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Researcher's Corner: Home-Based Learning (HBL) in Higher Education Post-COVID - An Analysis from Staff and Student Perspectives

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4 minutes

Researcher’s Corner shines the spotlight on research studies that have been published in the Journal of Innovation in Polytechnic Education (JIPE) in 2022.

Abstract: The purpose of this work is to analyze the impact of COVID-19 on teaching methods, focusing on the Home-Based Learning approaches (HBL) utilized at short notice to support students at the Robert Gordon University in Scotland. Building on the themes developed by Tay et al. (2021), this paper focuses on: Student engagement; Software applications and Communications; Staff; and Self-directed skills to better understand the teaching decisions taken by staff at the onset of the pandemic and the impact this had on students’ learning. The aim is to then use this data to support how best to go forward in our teaching practices in a post-COVID world. To achieve this, qualitative research is undertaken using an exploratory approach looking at the key areas and antecedents drawn from the literature; it utilizes the views of staff and students to better understand how the post-pandemic use of technology in education can be designed to be fit for purpose. The paper outlines that when addressing the issues described above, the views of staff and students need to be analyzed to better plan for the post-pandemic use of technology in higher education.

Read the full article: Home-Based Learning (HBL) in Higher Education Post-COVID: An Analysis from Staff and Student Perspectives

Why did you choose this research topic?

Neil and Elliot: Digital transformation impacts all of us and will likely continue to do so. In the world of teaching, never was this impact felt so fundamentally or quickly as [with] the move from traditional teaching to HBL [Home-Based Learning] at the start of the pandemic in 2020. As staff endeavoured to come to terms with the new way of working imposed upon them it quickly became apparent that some approaches were favoured by students more than others, and certain approaches gleaned better results than others. This imposed crash course in online teaching has led to the revaluation of technology in traditional teaching whilst accelerating the acceptance of technology in general. The aim of the work was to gain insight from staff and students as to what had worked for them and where the main changes for the better had occurred. The hope was that this would inform practices and how technology is used in education going forward.

What next? What do you see as the impact of this research study?

Neil and Elliot: Leading on from the study, we have been exploring ways to embed the lessons and positive outcomes of HBL into our future curriculum delivery. Supporting the findings of the study there has been a concerted effort to identify which of the various tools should be adopted more widely to minimize students’ confusion when faced with the plethora of options. Despite a return to a predominantly on campus delivery, the continued use of MS Teams has been of benefit to our students and our own delivery, for group work and supervisory activity. These communications tools have improved group work projects, acting as a ‘hub’ for group activities, whilst the immediacy of a Teams chat has resulted in greater engagement for supervision of theses/dissertations.

What is/are your favourite book(s)?

Neil: Sapiens (Harari, 2011), jaw-droppingly good!

Elliot: I should say something like 1984 presumably (which is brilliant) but being honest I would have to say Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire.


Neil Connon, PhD., works in the School for Creative and Cultural Business at the Robert Gordon University (RGU) in Aberdeen, Scotland. Neil has worked at RGU for more than 20 years and is a senior lecturer. In addition to normal teaching duties, Neil is involved with the university’s associate school in Lucerne, Switzerland. Neil is also in charge of study abroad programme which welcomes students from around the world to RGU, as well as send the students to one of its many excellent partner institutions, including Humber College. Neil’s teaching and research issues are mainly around the areas of technology and ethics, and as digital transformation develops apace, increasingly the two disciplines together.

Elliot Pirie, PhD., works in the School of Creative and Cultural Business at Robert Gordon University (RGU) in Aberdeen, Scotland. Elliot has been with the University for 15 years and is now an Academic Strategic Lead. Elliot led the development and validation of the BA (Hons) in Digital Marketing and is also involved with one of the university’s associate schools in Zurich, Switzerland. Elliot’s teaching delivery is predominantly within consumer marketing and research, with research interests focusing on e-retail, specifically within the musical instrument trade, and more broadly in consumer psychology and online pedagogy.