The concept for an ISU / NTU Education Hub emerged as an ambitious project building on a number of years of successful partnership activities between our respective universities I-Shou University (ISU), Taiwan and Nottingham Trent University (NTU), UK.
The Hub which has a physical presence at ISU run by Taiwan-based NTU faculty was created to support the academic success of our TNE students in recognition of the hurdles they face when they switch between different cultures and university systems. From the first year of study in Taiwan, students are exposed to NTU learning approaches such as critical thinking; active, collaborative learning; and personalised assessment through our academic English tuition programme, a core element of the Hub. The Hub programme itself is integrated into ISU curriculum enabling pathway students to receive credits towards their ISU degree.
The challenges of the pandemic lockdown forced us to rethink some functions of the hub. In the virtual environment we focused on two main goals: 1. Student employability - ensuring the continued development of in-demand skills such as effective groupwork and; 2. Global citizenship – educating students on global and local sustainability to enable community-based action.
Pathway students undertook an online ‘Sustainability in Practice’ (SiP) module which introduced them to sustainability and the SDGs through the lens of clothing. Based on an existing NTU course SiP was adapted using activities to introduce ISU students to NTU and the city of Nottingham. UK-based NTU staff recorded instructional videos in key locations around NTU campus and Nottingham, encouraging ISU students to feel part of the NTU family right from the start of their programme in Taiwan.
The online SiP proved successful; we continue it in a hybrid format and are considering adding opportunities for ISU and NTU students to collaborate directly on aspects of course activity.
Relationships across the two institutions have been created or strengthened. Faculty worked closely together on SiP design and delivery, paving the way for further collaboration. Connections between student communities were also forged; outputs from students in both locations were exhibited at a virtual SiP awards ceremony creating a sense of shared experience and contributing to ISU students feeling part of the NTU community.
Module learning outcomes include that students can:
- demonstrate engagement with sustainability as a concept;
- contextualise the theme of clothing to their academic discipline;
- devise an interesting, innovative, creative or perceptive means of displaying this concept to a wide audience.
In both years that SiP has run, all students have effectively demonstrated these learning outcomes and passed the module. Student group presentations have indicated a good depth of sustainability literacy and effective group working. As groupwork forms a significant element of learning in the UK, more so than in Taiwan, this experience is preparing students for different ways of working and giving them the necessary tools to succeed in their UK studies.
Based on feedback from the first cohort, improvements were made for hybrid delivery including streamlining content, delivering SiP over more sessions to allow additional discussion time and removing release conditions so students could read ahead to support comprehension. NTU faculty at ISU report that SiP provides an effective vehicle for language tuition through the combination of independent study, class discussion, quizzes, and groupwork.
Student feedback has been very positive, “I think this was a great opportunity for us to learn more about how we can protect the environment beginning with clothing”, “I liked the way the course combined my major with sustainability”, “I liked the course a lot, it made me feel closer to and more knowledgeable about NTU”.