If you’ll forgive me for celebrating yet another really impressive piece of work completed by LTW and the team of learning technologists from across Schools to establish a co-ordinated learning design service to support hybrid courses in Learn. I’ve always suspected that learning design was key to delivering learning technologies at this institution, I’m glad we have such an excellent team across LTW and the Schools, and that people are able to give time, even when everything is so busy. Thank you to Jon, Ryan, Tracey, Neil, Brendan, Meredith, Lizzie, Graeme, Alison and Lorraine.
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.
Last week, as part of our PlayFair Steps equality and diversity intiative in ISG, we invited Dr Rowena Arshad to talk to ISG staff about ‘Race Matters at Work’. The presentation was excellent and thought provoking. Attendance was low though, in comparison to an earlier talk in the same series about age. I wonder whether colleagues hear ‘age’ and think ‘that’s me‘, they hear ‘race’ and they think ‘that’s someone else‘.
Rowena’s presentation helped us to ask ourselves questions about how we see people as ‘other’, and provided valuable insights into real, recent examples at University of Edinburgh.
As well as being one of the ISG change themes through which we are looking at our organisation and changing it to be fit for the future, equality and diversity is part of a larger consideration of digital transformation going on in the university, being championed by our CIO.
Our CIO challenges us to think about the ‘internet of me’, where each of us is at the centre of a web of services tailored to what the internet knows about us and what it anticipates our wants and desires to be as a result. Examples given of Uber, Airbnb etc certainly seem to make life easier for some.
I’d suggest that we cannot think about digital transformation without considering privilege and bias. For some people, their experience of the internet is not as positive as it may seem to be for white, wealthy, north american or british men. For some it is toxic, biased and perpetuates unhelpful stereotypes. It is up to us as tech professionals to consider all our users and ensure that we create an internet for all. It is up to us not only to consider our unconscious bias but also to check and recheck that the services we build are inclusive.
The best way we can do that it to have diverse teams working on every project and provide safe working environments for colleagues to share their experiences which can inform our thinking. The risk if we don’t is that the more our services become personalised, the less we are able to empathise with the experience of others.
My trip to Sweden was enjoyable and informative, despite being very brief. What I learned though, was that the Scandinavians would rather the UK didn’t leave the EU. We also considered the challenges of figuring out how MOOCs fit in a higher education system which is already free and open to all and already offers online courses.
Once again, I continued my good work of pointing out to AV tech guys that not all keynote presenters wear pockets or a waistband, or wish to have a headset put into their hair. Universal design does not seem to include women 🙂
‘Have nothing in your library that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful’, William Morris might have said. In our library we have a copy of the Decretals of Gratian, printed in 1472, which was reputedly the favourite printed book of its owner, Morris himself.
With a movement towards open practice in higher education the topic of learning design in technology enhanced education seems to have become popular again.
“Learning design is the practice of planning, sequencing and managing learning activities, usually using ICT-based tools to support both design and delivery.”1
It acts as a means of eliciting designs from academics in a format that can be tested and reviewed by others involved in the design process, i.e. a common vocabulary and understanding of learning activities.
It provides a method by which designs can be reused, as opposed to just sharing content.
It can guide individuals through the process of creating new learning activities.
It helps create an audit trail of academic (and production) design decisions.
It can highlight policy implications for staff development, resource allocation, quality, etc.
It has the potential to aid learners and tutors in complex activities by guiding them through the activity sequence.
‘Learning design’ has suffered slightly in the UK, I think, from being used interchangeably with ‘instructional design’ which has US and ‘training’ connotations which seem to make it unattractive to academic colleagues who prefer to think that learning is serendipitous, discovery based and personalised. There is also a difference between ‘designing for learning’, ‘learning by design’ and ‘learning design’. One difference is that learning design comes with its own set of technical standards which shape tools and platforms.