Monday, 3 April 2017

Resource > reader > reviewer - a TEL-ing chapter

Early foundations

I first started my initial teacher training by completing the 'Teaching in the Lifelong Learning Sector' qualifications PTLLS (2011), CTLLS (2012) and DTLLS (2014) - now named 'Education and Training'.  Then later successfully completing assessing vocational achievement and lead internal verifier.  I referred to Ann's books not only for assessment criteria like demonstrating employability and later in my Technology Enhanced Learning MSc work, but throughout my job role in training and teaching and picking them up to remind me of things I had forgot.  It's ok to forget as you can't retain everything, especially in this diverse role of a teacher.  That's why books are here and Continuous Professional Development to reinforce our professionalism when needed.

I first came across Ann's books as recommended resources for reading during PTLLS.  I found her books to be very easy to read and could to jump to any point where I needed.  As teaching is really heavy on pedagogical theory it is no easy feat to make it appealing and easily digestible to beginner teachers and trainers - without putting them off.  And with my simplistic mind, I needed all the help I could get!  Ann does a brilliant job in making reader friendly text through her choice of language, format and structure in her books.  There's no doubt in me saying that Ann has provided a backbone to my teacher education in my career.  Especially during my initial teacher training, where I acquired more from her text than face-to-face support as a lot of it was through self-help.  I had no 'official' mentor to support and guide me throughout my teaching, assessing and internal verifying qualifications, I became my own tutor and being proactive as I am, I knew who to ask and go to for information.  Especially when I delivered, assessed and managed my own course, L4TLD.  Plus, I knew where I was taking my education and career so I could tailor my knowledge and skills.  It all worked out in the end because look where it has taken to me.

I remember when Ann first set up a LinkedIn group for PTLLS, CTLLS and DTLLS learners and practitioners.  Ann facilitated this by sharing industry updates and good practices as well as replying back to others on their queries.  I joined the group to ask (too many) questions, build up my knowledge and to network for good practice.

When my previous learning technologist role expanded where I had the responsibility of line managing, developing and assessing the Digital Learning Design apprentices.  I used Ann's text and YouTube videos to introduce the teacher role to support the apprentices understanding.  Ann's materials were useful in getting the essential teacher role knowledge across to young adults - which is an extremely complex task to do!

I'm not sure when formal dialogue began between us both.  However, I think it was around the time when I shared my experience of 'Improving Work Based Learning' of our Digital Learning Design apprenticeship programme I was managing and the way I assessed our apprentices.  In Spring 2016, we shared a few conversations on eLearning and education - I remember being a bit star struck on one particular impromptu call; I was like 'I'm talking to the Ann Gravells!'  Following these conversations I then approached Ann for advice and guidance about writing my own book, which I had in my head for a while.  Being inspired by Ann's presentation of her books, I had the idea of writing my own book which I first described in last year's summary - also mentioned in my Learning Technologist of the Year Award 2016 and at the end of my postgraduate Technology Enhanced Learning student profile.  I sent her my proposal which she kindly supported me in before it was submitted to SAGE Publications.  The feedback I received from the editor was very positive and had excellent readership, but sadly it was rejected due to it not being a business need.  I then sent it to Critical Publishing as recommended by Ann and they suggested I reposition my proposal, which I have yet to do and re-submit.

Invitation to review

At the end of February 2017, I was overwhelmed when Ann invited me to review the 'technology' chapter for her new book 'Principles and Practices of Teaching and Training' - which is due late 2017.  I found it such a privilege that the author of someone I am influenced by was asking me to assist them in their new book.  Pinch me, is this real?!  In the past I have made a small contribution to Gilly Salmon's 'E-tivities' (2013) book on ePortfolios and last year I assisted in the development of a new level 2 digital literacy qualification.  However, I'm new to reviewing an entire chapter of a new book.  I saw that this would be a good opportunity to experience a small part of the publishing process, exercise my critical thinking and to reflect and test my own knowledge to date.

When I received the chapter from Ann, I particularly liked the practical technological elements; examples and activities of digital technology use, synchronous, asynchronous, eTutoring etc as these provide the understanding that is not always taught in teacher education.  Ann's technology chapter contained the following sub-headings which I was required to read and make comments on:

  • The role of technology in teaching, learning and assessment
  • Learning technology
  • E-learning
  • Social networking and social media
  • Digital technology
  • Online safety and security


As my background is Technology Enhanced Learning (TEL), I was able to draw on my knowledge and own experiences of using digital technology in teaching and training - plus all of the resources I have curated over the years.  It allowed me to go back to where I started and how I was introduced to the role of digital technology in this challenging subject and skill that is teaching and training.  I put myself in the positon of a beginner teacher/trainer that was being encouraged to experiment with different types of digital technology to enhance their knowledge, skills and practices.  Due to this I contributed a variety of comments; relevant TEL theory, purposes of and approaches to TEL, internal experiences, learning technology and eLearning are different, practical activities - exploring own role and around the organisation, understanding and effective use of Virtual Learning Environments, eTutoring, online presence and authenticity, encouraged Certified Membership of the Association for Learning Technology (CMALT), suggested heading changes and links to some digital technologies.  It was also good to give some fresh knowledge that came off the back of doing my recent TEL MSc which was good to share with Ann.  I also sent links to further information and practice on blog and external web links I have.

Ready, steady, go publish!

After being involved in reviewing this chapter and further encouragement from Ann, I've had a good insight and influence into writing a book.  I feel I am now ready to give focus and return to writing my own book that I mentioned previously.  Inspired by Ann's skilful way of writing I hope mine to be as instant, readable and accessible as hers.

Thank you Ann for sharing your wisdom; making the complex role that is teaching easy to understand but also allowing me to be involved in your new book.  I hope it is as much success as your previous ones!  I hope to maintain our contact for years to come.