The question of how to engage academics with learning technologies remains current and pressing. Engaging and supporting academics in the appropriate use of technology is the core business of e-learning teams across UK HEIs, and is one of the few areas in which institutional investment is increasing. Learning technologies have become more user-friendly but their affordances have become more far-reaching; current technologies facilitate new and disruptive models of teaching and learning that pose a significant challenge to established academics. This short presentation will summarise the approach taken by one UK HEI to use their compulsory Initial Teacher Training programme as a conduit for immersion into the world of learning technologies, with the intention of encouraging and empowering participants to consider using similar tools and techniques in their own teaching practice.
The compulsory nature of this particular programme has historically provided a valuable opportunity for its participants to capitalise on the range of prior experience that their peers bring with them. In previous years this experience fuelled many hours of face-to-face discussion, but in the last twelve months, with course ‘contact hours’ significantly reduced, these discussions have been hosted online through participants’ blogs. A series of blog-based learning activities, rendered mandatory through self and peer assessment and a low-stakes (10%) weighting, have formed the cornerstone of a technology-rich learning landscape. Participants write and discuss through their individual blogs, create group pages for their learning groups, sign up to present project proposals through Googledocs, produce short videos to accompany their project reports, use Cloud applications to upload and access resources, and assess their own and each other's performance through Google Forms.
In addition to the large quantity of data accessible through the participants’ blogs and assignments, in-depth participant feedback on these experiences has been collected through two surveys, a focus group and a series of individual interviews. Through analysing these data, a complex and uncertain picture begins to emerge of what it means to be digitally literate, and what role educational developers can play in accelerating this development across whole institutions.
The presentation concludes not only by summarising the extent to which the programme has succeeded in getting teachers excited about technology, but also briefly evaluating the success of these innovations in supporting the ‘official’ learning outcomes of the programme, and outlining how the analysis of the past twelve months’ work will be taken forward into clear and specific revisions to the curriculum, the tools and techniques that are incorporated within it, and changes to the learning activities and assessment methods. Limitations in terms of scalability and application to other domains of learning will be discussed.
This paper presents a range of benefits and challenges of video as a tool for supporting learning. These benefits and challenges are evidenced through key arguments from the literature in combination with the experiences of tutors and course participants on the Professional Development (PD) Framework at the University of the Arts London (UAL). Specific conclusions are made regarding the suitability of video for the enhancement of peer feedback and reflection.
The conference session will allow access to valuable insights that have implications for how learning technologists and technology champions can support the effective use of such technologies into practice. The staff whose experiences have contributed to this study are practicing art and design teachers enrolled on the UAL's PD Framework, and the extent of their own teaching experience ranges from two to thirty years plus. Their insights are therefore deepened by the dual perspective that comes from their experience as teachers and their relatively new identities as postgraduate students.
The design of the University's PD Framework is informed by established pedagogic principles (such as constructive alignment and reflective practice), and emerging priorities such as open practice and the development of digital literacies. The use of video has been introduced to participants with the goal of not only supporting peer feedback and personal reflection, but also to provide participants with positive experiences of using these tools as a learner. In doing so the intention of the programme team is that participants are encouraged and empowered to use these methods where appropriate in their own teaching practice.
Within the Framework, video has been used as a means of recording peer feedback sessions, and as a means of presentation for reflective assignments.
The paper evidences a number of potential benefits of the use of video as a tool for enhancing feedback and reflection, from access to additional and alternative perspectives, the assistance of focus and recall and greater flexibility of learning.
Of course, it is useful to be able to demonstrate the affordances of a particular technology but it is perhaps even more important, particularly when working with other advocates of technology, to explore the challenges and barriers to its use, and find strategies for addressing them. The conference session will focus on the sharing of practical recommendations for dealing with privacy issues, minimising participant anxiety, developing technical competence and accessing the necessary hardware. These recommendations should be applicable to a range of roles, from those who teach students to those who work with teaching staff to support teaching and learning and the development of practice.