Friday, September 17, 2021

Survey Volunteers Needed for Study of Digital Communication and Work Stress in Universities:

E-stress Survey Link
The University of South Australia is leading a study into "Digital Communication and Work Stress in Universities". They are seeking volunteers who work in Australian universities to survey.

This is an excellent initiative, however, they are focusing on those who have a full time working week. Much of the university workforce is part time and casual. These people have been exploited by universities through systematic wage theft, and threatened with loss of work. So I suggest excluding them from studies of work stress will skew the results.

As for how to reduce stress, I suggest courses designed with an asynchronous core, supplemented with online and classroom synchronous events, can help, by lowering student stress and therefore staff stress. With this approach no special arrangements are needed for a campus lock-down, or individual student emergency. The same approach can also be taken to staff meetings, with it not assumed that everyone can turn up on campus at a particular time. I will be touching on this in the webinar "Keep Calm and Carry Online", 20 October from ANU (all welcome).  

Also work stress could be reduced by teaching staff good practices as to how to work online. In response to seeing people waste a lot of time on email, in 1997 I wrote "How to Read and Write E-mail Messages". 

Scaffolded learning, where students do their assignments a bit at a time helps, as do more flexible assessment schemes. One example I have used is "best X out of X+2" assessment in a "Green computing professional education course online". The idea is that students are assessed on their best work, so do not have to worry about doing badly in, or missing, a couple of assessments. This reduces the need for students to ask for special consideration, extra time, and remarking. It also encourages students to work steadily through a course, not leaving everything to the end.

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