If you have a shortage of learning technologists about the place, you may need to grow your own in-house.
If you can find colleagues who have a lively interest in learning and teaching and excellent digital skills, just sprinkle with them with a nutritious training programme and try to equip them with the resilience for coping with a lot of crop.
Our excellent teams in LTW have come up with a new learning technologist training toolkit.
This toolkit provides learning design and digital skills development resources and training for those new to working with learning technology, whether they have just joined the University or have moved internally from another role. It can be used as part of an on-boarding plan, or more generally for skills development.
The toolkit aims to build a foundation level of knowledge across our pool of learning technologists, covering the core learning technologies used at the University alongside learning design practices. Details of school-specific tools and practices should be added locally.
Additionally, the toolkit aims to develop and maintain the University’s network of Learning Technologists through which you can meet others in similar roles, keep up to date with the fast-changing teaching landscape, share good practice and support each other.
The toolkit offers flexibility through providing a variety of guidance and training, which you can work through on a self-study basis. In recognition of the variety of roles that exist in this area, you should use the toolkit on a pick-and-mix basis identifying with your manager which areas are most relevant to your role.
University of Edinburgh and ALT have a long standing relationship, a long standing commitment. As well as providing a venue we have also provided some top quality speakers. Sir Tim O’Shea was a keynote speaker in 2006, Jeff Haywood in 2014 and Sian Bayne in 2017 and there are more than 20 Edinburgh University colleagues presenting here this time.
We also have a long standing commitment to CMALT , some of us have had our CMALTs for a very long time, others are shiny new getting their awards at this conference . I am proud that we have so many CMALT holders working at Edinburgh, an important part of ensuring the professionalization of our learning technology staff who provide services across all the schools. Its that discipline of reflecting on the evaluation, context and policy environment in which they work which ensures they are able to work as part of a community of shared knowledge within the institution and that is a unique business advantage for us.
Delegates were impressed by our venue, the gorgeous McEwan Hall. The name, yes it is it is name of the brewing company.William McEwan paid for the building in 1897 with the profits from much pale ale, export and 80 shillings. You may be able to tell that its been recently renovated. We had 19 miles of scaffolding in here so that the conservators could clean and restore the paintings.
The central piece of art is known as “The Temple of Fame” it has the names of muses, philosophers and students. And if you look up you will see the inscription:
Wisdom is the principal thing, therefore get wisdom, and with all thy getting, get understanding. Exalt her and she shall bring thee to honour. (Proverbs 4:7).
You might see this proverb in knowledge creation organisations. It’s also around the dome of the Manchester Central Library and the Library of Congress. I think it means that while knowledge and education have their place, it is wisdom that makes people successful. Knowledge is the accumulation of information, understanding is the comprehension and interpretation of that information, but wisdom is the application. Wisdom is learning how to take the knowledge given and apply it to our lives in a workable manner, so that it benefits us, and benefits the lives of others.
I asked delgates to look up, but also to look down.
As you leave McEwan Hall and head across to other sessions in Appleton Tower, as you go out the door look down. You will see one of our newly commission pieces of public art .The work is by Susan Collis it is called ‘The Next Big Thing is… a Series of Little Things ‘. It is a meandering series of little shiny dots that might go unnoticed.
It reminds us that thinking of big ideas is tempting, its exciting to imaging a technology, a magic pill or silver bullet, that one thing we are doing wrong but can correct with a single change and consequently improve the world we work in, but we should not ignore the small things. The steady drip of work which wears down things that were set in stone and changes the shape of what we do. That’s often where success starts.
A couple weeks before the conference ALT published an interview conversation with CEO Maren Deepwell and me, and the day the conference began we wrote a piece together for Wonkhe.
What happens when things go wrong? How resilient is the relationship between edtech and educators when we are tested by strikes, snow and sedition? How do we best learn from critical incidents? Can breakdowns in trust be repaired? What will we do when it happens again?
The relationship between professional learning technologists and academic colleagues is a finely balanced one. Professional learning technologists offer technology solutions to teaching problems and encourage innovations in pedagogy and learning. Learning technologists bring technology into classroom spaces on campus and online and ask colleagues to embrace it. Learning technologists assure academic colleagues them that the technology is there to help not replace them. We ask for trust, understanding, communication. As part of the business, however, our IT services are a key in ensuring business continuity, supporting students beyond contact hours and mitigating the impact of disruption to time and place.
Early 2018 saw an unprecedented period of industrial action at many UK universities. Never before in the 25 years of ALT have so many colleagues protested for so long against their employers, and never before has there been so much technology available to those employers to mitigate the impact of that strike. Where should learning technologists loyalties lie when they are asked to provide systems such as VLEs and lecture recording services which can be used to keep the business of learning and teaching running? When support is withdrawn and communication breaks down what agency do you have?
In addition to industrial action by learning technologists and academic colleagues who are members of the Universities and Colleges Union (UCU) in March we also saw extreme weather events across the UK resulting in school and university closures which left many staff to stay at home and work remotely and many students to access their materials in distance learning mode. As the strikes and the snow dragged on the edtech polices and practise in many large institutions were tested. The UCU were vocal and vexed by the use of recorded lectures with or without expressed permission. Large collections of openly published lectures and learning materials, which had once been hailed as assets of great value came under scrutiny as strike breakers and motivations for institutional support for OER were questioned.
Session content: evaluation and reflection
This experimental and exploratory session will give ALT participants the chance to consider their own ethical positions with regard to strike action, business continuity, policy and practice in educational institutions and learn from insights and lessons learned by the learning technologist community. The session will be of particularly interest to CMALT holders who reflect on their own professional practice and colleagues who hold responsible roles as service owners, service operations managers and senior managers.
It is hoped that this session will be the start of a wider, longer conversation about disruptive events, professional roles, management negotiations, actions short of a strike, and the impact on academic buy-in for technology which disrupts learning and teaching.
Schön, D. (2008). The reflective practitioner : How professionals think in action.
Tripp, D. (1993). Critical incidents in teaching : Developing professional judgement. London: Routledge.
Lam, W. (2002). Ensuring business continuity. IT Professional, 4(3), 19-25.
Lecture Capture Emerges as Key Resource for University Business Continuity Planning; Echo360 Sponsors October 1st Business Continuity Planning Webinar for Higher Education. (2009, September 23). Internet Wire, p. Internet Wire, Sept 23, 2009.
McGuinness, M., & Marchand, R. (2014). Business continuity management in UK higher education: A case study of crisis communicationin the era of social media. Business continuity management in UK higher education: a case study of crisis communication in the era of social media. International Journal of Risk Assessment and Management, 17 (4). 291 – 310.
You may be interested to know what the LTW teams have been doing to support you in the last 6 months.
To support the development of digital skills since January 2016, the Digital Skills Programme has delivered 136 face-to-face courses, to c.1400 attendees, across all Colleges and Support Groups, using 40 tutors from across ISG.
To support capacity building for online learning 25 staff across the University have signed up for the recently launched CMALT programme for learning technologists.
To support online learning at scale we have delivered 8 pilot Learning Design workshops with 21 programmes interested in holding workshops in the future.
To support sharing and use of video MediaHopper now holds more than 5,000 video items uploaded by staff and students. Around 10% using a creative commons license (OER). 200 people have been trained to use the new media tools.
To ensure that users can understand and engage with our University we have published 51,000 published pages on Edweb.
To ensure that our students can gain work experience alongside their studies we’ve employed more than 20 student interns.
To make you more comfortable we’ve upgraded 300 open access PCs and refurbished 52 rooms and spaces.
To make the world a safer place we have launched MyLungsMyLife and Self-Help for Stroke web projects at the Scottish Parliament.
And that’s all on top of maintaining, running, patching and upgrading all the major systems and services you use for teaching and learning every day.
I am impressed that ALT have found my CMALT portfolio in their archives. I will share it as an example with colleagues engaging with our new CMALT programme.
When I wrote my initial CMALT application in 2008 I was just about to leave University of Leeds to embark on a new adventure in a new role as Head of Learning Technologies at University of Oxford. At that time there were so few CMALT persons in each university that the status of ‘University with the largest number of CMALT’ shifted from Leeds to Oxford when I moved. I stayed in that role at Oxford for 6 years, becoming Director of Academic IT as I expanded the teams, projects, scope and services.
Looking back at my portfolio submission from the time I am reminded of my commitment even then to blogging, learning design, VLEs, OER and my specialist subject: learning technology leadership.
In order to renew my CMALT portflio I am asked to reflect on how my career has developed over the past 3 years and how this relates to my work with learning technology.
I’ve been at Edinburgh for 2 years now. I know this because I’ve just attended my third elearning@ed forum. It’s been a vertiginous learning curve, and I’ve had to make some serious changes in the leadership of the Division. Grace Hopper said ‘ the most dangerous phrase in the English language is ‘We’ve always done it this way’. I think that is *especially* dangerous for anyone in an industry like learning technology which requires, demands innovation.
As a woman who arrives from somewhere else to take over the management of a department, I hear it a lot.
The investment of time and effort is paying off though, Senior Vice Principal Charlie Jeffrey described us as ‘gripped in the throws of innovation’. Which is good, I think. I’ve also just been appointed Assistant Principal for Online Learning.
Having an Assistant Principal as part of the senior management team in ISG will ensure that we can align even more closely the activities of ISG to the mission of the University. This will contribute to the success of our service excellence and digital transformation programmes as well as planning for learning and teaching technology. My new role will bring added complexity for me as I manage the challenge of keeping my teams on track with these innovations while also giving a renewed focus myself to online and distance learning. Exciting times.