: look i think we've just done a marvellous conversation through some of the things i think are really important so i'm really happy to leave it at that and um i in terms of white people having a solidarity approach on on on their campuses i just would encourage you to look at look at books on white supremacy and academia and feminism as a white practice me and white supremacy by leila assad is one that i'm hearing lots of good things about that is on my to read list i'm currently reading a really amazing australian specific book called talking up to the white woman which is in its 20th anniversary edition about the inclusion of indigenous perspectives in um in society and in feminism in particular white tears brown scars by rumi habad i'm hearing great things about that um you know encourages white people to just stretch out of their comfort zone i think that's important that one's on my upcoming to-do list and um those things are just uh things to have on the the slow burn you know they're actually quite challenging you can't power read them they're things to to read a chapter of and talk to other people about um and reflect on it before before reading into a little bit more of it because they they do stretch you and they they they make you really um bear witness to your privilege and think about how how you can be humble and um and still be you know authentically you are i mean i'm just an out and out extrovert it's quite a challenge to shut up but you know i'm learning when there's a time and a place right i think the the importance of understanding when when to listen you know and it's really really important and develop that as a skill and and develop it as something where you taking ownership of your you're learning not expecting other people to come and educate you or think that you don't have um a role to play um in in educating yourself so that's it white people need to stop asking black people to give them a shortcut you need to read there's plenty of amazing stuff to read and reflect on form a reading group talk to people about it you know who are similarly in a similar position they're probably only three or four people who can just really just slowly and gently um bust out of some of the um some of the older patterns of thinking because this stuff is you're never done you know there's you make a start and you have more awareness but then there are um more more places to learn definitely i think at the moment in my journey i'm really i'm really starting to think a lot more about my able-bodiedness um and what that does for the language that i pick you know and how that might affect people who oh yeah some real clangers there i often you know in my sort of feminist approach to tasks and parenting talk about you know you've got two arms two legs one head do the damn washing you know so then the other day i thought oh okay maybe if you haven't got two arms that's really rude you know what a way to pitch it but you know so it's it's a really it's an interesting um learning journey uh i find it pops out in the quirky language that you you kind of adopted over the course of your life um and you kind of come up with just different quirky ones 


LD: that's good fantastic well um all that remains for me to say is thank you so much i've really enjoyed this conversation and i'm sure our listeners are gonna um have a great time uh listening back to this episode um so sarah thank you so much for for joining us in conversations and online learning 


SL: thank you so much louise it's been a pleasure to talk about some of the things that i absolutely love and um i am uh you know pretty um happy to chat about these things on twitter so if any of your listeners have a burning question after reading some of this just just hit me up there and and see what sort of pithy insight i might be able to come up with that day she says hopefully 


LD: well we'll definitely keep in touch beautiful thank you 


SL: thanks bye