Tuesday 29 April 2014

'Big and little questions about TEL' #ocTEL Activity Week 0

Activity 0.1

My BIG question has to be:
"Why when there is now so much evidence that our future graduates need to develop a range of digital skills and understand how to use these alongside social media to communicate and collaborate, do we not see all courses embedding opportunities for students to learn how to confidently and effectively develop digital literacies?"

My next question is:
"Why is the supported upskilling and development of educators who are teaching our students not a priority?"

The biggest factor seems to be time. 
"How do we get to a point where staff development is something time planned in and achievements are recognised?"

Reflecting upon learning new skills

Despite my passionate interest in the use of social media and technology to enhance learning, I do not consider myself to be a 'techy'. I'll be honest, I've often struggled with new technology and will pour over instructions for ages, re-reading or re-playing a 'how to' video. Where others may listen to a few instructions or simply have a go and get it almost immediately, technology for me is often hard work! However I do get there in the end. What has helped me considerably is drawing upon the skills and expertise of others who have got there before me. Asking questions and looking for alternative ways to learn a new skill all help. We have all felt daft asking yet another question when learning something new, but unless we do progression is so much harder. Technology can be frustrating but it also brings rich rewards when used for learning. As Educators we are always learning and technology opens up new and exciting opportunities to continue this journey.  

I often draw upon these very feelings when I am working with colleagues, giving a workshop or a class with students. Those very words "It's easy to do x" are ones I try not to use. Very often it is not easy until you know how. Key things I have learnt as an educational developer introducing technology:

  1. Don't make assumptions about the level people are starting from
  2. Avoid using jargon
  3. Start with exemplars of how it (the technology) could be used
  4. Explain in bite sized chunks how to use it
  5. Encourage questions
  6. Let individuals practice what they have learnt

At this point we should encourage individuals to reflect on what they have learnt and to evaluate the impact on the learning experience of others once the new technology is introduced. This is where it starts to get messy... 
How do I know if the developmental session I gave was a success? Did it change practice? Were the outcomes positive? Could I enhance my development session? Do I need to? How was the teaching innovation received by students? Did it run smoothly? If there were issues, what where they?

Very often we don't have the opportunity to see the impact a TEL development workshop has. This is not because we are not interested but simply a lack of time and yet unless we take this opportunity how can we be sure what we are doing is effective? How can we make this process easier? How can we best share this information with others so we are not continually trying to reinvente the wheel?


By taking this course I am already starting to reflect on my own practice and that of others. It will be a very useful opportunity to re-visit my CMALT application and see how I can align the two. This is the Certified Membership of the Association of Learning Technology

I am going to take this learning opportunity to learn with others and hope to both gain new ideas and approaches but also share with others things I have found useful. The reflective process will also help me to consider areas of my practice I can improve upon. It will help me to stop and question. 


This course is using the hashtag #ocTEL and along with the very useful course reader that Martin Hawksey has set up, I will not be short of information to read! This is where the warning comes in for anyone new. Based on previous involvement with a variety of open courses similar to this one, you will not be able to read everything and that is ok! It takes a while to accept this. Instead come to enjoy the serendipity of happening upon tweets and look to join groups you take an interest in - these are beginning to form on the course site. Connect with new people on Twitter and use this forum to ask questions. Chances are someone else will have the same question. Look out for other people's questions and jump in if you can answer any. That's what makes the learning community.

....Let the learning begin (or continue)!

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