Dr J Simon Rofe

Dr J Simon Rofe

Academic Head of Digital Learning & Reader in Diplomatic and International Studies CISD at SOAS University of London. Lead Academic consultant to the Diplomacy in the 21st Century course.

Location SOAS University of London


  • Always grateful for the opportunity to do some critical thinking. Thanks Neil for the recommendation.

  • thank you Anne - good to hear.

  • Thanks Wael, appreciate your point. In the interests of discussion I wonder if I might ask what we think a 'pure Teaching/Learning environment' might be? And even if it truly exists? In a class room, a student (or possibly a teacher) might gaze out of the window at a bird flying around, or look up and follow a fan as it spins while thinking of the assignment...

  • like the analogy - reminds me of The Penguins 'flying' the plane in the Madagascar movie :)

  • thanks for sharing Karen. Online learning allows us to reprise the focus on student centred learning. While the technology is a medium that can provide barriers in some regards - it also removes many others too such as social anxiety in groups.

  • a collective experience that speaks to the value of an online learning community.

  • three good ones there Carol!

  • Great to hear Hildah

  • Hi Rubina, thanks - in short we can't - but as teachers we are attuned to this problem in regular face to face classes so we can transfer those techniques. Equally, we can and should acknowledge that students can benefit from the co-production of knowledge. In other words they can learn with, and from parents and others in their household.

  • Hi Salvado - this is a challenge, but I would suggest we engage out students online in the same way we do in an in person class, watch out for feedback signs in the same way - over exuberance on the one hand and 'silences' on the other - and plenty of others. All opportunities for us as teachers to recalibrate and reach out.

  • I like the analogy Laith; it certainly speaks to the value of students taking responsibility for their learning; raising that prospect and then managing that expectation is part of the challenge.

  • Hi Rose, the dynamic of parents and children is a tricky one for sure (I share the predicament!), and in some senses beyond the remit of teachers but in other ways very important for the context in which learning takes place. From my recent experience (boys age 7 & 10) I can speak to the value of discussing 'learning outcomes' under a 'what have you achieved...

  • Tonia, thanks - no need to apologise - the course is self-paced and operates asynchronously to a great extent. Just a case of contributing when you can; and I can certainly share the experience of my week's being taken up with 'tasks and deadlines'.

  • Little more than I can add here following Tracey and Gilly but it speaks to the importance of listening to our students - whatever their age.

  • thanks Marina - stay the course :)

  • @VivienneLangton Hi Vivienne, a little anxiety can be a useful asset so don't discount it wholly, but equally no need to be terrified either - there is plenty that can go wrong in our classrooms of course - so let me offer some reassurance that good pedagogy can encounter 'technical issues' and get round them. Maybe not immediately, and maybe not in the way we...

  • Good luck both: new opportunities await.
    Relish the excitement.

  • @LiliaMolhamova @CrescencioOropeza thanks - access to the internet is clearly an accessibility challenge; we do need some access some of the time, so we can make use of the asynchronous learning opportunities. We'll certainly address those as the course unfolds.

  • @BeverleyW thank you - we are glad to hear it has been helpful to you. So much to learn - for all of us.

  • @FiorellaB There are a good deal of resources out there for students at the start of their learning and those with special needs. Hopefully we can help with this.

  • thanks Claire

  • thanks for sharing your reflections: so much to learn here. Thanks.

  • Thanks @SophieRobins, taking one's time is certainly worthwhile.

  • Thanks Rita - great to hear.

  • thanks @SofiiaTretiak great to hear you've made your classes more interactive.

  • thank you, once again

  • Hello,
    Just joining this revelatory course; thank you so much, Simon

  • Thanks everyone - great ideas.

  • thanks - like Sam's like here about having a 'day off' - these might look a little different for us all; but we all need them.

  • @GráinneCampbell thank you - I'd echo @JessicaKillaspy here and say that you can provide a good level of support with clarity of your communication & by encouraging peer support in online learning communities. OLC.

  • Rachel, might I recommend a brief summation of these 'live' sessions as recap for those who attended and may have missed something and to avoid #FOMO Fear Of Missing Out for those who couldn't reach either session.

  • Hi Jon, I think this is a really important question. A couple of thoughts: we wouldn't schedule (or be allowed to schedule) a class when we knew a cohort of students couldn't attend if we were on campus, so I consider this a useful back drop. Equally, it may not be practical to schedule a session that caters to all time zones; so this leads me to think about...

  • Building an Online Learning Community OLC - a few thoughts here in terms of the 'presence' and an Online Learning Community. I think @ClaireBeecrofts remarks about being present are apt for many and especially at the outset of the learning experience. There is further consideration that is worth bearing in mind here as there is a body of research that has...

  • I'd add - or at least develop - Two-way feedback to include feed forward - i.e. to provide the opportunity for learners to demonstrate their learning in future assignments/exercises.

  • @RuthWebster Take care - hope we can help.

  • Hi Jenny, good to hear this one has resolved itself.
    Give yourself a break too, by recognising that we can't control all of these dimensions. Thanks, Simon

  • thanks Aimee - love a jigsaw :)

  • nicely said @SiobhanPhelan

  • Thanks Sandy :)

  • Thanks Nieves

  • As one of the mentors for our course, I don't mind saying that I've been more than a little overwhelmed by the depth and quality of everyone's engagement in the past week. It is humbling to hear from everyone when there is so much else to be preoccupied with. I know I've learnt a good deal and I look forward to continuing to do so next week, Thanks to all,...

  • Nice one Adriana :)

  • Zoe, thanks for sharing here: feeling a little overwhelmed is par for the course. As one of the mentors, I don't mind saying that we've been more than a little overwhelmed by the depth and quality of everyone's engagement. It is humbling. Thanks to all, Simon

  • @EileenKennedy thanks :)

  • Like it Philip! Thanks, Simon

  • well done Gabriela - thanks for being 'brave' here - we can all give a little of ourselves as we've all got lots to learn, thanks again Simon

  • thanks Colum.

  • Just to echo @MattStanfield-Jenner here - this is an evolving process and we'd love to hear of ways to enhance and maintain engagement.
    FWIW, I look to try think about what would incentivise learners; it may seem obvious to reward students in assessments but what do they have to do to get to that point.

  • @TonyGrinney thanks - I appreciate the point you raise. There is something to the 'process' for those new to it but we are all at different stages and it's a case of taking what you need and can adapt from the process and go from there.

  • Hi Trevor, great to see this. Makes for an interesting read: thanks for sharing. Wonder if you've thought of doing an audio/video overview/summation? Just as a handhold. Nonetheless, good work. thanks, Simon

  • Hi Angela, recognise this one sometimes in myself :) but you can finish this for starters, and know you that your learners are in the same position. thanks Simon

  • Hi Nadia,
    appreciate the imperative here. My only thought is don't be too focused on the platform - singular - be prepared to use a mixed approach and see what works best in conjunction with your students - nee fellow learners.

  • Hi Astrid, I think you raise a very good point here: our sense of awareness of our student's abilities and status. I have been pondering myself what kind of measures - I'm loath to use the word 'test' - could we envisage using to quickly reassess them; and implicit to that how we can work with them.

  • Some really useful points made here: the centrality of the student experience and student wellbeing to the fore.
    Understanding that we are all learners has been a very important part of the process for me.
    In other words, the binary of teacher/student doesn't necessarily hold up.

  • @MartinSenior thanks Martin: the point about being kind to yourself is a very good one. Expertise means something slightly different I tend to think; a little more transient.

  • thanks Suzanne

  • thanks Ben, like the idea of training the trainers - some more of those transferrable skills. The 'add-on' features of various platforms are certainly worth exploring.

    + I know Zoom has been useful for me: not least in keeping in touch with family
    Wonder what else we can usefully repurpose?

  • Hi Stuart, thanks here. Whole-heartedly agree that a sense of community matters; we should acknowledge how we can shape that too. Managing expectations is important here.
    Also interested to see how you get along with the mixed economy of platforms: evidence suggests more resilience amongst learners than one might expect from the some disgruntled 'noise'. Good...

  • We are all learning here; some of us have spent a little more time and/or energy on it as our professions, but what I've noted already is how sound pedagogic principles apply in all sorts of learning environments and with all sorts of learners.

  • Hi Elizabeth. thanks. look forward to sharing. Stay well.

  • Love the idea of learning from and with 7&8 year olds on this.

  • Hello everyone, great to be part of such a strong line-up - but it can be stronger with contributions from everyone.

    Agree with Rebecca's comments about 'filtering' - don't get lost amid the noise. Create your own blend/mix

  • Love the philosophy of this: we are all learning; ask questions; listen to each other.

  • This is a 'BIG' Question: to me the essential challenge is to manage expectations of colleagues, and students: online teaching is what you make of it.

  • Hi Yelena, thanks for your comments. Might I enquire why you thought you would get this in week one? Our thinking was, in part at least, we don't always have to start with the history, but very happy to have your thoughts. Thanks

  • Thanks for your thoughts Patrick - particularly on the importance of communication.

  • Thanks for the insight!

  • Good point Carlos / Emily - there is a balance to arrive at here.

  • Some worthwhile points here that illustrate how understanding 'diplomacy' touches upon many other debates in global affairs.

  • thanks - a word or two of clarification - representation can come in many forms and reflects many identities which we all carry. Equally communication can be practiced in many different ways, and the complexity comes about because distinct identities we represent can be communicated in different ways at different times.
    What do others think on this?

  • Thanks - some interesting points here about how to effectively practice diplomacy - and who is best placed to do it. Your thoughts here represent some of the oldest discussions in diplomacy.

  • Emily, Carlos, Chris - and everyone else - there is a lot to this discussion. What is the value of the title 'Ambassador'? There is a tension here as we recognise the title is not understood to be precisely the same amongst all nations who appoint ambassadors, before we get to non-state bodies, and yet there is also recognition of reciprocity in appointing and...

  • Hi Tim, Look forward to your contribution! best of luck

  • Hi Su, thanks for joining, along with Gabriel, Mary, Oleh and Christina, its good to see the variety of engagement from different public and foreign services. Do bring your experiences in your own practice to bear too. Thanks Simon

  • Hello everyone, what a pleasure it is to see so many of your having joined our little course on Day 1 to learn a little more about Global Diplomacy in the 21st Century. We very much look forward to your engagement with the course; and especially to learning what you think about diplomatic practice. When the troika of Communication, Representation and...

  • thanks Raquel, I would agree with your points here.
    With perhaps the addition of another term worthy of discussion - mindfulness.

  • The ELI infographic is great :)

  • I'm just reflecting here on how we distinguish between the different options available here in terms of the appropriate technology, and the level at which to apply it.

  • Dr J Simon Rofe made a comment

    Really useful start. Thank you

  • a minor nod to the importance of individual language, vernacular and choice of words. Those that academics use to explain things to other academics may not be the accessible for students.

  • thank you - the glossary idea is important here because it provides access to the subject. The vocabulary, vernacular and language all have values and we need to recognise that as we address the issues at hand.

  • Everybody has the right to education: regardless of their circumstances. It may sound trite but it's my opinion: there it is.

  • Dr J Simon Rofe made a comment

    Reflecting on one's approach to research is always interesting and worthwhile. I've found the opportunity most refreshing. Very many thanks to the course instructors.

  • I know the product will be better if I write as I go, so why do I leave it until the end!

  • Dr J Simon Rofe made a comment

    A very useful week in applying what we've been exposed to, to our own projects.

  • We've found ourselves in the same place. It was good to get to grips with this.

  • many thanks to Michael for his review. It was useful to consider the temporal dimension, and also the place of the literature. The submission probably reflects my previous work on the subject; regardless always good to think about it.

  • A very useful resource.

  • An abstract can act as a very useful reminder of what you are looking to achieve.

  • A valuable comment Maria - thank you

  • Subject: History
    Theme: Post-war Planning
    Context: WW2
    Topic: The Bretton Woods Conference and the US State Department.
    Research questions: to what extent were the experiences of the interwar years relevant to those re constructing the world in the aftermath of the Second World War?
    Draft hypothesis: The shape of the post-war economic world was set in...

  • great stuff.

  • ALWAYS, ALWAYS reference.

  • Dr J Simon Rofe made a comment

    being cognisant of referencing is a great way to learn. And ALWAYS reference?

  • I'm hoping to have the opportunity to think about Research in a different way; and to be challenged in some of the approaches I hold already.

  • Hi I'm Simon, from London or thereabouts. Been looking forward to this course. Its my first venture with futurelearn, though I have some experience of MOOCs elsewhere. Good luck everyone.