June 9, 2008, by Teaching at Nottingham
Working with learning technologists
Matthew Nilan: “Well, one of the things I’ve been interested in is the way in which, say, a Learning Technologist can be involved in a more – I’d almost say day-to-day way in course development.
“And I think this is – in the past, what’s tended to happen is that people have said that they have a course which they think needs to be delivered partly or entirely online, and they do nearly all of the work, and then go and see a Learning Technologist and say, ‘Well, turn this into an e-learning course’. And it doesn’t, sort of, really work very well like that, and I think I’ve been trying to work towards, and this is what happened with Paul to some extent, in that I was involved very early on in the actual development of the International PGCE course.
“So the course grew very much from that dialogue, rather than being a course which was then having to be transferred in some sort of semi-magical way into an e-learning course. We discovered technological possibilities as the course was being developed.”
Richard Pemberton: “I think, in terms of talking to the technical people, which is – I think that’s a problem sometimes – that has worked well, and has never been a problem. And maybe it’s because of the, sort of, quality of the technical people we’ve got, and maybe it’s part of this, sort of, building of confidence, that we’ve been able to discuss things with them, and, sort of, explain what we want, without either side thinking, you know these academics, they can’t explain what they’re talking about…”
Jane Evison: “We don’t know that they don’t think that.”
Richard: “Or these technical people, you know, it’s all jargon. That, I think, has worked very well.”
Interviewer: “So do you think you had some preconceptions about what that working relationship would be like?”
Richard: “Definitely. And I’ve heard, kind of, horror stories of – and this is from academic, you know, mainly from the academic side of cases where they basically couldn’t speak the same language.
“And I think, also, from the technical side, where they’re just fed up with academics, kind of, faffing around and never get to the point, and don’t give them a clear, kind of, brief of what is required for the project.
“As Jane says, that may have happened. But perhaps they’re too polite to say that. But it doesn’t seem that way. It seems that we’ve been able to meet in the middle.
“I think it’s just thinking about what we want to do with our teaching. I mean, that’s where we started, wasn’t it? We want to add something to these classes that we’re giving, and we want to give them a microteaching opportunity. How can we provide that, and how can technology help that? So it’s really based around our teaching.”
Gordon Joyes: “It’s recognising that academic culture is often about people working on their own within their own courses, and they are the professionals. They understand their courses. So what we have to do is not impose a particular technology on them.
“We have to say, ‘Let’s have you thinking about the way that you work professionally within your course and with your students, and let’s think about the sort of technologies that might support that, help you identify that’.”
Matthew: “So, one of the key words for me was ’embedding’, and I wanted to get the sense that people would – at whatever level, would just feel comfortable with investigating possibilities of technological innovation, and I’m cautious of using the word ‘innovation’, because that, in itself, is frightening. But innovations can be very low key, and simply a matter of, I mean, literally anything. Improving the way they use mailing lists in Outlook or something.”
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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