#ocTEL Week 1: Reflections, ideas and a plan!
I have DigiThings evaluation, my recent ‘Performance Development Review’ (PDR) and this week’s ocTEL webinar (presented by Kyriaki Anagnostopoulou, Head of eLearning at the University of Bath and James Little, a Learning Technologist from the University of Leeds) swimming round my head at the moment – and a strategy formulating!
I’m based in the Faculty of Arts & Humanities (which has also recently welcomed the Institute of Education) for 3 days a week and centrally for 2. I’ve been with Arts for about a year, having previously been 100% central, although working with different Faculties. Our institution is currently moving from SharePoint to Moodle as its VLE and has Faculty-focussed teams consisting of LTs, Digital Skills Developers and Information Specialists (Librarians) to support the transition. Moodle will be a huge improvement with more opportunities for interaction and collaboration through activities.
While I was preparing for my PDR however, it occurred to me that I don’t actually know how or with what tools academics in Arts use to teach students – quite a fundamental point! I’m very rarely asked about University-supported tools, although my LT colleague, Becks, who has always supported Arts, was inundated with SharePoint queries before she went on maternity leave (she’s been back a few months now). I know that many use Facebook as a way of communicating with students and I’ve helped set up WordPress blogs for group projects…
I found Kyriaki’s presentation about students being encouraged to use Wikipedia rather than a wiki because it gave them a more authentic experience really interesting. It also echoes my own thinking – surely it’s best to use the tools that you would after you graduate? If they disappear a real-world, digital skill is adopting another one… Her observation that students’ work was of “a higher quality because it was in a public domain” also made me wonder whether this is particularly relevant for Arts students as so much of their practice is public. The work she has done with the ‘Professionalism in the Digital Environment’ (PriDE) Project looks particularly useful in this respect.
Both James and Kiriaki had good advice for engaging staff with TEL too, some of which seem obvious such as releasing time for CPD, although it is probably both easier and more beneficial if these are targeted at individual Schools. While we provide workshops, staff have difficulty in finding the time to attend them, although they will obviously need to come to the Moodle-focussed ones. This is where I see the ‘DigiThings’ format working well although ideally combined with face-to-face sessions and led by a team of LTs, Educational and Learning Developers and others – facilitating a ‘Community of Practice‘. ;o)
James also mentioned that at Leeds they have Faculty Teams (who are in these?), Academic Champions and Blended Learning Committees consisting of LTs, Academics, IT and Learning Support. We had eLearning Champions although I don’t think they exist anymore. We try and capture activity and share good practice through our website and by publishing case-studies. There is also one School within the Faculty who have an eLearning Committee (remit being to compile a strategy to use as a basis for the rest of the Faculty) and dedicated ‘Core Days’ which are really useful.
Regarding resources – I’ve found these inspiring. Thanks to fellow ocTELers Rose Heaney (Learning Technology Adviser, UCL) and Phil Tubman (e-Learning Specialist, University of Lancaster), and @ProfSallyBrown for sharing…
- JISC InfoNet Supporting Staff Guide – includes links to Plymouth’s ‘Digital Literacies‘ and ‘Digital Tools for Busy Academics‘ Guides!
- ‘Best Practices: Thoughts on a Flash Mob Mentality‘ (Janine Debaise, Hybrid Pedagogy) – a really inspiring read: this is how I would love to teach!
- ‘Online learning, faculty development and academic freedom‘ (Tony Bates, Research Associate, Contact North) – things to consider for 21st Century learning (aren’t UK universities already addressing most of these?)
Strategy (so far)…
- Find out what teaching strategies and tools are used in the Faculty initially through asking Programme Leads. I suspect these are quite different for each School.
- Disseminate findings from the DigiThings project with the view to setting up a community of practice.
Long post (sorry!) – short strategy – big results (hopefully).
Thoughts, ideas …and confessions welcome! :o)