“Let’s lose the deficit language about online education” – Tansy Jessop’s latest WONKHE blog.

Tansy Jessop is an influential writer on teaching and learning, and currently PVC Education at the University of Bristol. I have met her on several occasions, and been influenced by her publications and her enthusiasm.  She can be relied on for a thoughtful, realistic and optimistic view of teaching and learning.

In her WONKHE blog she sets out some of the positive potential in the pivot, as it is increasingly described as, to online teaching and learning. I have captured them below. They provide a positive perspective on planning for the next phase of adjustments to teaching and learning in the time of Covid-19.

The online mode “seems to

  • personalise learning with students working at their own pace and thoughtfully going back to material in their own time
  • trigger a shift from content-driven curricula (the idea of ‘covering content’) to carefully structured and selective bite-sized lectures with engaging tasks which
  • help students get to grips with concepts
  • draw out different voices and invite questions from students who do not routinely contribute to discussions in face to face session.

When on-line works well it seems to

  • be more inclusive
  • prompt student engagement, agency and autonomy
  • take the focus off assessment and enable more learning through carefully designed tasks
  • promote participation, writing and an enduring kind of community”.

Tansy Jessop’s  full blog can be found at


2 Responses to ““Let’s lose the deficit language about online education” – Tansy Jessop’s latest WONKHE blog.”

  1. Derek Robbins's avatar Derek Robbins

    There is a danger here of linking two different issues.
    The move to on-line teaching as a response to Covid-19 has indeed brought positives as listed on the blog (and summarised here). Furthermore I would readily accept that it has made many of us adopt and learn so much quicker (out of necessity) and our awareness and practical skills and delivery are developing all the time. I accept these advantages mean some on-line teaching may well be retained from choice post Covid-19.
    However I find the headline misleading. Students applying to University have not opted for a distance (on-line) course – if they wanted that there are many distance programmes and of course the Open University. They opted for a learning experience on campus where they mix with and discuss with tutors and fellow staff. The Campus experience is not solely about social interaction – but it is also about intellectual interaction. Yes we can replicate some components using various -platforms (like Zoom MS Teams etc.) but I personally find a narrative that seeks to deny the current difficulties of delivery and the fundimental change in the academic experience unhelpful. Of course there are deficits.

    • Anne Quinney's avatar Anne Quinney

      I’m pleased the blog post has opened up some debate on this. The headline of the blog was the title of Tansy Jessop’s WONKHE post and I interpreted it as being provocative in a positive sense. I agree that it isn’t easy to make these changes, for staff or for students, it can feel very uncomfortable and creates disruption on many levels.


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