As the 10th birthday of The University of the Highlands and Islands approached on the 1st of February 2021, Lews Castle College was celebrating a decade of art alumni success.
A showcase of work by staff and alumni work is currently on display at Taigh Chearsabhagh Museum in North Uist where the Lews Castle College Art and Design courses are delivered from one of the smallest and remotest arts schools in Scotland - https://www.lews.uhi.ac.uk/our-centres/north-uist-campus/courses
Demand for the latest skills in digital teaching is increasing as lockdown returns and educators are turning to Lews Castle College UHI, one of the smallest colleges in Scotland, and part of the University of the Highlands and Islands, which has over 25 years’ experience of delivering and designing online teaching.
Its first fully online degree started in 1993 with the first graduates emerging in 1998 with a Bachelor of Science in Rural Development Studies.
In 2016, Lews Castle College started up an online postgraduate programme in digital pedagogy (the teaching of education).
According to course leader, Dr Gareth Davies there is a misconception that digital learning is merely a reproduction of what happens in a physical classroom.
"Nothing could be further from the truth," he continues. "Classroom and digital learning are very different disciplines. Digital pedagogy requires new and different skills. A digital teacher needs to think very carefully about what they do and how they deliver guidance to students so that they can then go off and read all about the topic."
He says: "The way we deliver education, like everything in society, has been changed by this pandemic and we are never going to go back to how it was before in education. That includes schools and universities.
"Education hasn't just taken a leap forward, it has been pushed forward. Everyone who is based out of Lews College Castle UHI have vast amounts of experience when it comes to teaching students online all over the world on our courses.
The university and others have developed multiple online programmes. Innovation and development has continued apace but COVID-19 has forced a rapid acceleration of the pace of that change. Throughout the world, schools, colleges, and universities have moved from face-to-face delivery of programmes to online delivery in a matter of a few short months.
Dr Davies adds: "Effective teaching also requires teaching expertise, and this is different in the digital learning space. Making the change from face-to-face to online or digitally based learning requires careful thought and planning."
One of the earliest exponents of technology to assist learning was Frank Rennie, Professor of Sustainable Rural Development at Lews Castle UHI. Professor Rennie started teaching at the University of the Highlands and Islands in 1993 and delivered his first online lecture in 1995.
Although it was early days in terms of the world wide web, a slow and steady shift towards using technology in education had already taken root across the Western Isles.
He explains: "In the early 1980s, a dial-up computer conferencing system called Rurtel, developed by the University of Guelph Ontario, Canada and used in agricultural education by farmers across the Great Prairies, was used across the Isles.
"Despite the speed being so slow, that users could see letters appearing individually on the computer screen when someone was online, almost immediately, it gained traction across the Western Isles. Those working in education and rural development, which included myself at that time, were among the first to pick up on it."
Over the last 25 years, Professor Rennie and his colleagues across the university partnership have developed a wealth of expertise in distributed learning, with students on courses from all over the world across many time zones.
"The reach of the Lews Castle College is phenomenal and time zones are not a problem for us. We can customise for individual students, many of whom are working and studying at the same time so this suits them.
"In the wake of the pandemic, University of the Highlands and Islands is getting requests from universities asking us for help. That puts the emphasis on innovation and that's where our new Centre for Online Research and Education comes in. After this pandemic, the way education is delivered will never be the same. The world will never be the same."
The college also offers an M.Ed. Digital Pedagogy. Students from afar afield as the Falkland Islands have studied with Lews Castle College UHI to date.
With courses ranging from one-day or short courses through to degrees and postgraduate studies, Lews Castle College UHI have everything you need to start 2021 the right way.
We have a range of courses starting in January 2021, if you are looking to develop your career with a CPD course, take a whole new direction with a HN or even degree or simply want to take an evening or part time interest course we have something for you.
If you are looking to gain additional skills or help you reskill in a new area short courses are a great way to get a taster of a full-time course. The College offer courses in:
- Business & IT - basic Admin and Business skills to Web Design & Gaming.
- Food & Drink – Professional Cookery and Elementary Food Hygiene
- Construction & Engineering - Introduction to Engineering & Construction to a range of short CPD courses.
- Creative – Learn Song Writing with Willie Campbell, enrol in our new Art & Archaeology course or discover our music courses based in South Uist.
- Gaelic – From learners to fluent speakers and for those interested in our Gaelic culture and heritage, explore our wide range of courses.
If you are looking to study full time at degree or postgraduate level then remember you do not have to wait until September. We have several courses starting in January including Archaeological Studies, Childhood Practice and Music and the Environment.
There can be a lot to consider when choosing to study but the Lews team can support you every step of the way. Our courses offer a wide range of flexibility with online teaching, part time study as well as support from our Student Services team who can help you with funding, childcare and more.
- Twitter: @lccuhi #StudyLCC
- Lews Castle College UHI is an academic partner of the University of the Highlands and Islands, the United Kingdom’s leading integrated university encompassing both further and higher education.
- We have campuses and learning centres in Lewis, North Uist, Benbecula and Barra.
- Lews Castle College UHI contributes £24 million to the local economy and supports 230 jobs throughout the Outer Hebrides.