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Online Peer Observation: Research and Practice

Nick Bowskill, Susan Brock & Maria Mavrommati

University of Derby, Derby, UK & Laureate University

Intended Audience

Those interested or involved in the development of online approaches to peer observation of teaching.

Workshop Description

Online peer observation is an emerging field which remains under-researched. It offers opportunities for part-time and associate lecturers to join in the life of the institution and overcome the potential for social isolation.

It can be approached by individuals in many different ways, with many different outcomes. This workshop will present a model which will equip participants to make crucial decisions about their own institutional, or individual, peer observation practices.

This workshop provides a new model of Teaching Observation with which to explore relevant issues and opportunities with fellow participants. At the same time, the facilitators will share the development of their practice, via online peer observation at University of Derby Online (Bowskill et al., 2017).

Participant Engagement

The workshop will contain a mixture of small group and whole-group discussions. Participants will evaluate their current practice and consider this alongside a new continuum model. They will locate their practice on the continuum and consider this alongside a case study of evolved practice. This mix of activities will provide a participative framework for the exploration of online peer observation as an emerging area of meaningful action and practice.

Participant Outcomes

  • Participants will have a greater awareness of challenges, opportunities and current practice with regards to online peer observation.
  • Participants will have an opportunity to learn about online peer observation as a practice at the University of Derby Online (UDOL).
  • The workshop will generate multiple perspectives (and possibilities) for online peer observation, drawn from a variety of institutions around the world.
  • Individuals will be keen to explore their own peer observation practice in new ways.

Workshop Alignment with Conference Themes

This event explores online peer observation as a form of collaborative reflective practice within the networked learning space. The workshop provides a methodology for co-inquiry into current (and potential) online practice.

Workshop Process/Activities

The workshop will begin with a short orientation to our online peer observation practice at UDOL. It will close with a review.

Participants will work in a mix of small and whole-groups to reflect together on challenges and opportunities to start to develop, or further develop, online peer observation in their institutions. A new dynamic model will be presented as a tool to reflect on current practice and provide a space within which change may be considered. The 90 mins will be structured as follows:

  • Orientation to peer observation and the UDOL approach - 10 mins
  • Discussion of participants own current experience 15 mins
  • An introduction to the new dynamic model 10 mins
  • Use of the new model 10 mins
  • Case study Maria and Nick use the model to facilitate their change 15mins
  • How participants may use the model 15mins
  • Review of online peer observation and close- 15 mins


Bowskill, N. 2009. Shared Thinking: A Social Approach to PDP. On Reflection.

Bowskill, N. 2010. Giving shareable form to collective thought using a Shared Thinking approach. In: Dirckinck-Holmfeld, L., Hodgson, V., Jones, C., De Laat, M., McConnell, D. & Ryberg, T., eds. Seventh International Conference on Networked Learning, 3rd-4th May 2010 Hvide Hus Hotel, Aalborg, Denmark.

Bowskill, N., Mavromatti, M. & Brock, S. 2017. Online Peer Observation in Distributed Course Teams. The Online Open and Flexible Higher Education Conference, 26th October 2017 Open University, Milton Keynes, UK.


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