I am now on my way back to the North. The train has just left London and I am taking a few moments to reflect on the day. I was invited to share my work at the Embracing Technology Enhanced Learning in Higher Education event (I would have linked to the programme page but this has now disappeared…) today organised by Inside Government. I was invited thanks to being awarded Learning Technologist of the Year 2017 by the Association for Learning Technology, which is a very special award for me.
The event was a valuable opportunity to share some of the work we are doing within the Centre for Excellence in Learning and Teaching at Manchester Metropolitan University in collaboration with many colleagues from other institutions and organisations in the open through informal collaboration but also with colleagues across my own institution and their students. I found the event particularly useful to find out about practices and pedagogical and technological dilemmas in other institutions and organisations.
What I did notice is that there was a common theme that emerged during the day and this was that technology is about the people. First, I think it was articulated by Sheila MacNeill, Chair of ALT. Sheila also noted that the technology becomes the facilitator to build community. This would make a wonderful title for an article I thought… during a break Sheila co-ordinated a periscope clip to connect with the BYOD4L event that was offered and enabled some of us to share our thoughts around collaborating and building communities. Thank you Sheila.
I tried to remember if in my contribution I mentioned specific technologies… my focus was on the people and what we can achieve together enabled by technologies 😉
Going back to the start of the day now… George Evangelinos opened the day with a provocation that we just keep using digital technologies to do traditional tasks and not utilising them to engage in new and exciting ways with these that have the potential to transform the way we learn, teach, work and live. I was looking forward to finding out about different realities. Sarah Davies Head of Higher Education and Student Experience at Jisc shared some very interesting data from the Student Digital Experience Tracker survey. The findings show that students really value the convenience and flexibility digital technologies bring for them and that students are now using their own devices for learning. However, still mainly for accessing resources on the go, much less for interactivity and interaction with others. Sarah highlighted that the findings show that students seem to be using their devices very little for learning with others. Later Sarah made a further important observation which was linked to the research findings that reach the light of dissemination. What can we do to also share findings that are perhaps not success stories? Thinking about this would have provided me with opportunities to share even my work differently and note some of the challenges and failures that however are leading to new explorations. But also are there methodologies that are perhaps more open and more inclusive than others? I instantly thought of phenomenography where all data is used and the categories of description and the qualitatively different variations all emerge through the full data set. Something to think about a bit more…
Getting dizzy on this train… so will have to continue this later…
Mmm, I thought, perhaps my work around collaborative learning could help? What role can staff development play and what type of staff development would be appropriate? Research including my own, suggests that immersive experiences can be so powerful for academics. Being a student, a learner helps them see and experience the world from the other side, through the eyes of their own students.
I loved the beard story, yes beard story, told by Peter Bryant about how theLSE is now moving passionately and in mass? Away from the written essays and exams and introduce more diverse assessment practices that focus on learning through making and actually assessment through making or making as assessment? Making might be a strategy commonly used in Art and Design for example but perhaps much less in social sciences. What is the potential for all of us? What I took from Dr Kay Hack from the HEA is that we need to learn to let go of control and that imposed innovation (if there is such a thing…) won’t work (very well). Who wants to be told what to do? Enabling and empowering individuals to make choices and be flexible might be a useful way forward for people powered innovation. It was lovely to meet Dr Maren Deepwell, Chief Executive of ALT, thank you for saying “yes” to a recent suggestion to collaborate (more about this soon), also Nick (I can’t remember his surname) who I first met at another conference and does interesting research in open education (I must find his surname and check if he is a member of GO-GN!), Dr Stathis Konstantinidis from the University of Nottingham who shared an impressive array of award winning open initiatives he and his team have developed and Annabeth Robinson from the University of Salford who shared her work around virtual landscape games. I am so happy that she joined us the day after for our #creativeHE meetup and I am very much looking forward to finding out more about her exciting work.
It was also wonderful that Peter Shukie joined us as his work around community open online learning is important and relevant to my work and what the day was about. We are looking forward to your TLC webinar and a future tweetchat. Further colleagues from the University of Wolverhampton, the University of Lincoln and the University of Brighton shared their innovative work in the area of digital learning and teaching. Unfortunately, there was not enough time to speak with everybody on the day.
Thank you everybody for such a rich experience.
pps. Sheila and I were looking forward to seeing Government/political representatives at the event… we couldn’t spot anybody.
pppps. My presentation is below