Comment: Tina Overton, Director LITE

Tina Overton applauds the work of the Digital Education Service in responding to the current pandemic before saying her goodbyes as Director of LITE.

The world has changed so rapidly in the past few weeks and is changing so quickly that our situation will be different again by the time that you read this article.

During my time here in LITE we have worked tirelessly, along with colleagues in OD&PL and the Digital Education Service, to encourage colleagues to innovate in their teaching practice and to embrace new technologies. Now, almost overnight, that has come to pass. Plato said that ‘necessity is the mother of invention’ and we have all certainly seen that this is true over the past few weeks.

I have been immensely impressed how colleagues have supported each other to move teaching and learning online and to thoughtfully rethink upcoming assessment, all supported by a very responsive and committed Student Education Service.

I know that things are not happening as quickly or as smoothly in some other institutions and it is a credit to our university that student education is such a high priority and that colleagues are well prepared to meet the challenges that face us at this time.

I hope that when the current crisis is over and we return to an on campus experience for our students and staff that we do not automatically go back to our old practices, that we maintain and enhance the best of what we achieved in the online environment and are able to build in variety and flexibility in all that we deliver for the benefit of our students.

You may notice that this edition of the Bulletin does not include the regular column from Neil Morris, Director of the Digital Education Service. Neil has shown outstanding leadership during this current crisis and has guided the institution through the move to the online environment. He is simply too busy to provide his regular update for this edition but I am sure he will have lots to share with us in the next edition.

This is my last contribution to the Student Education Bulletin as the Director of LITE. Discussing other issues just now feels a little trivial but I would like to reflect briefly on my experiences at the University of Leeds. It was immediately apparent when I arrived that the institution takes education very seriously.  So, everything was in place for LITE to make an increased impact on the Leeds community. I think we have achieved that through new funding streams, flexible Fellowships, an extensive series of events, new networks and capacity building in pedagogic research.

The level of engagement in the community was clear to see at this year’s Student Education conference, which was a ‘sell out’ in record time.

I leave LITE in the hands of a capable team who have been a delight to work with and I look forward to watching how it develops further under a new Director.