Thoughts on a couple of inspirational workshops I attended at the Association for Learning Developers in Higher Education (ALDinHE) Conference today.

Today I’ve been to the Association for Learning Development in Higher Education (ALDinHE) Conference, on my home campus of Plymouth. These were my highlights…

23 Things for Digital Literacy (Dr Helen Webster: Cambridge University)

Helen introduced ’23 Things’ – a self-directed peer-led, peer-mentoring online learning programme to introduce embedding digital tools into teaching, learning and research practice. This programme has been adapted from the original ‘23 Things‘ which facilitates CPD for Librarians.

Via a central blog, Helen posts a new ‘thing (tool)’ every week. Participants then try using the ‘thing’ and post their experiences. When a tool becomes embedded into a participant’s workflow it provides qualitative feedback. The environment is suitable for different skill levels – an experienced user can explore a tool in more depth. Issues such as ownership, copyright and online identity are also discussed as tools are tried.

Obviously there were issues, mainly around participants not embracing digital thinking and behaviours. It is difficult to change your approach, particularly when you don’t have easily accessible support. It can also feel awkward to ask your peers for help, rather than your teacher. This approach provides a ‘safe’ environment in which to build confidence and develop digital skills.

Helen’s participants were PhD and Post Doc students in Humanities and the results were positive. I’m really excited by this approach as I think it could work well with different groups, adapting tools to best suit their needs. Helen has produced a guide on how to run a ’23 Things’-style programme – I’ll post a copy once I have an electronic one! She’s also running a ‘Things’ MOOC’ (medium open online course ;o)) for the ALDinHE community – I’ve volunteered to help run it so I can find out more about how it really works!

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Of jigsaws and shape-sorters: visualising common ground in integrated information literacy and learning development provision (Emma Coonan: Cambridge University Library)

Emma was inspirational, illustrating through a jigsaw how information literacy integrates with learning development through academic writing, citation, critical questioning and presenting your work. Emma has also mapped these against ANCIL, a framework for evaluating the information skills training and support your students receive. These could also integrate with Learning Technologists’ expertise in exploring and evaluating how technology can enhance these and other learning experiences. She gave everyone a blank jigsaw template to apply to their own areas – I shall use it initially to map digital tools that I feel would complement her ‘pieces’. For example, I can’t imagine not using a social bookmarking tool (Diigo being my preference) but, sadly, I suspect the majority of our students (and staff) are completely unaware of such aids. I’ll post a copy of Emma’s jigsaw when I have an electronic one, but Microsoft provide the jigsaw template as part of Office.

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There is so much potential for integration in order to best support teaching, learning and research. Why then did our University recently disband our Teaching & Learning Directorate? (Learning Development, Educational Development (and Pedagogic Research), Careers & Employability, Work-based Learning, Sustainability and Technology Enhanced Learning)? T&LD should have gained the Librarians and IT Trainers!