June 9, 2008, by Teaching at Nottingham

Taking ownership: building School e-learning capacity

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Brett Bligh: “It’s almost as though you start off with a very strict project structure, and then what you’re really doing is creating a culture whereby people are more anxious to learn in general, and you start getting approached from all sorts of directions.”

Tony Fisher: “One of the things that we wanted to do was, we wanted, always bearing in mind that we’re keen not to do this other than where appropriate, but we wanted to become more of an e-learning school.

“That is to say that we wanted to recognise that aspects of e-learning could improve our work as a school, and therefore we wanted, where appropriate, for that to come to characterise the work of the school.”

Do Coyle: “Pioneers was around ownership, so it meant that, if you were being a – if you were a pioneer, it meant – it was positive. It had an innovative ring to it. But it was also about the mistakes that come about when you’re trialling something, when it’s something new, and so on. And we felt that that was much less threatening to people who didn’t consider themselves to be experts in technology.

“What we were keen about, what we were very interested in, was looking at the effects of using the technology by experts who were familiar with the context, as opposed to external technologists who were very good at actually understanding the tools themselves.

“Well, the principles underpinning the programme, was that the ideas had to come from the small groups themselves. So if we consider that people really needed to feel, ‘This is what I would like to do. I know that there could be an improvement in this area, and I’d like to explore if there are suitable tools around that might enable me to achieve this improvement’.

“So it began, really, with a whole – with people just putting on the table what they really wanted to do, and what was exciting about that was that, again, it was drawn from the community as a whole.

“So we had someone who has not used a particular sort of technology, and never thought they would do, has now found that, not only do they enjoy using it, but actually, the potential for their particular course, has changed the conceptualisation of that course itself.

“And those are small – they’re always considered to be small scale improvements, because they’re only about individuals, but actually when you put them all together, the sum of the parts is greater than the whole.”

Gordon Joyes: “So what you’ve got are raised aspirations of staff, raised skills in relation to what they can achieve within that, and then them wanting to do more, which is somehow quite difficult to do within the, sort of, resources that actually we’ve got within the School and within the University. So it’s an interesting outcome.”

Mike Sharples: “Some technologies the University provides won’t work. Some will. We’re also developing our own solutions. And that’s what becoming e-mature and e-confident is about, and I think the school is starting to become more e-confident, more self-assured about what solutions and what possibilities are going to work in the School of Ed.”

In conversation with: Brett Bligh, Do Coyle, Tony FisherGordon Joyes, 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.

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