On 17 May I decided to submit a nomination for this award. I wanted to apply for this based on a couple of reasons. 2016 has been a huge year for me as I have just completed a long-term educational goal; my Technology Enhanced Learning MSc. But I also feel it’s the right time to share my professional journey and what I have done to support and develop the use of learning technology within my own context and organisation. I have gone from a place where I knew nothing about teaching and learning technology to where I am highly proficient on their roles and their purpose for education.
My submission is nothing ground breaking and has surely been done many times before. But what is different is that I have proactively placed my own learning and motivation at the centre of the development of others and the organisation. My experience is entirely autonomous, meaning that I have coordinated my professional learning and activities not only around my needs, but the needs of others and the organisation. I quickly identified gaps for knowledge and skills and then independently learned them, so what I learn becomes others learning. You could say that I wielded the support I gave to others and executed as a vehicle to my own understanding and practices. But as mentioned throughout this blog I also wanted to improve my own interpersonal and intellectual abilities. Everything I am learning I am giving back to the wider world by sharing the wisdom I have acquired.
Interview and supplementary information
Daniel’s submission describes the individual journey he took by extending his role as a Learning Technologist and the milestones he achieved during it. Daniel committed and dedicated himself to training and developing a new Instructional Designer and Learning Technologist workforce, through the Digital Learning Design qualification suite.
Daniel was appointed as a Learning Support Technologist at Barnsley College in February 2010. A year into his role Daniel pursued a personal quest to understand teacher education through PTLLS (2011), CTLLS (2012) and DTLLS (2014). He then progressed onto assessing (2014), lead internal verifier (2015) and Technology Enhanced Learning MSc (2016). To complement this, Daniel went above and beyond his role. From April 2013 to August 2014, Daniel designed, delivered, assessed and managed the Level 4 Certificate in Technology in Learning Delivery to staff. Which led to him being a finalist for the Digital Practitioner of the Year 2013 by NIACE.
In July 2014, Daniel’s role evolved through the creation of an in-house learning company Elephant Learning Designs. Daniel recruited a team of apprentices for the Level 3 and 4 Diplomas in Digital Learning Design programmes, that create highly engaging and interactive bespoke eLearning materials and to develop the use of learning technologies. Daniel now performs a multi-role of a line manager, tutor, assessor and lead internal verifier. Daniel is responsible for nurturing apprentices’ development, directing their projects, coordinating subject knowledge through current theories, research and using industry good practice to increase their knowledge and skills.
As the Digital Learning Design qualifications were new, little direction, resources and expertise was available. Daniel used his knowledge, skills and experience to design the Level 3 job description to the Instructional Designer and Level 4 to the Learning Technologist, which enabled career pathways into these roles. This refined Elephant Learning Design’s strategy to provide an effective service to its clients.
Daniel is highly proactive, reflective and evaluative of his experiences and professionalism through his personal and professional blog which enables him to inform his and the organisations development.
As a result, the use of eLearning materials on the Virtual Learning Environment (Moodle) has significantly improved from ‘static’ content to more interactive content. Staff training on learning technology has increased. Elephant Learning Designs has also been recognised by obtaining a number of awards. Daniel contributed to a Jisc case study on his digital assessment and feedback practices in Work Based Learning: Rethinking assessment of work-based learning.
I was in a training session at the time I received confirmation of the outcome. I had a little peek at my phone only to find an email from Maren Deepwell saying:
Congratulations - you are the Winner of the Learning Technologist of the Year Awards 2016 (individual category).
The judging panel was unanimous in its decision and in the next week we will send you their feedback together with information about next steps."
As cheesy as this may sound, I was holding back tears as I felt very emotional that I had won such a prestigious award. But also because my individual efforts and milestones over the years had been recognised on a national and international scale. Winning this award is like The Oscars of the learning technology industry. I was absolutely overwhelmed with happiness and feeling very proud. However, what was most overwhelming was that I was against strong competition from well-established individuals and other organisations and to be narrowed down to one guy from a small town was crazy wonderful. As I said at the interview stage, winning this award just rounds up an incredible 6 and a half years of being a Learning Technologist but also my incredible self-motivated journey of understanding and practicing teaching and learning technology.
This year celebrates the 10th annual Learning Technologist of the Year Award and it's such a great feeling to be a part of it. It's a privilege to be amongst the list of other highly regarded learning technologists. Winning this award also has perfect symmetry that marks ten years since I completed my Level 2 apprenticeship in business and administration. Looking back to that point to where I am now it's such an incredible feat! Especially since I had such a bad start to my education.
Before the awards, I was asked by Maren to provide a quote and anyone from my organisation for a press release. This is what me and my director said:
“I am extremely proud and overwhelmed at winning this prestigious award. It’s such a good feeling to be recognised both nationally and internationally for my individual efforts and milestones that I have achieved throughout my professional journey.
A big thank you to the panel for making the decision and thank you to the wider learning technology community that inspire me with their research and good practice.”
Karen Markham, Director of Teaching and Learning, Barnsley College:
“I am really pleased and happy that Dan has won this Award as it recognises his passion for technology and the journey he has undertaken in his own professional development.”
On 7 September I attended the awards ceremony at The University of Warwick with my partner Gary. Below is the video of me accepting my award with a brief thank you (I'm on at 13 mins 30 secs).
I had prepared a short speech for when I received my award. But I was taken over by extreme nerves which I'm sure you can tell. At least it shows my emotions aren't made of steel! Perhaps it was because there were so many renowned people in the audience such as researchers, authors and directors/executives. So I ditched the speech and said something in the moment. But here is what I originally had planned to say:
"As I always say, "it depends how much you want something that determines the effort you put in." I knew I wanted to be a learning technologist and more. But that also comes from my strong passion for improving my interpersonal and intellectual abilities from a time where that wasn't possible.
The achievements and milestones that are in my submission demonstrate my efforts. Thank you to the panel for seeing this in me. I am extremely grateful. Also a thank you to the researchers and educators that generate good practice that inspires me.
It was absolute privilege to share the night with so many other talented learning technologists and teams who have demonstrated real enthusiasm and impact in their own contexts and organisations. It was inspiring to read and hear about all of your creative projects. Well done to all the winners, runner ups and highly commended. You have earned them just as much as I have. Here are a few pictures from the awards.
After the awards I enjoyed a night of excellent company, food and drink. I had such a lovely night talking to people both personally and professionally. Some people I knew, some I had not seen for a very long time and some I had just been acquainted with.
I am touched by the amount of people who took the time to congratulate me both in person and online. Thank you! A special thank you to Maren for making me feel welcome and comfortable throughout the evening, you're such a warm and considerate person.
The whole experience is one of my most treasured memories that I'll never forget.