Core Area 1: Operational Issues

a) An understanding of the constraints and benefits of different technologies

You should show how you have used (or supported others to use) technology appropriately, given the constraints and benefits it provides within your context. This might include how you selected particular technologies to meet the specific needs of users (students or staff).

Evidence in support of such statements might include a brief commentary on the choices behind the development and use of learning technology that influence its fitness for purpose. (This might discuss issues as affordances of the technology, viability, sustainability, scalability, interoperability and value for money.) You may already have something like this in the form of a design outline, proposal, conference presentation or similar. You should include such existing documentation wherever it seems relevant. Alternatively, you might want to take this opportunity to find out more about a technology you have deployed and produce a report on its viability.

Throughout my career as a Learning Technologist I have spent a lot of time supporting individual colleagues make the appropriate use of learning technologies. However, for the last 7-years, as a manager, my focus has changed. Part of my role as Head of TEL at the University of West London (UWL) was to ensure that the University had appropriate technologies in place to support and enable a variety of teaching approaches.

My example for this core area relates to the use (or not!) of e-portfolios at UWL and project that I led which resulted in the implementation of a more appropriate e-portfolio solution for our institutional needs.

In 2016 I carried out an review of UWL’s use of e-portfolios and in particular our institutional e-portfolio platform, PebblePad. The review was initiated for a combination of reasons:

  • A low and declining level of use of PebblePad.
  • Poor value-for-money from our campus-wide licence.
  • PebblePad’s advanced functionality wasn’t being utilised.
  • Subject areas that needed to use e-portfolios in their teaching but weren’t doing so.
  • Some courses were using external platforms instead of PebblePad
  • A teaching and learning strategy that encouraged creativity, employability and the use of TEL.

I carried out a relatively light-touch review of current and potential uses. This involved a survey completed by 18-staff followed by unstructured interviews with 10 staff from across the institution. There were three key findings:

  1. Pebblepad was only being only used by around 10% students as part of their studies. Primarily it was being used by Nursing students who were compiling basic portfolios of evidence of their CPD. Although PebblePad was serving it’s purpose and allowing them to meet the course requirements, it was too advanced a tool for their needs.
  2. Many staff had stopped using PebblePad due to usability concerns.
  3. A number of courses in two of our academic schools, the London College of Music (LCM) and the London School of Fashion, Media and Design (LSFMD) wanted to make use of an e-portfolio tool but didn’t think PebblePad met their needs.

The two schools teaching creative subjects wanted students to carry out a variety of e-portfolio activities. This included showcasing their own work, reflective writing and the development of personal websites. The nature of the subject areas meant that the aesthetics of the e-portfolios is very important but also the staff were keen that the students were exposed to an authentic, best-of-breed tool that they were likely to use in their future professional careers.

There were two main outcomes of the review:

  1. We reduced our licence with PebblePad from campus-wide to a fixed number of users that met our current needs but also allowed for future growth.
  2. The TEL Team identified CampusPress as a potential e-portfolio solution that would meet the needs of both LCM & LSFMD and alongside Pebblepad we would have a platform with the potential to meet all portfolio type activities.

I produced a business case (no longer available) to use some of the savings we had made to fund a 1-year pilot of CampusPress. Funds were secured for a small scale pilot with LCM & LSFMD which the TEL Team led.

The pilot was successful. A survey of staff on the pilot established that CampusPress was meeting their needs and the TEL team’s own evaluation was that CampusPress was fit-for-purpose for wider portfolio use and could fully replace PebblePad over the next 3-years. My business case for a campus wide implementation was then successful and in 2017-18 UWL CampusPress was launched.

My colleagues and I presented our CampusPress implementation story at the 2018 PressEd Conference: Implementing @CampusPressWP at @UniWestLondon and we produced some accompanying resources including a visual timeline. At the time of the conference (March 2018) there were already 2000 sites, many of which were portfolios.

Reflection

This project reinforced my understanding of having the right tool for the right job… I learned about evidence required and carried out evaluation and business case appropriately. At other institutions it would be difficult. Growth in use, not just numbers but a wider variety of activities and extending use case beyond Pebblepad, primary reason for wider adoption was the nature of the tool and that it met the institutions needs for a real-world tool that supported creatiity.

Example Qs: What have I learnt from doing what I describe above? What went well/what could have gone better? What would I do differently another time? What was the impact on my users/students/learning?

 

b) Technical knowledge and ability in the use of learning technology

You should show that you have used a range of learning technologies. These might include web pages, Virtual Learning Environments, Computer-Aided Assessment, blogs, wikis, mobile technology, e-books,programming languages and so on.

Evidence might include copies of certificates (originals not needed) from relevant training courses, screenshots of your work, a note from academic or support staff who have worked with you or, if appropriate, confirmation that the work is your own from your line manager.

There are lots of examples i could draw on for this. I will focus on three:

  1. Presentation Tools
  2. Twitter
  3. Screen Recording Tools

1. Presentation Tools

I have used a wide variety of presentation tools over my years as a learning technologist including PowerPoint, Google Slides and Prezi and.

I have also used related tools for sharing presentations with the audience. For example I used to use Slideshare for sharing Powerpomt slides from 2008 to 2013. See my slideshare presentations. More recently the tools I tend to use for external talks – Prezi and Google Slides – allow the slides to be shared without the need for a separate tool.

I tend to favour quite simple slides to support my presentations. Examples:

  • Prezi wink it
  • Google slides – analytics policy

2. Twitter

I have been using Twitter since 2008 and I’m quite a prolific and I think adept user. As my twitter feed  shows I use it in a variety of ways and take advantage of the wide functionality it offers, including images, animated GIFs, hashtags and so on. I have run workshops on Twitter both for my peers and for students. (Links)

 

3. Screen recording

I started using screen recording tools at LSE. For example I created a screen recording with xxx to demonstrate how to make good screencasts using the LSE’s tool Echo personal recorder. See:

More recently I have been using panopto at UWL to create different types of screen recordings – see video (CBTIPS) and Screen (Turnitin?). Note that the video was recorded and added by a colleague but I was responsible for the rest

Reflection

Example Qs: What have I learnt from doing what I describe above? What went well/what could have gone better? What would I do differently another time? What was the impact on my users/students/learning?

c) Supporting the deployment of learning technologies

Statements about your involvement in supporting the deployment of learning technology might relate to providing technical and/or pedagogic support to teachers or learners, advising on (or re-designing to take account of) technical and usability issues, developing strategies or policies, managing change, providing training or other forms of professional development, securing or deploying dedicated funding and so on, all within the context of the educational use of learning technology. For evidence, you might include the overview section of a strategy document, meeting minutes, summaries of student feedback, testimonials or witness statements from other colleagues.

I have been involved in the institutional deployment of learning technologies for many years. The first significant project was a VLE review at the LSE and subsequent switch from WebCT to Moodle.

I would like to focus on a more recent example and in particular the development of a related policy to support the depolyment of the technology.

UWL purchased and implemented two pedicative analytics tools in 2016. I was involved in the project team as Blackboard was one of the key data sources. However my main role was to develop the institutional policy for learning analytics to support the deployment and help ensure Civitas was used ethically.

I set-up a working group to develop and produce a policy. I chaired the group and drafted the policy for the group to discuss and suggest amendements. I based my policy on a combination of Jisc’s code and the Open University’s xyz policy.

Following the successful implemeyation of the policuy (and Civitas0 i produced a blog post for ALT: and also presented on it at Blackboard 2017 conference in (Presentation file).

Reflection

Example Qs: What have I learnt from doing what I describe above? What went well/what could have gone better? What would I do differently another time? What was the impact on my users/students/learning?