Lincoln blog

The pages in this section contain the contents of my University of Lincoln WordPress blog at http://suewatling.blogs.lincoln.ac.uk/  The blog remains hosted on University of Lincoln servers, for which I am grateful. Should the situation change, the posts have been copied here to preserve them. Links to a few images and videos have broken but the majority of content is intact. Click the menu item ‘Lincoln blog’ above to access each year.

An interim blog covering my first few months at the University of Hull can be found on Tumblr at http://ammonitie.tumblr.com in a subpage called TEL it as it is  at   http://ammonitie.tumblr.com/lifeinhull 

content below – images not copied across

Tumbling towards ecstacy

Gas! Quick, boys! – An ecstasy of fumbling,
Fitting the clumsy helmets just in time;
But someone still was yelling out and stumbling,
And flound’ring like a man in fire or lime.from
Dulce et Decorum Est

by Wilfred Owen

TEL it as it is

Week 10

At the turn of the year between 2015 and 2016 I set up a new WordPress blog called the Digital Academic at https://digitalacademicblog.wordpress.com/

Ironically, coming to Tumblr to upload this last post I found where I wanted to be straight away. It’s only taken two months to feel more at home here!

The Digital Academic will track the process of developing and supporting a digital capabilities framework at the University of Hull as well as general musings on digital ways of working in higher education. The name Digital Academic itself is a topic for reflection. What does it mean? At Lincoln I was Senior Lecturer in Education Development with a background in digital media on an academic pay scale. At Hull I’m a Technology Enhanced Learning Academic Advisor (I hang onto the word Academic – this is how the job was advertised although colleagues tend to use TEL Advisor). Here I’m on a Professional Services contract. Does this mean I am no longer an academic? I have a number of Postgraduate qualifications including two Masters, am two thirds through a PhD, am published in journals and books and have generated external income. So I’m hanging on to my ‘academic’ status even though I am sometimes feeling it slipping away. What’s in a name or a label? Quite a lot it seems.

Please do visit the Digital Academic and let me know what you think.

Week 8

Well, this is it. The end of the working year and 8 weeks since I came home to ‘ull. I can’t remember the last time I worked Christmas Eve but it all feels fine. Everything is a-ok and the lights on the campus are pretty.

The past 8 weeks have been full of new names and faces and I haven’t yet seen everyone on my list. I’m getting to eat, sleep and breath digital things. Over Christmas I’ll be starting a new WordPress blog for digital education development. Bye bye tumblr, It hasn’t been nice knowing you but the learning curve was good.  Looking back, highlights of this year include travelling around China*, presenting at Blackboard World at Washington DC**, my double ** birthday celebrations – first with sachertorte, Klimt and the opera during a fabulous art/history-fest in Vienna*** – secondly a weekend in London with tickets to the Lion King plus the Celtic Exhibition at the British Museum (and more – thanks Neil and Charlotte) – definitely a travel theme going on here! But overall the highest highlight of all is a reduction in travel. My new role working with TEL at the University of Hull means I can get to work in 12 minutes. The novelty of working ‘down the road’ has not yet worn off!

Changing institutions is a valuable opportunity to reflect on differences and similarities and I didn’t appreciate how useful an alternative perspective would be. I didn’t realise how stuck you get within your institution. It fixes you within a specific way of seeing. It isn’t until you leave it behind that you realise how moulded you’ve become. Moving to Hull has expanded my vision of the HE sector. I’m getting connected to the network of partner FE Colleges and this is offering another different view of digital education. The conceptual framework which contained me at Lincoln has been cracked wide open.

In the same way travel opens your eyes to cultural difference, so changing institutions make you realise there are different ways of being and doing HE. Hull is twice the size of Lincoln and five times as old yet the core qualities and ambitions are the same. Both offer higher education experiences to a changing student base in an increasingly digital world. Supporting academics to ensure students can demonstrate appropriate ‘digital’ graduate attributes is central to my role. DGA’s are as much about professional online identity, data protection, internet safety and inclusive practice as they are information literacies, communication and presentation skills and working in with digital tools like e-Bridge, Canvas, Pebblepad and a range of social media. The annual Learning and Teaching Conference on January 6th has a digital capabilities theme and will set much of the scene for the TEL Team in 2016. My own remit is developing a digital capabilities framework, one which puts pedagogy first. This will involve an up-close exploration of what it means to teach and support learning in a digital age on multiple levels.

Doing digital does not come easy. Confidence with mobile devices does not necessarily equate with appropriate use or familiarity with theory might not translate well into practice. When it comes to higher education, the impact of digital ways of working is still a new experience for many academics. VLE support the unquestioning transfer of existing transmissive-style pedagogies hence the repository effect. Static lecture notes and presentation slides which students don’t look at. Yet digital confidence can be fragile and tenuous. Technical let-downs in front of a room full of students is the stuff of nightmares. Been there. Done that. Know how it feels and it isn’t good. Digital capabilities are as much about confidence which only comes through practice and it’s perfectly understandable how many might not want to take the risk in the first place.

Bridging digital divides and developing digital confidence will be core to my role during 2016. In the past 8 weeks I’ve experienced my own identity shift. I am no longer a Senior Lecturer. No longer on an academic contract. So who am I? What makes an academic? I’m researching and disseminating.  I have three presentations booked in 2016, including one keynote, and all of them invitations to speak. There’s my external links and networks while publications include journal papers, book chapters and a co-authored book. How to describe myself? I do digital education development work but overall I am a digital academic. So this is the title of my new blog which will be launched in the New Year.

Season’s greetings.  Merry meet to one and all and enjoy the festive break.

* China blogs

** Washington DC

*** Vienna

Week 7

Thursday was the TEL Team Christmas breakfast.  My contribution was a Top Ten countdown of TEL Tools for Teaching. It started as a top ten of social media sites but I wanted to bring in TEL tools supported by the university. There will be more TEL Breakfasts next year.

If I could work out how to insert a file the slides would appear here – Tumblr continutes to frsutrate me…..

On Friday it was the Social Media for Learning in Higher Education Conference at Sheffield Hallam University. The early start was worth it for the sunrise. I don’t see so many these days 🙂

Conference aim
#SocMedHE15 will debate and examine our use of social media and its impact on the higher education learning landscape. Together, we will develop our understanding of good, sustainable practice by sharing accounts of emerging innovation in the pedagogic use of social media.

I was asked to go and feed back in response to an inquiry in Week 3. An academic approached the TEL Team for advice on managing misuse of the app YikYak. This re-opened my thinking around social media. I posted a request to the Jisc Mail Lists, receiving helpful comments and links to policies. Sceptics of the value of digital networks should try taking a query to an active Jisc List. Respondents are always friendly and helpful.

Unfortunately there are no easy answers. Apps like YikYak support anonymous postings and while I found the initial stories alarming, I’ve since heard much worse. The media coverage around Hélène Turon, the economics lecturer at Bristol University who walked out of a lecture in response to negative YikYak comments, has been useful in raising awareness of the issues  but there doesn’t seem to be any test case where poor judgement around the use of social media has led to consequences.

At #SocMedHE15, negative use of SM was mentioned but the responses tended to be around modelling best practice and referring students to best practice guidelines. Don’t feed the Trolls. It only takes five supportive colleagues to remove offensive content (which assumes they are all on YY in the first place) is not the sort of help academics are looking for.

Misuse is an example of how social media amplifies messages. It also is a reminder of McLuhan’s observations on how media has social effects – not only through the message but also because of consequent changes to behaviour. A different interpretation of the phrase social media. A decade ago a conversation with another person simultaneously to being on the phone would not be socially acceptable. Look around any coffee shop today and it’s unusual to see people without a device in their hands. Instant connectivity is becoming the norm and higher education, with its stress on critical thinking and reflection, has to be aware of the wider social effects and implications.

I used to think digital ways of working were like mirrors. How we are online reflects our individuality.  When it came to developing digital habits, there was no one size fits all solution. People couldn’t be squeezed into the same digital box because of their inherent uniqueness. The current concern around misuse of social media suggests the mirror analogy might be more complex. Like the ‘call centre phenomenon’, the lack of face-to-face contact seems to take away all human kindness and frustration is expressed through hostility and anger. Anonymity online  brings out some basic human nastiness which might not happen if the user were not hidden behind their device.

The blurring of boundaries was a recurrent theme at #SocMedHE15. When it comes to online presence, students need to separate the public from the private. As the majority arrive at university not knowing this – where is it taught? This is one place where experiential learning is not the answer – unless someone else’s name and reputation is at risk. Students generally don’t seem to google themselves to see what prospective mentors or employers might find and are still using inappropriate email addresses. While they might appear to technology reluctant academics as being digitally native and savvy, the reality can be quite low levels of digital competence as indicated in the quotes below from my research data.

I know my students are digitally savvy, I only have to look at them in lectures, they’re always online, but since we adopted the policy of making module guides only available on Blackboard they don’t seem to be accessing them. It’s like they want us to push the information towards them and are not prepared to look for it.

Sometimes I think the internet is the problem. Many students express frustration at where to find things, to the extent that I think some give up looking.

I think that’s the danger of virtual learning, that’s the difficulty, students are not really reading. I think virtual learning environments do somehow discourage deeper reading and its affects degrees. I think it’s that fundamental.

The #SocMedHE15 conference was excellent. I met some lovely people and valued (as always) the time to consider and discuss how social media can support and enhance the student learning experience.

However, it was a little reminiscent of the early days of VLE enthusiasm. I was conscious of being with the innovators and early adopters. While this is exciting to the degree of exhilaration (must have some digital nerdiness inside somewhere) it also risks widening the on-campus digital divides between those who ‘get tech’ and those who claim not to.

Week 6 SRHE (Society for Research into Higher Education) Conference

Somewhere on Tumblr there is a magic button. It’s been hard enough working out how to find the ‘TEL it as it is’ page but the edit link is almost impossible.  I’m sure it moves every week. I suspect it’s a new game to tease the digitally challenged. Give a sense of superiority to those with digital know-it-all. It doesn’t help how the responses on google don’t match what I’m seeing. What Settings? What Gear icon? By the time I find the edit page it’s more luck than knowledge and I’ve forgotten where I’ve been to get there. I don’t like Tumblr but haven’t yet found the time to revisit WordPress. It’s frustrating but useful as a reminder of how a new virtual learning environment can feel.

Most of this week was spent at the SRHE Conference in Newport, South Wales. 7 hours and four trains there. 7 hours and four trains back.  It was one of those conferences in an out-of-the-way venue, a £10 taxi ride from the station, where you arrive and leave without having set foot outside. But it was raining. it was an excellent conference and I was delighted to catch up with EDEU colleagues from Lincoln again..

The value of conferences is time for R&R. Reading and Reflection. Mostly while travelling. 14 hours is a good chunk of time. I’m reading Neil Selwyn’s Digital Technology and the Contemporary University. I like Selwyn’s critical approach. I’ve been thinking for some time how education technology is simply not cutting it. There are the innovators and early adopters but they are in the minority. Most academics outside of computer science and without any digital interests are low adopters but shhh…. It’s a secret.

My presentation was on Digital Diversity in Higher Education. There’s an edited version with narration on You Tube. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=axdbq4XnuHY

I get nervous about suggesting academics might be less digitally inclined than is generally perceived. How they may need more specialised support and resourcing.  That the learning curve is steeper than the digital know-it-alls might believe. To be honest I know how it feels. Take Skype. I wrote in Week 5 below how it let me down hen I needed it. Now I’m stuck with signing in through Microsoft live with a clumsy username I don’t want and have spent far too much time going round in circles with Skype Help trying to change it. They don’t do telephone calls. They promise an online chat but are lying. You simply can’t get there. A clever system of bullet points will always take you back to where you started.  I now because I was trapped in there for some time. When I finally got in there this week I lost my chat window. Which was a shame because it was being used. I’ve learned to live with these things.

The presentation went well and I received some interesting feedback. It’s like once you stop expecting academics to become digital scholars and begin saying it’s ok not to get the tech then it takes off the pressure and some useful conversations emerge.

Looking at my research data it’s clear that while virtual learning has benefits there are also multiple barriers. The biggest problem I can see is the digital divide between those who support and mandate the technology and those who are  expected to use it. There seems very few if any channels of communication between them. My research shows that given time and space, academics begin to understand how technology might work for them within their own subject discipline and teaching practice but such time and place is almost non-existent. The focus is on the e-learning and not the e-teaching. Maybe we should rename the TEL (Technology Enhanced Learning) Team as TELT for Technology Enhanced Learning and Teaching.

SRHE had a digital university theme with 25 papers. I tried to get a sense of as many different themes as I could but was drawn to the opportunity to see what other digital adventures people were on across the sector.  The messages were not unexpected. Lots of frameworks and suggestions for increasing digital engagement and less about attempts to understand digital shyness and resistance. Many presentations were from staff with library or learning technologist type roles. Digitally confident within their own spheres but I’m not sure how many have directly taught online. This raises an interesting situation for me.

At Lincoln I was on an academic contract. At Hull I have a professional service contract. I’m still presenting, writing, publishing and doing my research, but am conscious of being perceived in a different way. It feels like I’ve now become part of the problem.

I’m used to leading my own postgraduate courses and being in the academic cycle of induction through to assessment and exam boards.  I’ve seen the difference my immersive and experiential style of digital CPD and teacher education can make. Now my role is still to support staff to use the technology but I’ve lost the primary means through which I was doing this before. I have lots of ideas for 2016 and every day is a genuine buzz from being involved with the digital again – even when it goes wrong – which it does – on many occasions. The difference is I don’t take it personally anymore although I still don’t like Tumblr. At some point soon we will be parting company.

Week 5 Digital literacy as ideas not keystrokes

Technology continues to trouble me. This week it was Skype. I pre-checked the settings on my desktop computer the day before. Everything was fine. The following day, when it mattered, I couldn’t log on.

Persuaded by the ICT Helpdesk to log onto MS Live using my google email address to get temporary access, I now find my Skype account has changed. I’ve lost my profile and been given a different username yet all my contacts are still there – suggesting MS Live have interfered in some way.

The sense of not being in control of my technology is familiar to me. I spent some time trying to make Skype as it was before – including getting back my original username – but it wasn’t having it. Sometimes I amaze myself to think my work remit and research is developing digital capabilities. At others times I think this is why. Because I have a such a hard time I have bucket loads more empathy for others, in particular those who find technology a challenge.

Paul Gilster (1997) claimed digital literacy was about ideas and not keystrokes. Back in 1997 the internet was a different place and information literacy was the key requirement. Gilster writes how a core  competency is the ability to make informed judgements because ‘…unlike conventional media much of the Net is unfiltered by editors and open to the contributions of all.’ (Glister, 1997:2) This is equally relevant today; more so with the prevalence of social media. But the technology itself has become complex and keystroke knowledge required – a balance between the two is essential. A technology training approach tends to prioritise the ‘how’ over the ‘why’ while teacher education focuses on face-to-face pedagogy and practice. For me, a digital CPD route which combines the two is the way to go.

One of the QAA themes for 2015/16 is Digital Literacy and suddenly the topic is in the spotlight. The Jisc Developing Digital Literacies and HEA Digital Literacies in the Disciplines  have been cited by the QAA as practices to be mainstreamed while theQAA guidelines recognise a digitally rich environment ’…depends on the digital capabilities and confidence of staff.’  The echoes with my own research around supporting academics to become e-teachers and suggests a welcome synchronicity. A report issued this year under the HEFCE Changing the Learning Landscapesproject is explicit about the need for staff development to support digital literacy.

The How do you change the learning landscape? report by PeterChatterton raises areas of concern which digital education developers have known about for some time. The report is a response to 58 conversations with senior managers in HE on their key aims and concerns around the strategic use of technology to support learning, teaching and the student experience. Findings include:

  • The pace of academic staff upskilling is too slow
  • academic staff capabilities TEL are inconsistent
  • Key academic staff do not always prioritise TEL
  • Institutions have difficulty in knowing how best to support academics
  • ‘Arguments’ for adopting TEL are not sufficiently persuasive

2016 is the year of digital capabilities at the University of Hull.  On January 6th the university’s internal Learning and Teaching Conference has digital capabilities as its theme and Jisc have been invited to facilitate the conference workshops and support post-conference work. Staff and students will be on new digital journeys of discovery and my role includes developing opportunities for supporting digital capabilities and confidence. One of the starting points will be a shared understanding of what the phrase digital capabilities means. Jisc’s broad definition as‘those capabilities which fit an individual for living, learning and working in a digital society’ has evolved into a model which identifies six elements for consideration.

The elements cover a complex mix of expertise and experience. My understanding of how people work with digital environments is they take a personal and individual response, unique like fingerprints or handwriting. My observations and research suggest digital attitudes and practice reflects how we manage other aspects of our lives – making it difficult to apply any one size fits all approach.

I believe Gilster’s focus on ‘ideas’ is still relevant but developments like user generated content and file sharing mean attention to keystrokes cannot be ignored. Using mobile devices, apps and cloud storage all require confidence with hardware as much as software an this is all integral to the need for a meaningful understanding of a digital society and culture. Digital capabilities involves critical thinking around issues such as online identity, safety and citizenship. The virtual is a fast moving world and keeping up to date is in itself a challenge but the university is committed to developing the digital capabilities of staff and students. It’s an exciting time and place to be working there.

After 5 weeks of resistance I was lured in and bribed with acarrier bag and loyalty card!

Week 4: thoughts on blog loss 

I need to invest time in WordPress. Today, musing on SRHE in under two weeks time, I revisited the Lincoln blog and revised a post  Doing so reinforced how Tumblr has been a useful interim measure but is temporary. The Text Editor is minimal, images a fixed size, no Alt Text option and I struggle to find my way to the edit pages every time I use it. Wordpress is better. I dabbled a few weeks ago https://suewatlingblog.wordpress.com/ and now it’s time to go back.

Changing jobs is a fundamental lifestyle change. There are so many different ways of seeing and being, all those new names and faces, the changes in working cultures, lunch stops, dress styles, mysterious chair settings and a telephone with a default digital display which has defeated me – no surprises there then!

The blog loss was like losing my Lincoln email address; a change in digital identity which was a rare but strangely welcome opportunity to reinvent myself online.

My blog at http://suewatling.blogs.lincoln.ac.uk/ contains my research diary, travel pix, film list and most of my life since 2009. I’m fine with the overlap between my work and my life because for me intersections are relevant to each other. What the blog loss has done is make me reconsider why I do it in the first place.

The primary driver is work. It isn’t authentic to give support and advice which is not grounded in experience. My new role includes developing a framework for the digital capabilities which underpin effective online pedagogies and practice. The impact of the internet on higher education is felt in many different ways. Using David White’s typology I’m an internet resident while many academics are more visitors yet expectations of digital engagement in HE learning and teaching are increasing. Digital graduate attributes have become as relevant as subject expertise and the shifts to blended and flexible ways of working should be empowering students. Digital extensions to traditional lectures and seminars are often excluded for a number of reasons. One of these is the mistaken belief that all students are digital natives so know it all anyway. Prensky’s digital natives/immigrants duality remains surprisingly sticky. Students might appear comfortable with mobile devices, engaging with social media for a range of reasons (including orchestrating disruption in lectures and cyber bullying peers and staff) but most have poor search skills and struggle to differentiate between knowledge, information and personal maybe biased opinion. If their lecturers and tutors are not digitally engaged then students lose opportunities to develop their own digital attributes. It’s 2015. The first VLEs were embedded after the Dearing Report in 1997. We all live in an increasingly digital society, yet everyday I meet staff who don’t like computers, don’t use social media and have little experience with ways in which technology might enhance student learning, These are some of the reasons TEL needs to incorporate TET. Technology Enhanced Teaching. TELT. Technology Enhanced Learning and Teaching anyone?

I’m exploring getting back to basics, discovering what digital beginnings might look like. I’m looking at the literature around threshold concepts, knowing how for many even the word ‘digital’ represents liminal space and troublesome knowledge. TEL support is often too near the middle, neglecting the edges of digital frameworks and competencies lists. Without persuasion which is both meaningful and personal, digital engagement will always be minimal and on a ‘needs must’ basis. The pace of change is slower than digital innovators and enthusiasts might like to believe.  In the decades since the Dearing Report, the primary change is compliance with strategy e.g. module handbooks on the VLE, making announcements and setting up online submission, marking and feedback. This is not the same as the collaborative, inquiry led, multimedia learning activities VLE have the capacity for. Oneconsequence of digital indifference is divides continue to widen and deepen between early adopters and the majority continuing with traditional delivery modes of lectures, seminars and assessment.

The dichotomous spaces between academics and digital education developers/TEL Teams remains unresolved. It is in this space you can find blogging and other forms of social media. This offers opportunities to reach out across the sector; to ask questions, share answers, swap ideas and give feedback, all with others who are digitally engaged and working with similar issues. Blogs can be reminders you are not on your own which can only be good. A blog is also an instant demonstration of the value of technology; a real-world example of how online text, image and multimedia can appear which is useful in meetings and teaching sessions. The downside is how everything designed to increase adoption nearly always excludes those it aims to reach; the digitally shy and resistant. By definition they are unlikely to attend digitally themed conferences, apply for digital education funding or read the technology journals – and not even know about this tiny corner of the internet with my name on it.

Week 4: Challenging Digital Diversity in Higher Education

This is the title of my SRHE Conference presentation. The slides are due in today. I might not make it. The advice is 30 minutes (ten for questions) and five slides. Five?! Maybe I could submit five images and take another week to work on the script. I’d use some of my favourites.

The subject of my paper – no surprises here – is academics as e-teachers, in particular supporting the development of digital pedagogies and practice. How to make the shift to more blended approaches, how to take advantage of an information saturated internet to find alternative ways to present content, how to use digital technologies to construct and share online interaction. I should have called it How to…..change paradigms?

During the final TELEDA research interviews this summer, a number of references were made to the poor digital information literacies of students. Reflecting on this, from a research viewpoint, I’ve come to the conclusion it was an interesting example of researcher bias. Similar references had occurred in the first rounds of interviews but I was looking for staff attitudes towards their VLE and I missed them. Knowing this has helped me put students back in the picture. e-teaching and e-learning are the yin and the yang. You can’t have one without the other but also you can’t focus on either one in isolation.

While the HE sector has primarily been concerned with how students learn as e-learners alongside the work of innovators and early adopters, the experiences of the digitally shy and resistant are largely missing. For me, one of the ways to address this is to build opportunities for digital CPD. With this in mind, I’ve been reflecting on what the threshold concepts might be if a digital capabilities framework was to start at the beginning.

As an ICT tutor for Adult and Community Education in the 1990’s, my background is in first digital steps. When I came into Higher Education in 2000, learning file management was seen as a fundamental digital literacy. There were diagnostic assessments for the MS Office suite and workshops on topics like creating presentation slides and using advanced word processing features. Over the years these pragmatic approaches have been replaced with assumptions everyone knows what to do. The notion of students as digital natives, while challenged in digital intellectual circles, has remained sticky with everyone else. Many academics still see their students as digitally competent and miss how everyday use of social media does not necessarily equate with the effective validation of online resources. Many students still struggle with the differences between the mix of knowledge, information and personal maybe biased opinion retuned by a google search. They rarely look beyond the first page of results and never google themselves to see what is in the public domain for anyone – including prospective employers – to see. A continuum of visitors and residents is often offered as an alternative to the native and immigrant duality. But some visit less often than others while others go there hardly at all. These are the individuals for whom starter concept thresholds need to be identified.

Digital capabilities have to be incorporated into teaching and supporting learning. What these are is open to debate but the Jisc elements offer a useful starting point for conversations.

I would suggest a DC Framework includes appropriate use of social media and critical evaluation of content, in particular the value of collaborative resources like Wikipedia which can constitute the best and the worst of crowd sourced content. Then there’s the management of digital data, staying safe online, ensuring digitally inclusive practice and constructing professional online identities.

Students need opportunities to develop these essential digital graduate attributes for 21st century employment and life but where do they learn them?

  • Should HEI’s leave it to optional learning development workshops and support?
  • Should curriculums include those old fashioned skills modules traditionally unliked and unloved?
  • Could they be reinvigorated into Academic Practice Modules relevant for a digital age?
  • Is it too much to expect the academics the students meet throughout their modules and programmes to model best digital practice themselves?

These are some of the questions I’ll be taking to SRHE Conference.

I don’t expect any definitive answers but I imagine they may stimulate some lively debate.

….and I  still don’t like Tumblr as much as WordPress…

Week Three

 

This week I met Andy Stewart from Jisc.  Andy is supporting the Digital Capabilities themed Learning and Teaching Conference on January 6th which will reference the Jisc digital capabilities profiles for learners, teachers, researchers and leaders. I am all four of these which is useful for reflecting on ways to convert the criteria into practice. Since coming to Hull I’ve been thinking about new beginnings and wondering if a single profile might offer the best starting point. This is after years of saying digital literacies are personal, as individual as handwriting and there can be no one size fits all model. So what’s going on here?

Moving to Hull has reinforced the rationale for my research into the attitudes and practices of academics towards their vle and confirmed how the majority of staff and students are not overtly digitally minded with regard to learning and teaching. Changing institutions offers a unique opportunity to review and revise your thoughts and ironically I seem less evangelical now I have a remit to go forth and be digital. Alternatively I may be more realistic about the challenges. I’ve worked with VLE adoption for over a decade and seen how the rhetorical promises of transformation and enhancement continue, but the majority of usage still follows a repository model rather than the collaborative learning space it has the potential to be. The move to Hull is a good opportunity for rethinking approaches to the management of digital change.

Firstly, there can be no going back. The internet is here to stay and in an increasingly digitised society, the acquisition of relevant digital graduate attributes is essential. The divide between a digital curriculum and a non-digital one has to be bridged. I see the starting point as embedding blended learning into CPD, teacher education programmes and other accredited routes like HEA Fellowship. Experiential approaches are the first steps towards digital engagement. My research shows this can have impact but it also shows how deeply existing habits and ways of working cab be entrenched. We easily go back to what we are used to.

Secondly, there is a thought gap. This appears when those charged with digital change are those who rarely use it for learning and teaching. Where this is not the case and change agents are those early adopters now into apps, oculus and gaming, this positions them in diametrically opposite places to those for whom embedding a YouTube video into a VLE is both mystery and a step too far.

Thirdly, the Jisc learning profiles offer useful starting points but I worry they are too ambitious. It’s the thought-gap again. Those yet to start their digital journeys can be invisible and if they are not part of the relevant conversations who can their digital positions be known. How can I find ways to reach, enthuse, support and lead shifts to more blended approaches.

Curriculum 2016 at Hull stresses the value of using threshold concepts to inform curriculum design. In Social Work in a Digital Society (co-authored with Jim Rogers) I used five key characteristics of threshold concepts to raise awareness of digitally exclusive practice. I’m now considering how the principles of threshold concepts might offer an entry point for implementing the Jisc capabilities framework at Hull.

This was week 3. I discovered a secret quadrant, filled another coffee loyalty card, met more new-to-me people as well as ex-Lincoln colleagues now working at Hull. One morning I got to work in 12 minutes. #creativeHE has finished. I’ve slipped off #digiwrimo, am still behind on #FLble1 but have submitted my creative writing assignments. On Wednesday night I took part in #LTHEChat. I need to prepare for the SRHE conference and write a PhD abstract for a progression discussion on Monday. It’s the weekend but some things like work load never seem to change!

Week Two

I found two toads. You may need to have come from ‘ull to get their significance!

I’ve read the supporting documents for Curriculum 2016. These include developing disciplinary pedagogies, using threshold concepts to inform curriculum design and learning outcomes plus the embedding of inclusion, employability, internationalisation and TEL. I’ve discovered the FE College Network and their work with digital technologies, mobile learning and augmented reality. Found more about the ipads in schools initiative within the School of Educational Studies. I’ve met with colleagues managing the PG Cert in Academic Practice and DARTE (Disciplinary Approaches to Research and Teaching Excellence) which is the UoH teacher accreditation scheme – both run very differently to UoL. Next week I hope to meet up with staff providing support for DSA students and giving advice on accessibility with regard to virtual tools and environments. There is so much to learn and I’ve drunk far too much coffee!

But there’s more…..this week I’ve written a draft expression of interest in response to the QAA Subscriber Research Call where one of the strands is digital literacy and teaching excellence. I need to blow the dust off the PhD box and pull together some Abstract text for potential new supervisors.

There is a two-part assignment due in on my creative writing course which I haven’t started yet. I’ve slipped behind with #digiwrimo, slipped off the Creativity for Learning in HE #creativeHE course and fallen behind on Blended Learning Essentials #FLble1 – it still being on week 1 while everyone else is on 3- and it’s less than a month to the SRHE Conference so thinking about my presentation needs to start. It’s full on and busy but in a different way. There’s a consistency whereby it all relates to the digital so everything feels relevant and that’s what matters.

I need to learn the new VLE Canvas plus Pebblepad.The giant PC labs are so large you can’t see the back row. They’re used for what is called ‘Training’. I don’t like the T word but it’s culturally embedded. Even JISC use it and they should know better.

Hull is on the edge of change with regard to pedagogies and blended learning is seen as the way forward. This makes it an exciting place to be. For me, the word ’training’ belongs to older and outdated behaviourist traditions and it would be good to consider alternatives. While the need to know how to use the technology is undisputed, equally important is the where and the why.

The advice on the networked computer screens is a good place to begin..

14 November 2015

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Week One

Tumblr is interesting but it isn’t WordPress. The Lincoln shaped things I’m missing the most are my friends and my blog. Apart from these, life in Hull is good.

Snippets from my first week as the new kid on the block can be found on my #digiwrimo site https://sites.google.com/site/suewatlingnovember2015/  Digiwrimo is a writing project which happens every yearhttp://www.digitalwritingmonth.com/ The idea is you commit yourself to the creative use of words for a month. I started out with a plan to work on a writing assessment due later this month but it took on a life of its own and became a daily diary of my first week in Hull.

What’s the difference between over there and over here? Well, this is more of a substitute for my WordPress blog. For the next few weeks http://suewatling.blogs.lincoln.ac.uk is being continued onhttps://www.tumblr.com/lifeinhull 

Week 1 in Hull – from Bloom to Rhizomes  

My new post is one of four Technology Enhanced Learning Advisors. Within the LEAP Directorate there are also Academic Practice Advisors. I think conversations would be interesting if we all worked in the same room but we’re not even in the same building.

To be a TEL Advisor is a broad remit. The website says we are supporting the ’pedagogical application of technology’and for me a blended approach to education offers the best of all worlds.

But I’ve been a bit out of digital innovation spheres for the past year so am playing catchup, in particular with mobile, apps and social media. From discussions this week I’m sensing a real shift in attitudes towards technology adoption. It’s no longer optional. If you’re involved in learning and teaching then the message seems to be Get Digital or Get Out.

For the past month I’ve been involved with the #CreativeHE online course run by Chrissi Nerantzi at Manchester Met. Chrissie is interested in how higher education learning and teaching can become more creative. The course was free, online, open and used Google+ Communities. I’m also on the fringes of Futurelearn’sBlended Learning Essentials #FLble1 Primarily for the Vocational Education and Training (VET) Sector it addresses the benefits of blended approaches and offers a useful overview of how TEL is currently being used to support and enhance classroom practice.

Experiential approaches like these get you up close and personal with what TEL can offer.On the wall of my new office is the pedagogy wheel by Alan Carrington. It contains five elements of learning (Remember/Understand, Analyse, Apply, Evaluate, Create) with suggested technologies for their development. Sort of a Bloomish approach for a digital world. Good to see reference to Creativity in there but what’s missing are the changes to traditional pedagogies which TEL supports e.g. connectivism, heutagogy and paragogy- as suggested by Steve Wheeler

I’ve been looking at the new ‘learning and teaching space’ in Wilberforce 14 (I’m not a fan of the word Training) and wondering how to use it differently. How to introduce and explore the 100+ digital elements of the Pedagogy Wheel to staff who teach and support learning. In this room there are five tables with one computer to each – all can be connected to a central console and each other – each table set has cables for connecting mobile devices. It isn’t a computer lab but more of a network, a rhizomatic learning space

I’ll be reflecting on rhizomes during week 2,

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