CMALT Portfolio – 2. Teaching, Learning and/or Assessment

a) An understanding of teaching, learning and/or assessment processes

In my role as a learning technologist I am in the fortunate position of having had significant teaching experience in Higher Education. I was a lecturer in Music Technology from 2003 to 2013 at DMU. This position included being a module leader for which I was required to author the teaching, learning and assessment components. During this time I was also on the development team for a new undergraduate programme – BA Performing Arts http://www.dmu.ac.uk/study/courses/undergraduate-courses/performing-arts-ba-degree/performing-arts-ba.aspx

This teaching experience has been highly beneficial in relation to my work in supporting academic staff in the use of technology for teaching. It has afforded me the ability to be able to articulate the potential benefits of technology for the enhancement of teaching, learning and assessment in a vernacular that can be understood by academic staff. Rather than being able to only demonstrate the nuts and bolts of how a particular technology works and can be used – which is nevertheless a critical skill for a learning technologist – through reflecting on my own teaching experience I can confidently engage in a dialogue with academic staff about the impact of the technology in the broader context of teaching, learning and assessment. I have found this ability to be a key factor in terms of driving and catalysing increased staff engagement with ELT.

My teaching experience has also been useful in my being able to evaluate where a technological intervention might be an enhancement to teaching and learning and where it is not. This affords me the ability to be able to dissuade academic staff from utilising a particular technology if the sum result will be of no pedagogic benefit (if this is the intention). My teaching experience gives me greater confidence in being able to argue my case in this respect.

I am also able to impart knowledge concerning aspects of my teaching experience that relate to ELT to those of my CELT colleagues who have not had the same level of teaching experience as I. Drawing on my own experiences and sharing these with the teams help us to ensure that our support is targeted and in particular, takes into account the ‘at the coal face’ realities of teaching in practice.

As the eLearning coordinator for the Faculty of HLS I support academic staff across four distinct schools – Pharmacy, Nursing and Midwifery, Allied Health Sciences, and Applied Social Sciences. There are a range of teaching, learning and assessment approaches that emerge from these distinct areas. Key to working effectively in this space is my understanding of the range of teaching, learning and assessment that occurs across the provision in HLS. To keep myself up to date with this I sit on the HLS Faculty Learning and Teaching Committee (FLTC), the HLS IT User Group, and the Nursing and Midwifery eLearning Special Interest group (SIG). I attend Programme and Module team meetings where necessary. I also liaise with an appointed academic ELT Champion in each of the schools.

I also deliver specific HLS-based workshops, for which I have established an online booking system that is integrated with the Eventbrite online resource.

As part of my CELT role I deliver a range of staff development sessions that span all aspects of teaching and assessment in relation to our core teaching and learning technologies. A key component of all of our staff development sessions is the inclusion of information about how the technology effectively enhances teaching and learning. An archive of all of the staff development sessions that the CELT offers can be found at: http://rweale.our.dmu.ac.uk/celt-staff-development-sessions/. The scope of these sessions demonstrates the extent to which an understanding of teaching, learning and/or assessment processes is vital in being able to effectively deliver this staff development programme cross-institutionally. All of the CELT team are able to deliver each of these sessions.

As part of my horizon scanning and scoping strategy I identified a growing demand for the use of ePortfolios across DMU, and particularly in supporting practice-based placements for students. I initially developed a practice-based ePortfolio for Midwifery students in collaboration with the Midwifery teaching team – lead by Caroline Farrar. I adapted a Wiki solution, from the Campus Pack suite of tools that is plugged in to our institutional VLE, for use as the ePortfolio. This portfolio is now used by all Midwifery students to document their practice whilst studying to be a midwife at DMU – a progress record of achievements and reflections. It also has an important formative function in encouraging students to employ a reflective approach in their practice – which is seen as a key skill for Midwives.

One if the key learning outcomes for me in this process was an increased understanding as to how my technical understanding allowed me to effectively adapt a particular technology – in this case a wiki – to serve a different function – ePortfolio – particularly when, at that time there was no existing institutional ePortfolio solution available.

By raising awareness of this ePortfolio development through my communication network more interest developed resulting in similar ePortfolio provision being developed for Social Work, Speech and Language Therapy and Fine Art.

My ability to conceptualise my work in direct relation to the requirements of teaching and learning has been noted by academic staff. As evidenced in the following testimonial given in response to my work on developing and supporting the High Street resource.

Penny Tremayne – DMU Nursing and Midwifery

Rob Weale has been central to the development of the High Street within the School of Nursing and Midwifery. As a module leader for NURS 1020 : Promotion of Health and Wellbeing – a year 1 module for undergraduate nursing students the module team continue to develop how the High Street can be aligned to the module aim and learning outcomes as well as actual teaching and learning content. With 23hrs allocated per module for the virtual learning environment the High Street plays a pivotal role. Rob has supported the module team in developing a discussion board based around the lifespan of individuals and families in the High Street and this has facilitated an early engagement with the High Street and the concept of virtual learning and discussion boards. It has enabled the nursing students to think more laterally and acknowledge the requirements of individuals beyond their own field of practice. More specifically rather than placing a focus on conditions and illness it has prompted the focus on health and the promotion of health – a key role of all nurses.

b) An understanding of your target learners

In my day-to-day work my target learners are students, academic and professional services staff, and my CELT colleagues. The way in which I interact with these learners varies in relation to their learning needs and their situated context. Where students are concerned I tend to interact with them in a second order relationship, that is when an academic staff member wants to enhance their teaching and/or their students learning through technology and I am called in to support this. In this scenario an important part of my strategy is to work closely with the staff member in terms of understanding the teaching and learning requirements – understanding what the learning outcomes for the students should be, how these relate to any assessment that they will be undertaking, and the places and spaces in which the teaching/learning is taking place. This knowledge is key in developing an effective approach, but also one that can be implemented in an efficient manner as possible. Indeed, efficiency in the implementation of ELT on the part of the teacher is an important consideration. I have written a blog post that offers my thoughts on notions of efficiency in ELT.

Some examples of work that I have done in supporting academic staff in the implementation of ELT that has a direct impact on the student experience, have been written up as case studies on our CELT Hub:

Assessed Blogs

Role-play sessions

Such case studies are an important mechanism by which academic staff can be familiarized with technology and its teaching and learning enhancement potential. In my experience I have found that by giving academic staff examples of the use of technology, which are grounded in practice at their own institution, by their own colleagues makes them more likely to implement the approach themselves. As opposed to merely showing them how a technology works and leaving them to decide how it might be applied to their teaching. I conceptualised our CELT Hub Case Studies section for this very reason.

My support of academic staff in their implementation of ELT has been formally acknowledged. As in the following brief testimonial:

Penny Tremayne – DMU Nursing and Midwifery

Rob has been most supportive to me in developing audio based PowerPoint slides for the nursing students. This has proven invaluable for nursing students as I have utilised this for the theoretical assessment. With nursing students working 50% of their time in clinical practice they can find accessing tutorials challenging and this has proven to be an invaluable resource with feedback being consistently positive.

In 2013 the CELT decided to give some strategic focus to the use of digital multimedia for teaching and learning. To address this we created a Developing Multimedia Content section in the CELT hub which offered a series of ‘How to’s…’ concerning the use of digital multimedia. These guides offered information about how to use certain technologies for creating certain types of content.

However, after being approached by several academic staff it became clear that this resource was not as effective in supporting the development of multimedia content as it might be. In particular, concerning capturing and re-presenting teaching and learning content (for example, but not limited to – lecture capture). Given the range of possibilities for the capturing and re-presenting of content it was proving difficult for academic staff to know exactly what type of content they could capture, what technologies were available for them to capture content, and how to use the available technologies to capture and re-present content relative to their teaching and learning requirements. They wanted a more streamlined mechanism through which to identify the best approach for their requirements – rather than trying to figure out what might be best from a list of options. To address this, myself and a colleague developed a Multimedia Pathway tool wherein the user is lead through a series of choices related to capturing content. Once their choices are made, a technological solution is recommended and a link to the how to guide for using the particular technology is presented. See:

What I’ve learned from this particular experience is to be aware of technology information overload, in that one can present lots of information and help guides about a range of technologies that have teaching and learning enhancement potential, but one should also seek to create mechanisms by which this plethora of information can be effectively filtered with respect to individual teaching and learning requirements.

Given my broad technological skill set I am able to bring this to bear in supporting and at times initiating innovative projects as part of my Faculty based role. However, I realised that if any of my CELT colleagues in their faculty support role did not have a similar technological skill set as I, there could be a lack of parity in terms of the type of development support that our team offers on a Faculty by Faculty basis.

One way in which I contribute to addressing this is through our team development programme. I actively impart knowledge concerning aspects of my teaching experience and technological expertise that relate to ELT to those of my CELT colleagues who have not had the same level of teaching experience as I, nor have the same technological skill set. A recent example of this being the delivery of a series of training sessions for the CELT team around web authoring using HTML. Following these sessions several of the team are now competent in authoring basic websites, which is a key skill in our field of practice, and opens up a space in which they can explore the bespoke development of online teaching and learning content.

To further baseline the skill-set of the CELT team around the use of the Core Teaching and Learning Technologies at DMU we are experimenting with a digital literacy development plan. A key aspect of this approach is to ensure resiliency of support from across our team. To capture a baseline of our technological skill-set the CELT team developed a skills matrix. Through this document we can identify where we, as individuals might need up-skilling, and who in the team we can look to support us in developing our skills in particular areas.

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