Tag Archives: development

Leading the way for all? Thoughts on ALT-C 2014

Photo of Club BiscuitsSo my visit ALT-C was slightly shorter this year. Bringing the conference forward clashed with a significant milestone in our house so while enjoyable I needed to leave after two days. I felt quite positive about ALT-C in terms of the programme. The quality of the presentations was good and while, as always, there is never enough time for debate, there was a good atmosphere. There were some interesting discussions and clearly some concerns about impacts of certain policy decisions.

For me, I came away with two clear messages. We need to continue to invest in staff and ensure that they have the tools at their disposal to help with using technology in their learning and teaching. And secondly, support those who would lead, not necessarily in terms of being experts in TEL, but from module leaders through to senior management, we need to be thinking about enabling those leaders to navigate the myriad of issues that you face when looking to do something innovative or just different. Simon Kear put it quite succinctly in his discussion looking at electronic management assessment at Goldsmith’s. Whether staff like it or not, the eAssessment wall is coming and if they’re not prepared it’s going to hit them smack on. Rather robust but a fair assessment of what will be here in the next five years.

If there was a scenario where leadership and staff skills were going to needed to be at the forefront, it was Jeff Haywood’s opening keynote where he announced Edinburgh’s ambitious plans to have a core unit/module in every course fully online by 2020. Such a plan will mean a significant investment in staff and a radical overhaul of curriculum for some. On the plus side, timetabling might be a little easier and with the cap coming off student numbers in a short time, Edinburgh’s decision to go fully online may also be born out of a projected necessity. How those leaders choose to move forward with those plans interests me and Catherine Cronin gave an inspirational keynote on Tuesday about one way in which to tackle that with her engaging talk about openness and our perceptions on what it means to be open.

This particular keynote struck a chord with me, as it appeared to do with many in the lecture hall. Catherine asked some challenging questions for us as educators about how open we are with our students and how being open addresses thepower dynamics between educator and student. I’m interested in what it may mean for our leaders. The panel discussion on TEL leadership across the globe focused on the differences in leadership in different localities and the need for succession planning. There was less discussion on management style and ways leaders, at any level in an organisation, leading on TEL might be able to influence and impact on policies. Nor on enabling strategies to tackle our ongoing challenge of moving on from pockets of innovation to TEL being adopted at scale.

Finally, but certainly by no means least, this year the biennial UCISA TEL Survey report was published in time for ALT-C. My colleague, Richard Walker gave a quick overview of the report but 20 mins is no time to go over it in detail. A far more lively, and distinctly noisy discussion happened between the M25 and East Midlands Learning Technologists Groups where Julie Voce provided some comparative data. There were some clear and surprising differences between the groups not necessarily answered by looking at the demographic of the institutions represented. For example, there was a significant difference between the M25 and EMLT region when it came to ranking TEL Barriers. Interestingly, Lack of Incentives and Lack of  academic staff commitment was ranked a high barrier for the M25 region but for the East Midlands it was much less so. Why would this be the case? I don’t have the answer but when the M25 LT group noted that the East Midlands group always have cakes or biscuits at their meetings, it was suggested that that in itself might be part of the answer. I’ll leave you to come to you own conclusions on that one.

So overall, a short but targeted ALT-C this year. Warwick University is a lovely campus but it was hard to get to and perhaps the conference venue wasn’t the best. Certainly the timing for the conference was a challenge this year being a week earlier. Next year it’s back in it’s usual time slot and back in Manchester. I might be able to join for the whole shebang next year.


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Filed under Conferences, Leadership, Staff Development

Digital Practice at NTU

So this afternoon I gave a presentation on the work we’ve been doing around Digital Practice Framework to help the Digital Practice team conceptualise the staff development activities that we should be developing.
Our concept of Digital Practice draws heavily on the ideas and concepts of digital literacy.  We have outlined our principles and current services here. However, we support a broad range of staff from those who are involved in learning and teaching to our school based admin staff and those who lead and manage at NTU. So our choice of ‘practice’ versus ‘literacy’ was a deliberate one to make what we are trying to achieve accessible to a broad range of staff learners.
Our framework draws heavily of the ‘Framework for developing digitally literate learners’ presented at ALT-C, 2009 by Sharpe, Beetham and McGill. We’ve interpreted this framework very much from a practitioner’s perspective and asked ourselves what are some of the relevant staff development activities and methodologies that are appropriate to where someone is on that framework.

Digital Practice Framework

There’s a brief guide to using the framework that’s available via the Sharing Beyond NTU open repository: https://now.ntu.ac.uk/d2l/lor/viewer/view.d2l?ou=6605&loIdentId=39805

The presentation is also available via the repository: https://now.ntu.ac.uk/d2l/lor/viewer/view.d2l?ou=6605&loIdentId=39815

One of the interesting questions that came up at this afternoon’s session, was individual’s response to locating themselves on the framework. While, we’ve identified the benefit of using the framework to analyse the support for digital literacy across our Professional Services at an institutional level and with our own provision, we’ve not currently considered using it on an individual basis. So an avenue for some future exploration.

I’d be interested to hear if anyone finds the framework useful in their own work.

We’re starting up a Digital Practice Blog as part of a pilot at NTU so you can also find a replica of this post over at: http://blogs.ntu.ac.uk/digital_practice/2013/09/10/digital-practice-at-ntu/

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Filed under Digital Practice, Uncategorized

Thoughts about MOOC as an model of engagement for staff development

While participating in the #change11 MOOC, I’ve been considering the model of engagement with MOOCs as a possible for model for engaging staff with technology enhanced learning and teaching.

From an early perspective with my current engagement with the #change11 MOOC there are some key principles of engagement that might be useful.  These principles are:

  • The level of engagement is up to the participant – it’s entirely up to the individual to determine for themselves, how often and to what extent they wish to engage with the discussions that are ongoing at that time. My own level of engagement is not as extensive as others participating in #change11 but as I hope this post attests I’m still able to learn and apply what I have learned so far.
  • How participants engage is entirely up to them. There is very little that is prescribed in these terms, other that subscribing to the daily newsletter which outlines the topics up for consideration.  After that it’s up to individuals to engage as much or a little as they would like.  Blog posts, twitter posts, Facebook and Google hangouts are all out there. The onus is on the individual to find what interests them and participate in whatever way they wish. Obviously, the inference here, is the more you put in the more you can get out.
But above and beyond those two principles, that’s it.  Well that’s not entirely correct, I might summing up George, Stephen and Dave’s model a little too concisely. And a better summation of the principles of connectivism and networked learning underpinning a MOOC can be found here, for example.
But the question I wanted to ask myself was could this model be applied to assisting staff with developing their use of learning technologies in their learning and teaching and how could we foster engagement with the topics and a culture of sharing and would it work in developing a community of practice.
So how could it work?
  1. Set-up 2 meetings per term of particular subject areas of interest to the academic community
  2. Publish agreed schedule of meetings and topics
  3. Email/publicise to interested individuals schedule of meetings.
  4. Distribute ‘principles of engagement’ including agreed hashtag
  5. Collate list of blog post, twitter feeds etc.
  6. Use the newsletter as the facilitation mode for connecting participants with each other’s contributions.
There are some considerations, all familiar to those currently studying on a MOOC but I wonder whether they would be amplified more by the broader spread of digital literacy skills amongst staff at an institution.  Would it end up being, yet again, an amplified arena where the converted are all talking to each other?
I would be interested if anyone else has tried applying the concepts of a MOOC to encourage/facilitate engagement with learning technologies and will see if the idea has any interest from my current institution.


Filed under #change11, Staff Development