Lasting Impact from Crisis Innovation: Webinar Series for Engineering Educators

Tuesday, May 12, 2020

The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has caused an unprecedented amount of disruption in universities. In engineering education, we are rising to the challenges posed by a lack of face-to-face content, closing of laboratory and manufacturing spaces, and the need for unsupervised assessment. In responding to these challenges, we have had to critically review the purpose of many parts of our curriculum, and been prompted to adopt approaches to teaching and learning that may in fact be more effective than what they’ve replaced. We’ve also reconsidered whether constraints that were previously considered immovable can actually be moved.

In this webinar series, hosted by the Pioneering Programmes and Practice in Engineering Education Advance HE Connect network, we invite colleagues and students to come together to consider what we are learning about our courses and learning environments, and what changes we are making now that can and should be continued into the future, even after we all return to our buildings. Our conversations will begin with a case study or provocation, before opening up for discussion and contribution from participants. If you have been doing some great work in these areas you’d like to share, let us know and we will do our best to include you. Bring your sandwich, and join us online – Tuesday lunchtimes, 12.00-13.00 BST. We look forward to seeing you there, and will be using the hashtag #EngEdFuture on social media.

To sign up, use this form and we’ll send you all you need.

1. What are we learning about assessment?

19 May 2020, 12.00-13.00 BST 
Beverley Gibbs (University of Sheffield) and Kay Hack (AdvanceHE)

One of the most immediate and critical changes educators have faced in the last 2 months is a disruption to a major reliance on invigilated in-person exams and oral presentations. In this session, we will consider whether new assessment formats could represent better measures of students’ capabilities as engineers and what we might do to retain this value in the longer-term.

2. How do we protect engineering students' collaboration skills when learning moves online?

26 May 2020, 12.00-13.00 BST
Steve Cayzer (University of Bath) and Mike Sutcliffe (TEDI-London)

Our community of engineering students can be thought of at different levels spanning teamwork within the course to the cohort to which students all belong. In this session, we will ask how fit-for-purpose our learning environments are in supporting students to communicate, connect and collaborate in organic and productive ways. What are our perceptions of how students are currently engaging with one another, and what can we learn from this as we develop our learning experiences?

3. How do we think about labs in an online context?

2 June 2020, 12.00-13.00 BST
Andrew Garrard (University of Sheffield)

Practical work is integral to the discipline of engineering, and the pandemic disruption has posed particular challenges here. Many of us have been working to find ways around the absence of practical work. In this session, we will think in detail about the learning outcomes that practical work achieves as a way of breaking down the problem of replicating labs online. 

4. What does moving online mean for employability?

9 June 2020, 12.00-13.00 BST
Gary Wood (University of Sheffield), Aiden Findlay (Student, University of Sheffield), and Tahira Resalat (Graduate, University of Sheffield)

Both within and outside the curriculum, students acquire a range of experience and skills that enable them to make decisions about their future and enhance their CV. Extra-curricular activity is particularly crucial in helping students to secure work after graduation. But many of these activities, such as internships, placements and student societies, have proven highly susceptible to pandemic disruption. In this session, we reflect on the longer-term impact on employability, and ask what action we can and should take to compensate.

5. How do we partner with students in learning design from a distance?

16 June 2020, 12.00-13.00 BST
Trevor Collins (Open University)

We advocate for engaging with students as partners in curriculum design, although it is the least researched and least well-used dimension of student engagement. In this session we will explore the various reasons why continuing to engage students as contributors to learning design should be continued, especially in times of severe disruption. We will explore online engagement formats from other sectors to ask what potential they offer us in forming and maintaining high quality partnerships with our students.

6. Lasting impact from crisis innovation: community reflections

23 June 2020, 12.00-13.00 BST 
Beverley Gibbs & Gary Wood (University of Sheffield)

Many colleagues who are engineering educators will have changed their practices in smaller and bigger ways this year. In this session, we invite contributions from those that have discovered a lasting change that they plan to maintain going forwards. We invite 100 word proposals for cases or examples you would like to share for 5 minutes. These will later be collated and published in a collection of 500 word case studies.

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  1. Re your section 6. What is timing of publication? My student's MSc collaboration project using MS Teams is due for an internal seminar mid-Sept. Is this too late? Would prelim findings/project development be of value to this document? Peter B (Kingston University)

    1. Hi Peter - the publication will be released in July, but we welcome submissions of emerging good practice as a case study from you/your project student, or experiences from your students.

  2. Hi Gary, I hope you are well. Were recordings of the webinars made available? Katie

    1. Hi Katie - thanks for your message. Yes, the webinars were recorded. They are currently available in our Advance HE Connect platform "Pioneering Programmes and Practice in Engineering Education". To access this, sign up for Connect at, if you don't already have an account. Once registered, login, search for our network, and then click to join. You'll then find the recordings in the Media Centre section.

      We are also hoping to make them more widely available next week, once we have consent from all participants to share beyond the network.