What I write, present and teach
Case study: Going for ALT Learning Technologist of the Year in 2011
As it happens, though, I enjoy helping colleagues out of Learning Technology pickles much more than I do boasting about that, so I never got round to writing much here… However, when many colleagues in the Learning Technologists @ Leeds Network very kindly and generously encouraged me to enter the ALT 2011 Learning Technologist of the Year Award, I immediately saw the connection.
My work with Learning Technologies has always been available to everyone and I figured this application form shouldn’t be any different (who knows, it may help others; it may remind candidates of things they have been involved with, too).
At the end of the day, all I have been able to achieve is due to three things: being focused on using learning technologies to make a real difference to my colleagues and their students; having a marked disregard for personal time, week-ends, holidays and the like; and being so very fortunate to work with superb like-minded colleagues from the University of Leeds, as well as the Articulate E-Learning Heroes.
So here are the main sections of my application form. If I have been working with you, I would appreciate your comments which would really show the judges what impact (if any) my work has really had.
5. Your summary as to why you or your team should win the award (200 words maximum). Write this once you have completed sections 6A to 6D.
As an Academic Staff Development Officer, I have been central to the building of a real community of Learning Technologists and academics at the University of Leeds. I have also been seeking to bring academic and professional e-learning experts together, and have therefore initiated the yearly European Articulate Conferences attended by 150+ individuals. Thirdly, I have been researching and supporting numerous learning technologies for my colleagues. Finally, I have been building online resources for large-scale UK and European projects.
Over the past two years, thanks to the increasingly cohesive Learning Technologists Network, several of these projects – e.g. lecture capture and online collaboration with Adobe Acrobat Connect Pro; e-voting; interactive e-learning content creation with Articulate Studio – have become very influential, attracting local and international interest and leading to dissemination activities at ALT-C, JISC, HEA, and local conferences.
Through my online and face-to-face work I seek to integrate the Leeds Learning Technologists into global communities like ALT and #edtech, for the ultimate benefit of my colleagues, their peers, and the students and researchers they work with. The numerous expressions of support on my blog show my impact within and outside of my University.
6. Your evidence. Please summarise your evidence against each of the 4 areas listed below (400 words maximum per area, including any URLs – a URL will count as one word, and must be preceded by http://).
6A. A clear description of the actions and roles taken to develop and support the achievement. Individual entrants should indicate any substantial involvement of others in the achievement. Team entrants should indicate who actually did what.
- In charge of the University of Leeds Learning Technologists Network: http://www.sddu.leeds.ac.uk/sddu-lt-learning-technologists-leeds-network.html
- I organise regular networking sessions
- I recently started a series of online Masterclasses led by members of the community, recorded & made available through the institutional VLE
- I encourage the integration of local discussions into the global community via the #uoltech Twitter hashtag
- Involved in the global Learning Technologists community by being a voluntary member of the CMALT Development Group http://www.alt.ac.uk/get-involved/certified-membership/cmalt-development-group
- Main organiser and leader of the European Articulate Conference (3rd edition on the 17th of May, 2011). 150+ academic and professional; in-house and freelance; beginner, intermediate & advanced e-learning professionals have attended so far. Live and on-line sessions available every year, together with numerous examples shared: http://www.leeds.ac.uk/articulate/conference2011/index.html
- In charge of University of Leeds support websites for:
- the Articulate pilot project: http://www.leeds.ac.uk/articulate
- e-voting: http://www.sddu.leeds.ac.uk/online_resources/evoting/
- In charge of the University of Leeds Adobe Acrobat Connect Pro lecture capture and online communication project– documentation available in the relevant section on http://www.sddu.leeds.ac.uk/sddu-lt-tools.html
- Recently appointed in charge of supporting the University of Leeds Box of Broadcasts project
- I train University of Leeds staff to use:
- Learning and Teaching Technologies in their practice as part of the University of Leeds Teaching Award – Level 1 (ULTA-1) programme
- Articulate Studio 09 at beginner level
- Articulate Studio 09 at advanced level
- Questionmark Perception
- E-voting technology
- I work with individuals and faculties on University of Leeds Teaching Fellowship (UTF) projects ensuring that learning technologies are integrated effectively
- Co-organiser and presenter at yearly University of Leeds Hands on the Future event: http://www.sddu.leeds.ac.uk/sddu-hands-on-the-future.html
- I disseminate research:
- I lead funded bids – the latest by the JISC-funded Leeds Building Capacity Project
- I build online interactive multimedia resources for the HEFCE-funded National Network for Interpreting project http://www.nationalnetworkforinterpreting.ac.uk/ (shortlisted in two competitions at ALT-C 2010), and the EU-funded ORCIT project http://www.orcit.eu/
6B. Clear, credible, statement of individual or team approach to the technological, and/or methodological, and/or managerial, and/or teaching and learning choices made by the applicant (individual or team), during the period covered by the application.
First and foremost, I strongly believe in the outstanding value of the Learning Technologists @ Leeds Network and my commitment to keeping the community active and sharing is a direct consequence of this belief.
By fostering a sense of community among the University of Leeds Learning Technologists, I seek to strengthen their positions both individually and as a group. The members can learn a lot from each other and can therefore perform their roles significantly better when benefitting from the entire group’s knowledge and experience.
My recent involvement with the CMALT Development Group is motivated by my wish to join my colleague and senior CDG member Kirsten Thompson in encouraging all the members of the University of Leeds Learning Technologists community to seek CMALT accreditation and share their expertise with the global CMALT community.
I am convinced of the value of reflective teaching practice, collaborative research and engagement with the worldwide community. This is why I have managed the Adobe Acrobat Connect Pro project so that it would include a wide range of users and uses. Just like in the case of the other projects I manage, I have implemented a robust support mechanism, consisting of face-to-face group and individual training and informal sessions, as well as comprehensive online documentation.
In choosing or recommending learning technology solutions both to individual lecturers and to bigger groups or even Faculties, I conduct a rapid and effective consultation process in order to identify the exact needs of the client. Following this stage, I present a number of alternatives and I then narrow the list further based on feedback from the client. Moreover, since the revival of the Learning Technologists @ Leeds Network, I bring the local support structures available to the client into the loop, as well.
This approach explains the growing in popularity of technologies such as e-voting, Adobe Acrobat Connect Pro, and Articulate Studio, with positive influences on the quality of the University of Leeds student experience and standard of learning and teaching. When it comes to taking a solution to the University level, I maintain an effective working relationship with all the teams and services involved in integrating and rolling out that particular solution.
6C. Major and beneficial impact on practices within the entrant’s or team’s organisation, or community, or sphere of influence.
Learning Technologists@Leeds Network:
Providing a support structure for the community, and building a culture of sharing is a challenge in such a large institution. However, through the numerous activities and initiatives listed at 6.A, significant progress is being made.
One measure of impact is the fact that all four proposals for 30-minute demonstrations written and submitted on behalf of a group of colleagues from all faculties have been accepted subject to amendments at ALT-C 2011.
Another measure of impact is the series of monthly technology Masterclasses which has very recently taken off – 2 sessions so far, over 25 individuals involved.
Articulate Studio project:
Following the support offered on a one-to-one basis, through beginner and advanced courses, the University of Leeds Articulate website, bespoke sessions, and the yearly European Articulate Conference, the number of interactive, multimedia online resources created with Articulate Studio and available to all faculties and central services through the institutional VLE has increased as follows:
- 2009:200 resources
- 2010:1,600 resources
- 2011:2,380 resources
Adobe Acrobat Connect Pro project:
Although it started as a lecture capture project with an initial target of nine users (one from each Faculty), within 9 months the pilot has attracted 45 users in 39 online classrooms.
In a recent survey, users indicated over 1,400 students and fellow researchers reached in approximately 250 online sessions.
Moreover, I have supported colleagues in using the application for much more than just lecture capture:
- record and annotate lectures to produce additional revision materials for students;
- record sessions in order to review them and improve one’s teaching practice
- engage students in face-to-face lectures by allowing them to submit questions anonymously using their mobile devices
- invite overseas speakers to talk to students and peers and answer questions live online
- invite overseas experts to share knowledge and experience with conference participants
- collaborate with colleagues from other institutions on research projects, presentations, etc.
- conduct ad-hoc online meetings and discussions between students and external markers
- run Masterclasses for the Learning Technologists@Leeds Network
- conduct live online open days for overseas prospective students, enabling them to talk to lecturers and researchers
- after working with individual faculties and the central ISS, a solution is available by default on all lecture theatre computers, as well as to individual staff on request, making the integration of this technology into teaching simply plug and play
- the support offered face-to-face and online has led to individual faculty champions effecting change, and consequently more than 3,000 e-voting handsets being currently used on campus.
6D. Outstanding overall contribution in managing, researching, supporting or enabling learning with the use of learning technology.
Managing learning technology
- I have been managing the Adobe Acrobat Connect Pro lecture capture and online communication project and then have scaled it up to have a much bigger impact both in terms of the number of students reached, but also in terms of the activities facilitated: learning and teaching, research, widening participation, internationalisation, marketing, etc. After several years without a viable online conferencing solution, the University now has a tested option thanks to my initiative to conduct an independent survey of options and consequently bring this application onto the campus, as well as to my commitment to supporting staff in using it in novel ways.
- I have been managing the Articulate Studio project to increase the exposure of the University of Leeds students, as well as the wider community, to interactive online resources created by University of Leeds staff in all faculties and services.
- through the yearly organisation of the European Articulate Conference, e-learning professionals from academia and the industry have had an opportunity to meet, share, and discuss novel ways of using Articulate Studio creatively to deliver more effective online training
- e-voting technology is now a lot more widely used at the University of Leeds and the commitment of several teams and faculties to purchase and integrate the technology into their activities has been influenced to some extent by my involvement, too
- I research and test novel ways of using learning technologies, and then I share them with the community via
- my blog: http://suchadrag.wordpress.com
- several sessions at ALT-C, as well as JISC, HEA and University of Leeds conferences
- I support the initiatives I am involved in with:
- face-to-face and online communities
- a series of Masterclasses for University of Leeds staff
- websites dedicated to individual learning technologies
- a personal blog dedicate to learning technologies
- regular Twitter updates for #uoltech, #articulate, #edtech and #lrnchat
- The #edtech Daily publication: http://paper.li/suchadrag/1295002107