The week after #EDEN18 was the University of Hull Learning and Teaching Summer Programme, Empowering Our People. A conference on 25th June was followed by two days of workshops including a Master Class on Digital Identity and two more on Assessment and Feedback. The full programme is available here https://libguides.hull.ac.uk/ld.php?content_id=31769086
A common thread tunning through my sessions on different aspects of teaching and learning, was the need for digital shifts in attitudes and practice. No suprises there!
For me, the #EDEN18 conference themes of Macro, Meso, Micro aligned well with the competing perspectives facing staff who teach and support learning in 21st century higher education. These have institutional, pedagogic and individual dimensions and all represent pressure to change. Narratives from Hull are no different from those presented at EDEN18 in Genoa.
Supporting staff and students to make digital shifts has the potential to bring institutions and individuals together in a supportive rather than dictatorial ways. Appropriate institutional reward and recognition are essential prerequisites of any change agenda, as is shared motivation. One of places where the institutional and individual can meet is through the pedagogic design of modules and programmes.
Learning, teaching and research, remain at the heart of higher education but aderence to traditional didactic tranmission pedagogies is strong. We live in an increasingly digital society, with employers looking for digitally literate graduates, yet the gap between the potential promise of digital methodologies and the reality of day-to-day teaching practice is huge.
This divide between analogue and digital is where most of my work is focussed.
I often find myself on the fringes and edges of things.
I was struck by a comment from colleague Cristina Devecchi earlier this week. Cristina called an inclusivity group a ‘fringe’ group, going on to say ‘the fringes are like the lawless borders where innovation happens. The core is hard and resistant to change.’ I like the idea of ‘lawless borders’. Not in an illegal, criminal way but as existing outside policy and practice. It reminds me of the transformative moments. Discovering Foucault on social power and control, realising medical research was funded by drug companies, reading Lyotard on postmodern fragmentation and pluralities, being introduced to critical pedagogy…
Living in Hull.
Our home grown librarian Philip Larkin is recorded saying how Hull ‘…is a little on the edge of things…’ but it suited him Monitor, 1964, 30 seconds in)
In terms of change, Cristina is right. How else can we move forward other than challenging outdated status quo from the borders, working towards achieving a tipping point, bringing people with one by one, bit by bit…
Digital shifts apply to both staff and students.
If institutions are serious about their use of education technologies for enhancing learning and teaching, there needs to be a comprehensive and realistic step change, starting with establishing a digital baseline of capabilities and confidence with appropriate support for everyone to reach it.
The problem is establishing how far back the baseline needs to go e.g. new browser tabs and windows, cut, copy, paste functions, right click, naming files and organising file structures – the over-crowded desktop full of individual documents is a giveaway.
The problem – yes, another one – is conflict over how to understand digital literacies. The divide seems to be between competency based ‘training’ needs or socially situated knowledge practices.
For me, it’s the context which makes the difference between adoption and rejection. Change which is meaningful is best developed within context rather than outside of it. The publications below make useful reading around ‘situated’ approaches…
- Learning at the Digital Frontier: a review of digital literacies in theory and practice (Littlejohn, Beetham and McGill, 2012)
- Beyond Competence: digital literacies as knowledge practices, and implcations for learner development (Beetham, Littlejohn, McGill, 2010)
…while these links demonstrate the range and complexity of digital shifts in attitudes and practice.
- Developing Organisational Approaches to Building Digital Capabilities (}Jisc 2017)
- SCONUL seven Pillars of Information Literacy through a Digital Lens (SCONUL, 2016)
- HEA Review of Digital Literacies (AdvanceHE 2017)
It’s a circular conundrum.
Staff who don’t make use of technology in their teaching practice are unlikely to be encouraging students to transfer existing digital skills to their learning. If students are not prepared to make their own digital shifts, then the work we do in developing more digitally aligned forms of active learning will fail.
We’re caught in a rift where the sides are ever further apart. I’ve been exploring the idea of Technology Enhanced Learning (TEL) people as constituting their own ‘academic tribe and territory as per Becher and Trowler’s analogy (link to2nd ed 2001,) or having ‘signature pedagogies‘ which act as a barrier. The vast majorty of staff who teach and support learning are caught in the middle of this chasm, cast off from being totally analogue but still far away from the land TEL people inhabit.
The problem is one of invisibility. TEL people can’t see them because they self-exclude from events and workshops.
Institutions need better bridges to support staff to step out with confidence from analogue to digital practice. This requires systematic and empathetic support. Without this, and realistic workload models, with suitable reward and recognition, the digital shift isn’t going to happen.
My contributions to the Summer Programme from an LTE perspective all involved digital ways of working. It’s 2018. Technology is expected but take-up remains diverse.
This is where you’ll find me.
Trying to understand difference, to theorise diversity, to make little bridges which might one day come together in a more intsitutionally recognised form.
On the conference day I presented a session called Digital Shifts: Academic Identity in a Digital Age. It was along similar lines to this blog. Something has to change and those who work in the borders between the old analogue and new digital practices are well placed to begin the conversations.
I’ve constructed blog posts for each of the three workshops I was involved in, two with colleagues who think in similar ways.
See, it’s not just me!
This is how change happens, as one by one a group of like-minded people develops.
- Introduction to Blended and Distance Learning looking at the pedagogic difference between face-to-face and virtual learning and introducing socio-constructivist models like Garrison and Anderson’s Community of Inquiry
- Digital Shifts: Introducing Inclusive Approaches to Teaching and Learning, moving from thinking disability to diversity and Designing for Diverse Learners with Lee Fallin
- Introducing a Design for Active Learning approach to teaching and learning enhancement with Patrick Lynch
Two conferences in two weeks.
One in Genoa, the other in Hull.
Both lookng at learning and teaching, one from a range of international perspectives, the other one local, so closer to home and day-to-day working reality, but both with so much in common.
Both facing essential digital shifts in attitude and practice which constitute attributes for a digital age. There’s no alternative to getting digital but we haven’t yet found a way to bring everyone to the same starting point, or reached agreement on where that starting point is.
If we could achieve this, it would be a useful first step.
images from pixabay.com