Wednesday, 29 March 2017

Designing digitally-enhanced curricula

In January 2017 I was invited to guest speak (invitation only) at the next 'student experience experts group meeting on the 29 March 2017' which is organised by Jisc.  It was such a nice a privilege to be invited and be a part of.  In the past I have presented bits and pieces at many Jisc's regional Summer conferences and meetings.  So I am now returning to summarise some of the main things I have done during my previous role as a learning technologist, around the theme I was given; 'Designing digitally-enhanced curricula'.

Thank you again Jisc for the invitation and the time to present some of my practices and experiences.  It was also good to see familiar faces I have met over the years.  Below is the description of the session I did and a video of my presentation that I delivered with.

"Daniel Scott was awarded Learning Technologist of the Year 2016, by the Association for Learning Technology (ALT) and in this session he will share his practices as a learning technologist.

Daniel will describe the methods and approaches of how he encouraged, trained and supported teaching staff to use digital technology in their practices.

He will also share how he coordinated and trained digital learning design apprentices to create attractive and interactive e-learning materials for Moodle.

Daniel will draw on the key points from his masters research (2016); 'Putting learning into learning technology: developing a pedagogical rationale to deliver eLearning', that studied how tutors use digital technology in a FE college, whilst exploring the purpose of digital literacy, being a digital practitioner and considering a digital pedagogy to support the college’s e-learning strategy."

Friday, 10 March 2017

A postgraduate Technology Enhanced Learning student profile

Because I have an interesting educational story and career to tell, in November 2016 I was invited by the University of Huddersfield to record a postgraduate student profile.  The profile is focussed on my recent completion of the Technology Enhanced Learning MSc (now Technology Enhanced Learning and Innovation MA).  The video is to be used to encourage and inspire future students to do the same.

Because it's a great professional video and invoked the emotional journey I have undertaken.  I had to give the video a caption and what came to me was; "never give up on your educational goals towards your passion."

I am extremely grateful for the University of Huddersfield for this opportunity and had a great time filming it.  Thank you.

My dissertation and journey can be found here.  I hope you enjoy the video.

Wednesday, 8 March 2017

Conquering learning design

Setting the thinking

Not long after I started my new job in January 2017, I asked out to the ALT community about designing for higher education distance learning.  As I recently started my new job, I wanted to refresh myself on the whole development process and the ways that people and organisations approach this.  I was interested to know the processes that they undertook when planning, designing and delivering their distance learning programmes.

I then thought it's a bit like writing a song; which comes first, the lyrics or the melody?  Which one do you start with first?  Attack the melody and lace with lyrics, or write the lyrics and wrap the music around the words?  I was trying to remind myself of a process I can easily follow and get into a routine with.  As there are lots of inspiring models, cycles and processes you can follow - which always appeal to me.  However, I struggled to find which one was suitable to my simplistic mind set and which I could jump straight into without reading too much into it.  This thinking then evolved into higher-level learning design (LD).  LD has fast become an area I want to specialise in, which I introduced previously at the end of this post.  I am keen to introduce LD into my new organisation as it would be extremely useful to us, especially being a fast-paced commercial organisation.  I decided to understand what LD is first then produce a brief report of  how it impacts on my new organisation.

Investigating and making sense of learning design

I began investigating LD by sourcing good practice done by The Open University and then came across a wealth of information by them and the learning design community.  However, I thought it was best to contact someone who is currently doing lots of work in this area; Sheila MacNeill who kindly responded to my questions below (off the top of my head) and briefly analysed and interpreted her responses into my own understanding using track changes in Microsoft Word.

  • What typical project(s) and the processes you undergo?
  • What theoretical and digital approaches do you use for LD?
  • Where and how do you enter a LD cycle/process?
  • Do learners get involved?
  • Are learning analytics used?
  • Do you have focus groups with both staff and learners to collect feedback and conduct evaluation?
  • How do you implement feedback?

The main thing I want to report back to my team is:

  • How does LD relate to and impact on our post/undergraduate and subscription CPD courses?

Framing my understanding of learning design

To consolidate my understanding I collected good practice from my research and ideas from the questions I asked Sheila.  Instead of writing up a dull report, I turned the information into something meaningful and relatable to my organisation through a presentation (below), which I then delivered to curriculum and quality members in my organisation.  I can say that it was well received and the process of implementing it has begun.

Friday, 3 March 2017

A journey of an educational underdog - a masters dissertation trailer

For a bit of fun and for the biggest piece of work I have ever done - my masters dissertation; 'Putting learning into learning technology: developing a pedagogical rationale to deliver eLearning'.  I feel it deserves a visual introduction, plus I need to celebrate this empowering educational journey as much as I can!  So I've attempted to create a 1920's style trailer using content from my dissertation. I drew inspiration from The Great Gatsby and American Horror Story: Hotel.  I hope you enjoy it!

Wednesday, 1 March 2017

Found in transition

Depar(adven)ture

I have been in my new job role for about two months now.  I feel I have settled in really well and it was the best decision I made for my career.  Not only is it doing what I love, developing eLearning, but the company is about animal sustainability and healthcare which falls in line with my passion for natural history.  Taking a closer look, it's like I have come full circle from when I pursued animal care after I left school in 2002.

I felt the need to depart from my previous job, due to their being no progression opportunities within the learning technology department where I had been employed since it's conception.  After years of experience and recognition in the learning technology field, I was developing into a leadership role which I was encouraged to do alongside my duties.  I had applied for a learning technology manager position that came up in September 2016, which is something that I was aspiring and deeply committed to fulfilling.  I was also building competence towards the role as I was carrying out those managerial duties and encouraged to do them.  I even based the research of my masters dissertation on my Information Learning Technology (ILT) understandings and leadership of the role.  Unfortunately I was unsuccessful as the role was offered to a teacher in another department.  If I was successful I would have lead on the development and implementation of learning technology at the college and directed my successor and the Digital Learning Design apprentices.

But all wasn't lost, I had brought some internal awards to the organisation and I celebrated lots of external recognition and praise for my efforts during my time in that position.  I wanted to progress into Higher Education (HE) at some stage in my career.  I also had a growing interest in working in the commercial sector to apply my knowledge and skills in a new context and environment.  I'm a big believer in things happen for a reason and this is where I was meant to be heading.  Like I once read, if you are rejected then you are simply being re-directed to better opportunities.  I can continue to develop my creativity, as this is something that needs to be nurtured not stifled.  However, I am still aspiring to be some sort of digital learning leader, my time just hasn't arrived yet.  The adventure continues...

Army of you

A strong point I do want to make is for people not to fear in voicing what they believe is right for the greater good.  Nobody wants hassle in their life, but sometimes you have to challenge what is right – equal opportunities.  At Christmas I needed to remind myself and others to just do that:

I hope you all enjoyed a relaxing Christmas. Wishing you all a wonderful 2017, may it bring you lots of peace, happiness and love!  On a more serious note, don't ever stop challenging and fighting for what is right and what you believe in.  You are an army of you, don't you ever forget that... "You have all the weapons you need. Now fight!" From Sucker Punch.

Ever seen the 2011 movie Sucker Punch?  Well you should!  Depending on how you view this movie you can see it as very inspirational piece of work.  It's a great kick ass movie where the main character imagines her sombre environment as alternative world as a means to escape.

It's important to challenge things you believe are right as this can remove barriers, push boundaries and most of all discover the truth.  Don't be afraid of saying of how conditions and opinions are effecting you.  In my younger years it took me a while to find my voice and not be as timid.  But I now know that I can fight and challenge adversity.  I reckon it's because I have experienced unnecessary workplace stress and bullying in previous organisations that have lead me to being more observant of people and environments.  Equally, burnout in the workplace is real and is a serious health problem.  After experiencing this myself, I no longer support or endorse organisations that create these unhealthy work conditions.  It can eventually lead to mental health problems.  If you are experiencing this, you need to stop it and challenge it.

So whatever your position, keep it positive and know that you can challenge things that are morally and ethically unfair.  Be victorious in your battles and watch yourself be triumphant in your efforts.  But don't ever back down, stand tall, stay firm on the ground and present the truth.  People might not agree because you are going against their expectations and perceptions of you.  But isn't that the point of a challenge?  Fighting for the right for peace and happiness for all.  As long as you have a voice and make it known, this will drive you forward and you will have endless energy and determination.

A final point on a different topic; jealousy is such a wasted energy, yet it is a human emotion we are allowed to feel.  However, before you feel jealous, ask yourself how much effort you have done towards the things you want.

Adapting to a new environment

When your used to working in an environment where you feel constantly overwhelmed, it's hard to adapt to a new environment that doesn't consist of this.  This doesn't mean that I am working  slower or the organisation is not proactive, but it does mean that my time is focussed on what I need to do and the quality of it, rather than a scattergun approach of duties.

When I started working, there were days I felt confident and wanted to smash it, but then I had anxious moments where I felt I wasn't as strong as I should be.  But I shouldn't try not to be too hard on myself as I am adapting to a completely different work environment and industry.  I just wanted to get fully into things but my mind needed to adjust to the new work and social approaches of the organisation.  When I felt ready I asserted my confidence and position, it was just a matter of settling in.

Affirmation of specialist area

Recently I have been reminded that everyone in the learning technology field have a particular focus amongst their actual job role.  I feel like I have had such a wide experience of being a learning technologist which covers all of aspects of developing, designing and training.  Plus being a tutor, assessor and internal verifier.  All of which has given me an abundance of soft and hard skills.  But what about my specialist area?  You know, an area that I give particular focus to alongside my main duties.  I seem to have lost track of my specialist area along my journey.  Learning technology and eLearning are a specialism in their own right, but they have all sorts of avenues that pathways that stem from them.

This is something that is encouraged during the Certified Membership of the Association for Learning Technology (CMALT) process to help you be specific about your specialist area.  In my last CMALT re-submission I mentioned in my future plans that I had achieved some long term professional development goals, and that I am now at the start of creating some new goals.  I said I was extremely adamant in utilising my Technology Enhanced Learning MSc (or what was the point) in a HE context, may that be in a University or private company.  However, I am also interested in expanding in other areas that I have a strong passion for, such as, Work Based Learning, innovative and intelligent use of Virtual Learning Environments and developing the use of eLearning packages in both design and interactivity.

However, learning design has always been a huge interest since my Open University studying days from 2009 and my involvement of the Digital Learning Design qualifications and apprentices.  When I look back, learning design has been a theme running through my learning technology career.  I've always been fond of designing and structuring learning in different online mediums.  This has always been at the back of my mind when using learning technology and creating eLearning materials.  As I am predominately developing HE distance learning courses, I feel I am being drawn back to a former passion - which should be my specialist area.

I feel like my career in learning technology is still in the early stages of development and I've yet to bloom.  It's like an awakening of sorts and I'm present.