Universities have a long track record of championing free speech, rigorous debate and academic freedom on campus, but this has come under greater scrutiny and pressure in recent years. Balancing the need to protect and uphold freedom of speech, whilst at the same time fostering good relations between different groups on campus, is no simple task.
There can be little argument that university environments should encourage debate and protect the free exchange of ideas, but when tensions are high, it’s crucial that universities ensure that every student and faculty member, still feels like they belong on campus.
Advance HE is the leading British charity and professional membership scheme, responsible for promoting excellence in higher education in the UK. Core to their strategic mission is the advancement of education to meet the evolving needs of students and society, which has been a driving force behind their commitment to bringing voices together across the sector - to safeguard academic freedoms - in a way that works for all.
Engagement sits at the very heart of this, and ensuring that all stakeholders understand the nuances and importance of academic freedoms and the freedom of speech is paramount to fostering inclusion on the topic. In a drive to ensure all voices are heard, Advanced HE approached GoodCourse to co-create a TikTok-style micro-learning course to educate students on how to engage in discussions with their peers and faculty members - in a sensitive and tolerant manner.
The course will combine Advance HE’s domain and legislative expertise in the higher education sector, with GoodCourse’s novel and engaging approach to e-learning. The partnership is particularly significant in the context of the requirements the new Higher Education Freedom of Speech Bill will impose on universities and colleges once passed, where the need to actively foster positive relations between different groups on campus, will become ever more important.
Student groups and activists have a long history of driving forward positive societal changes, but engaging the whole student population on non-core or non-credit-bearing topics is a problem academic leaders are struggling with on a wide variety of topics.
The GoodCourse platform gives organisations the ability to create and deliver content that captures attention, in a world full of distractions. But hyper-engaging content that looks and feels like the social media platforms we use every day is only half of the battle. The way in which content is delivered and consumed is crucial to unlocking the ability to educate Gen-Z at scale.
To maximise the uptake of the courses co-created with Advanced HE, students will be able to enrol simply by scanning a QR code, and diving straight into the content on their mobile devices. Once they’re in, they’ll be able to swipe through information - like they do on social media - and watch accessible videos, designed to capture the attention of a new generation.
“Freedom of speech is a core value in higher education. Universities have a long track record of championing free speech, rigorous debate and academic freedom.”
“This commitment has come under greater scrutiny in recent years, as the obligations protecting and upholding freedom of speech and promoting Equality Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) – including fostering good relations between different groups on campus – can sometimes appear to compete or be in tension, when actually they complement each other.”
“It is vital to foster tolerant and inclusive debate which is respectful of different views and disagreement. Through our partnership with GoodCourse, we are excited to be using their technology to reach and engage the student audience on these topics.”
“It’s a privilege to partner with Advance HE. They’re leading the way when it comes to advancing freedom of speech and academic freedoms, and this will be instrumental in bringing research-backed and effective micro-learning training on these topics to market.”
“For students that are joining campuses in an age of increasing division, being equipped with information and tools to engage with others in a tolerant manner is key to productive intellectual debate and development.”
“In an age where there are more things competing for attention than ever before, it’s imperative we make learning and training on these important issues as accessible and engaging as possible.”