COVID, Campus, Cameras, Communication, and Connection

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Jasmine Price
Donna Lanclos, PhD
Lawrie Phipps


This article discusses insights from two separate and linked projects. A staff-facing project at a UK university in the English Midlands, took place in late Spring 2020. We heard at that time a concern from staff for students who were not in touch and were not “visible” due to their absence from digital places as well as the more obvious physical ones. Staff also discussed their sense that, from the students who were in contact, there were a lot more emails and one-on-one discussions about logistics and worries. In Spring 2021, at a university in the north of England, we conducted a student-facing project intended to discover their lived experience of the 2020-21 academic year, as well as surface insights into what the phrase “back to campus” might mean for these students. Students struggled with what their lecturers were asking in terms of visibility (especially cameras). Students were also concerned about building and maintaining connections. The desire for effective and transparent communication in a time of crisis was also expressed. We juxtapose the rhetoric about “back to campus” and assumptions embedded in policies around cameras and digital participation with the expressed desires of students for human relationships and care in a time of uncertainty and upheaval. We end with implications for institutions going forward, with the certainty that this will not be the last time, as a sector, when we have to rely primarily on digital places and platforms for the work of the University.


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How to Cite
Price, J., Lanclos, D., & Phipps, L. (2022). COVID, Campus, Cameras, Communication, and Connection. Irish Journal of Technology Enhanced Learning, 7(1), 1–18.
Original Research (Extended Report)
Author Biographies

Jasmine Price, Jisc

Jasmine Price works in Jisc's Research and Development team, she has a background in Digital Media Design and Computer Animation. Her current role involves research into staff and student behavious with regards to educational technology, app development, and the development of strategies and processes to enhance digital practice. 

Donna Lanclos, PhD, Munster Technological University

Donna Lanclos is an anthropologist who has made the people who inhabit academia her particular interest since 2009. She has conducted fieldwork in universities in the US, UK, and Ireland, and her work has informed institutional decisions around digital and physical places, policies, and services. In addition to her research around the practices and motivations of students, professors, librarians, and other academic staff, she writes and conducts workshops to develop and deepen digital practices, and to introduce and encourage ethnographic practices in institutional settings.  She was appointed as an Adjunct Senior Research Fellow at Munster Technological University in 2021. 

Lawrie Phipps, Jisc & Keele University

Lawrie Phipps is the Senior Research Lead in Jisc’s research and development directorate. His current portfolio contains work in student experience, technology enhanced learning, digital leadership and change management. Previously working for the Leadership Foundation for Higher Education, and leading their work on the Changing Learning Landscape Programme. His previous work includes social media in education, institutional efficiency, and accessibility for disabled students. Lawrie is a former Chair of the Staff and Educational Development Association, and a Fellow of the Higher Education Academy. He is also an Honorary Professor of Digital Education at the Keele Institute for Innovation and Teaching Excellence, Keele University.