profile image for Sue Watling

About this blog

This is my online place for sharing thoughts and ideas around learning, teaching and research. I’m a digital education developer and my role is supporting staff to use technology and develop their own digital capabilities. I try to keep the blogging work-related but other topics sometimes slip in, like travel, fossils, my allotment and poetry.

Pat Thompson suggests Seven reasons why blogging can make you a better academic writer The point about finding your writing voice is particularly relevant. As academics we need to express ourselves and be publishable. Blogging is good practice for the craft of writing; a skill often taken for granted. How many times do you see workshops for academics to learn to write?

  • Blogging can help you to establish writing as a routine
  • Blogging allows you to experiment with your writing ‘voice’
  • Blogging helps you to get to the point
  • Blogging points you to your reader
  • Blogging requires you to be concise
  • Blogging allows you to experiment with forms of writing
  • Blogging helps you to become a more confident writer

Other blogs

My blogs follow me around! When I started at the University of Hull, I set up a Tumblr blog TEL It As It Is which records the challenging experiences of changing institutions. Prior to this I kept a University of Lincoln Blog called Sue Watling recording work, research, publications and travels. Other blogs include Walking the Labyrinth which explores the use of labyrinths as tools for education development and Alphabet Dance which accompanied the poetry year of my p/t creative writing degree. For the past five years I’ve been combining the creative writing degree with a PhD. Some days I feel tired…

An About Me Slide from my presentation at Blackboard World 2014
‘About Me’ Slide from my presentation at Blackboard World 2014

Although I’ve changed roles since the slide above was presented most of itstill stands true. I’m an Academic Adviser for Technology Enhanced Learning  in the Learning Enhancement and Academic Practice Directorate (LEAP) at the University of Hull. I joined the university in November 2015, following 15 years at the University of Lincoln, where I was Senior Lecturer in Education Development.

My background is technology enhanced learning and teaching. After returning to education once the children started school, I taught with computers in Adult and Community Education in the 1990’s; both getting started with ICT and using technology to teach literacy skills. After a time with the British Epilepsy Association where I learned how the internet can help develop communities of practice and support, I moved to the University of Lincoln where I built virtual links with partner schools and colleges in the Widening Participation Directorate. Since then, I’ve moved into digital education development which included teaching fully online postgraduate courses and using technology to support transition into higher education.

I moved to the University of Hull following a restructure which took away the digital elements of  my work. At Hull I am supporting the pedagogical use of their new VLE Canvas alongside the Panopto system for recording teaching sessions and Pebblepad for eportfolios.  I am also developing and promoting a digital capabilities framework for students and staff. http://www2.hull.ac.uk/administration/leap/whoswho-2/s_watling.aspx 

My ongoing doctorate began as an investigation into the influences on attitudes and practices of academics towards their virtual learning environment (where VLE can be any institutional platform or digital tool). This research journey is tracked on my University of Lincoln blog The ups and downs of this journey – and there have been many of each – are recorded on http://suewatling.blogs.lincoln.ac.uk/phd/ Know Your Limits was published on Thesis Whisperer in October 2015 and this records some of my research journey http://thesiswhisperer.com/2015/10/21/know-your-limits/

September 2016 marks the enrolment of my final year on the Creative Writing Degrees. I have chosen to produce a Poetry Portfolio for my dissertation and am using Homer’s Iliad and Odyssey to explore the lives of the women who were caught up in the Trojan Wars.

After a year out, I am also taking back on my PhD and will be completing it with Professor Ale Armellini, Director of the Institute of Learning and Teaching in Higher Education at the University of Northampton. Taking the Community of Inquiry model, developed by Garrison and Anderson at the turn of the 21st century, my research examines its effectiveness for building online leanring expereinces. The model uses a tripartite structure of ‘social’, ‘cognitive’ and ‘teaching’ presences and my reserach suggests a fourth presence, a ‘digital’ presence, is missing. This lack of attention to individual confidence and competence with working in online environments may contribute to the low levels of VLE adoption and the dominance of digital depository models of use.

Recent publications associated with the research  include

  • Watling, S. (2016) E-teaching as companion to e-learning; supporting digital pedagogies and practice in higher education. Compass Journal of Learning and Teaching Vol 8, No 12 (2016) https://journals.gre.ac.uk/index.php/compass/article/view/270
  • Watling, S. (2015) Digital diversity in higher education. SRHE: Converging Concepts in Global Higher Education Research: Local, national and international perspectives. 9-11 December (2015). https://www.srhe.ac.uk/conference2015/abstracts/0213.pdf
  • Watling, S. (2014). e-teaching craft and practice. In B. Hegarty, J. McDonald, & S.-K. Loke (Eds.), Rhetoric and Reality: Critical perspectives on educational technology. Proceedings ascilite Dunedin 2014 (pp. 431-435).
  • Watling, S. (2012) Invisible publics: higher education and digital exclusion. In: Towards teaching in public: reshaping the modern university. Continuum
  • Watling, S. (2009) Technology-enhanced learning: a new digital divide? In: The future of higher education: policy, pedagogy and the student experience. Continuum International Publishing Group Ltd.

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