A welcome to my newly-formed blog, motivated by the first active participation in a MOOC – as opposed to being a lurker.
Background and Experience
I’ve been professionally involved with technology enhanced learning / elearning / distance learning / [insert your acronym here!] for nearly seven years.
After going to completing a Communications BA (with Philosophy Minor) at the University of Leeds I went into the world of web design – where I thought my passion for interacting with people, creatively making things, combined with technical skills could be realised. I had a happy few years – but decided that the commercial world of web design was more about the bottom line than a great creative and technical outlet.
An interesting job title of E-Learning Support Officer caught my eye at the University of Sheffield, School of Nursing and Midwifery and seemed like a great opportunity to mix people, thoughts and technical skills.
During my time there I got involved with lots of educational and techy things, including:
- Supporting, creating resources and restructuring online distance-learning masters courses for nurses and midwives
- Enabling and empowering staff with their own development
- Installing and customising MOODLE and creating other bespoke learning environments
- Experiencing the collaborative effects of ‘Going Google‘
- Championing new approaches (podcasting, wikis, blogs, use of video, flipped classroom)
- Connecting with other departments and contributing to the community.
- Presenting at Conferences NET09, NET11 and ALTC-2012
- Continuous self-development and undertaking a Masters in Further and Higher Education
I’m now working at The University of Leeds as a Learning Technologist / Staff Development Officer in the central service of Staff and Department Developmental Unit (SDDU) a bit of a mouthful!
Education and Technology and BIG Questions!
There are many roles which fit under the umbrella of ‘Learning Technologist‘ but my take on this role is a passion and blend of people skills, pedagogical educational understanding combined with a working knowledge of many technologies.
My favourite way of externalising this is:
When working at the meeting of education, technology and change it always boils down to fundamental questions about education: for who, why and for what purpose:
Technology can either enhance existing pedagogies and methods or be transformative.
Theory combined with practice is an essential part of a learning technologist role.
Observations and Hopes
At the moment I feel that the BIG questions seem to revolve around:
- Political changes in the education system
- Change occurring in society (e.g. technology)
- Interpreting and understanding how these affect both the process and purpose of education, UK and WorldWide.
There is no doubt that MOOCs are currently the hot topic and on the upwards trajectory of the hype cycle and in taking part in ocTEL (rather than lurking as it did with the University of Edinburgh’s E-learning and Digital Cultures MOOC #edmooc). I hope to gain some real world experience.
The University of Leeds has signed up for FutureLearn but technological innovation and hype aside the biggest hope for taking place is to meet both like-minded and different-minded people in order to share ideas, views and experience.
Within this context I think it is important to appreciate that participants will have had and be having different experiences in this MOOC. It is up to the individual to participate as they wish and people will have different levels of technical and pedagogical experience.
I’m looking forward to getting started and have complied a list of tips and tricks which I hope to use to get the most out of this experience: