Guest Post: Digital (un)tethering #OERxDomains21 by Clare Thomson

In recent years institutions are increasingly providing wellbeing activities in the face of the creeping discourse of resilience. However, this discourse is situated in an era of meritocracy, amplified surveillance and high tuition fees, with students increasingly under pressure. Teaching staff are also facing increased precarity and casualisation whilst simultaneously pressurised to satisfy demands for excellence with ever-shrinking resources. These issues have been exacerbated by the move to fully online or hybrid delivery of teaching during the pandemic.

The result of this is exhaustion, lack of care, increased loads and in some cases increased dropout rates and career breaks by staff and students, disproportionately affecting women and minority groups (Mavin and Yusupova, 2020; Femedtech, 2020). On top of that many are experiencing, what is now commonly referred to as Zoom fatigue, significantly impacting on our wellbeing (Caines, 2020).

The Manifesto for Teaching Online (Bayne et al, 2020) challenges us to rethink teaching in digital spaces: “Contact works in multiple ways. Face-time is over-valued.”. Yet the reality of pandemic-driven online learning has surfaced deep-held beliefs, with many educators replicating online classes in digital platforms and students seeking out visual connections with their class. This workshop will afford participants the opportunity to escape into the fresh air to explore how technology and open education practice could potentially untether us from our screens.

Kate Molloy and I will be taking ‘active’ very seriously in this workshop and encourage you to get up and away from your laptop and desk. If possible get out of the house for an hour and join us on a Twalk (Middleton and Spiers, 2019), which is essentially a Twitter walk with a series of questions. We will be releasing 6 questions on Thursday 22nd April at 11.10 BST to 12.10 BST. However, for anyone who can’t make it please do continue and add to the chat over the day – all posts will be collated into a Wakelet after the end of the conference. We will be using the conference hashtags, #OER21 #OERxDomains21 along with #untether. See you all on Twitter.


Bayne, S., Evans, P., Ewins, R., Knox, J., Lamb, J., Macleod, H., O’Shea, C., Ross, J., Sheail, P., Sinclair, C., 2020. The manifesto for teaching online. The MIT Press, Cambridge, Massachusetts.

Caines, A., 2020. The Zoom Gaze. Real Life, [online] Available at:

Femedtech, 2020. Open Letter To Editors/Editorial Boards. Available at:

Mavin, S., Yusupova, M., 2020. Gendered experiences of leading and managing through COVID-19: patriarchy and precarity. Gend. Manag. Int. J. 35, 737–744.

Middleton, A., Spiers, A., 2019. 20. Learning to Twalk: An Analysis of a New Learning Environment, in: Rowell, C. (Ed.), Social Media in Higher Education. Open Book Publishers, pp. 223–236.