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The University of Southampton

UN75 dialogue - a shared vision for remote teaching and learning

Published: 24 June 2020
UN75 Forum Participants

Earlier this year, the United Nations launched a global dialogue initiative as part of commemorations for the organisation’s 75th anniversary. Over recent weeks, discussions have taken place in all settings including a forum hosted by the University of Southampton’s International Office focused on the impact of digital technologies in Higher Education.

The event, co-hosted with University of Southampton’s Digital Education Working Group (DEWG), was held online due to the COVID-19 pandemic and featured a panel discussion drawing on faculty, technical and professional service expertise in the realm of online education, followed by a community Q&A.

Maria Norton, the University’s Senior International Partnerships Manager (Networks & Development), facilitated the Southampton UN75 forum and shares her view of how the discussion has developed so far.

There were potentially game-changing findings in the UN75 dialogue on the impact of digital technologies – with a focus on Sustainable Development Goal 4, SDG4 quality education. By increasing the virtual elements of our programmes we can green our educational offer, for instance – and promote lifelong learning.

One objective of bringing the UN75 forum to Southampton audiences is to support the needs of our community as we build capacity and skills for remote working, teaching and learning, with a human-centred approach to digital technology deployment and uptake. The United Nations’ objective of sharing a culture of intellectual social responsibility was also served.

Our panellists were: Adam Procter (Winchester School of Art), Bobbi Moore (iSolutions), Judith Holloway (Medicine) and Kate Borthwick (DEWG Chair), with me as moderator. We grappled with current challenges like whether learning has become more social or more isolating for students during lockdown (and how to deal with this), and how we support community building in the future.

Far-ranging themes were broached, and neat messages surfaced on equality of education, equitable access, widening participation and virtual (international) mobility – with a hint of what the University of Southampton USP may well become. There is plenty of rich content to be viewed in the 55-minute dialogue and the link to the recording of the UN75 forum is here.

Community participant and Associate Dean International for the Faculty of Environmental and Life Sciences, Sue Colley’s feedback on the forum: “[I] feel very inspired and am really hopeful that we have an opportunity to forge new inter-disciplinary approaches to programme design and delivery that has global appeal.”

Keith Johnstone, Director of International Relations & Development, reported “that was a great forum, a very slick operation, so much said in a short time frame.”

The themes, the ideas and insights raised at this forum tie in to the University's Common Framework for Online Education, available from Southampton’s Centre for Higher Education Practice.

Meanwhile, a second forum is being planned, in collaboration with international partners. This is important as there are developments on the potential for virtual mobility [technology-mediated international experience] and in particular COIL [collaborative online international learning] which are coming to light as a valuable form of internationalism in Higher Education. The potential for such a development is under exploration, to enhance the experience and employability of our digitally connected students.

It has become apparent that in these very fluid times our experience and providing pause for reflection counts for a lot!

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