February 19, 2024, by Laura Nicholson

Five minutes with…Liz Dinneen

We asked Liz Dinneen: What is your job role?

Learning Technology Officer in the Faculty and School Support team, workphotograph of Liz Dinneening with the Faculty of Engineering.

What 3 words describe you?

Thoughtful, inquisitive, and optimistic.

Tell us something ‘unusual’ about yourself

I have an educational background in psychology and conducted research as part of a blended learning MSc about how visual context affects language reception in Autistic Spectrum Conditions. Using annual leave, I assessed school children in a school up in Scotland straight after they’d had a snow week due to the Beast from the East back in 2018, so they were all in good spirits. To get there, I had to hop on a National Express bus in the hope that bus stations would open along the way up to Scotland, but I made it through the snow, and it was a very rewarding experience. I learned a lot about neurodevelopmental processes and compensatory mechanisms, but also how simple changes to resources can potentially make a big difference to bridging gaps in understanding language. Some of the children were very inquisitive and asked lots of questions about the research. It was great to have that level of engagement from the children and their parents, and I think it was helpful for them. It was a huge amount of work (high-risk ethical approval alone took 6 months, and I supervised a fellow student). I still don’t know how I did it alongside full-time work, but I’m glad I did. It’s useful to know what life is like as a mature blended learning student. You need to be highly motivated and fully engaged in your studies, and I needed a strong bond with my cohort to get me through. I also have one leg longer than the other.

What excites you about learning technology?

Learning technology is ever-evolving and adapting to need, so that excites me. It’s been lovely to see the university embrace digital accessibility as we are doing, and I think we are all going to learn a lot that will help us improve the student experience. There is always something to learn, and I love to learn.

Do you have any top tips for our users?

Feel free to come to us for a chat as there may be something that you haven’t considered that could help you in your teaching and module design to enhance the student experience and engagement. We’re an approachable bunch and eager to help.

What do you think will be the most important thing in learning technology at the University of Nottingham this next year?

Digital accessibility is the big one, I’d say. It’s very exciting that we’ll soon have Brickfield Toolkits to help improve the digital accessibility of Moodle pages. I saw a talk by Derby University at the Digital Accessibility Conference and they’ve had great success using Blackboard Ally, so I have high hopes that we’ll become a much more inclusive university as a result.

What have you learned recently?

AI and virtual reality seemed to be the main themes at the last Digifest. It was eye-opening to hear about how AI can be used for medical diagnosis. Apparently it was AI that discovered COVID-19 by picking up on the frequency that it was being mentioned in Wuhan. It will be interesting to see what’s to come with AI, there are certainly positives that we’ve already benefited from. I’ve just been watching a talk by the Open University about using AI assistive technology to support students.

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