Operational Issues 1b) Technical knowledge and ability in the use of learning technology
You should show that you have used a range of learning technologies. These might include web pages, Virtual Learning Environments, Computer-Aided Assessment, blogs, wikis, mobile technology, e-books, programming languages and so on. Evidence might include copies of certificates (originals not needed) from relevant training courses, screenshots of your work, a note from academic or support staff who have worked with you or, if appropriate, confirmation that the work is your own from your line manager.
The areas below demonstrate that I have used a range of learning technologies to support staff.
FAQs and Online Training Courses.
When migrating our FAQs from the platform Edublogs to AskUs Northampton I reviewed many of these, testing each of our tools in Blackboard Learn to ensure that our guidance was current and correct. My understanding of our key Learning Technology Tools grew from this experience.
When developing Online Training Courses Basics, Enhancements and Assessments, I researched the functionality of Blackboard Learn and Turnitin in more detail, and worked with my colleagues to produce new video guides using Kaltura, I edited these using Adobe Premiere before uploading them to the CoursePress training courses.
Publication of ‘ABL practitioner stories’ on Learning Technology Blog.
Throughout my three years in post I have worked with a number of tutors to record their reflections on using technology. These have been published as case studies on our WordPress based LearnTech blog. Mostly these take the form of video interviews recorded using the recorder provided by our hosting platform Kaltura. I edit these recordings into shorter packages using Adobe Premiere before uploading with supporting text on the blog.
A good example of an ‘ABL practitioner story’ is ‘Building confidence is key to engagement with ABL‘ which I produced with Accounting Lecturer, H Pacey.
I regularly provide staff with face to face group training on a range of Learning Technologies including Blogging (Edublogs), Video (Kaltura), Virtual Classrooms (Collaborate Ultra) and Submitting and grading electronically (Blackboard Learn / Turnitin). I have also assisted in the training of our AV screen-casting system which is installed in each teaching space (Barco) and have been working with my collegue Jim Atkinson in staff development on delivering a new training course in how to create accessible using Microsoft Word.
Since the University has adopted the pedagogical approach of Active Blended Learning (ABL), I have worked with colleagues to design sessions that encourage staff to experience technology and share their experiences.
Using Learning Technologies to improve the staff and student experience.
Using my knowledge of our tools I have designed into the staff and student experiences ways to make our Learning Technology guidance more accessible and easier to update. This includes adding Aspire readings lists to the NILE templates so that new lists for ‘Staff and Student support’ link to single editable documents. This were designed to replace items included within the module templates, as these created duplicated content items in module sites that could not be edited.
I also instigated the redesign of our VLE help area and worked with colleagues to add links to online training courses, FAQs and contacts, our tools & resources, and news, the links in these areas differ for the staff and student roles, for example the students see ‘information on how submit to assessments rather than Learning Technology News
Tool Specialist – Edublogs (WordPress).
I am the designated Learning Technologist for the tool Edublogs, which is based on the platform of WordPress and provided by CampusPress.
In this capacity, I attend online training sessions and keep our team up to date with changes to the platform. I have also successfully resolved a number of technical issues with the provider and have a good working relationship with the CampusPress support team leader and account manager. I worked with them to test the new updates to WordPress V5 on our development server and have been involved in addressing the use of Plugins which are not GDPR compliant.
Temporary Support – PebblePad
I assisted the faculty of Health by providing temporary support for PebblePad from September 2017 to May 2018, this involved working with Health staff to update and create PebblePad workbooks, facilitating training for new PebblePad users including students, mentors and staff and supporting with student requests for PebblePad support. In January 2018 I will be changing faculty support to Health, primarily supporting the use of PebblePad.
Overview of Technologies used:
- Blackboard Learn (Central VLE),
- Turnitin (Written individual assessments)
- Kaltura (Video hosting platform),
- Collaborate Ultra (Virtual Classroom)
- Edublogs/CampusPress (E-portfolio / Website / Blog),
- AskUs (FAQ platform)
- Padlet (Collaborative post-board),
- Barco (AV screen-casting),
- PebblePad (E-portfolio 17/18)
- Adobe Premiere (video editing)
- Adobe Photoshop (image editing)
Testimonial from Melanie Cole, Senior Lecturer in Practice (Midwifery)
Richard worked with me on Pebblepad midwifery workbooks to ensure that the documents were developed and ready for launch to the student midwives in the academic year 2017-18. Whilst Pebblepad in midwifery was not completely new at that time, it was in its infancy and a key agenda was to respond to feedback from students and clinicians to address areas of concern and to enhance the layout, content and features to meet the requirements of a professional programme.
Richard’s dedicated support and input throughout the whole development and implementation phase enabled me to gain a better understanding of how workbooks are created and what the strengths and limitations of the system are. What was particularly helpful was how flexible he enabled our working arrangement to be, arranging face-to-face meetings where I could work on a screen next to his and facilitating remote reviews of our progress using collaborate classroom. He supported me to participate in aspects of the development of a workbook which upskilled me in the use of Pebblepad and has since enabled me to support other Pebblepad users in the academic team and in the clinical area.
He dedicated a significant amount of time listening to the feedback from myself and other users of the workbooks and working on strategies to improve the user experience. And was always keen to understand what the specific needs of midwifery students and assessors are so that you could make constructive and logical suggestions to enhance the functions of the workbooks.
Richard was highly organised in his approach ensuring that the progress made by each of us was documented in a robust way that enabled us to effectively meet deadlines and avoid repetition. This meant that if for any reason any other members of the Learntech or midwifery team needed to pick up from where we were, they would have had a clear timeline of our progress which included tasks that had been completed and those still outstanding.
His support has equipped me with the knowledge and skills to continue to work effectively with the Pebblepad system and to share my expertise with new and existing users.
Dr Marcella Daye (Senior Lecturer in Tourism Management)
“Richard’s support has been invaluable to my gaining proficiency in the application of a wide range of relevant and effective online tools to engage students in teaching and learning. With his guidance, I’ve not only improved my understanding of the functionality of the virtual learning environment, but also deepened my appreciation of their pedagogical impacts. I have benefited from his insightful critiques, timely interventions and above all from his suggestions that have challenged me to attempt new approaches and tools to add value to the learning experience. Always patient, calm and affable, Richard has been reliable and a ‘rock’ of support particularly in the frenetic and demanding periods of student delivery and meeting deadlines for returning assessment grades. He is generous with his knowledge and time. Based on my interactions with him, I consider Richard as a genuine, professional Learning Technologist who has made an indelible contribution in facilitating my reflection on technology integration in my teaching and learning practice.”
Nicola Willis – Lecturer – Practice DevelopmentNursing
“I just want to pass on my thanks for the help Richard has given me over the past 2 weeks.
I was employed for my practice not IT skills and have previously avoided a lot of the more “technical” sides to the role.
Since we went into lockdown I initially struggled (and had several meltdowns) until a colleague advised me to contact Richard.
I have had 2 sessions with him (NILE & Collaborate) and he has been extremely helpful.
Also he never makes me feel incompetent and is extremely patient!”
Feelings – what were you thinking and feeling?
Having worked as a Learning Technologist for three years I feel I have a good grasp of the a wide range of learning technologies and have developed a high degree of technical knowledge in each.
Learning these has presented a considerable challenge, however, I have been well supported by others in my team, and by regularly covering our LearnTech helpdesk, I quickly encountered a wide variety of problems to address and subsequently learnt each to a good level.
Despite now considering myself an expert in many of our supported tools there is not a single one day when I do not learn something new.
One reason for wishing to become a Learning Technologist was to encounter difficult problems to solve and the role has not disappointed.
Evaluation – What was good and what was bad about the experience.
By supporting learning technologies I have a positive impact within the University, this is especially evident in the development of our new online training courses, and in my work with faculty staff helping them to consider how technology can enhance their teaching and learning.
I found supporting the tool of PebblePad more demanding than other tools, as a precedent had been set for individuals in our team to create Workbooks rather than act as tool trainers and this approach was unsustainable. Having spent twelve months helping staff in this area I requested to be relinquished this responsibility as I found I was spending too much time on workbook creation at the expense of my other responsibilities.
Fortunately since 2018 my colleagues who support Health staff have trained them to become more self reliant and am looking forward to joining the PebblePad team again in January 2020 when I move from supporting academics in Business to Health.
Analysis – What sense can you make of the situation
My experiences updating our FAQs and building online training courses provided me with an opportunity to research and test each tool. These experiences helped me to get speed with all of our supported technologies.
When considering how best to support our pedagogical approach of ABL, working with Learning Designers in our team and colleagues in the Institute of Learning and Teaching helped me to consider how our tools could best be used facilitate learning and I have had many interesting meetings with staff discussing Pedagogic approaches to learning.
Conclusion – What else could you have done?
In addition to regularly offering scheduled training sessions for all staff In 2018 I worked with colleagues to provide two new sessions for my faculty. I felt these were well received and would have liked to have introduced these earlier.
Action Plan – If it arose again what would I do?
I am unsure if there is much of my first three years’ experience as a Learning Technologist I would want to change. There have been some projects which have been more challenging than others, but I have learnt from all of these.
I could perhaps have spread myself less thin and been less enthusiastic to volunteer for some projects, however at this point in my career I feel I have a very good knowledge of our Learning Technologies which has benefited from taking a proactive and enthusiastic approach.
NILE Online training courses (Producer / Author)
Grant Timms (Senior Lecturer – Marketing UoN)
“I am a module leader for Foundations of Marketing (MKT 1001) this is a large level 4 module for 240 students. The new delivery method for the academic year consists of 7 x workshops with classes of approx. 35 students. These classes are delivered by 3 tutors, so consistency is important. As the module leader it is important to convey important information in a consistent and engaging way.
Because I only teach 3 of the 7 classes, I needed a method of communication that would work across all classes and all students. Richard worked with me to design and implement a series of video’s that could be uploaded to NILE and inform all students about upcoming content and also share important news about exams, grading and key milestones in the module. These video’s varied in style and enabled students to receive the same key messages. Richard also showed me how to insert quizzes and we tracked the analytics together in order to review and evaluate which ones were working and how we could improve engagement.
My confidence has improved to the extent that Richard now plays more of a supportive role rather than the lead and I hope to continue my progress and development into the next academic year.”
Hugh Davenport (Senior Lecturer in Organisational Behaviour)
“Richard has been a great help in facilitating my confidence and development with the Collaborate technology and my subsequent sessions with the students. He has been patient and thoughtful……using astute and well-timed questions and observations to aid my knowledge development AND my own reflection on my Collaborate practices. He has suggested a number of alternative approaches and ways to deliver my Collaborate sessions. These suggestions have not been over-bearing and the great thing about his style…..is that he lets those suggestions “sit with you” rather than suggest (and enforce) that they are the only way forward. He doesn’t take up the mantle that he is the expert and distance himself – he approaches our sessions with the style that we are co-workers and learning together.
We have recorded a number of sessions together (based around my experiences) to aid colleagues and their Collaborate sessions. It has been in these sessions particularly that Richard has listened and let me do the talking………to then proffer subsequent questions which generate more learning and reflection for me (and colleagues who may be listening to the recorded session)”