June 9, 2008, by Teaching at Nottingham

ePioneers programme: aims and objectives

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Gordon Joyes: “If you look at the original strategy, it’s like a lot of schools were at the time, full of aspirations. There were policy statements that were to do with the school being a school which needed to engage new learning technologies within teaching and learning, but really focusing on learning and how you improve the student experience.

“It was so obvious that we were working away as individuals, typically as academics, doing our own thing on our own courses, when we could have been learning an enormous amount from each other, and working together.

“And you’d expect that with any organisation, I suppose, unless there is some sort of, top down movement to try and draw that together, that’s likely to happen.”

Matthew Nilan: “It’s, sort of, breaking down this divide between having high level technological people on one hand, and skilled pedagogists or educationists on the other, and barely meeting, other than to, sort of, tackle tricky technological problems.

“And we wanted to merge that together more, so that people felt that e-learning was part of what they did in a natural, day-to-day part of course development, so that it wasn’t felt like it was an add-on.”

Elaine Arici: “The key principles are it’s based around people using e-learning as part of their everyday process, their everyday skills, as opposed to a few people in teams doing e-learning as part of projects.

“It’s making it more normal, making it like every day, making e-learning part of the everyday processes of the school.”

Tony Fisher: “People widely take e-learning as a good thing, but unless individuals are persuaded that it’s a good thing, and I don’t mean persuaded by somebody else, unless they individually sign up to wanting to do it, then no amount of coercion, blandishment is going to make a change that really works.”

Do Coyle: “If we were really creating a community whereby people were experimenting and exploring with e-learning, then people had to feel a sense of belonging to that community, and I felt it was fundamental to ePioneers that people felt ownership of what they were doing, and they felt a sense of direction, that they own that sense of direction.

“I suppose a bottom-up approach, rather than ‘This is the latest technology and, you know, let’s get the wow factor in, and this is what we must do.'”

Tony: “Real change would be if you did something, and it changed the way you thought, changed the way you saw what was going on, but more important than those things, perhaps, was sustainable beyond any notion of a project, so that it actually made a sustainable difference.

“I think another aspect of real change would be a change in the culture, and perhaps that would be a change where, rather than seeing, in this case, e-learning as an innovation, as a step to be taken, coming to see it as a normal part of everyday work, at what everybody does, and that, therefore, everybody, from their different perspectives, is empowered to think about it, to make suggestions about it, to be involved in it.

“So it’s that rather difficult process of cultural change, but recognising quite clearly that, if you don’t carry individuals with that, and if individuals don’t have ownership of it, then that cultural change doesn’t happen.”

Mike Sharples:
“I think, just the fact that the ePioneers programme has happened, and it is happening, means that the school is becoming more confident in itself that it’s able to use and develop a wide range of technologies for teaching and learning.

“It isn’t just a consumer of technologies that the University has provided, but it’s a developer of new learning and technology solutions. So I think that brings confidence.

“The ePioneers wasn’t just about teaching and learning. It was also to support administration, and other processes within the school as well. And that’s important to say, that it wasn’t seen just as a teaching and learning programme or initiative, but very much to support all the processes of the school, including administration and research.”

In conversation with:

Elaine Arici, Do Coyle, Tony FisherGordon JoyesMatthew Nilan, Mike Sharples (School of Education).

Extracts from interviews with staff who are starting to use technology in their teaching, and those who are mentoring them. This video was originally published as part of PESL’s ePioneers collection. Produced June 2008.

Posted in Integrating technology