a) Understanding and engaging with legislation, policies and standards
Education legislation and policy can be somewhat of a moving feast. My work in ELT can be impacted by both local institutional policy and broader sector and national policies. To keep myself abreast of institutional issues I monitor ELT practice locally as part of my Faculty embedded role. I attend local curriculum focused meetings such as programme management forums and team meetings. I sit on various groups and committees that have a broader strategic remit such as the HLS FLTC, HLS IT User group, and the Nursing and Midwifery eLearning SIG. My presence on these committees allows me to disseminate pertinent information concerning institutional policy that affects ELT. In some cases my role requires identifying where new or updated institutional policy might impact ELT, articulating this potential impact, updating ELT approaches to accommodate policy change and rolling out staff development in relation to these changes. An example of this being when in 2013 DMU implemented anonymous marking of essays. The CELT identified that this would impact on our electronic marking infrastructure and procedures, and as such we recommended and implemented new technologies and processes through which to anonymise electronic submission and assessment of essays.
To keep abreast of broader national policy and legislation, and its impact, I horizon scan through my external networks, user groups and member associations such as the Association of Learning Technologists, and the East Midlands Learning Technologists network. This horizon scanning has been a key strategy informing my work going forward, in that I now ensure that staff development materials where relevant include information and guidelines about university and national policy, legislation and standards in the field of ELT, as evidenced in the following examples.
1. Accessibility and inclusivity
When developing online content for teaching and learning it is essential that the content be presented in such a way as to make it as accessible as possible to persons with disabilities and learning differences.
In some cases, persons with identified learning differences will have access to assistive technologies for engaging with online content. They may also be versed in how to set their web browser and personal device (computer, tablet, smart phone) in order to accommodate their needs. Nevertheless, there are some essential steps that should be taken when presenting teaching and learning content online to ensure that the accessibility of the content is maximised.
In my role, and particularly due to my experience in the use of digital media I work closely with academic staff in supporting their use of digital media for teaching and learning – as such I have developed specific guidelines around accessibility and inclusivity when using online digital media for teaching and learning. In terms of my own practice when developing staff support material that utilises digital media, and recommendations that I make when supporting academic staff in their development of online content for teaching and learning – I refer to the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0, which covers a wide range of recommendations for making Web content accessible.
During my development of our CELT Hub I was consolidating, centralising and updating historic staff support content. In some cases I found that the content, particularly the time-based media content did not fully comply with current accessibility and inclusivity guidelines. To this end I have updated this historical content where possible to conform to the WAGC 2.0 Level A standard.
Some examples of time-based media content on our staff support hub that I have updated to be more accessible:
Through informal discussions that I had with academic staff around issues of accessibility and inclusivity of online content, and when actively supporting some academic staff in their development of online content for teaching and learning; I discovered that there were some staff who were not fully aware of the guidelines for creating inclusive online content. To address this I authored and signposted specific guidelines for academic staff.
I also run a staff development session titled: Using Digital Media in Blackboard: A Beginners Guide
This session includes key information about accessibility and inclusivity when using digital media for teaching and learning. See the session plan
2. Consent when capturing classroom activity
Based on an increased demand for and use of lecture and presentation capture at DMU, I identified a potential issue concerning participant consent – in that many of the academic staff whom I supported in their use of lecture and presentation capture were not aware of the need to obtain consent. To address this I proposed and authored consent documentation in collaboration with the DMU Information Governance Manager, for DMU staff wishing to capture classroom content (audio and video recording of classroom activity). I also devised an icon system for our online support hub that identified specific practices that may require participant consent.
Going forward, I have actively supported staff in their implementation of this consent documentation, for example the following project:
for which I put the consent documentation in place, as follows:
Given that our online support hub releases its content through a blanket creative commons license, and that some of the content contains audio and video recordings of academic staff, such as in our case study interviews. I realised that we also needed some kind of media consent documentation (both online and hard copy versions) for when publishing content in our CELT Hub Case Studies section. View the online version of the media consent form.
I also produced an information resource for academic staff about Copyright, IP and Data Protection. See: http://celt.our.dmu.ac.uk/support-using-technology/elt-key-documentation/#legal. As with consent, I devised an icon system on our Hub which alerts teaching staff to practices that may have Copyright implications. See: http://celt.our.dmu.ac.uk/copyright-issues/. An example of the icon system can be found on the following page from the CELT Hub: http://celt.our.dmu.ac.uk/support-using-technology/develop-content/multimedia-enhancement-recording-in-a-classroom-for-students-to-replay-later/
The work that I have done with respect to the interventions evidenced above, has made me much more sensitive to issues concerning the impact of policy, legislation and standards. And more conscientious in terms of ensuring that the staff whom I support are adequately informed of policy, legislation and standards that relate to their ELT practice – I no longer assume that staff are aware of particular policies and standards. This is especially pertinent in terms of activities for which being unintentionally aware of policy, legislation or standards could ultimately have legal ramifications and/or reflect negatively on themselves as educators, or the institution at which they are employed.