This blog is part of the Connected Learning Alliance’s Post-CLS Blog Series, where we are highlighting work presented at CLS2023. Check back here to see more posts in this series.
In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, the educational landscape underwent a seismic shift. Universities around the world had to adapt quickly, transitioning from traditional in-person classes to a blend of online and hybrid learning. As educators, students, and institutions grappled with these challenges, a team at the School of Architecture, Planning and Landscape in the University of Calgary launched a groundbreaking project to explore, document, and share experiences about the evolving world of education. This project, known as TALON – the Teaching and Learning Online Network – is a testament to the adaptability and innovation of the academic community.
TALON’s inception can be traced back to the early days of the pandemic, when schools and universities shuttered their physical doors to protect the health of their communities. Faced with an unprecedented situation, the need for a space where educators could engage in critical discussions about new educational approaches and tools became evident. The Richard Parker Initiative (RPI) stepped in, providing the means to bring TALON to life. This initiative recognized the pressing need to document the ongoing transformation of higher education and create a platform for sharing ideas and experiences related to online, blended, and hybrid learning.
At its core, TALON is a hub for the academic community to come together, exchange insights, and stay informed about the latest developments in the world of remote teaching and learning. It serves as a valuable resource, bringing together educators, students, and professionals in the field to address pressing questions.
One of TALON’s standout features is its comprehensive A-Z resources. These resources encompass a wide range of topics, from the basics of online pedagogy to advanced strategies for enhancing the virtual learning experience. Whether you’re a seasoned online educator or a newcomer to the field, these resources provide invaluable guidance.
TALON also engages with the academic community through interviews with both academic professionals and students. These interviews offer unique perspectives, shedding light on the challenges and successes of remote education. By sharing personal experiences and insights, TALON encourages open dialogues that contribute to the ongoing improvement of teaching and learning in virtual environments.
Furthermore, TALON goes beyond the digital realm by organizing in-person activations. These events create opportunities for educators to meet and exchange ideas face-to-face, fostering a sense of community and collaboration. These interactions are invaluable in an era where virtual meetings often dominate our professional lives.
Perhaps one of the most critical aspects of TALON is its commitment to fostering discussion about the future of education. The project encourages academic professionals to grapple with pressing questions such as the opportunities and challenges presented by hybrid education. What equipment is necessary for effective blended learning, and how can face-to-face, online, and other out-of-class activities be integrated to promote student success? TALON also explores the effectiveness of various assessment methods in a hybrid classroom, and it dares to ask whether hybrid learning is the future of education.
TALON – the Teaching and Learning Online Network – is a powerful initiative driven by a team of education professionals. Born from the need to adapt to the challenges posed by the pandemic, TALON has become a vital resource for the academic community. Through A-Z resources, newsletters, interviews, in-person activations, and various publications, it serves as an interactive lexicon for remote teaching and learning. As we continue to navigate the ever-changing landscape of education, TALON offers a compass, helping educators, students, and institutions chart a course towards a more robust and flexible future for learning.
Check out the latest open-access publication by TALON: Voices from the Digital Classroom: 25 Interviews About Teaching and Learning which the team presented at the 2023 Connected Learning Summit #CLS2023. The book provides a fascinating inside view of the rapid transition to remote education as an emergency COVID-19 response and an inspiration for the future of digital learning in a post-pandemic world.
Guest Post by Sandra Abegglen & Fabian Neuhaus
Sandra Abegglen is a Researcher in the School of Architecture, Planning and Landscape SAPL) at the University of Calgary, Canada with a strong interest in collaboration, co-creation and social justice. Her research focuses on online education, hybrid pedagogy, academic literacies, creative learning and teaching methods, inclusion, and identity. She is the Principal Investigator for TALON, the Teaching and Learning Online Network and Playful Hybrid Higher Education – and she holds the project lead for several other online education research projects. Sandra has written about her research and teaching practice in a variety of books and journals, and she has presented her work nationally and internationally. She has been awarded for multi- and interdisciplinary work with the Team Teaching Award 2020 by the University of Calgary and the Collaborative Award for Teaching Excellence (CATE) by AdvanceHE 2022.
Fabian Neuhaus, PhD, is an Associate Professor at the University of Calgary with the School of Architecture, Planning and Landscape in Canada. He is the research lead for the Richard Parker Initiative (RPI) and the principal investigator for TALON (https://taloncloud.ca/) and NEXTCalgary (https://nextcalgary.ca/). His research interests are the temporal aspects of the urban environment, focusing on the topics of habitus, type, and ornament in terms of activity, technology, and memory. He has worked with architecture and urban design practices in the UK and Switzerland as well as on research projects at universities in Switzerland, Germany, and the UK. He is passionate about learning and teaching, and design pedagogy.