Supporting the deployment of learning technologies is the main part of my current role Academic Developer in TEL at the University of West London. I do it mostly through group and one-to-one training sessions with academic members of staff. I also support lecturers in their implementation of TEL to enhance and enrich the student learning experience. Below I present examples of training sessions I delivered with links to relevant feedback.
I have delivered group training in a range of technologies offered by the UWL, including:
- Blackboard and Turnitin Essentials: a hands-on group session at the start of the semester; introduction to basic functionalities of the VLE and the marking/feedback/originality platform;
- Poll Everywhere: a hands-on introductory session for interested staff; demonstrating Poll Everywhere from student and staff perspectives, creating own polls, using different question types, adjusting the settings to own needs;
- Effective marking in Turnitin – drop-in session: a drop-in session demonstrating the typical marking and feedback strategies in Turnitin;
- Panopto and Poll Everywhere for Library staff: demo of both systems, functionalities that may be useful for library purposes: screencasting, interaction in training sessions (see feedback here);
- Blended Learning: an introduction to the main principles of blended learning design and delivery, including the importance of appropriate planning and design and avoidance of technological determinism (see presentation on this page);
- Flipped Classroom approach: an introduction to the ‘flipped classroom’ philosophy with examples and analysis of case studies to inspire academics to adopt elements of the approach in their practice (see feedback here and report on the UWL’s Coffee Break TIPs blog).
I have also delivered individual training to support and further the use of learning technologies among staff. Examples include:
- Using rubrics in Turnitin (for Alexandros): demo of various types of rubrics and grading forms in Turnitin, investigation into which rubric is best for the School’s purposes. Outcome: Alexandros has started implementing rubrics in his module with a view to sharing the practice with other colleagues at the School (see feedback on this page).
- Using Poll Everywhere in law revision sessions (for Linda): demo of Poll Everywhere, creating and publishing pools, changing the settings in line with the purpose of the poll. Outcome: the tutor delivered a 1.5-hour revision session based on a legal case where students made decisions on the correct legal principles in place or correct procedure using PollEv polls (see feedback on this page).
- Using Poll Everywhere for the Students Union for the purpose of electing Course Representatives from large cohorts: I analysed the needs and delivered training on using Poll Everywhere and selecting correct settings for the purpose (see feedback on this page).
- Making and sharing video assessment/feedback files with students on Panopto: how to share recordings of students’ individual assessed presentations with individual students and external examiners, while making them invisible to other students (see feedback on this page).
- Marking and feedback in Turnitin and Bb: teacher vs. student view: a colleague requested a demo of what teachers and students see when submitting, marking and accessing feedback in Turnitin; as well as some guidance on how students can access grades and feedback, and on using Gradebook.
- Intro to TEL systems at UWL: I provide introductory training in TEL systems at UWL for new joiners. Before the sessions, I send out a welcome message which includes a link to this ‘Getting Started’ Xerte object.
I have designed and developed an online training course in the use of TEL for lecturers and tutors: discussed in 1a.
Providing training to colleagues has been a great opportunity for me to reflect on digital literacy and on the varied ways of using technologies in teaching. First of all, it quickly became clear to me that staff development interventions of the kind mentioned above should include both technical support (how to do something) and pedagogical guidance (what to do it for). For every training request, it is crucial to understand the pedagogical reason behind it – the purpose of the digital intervention. I have observed in training sessions that such a reflection often leads to productive discussions on various possible uses of the technology or functionality and fruitful exchanges of ideas.
I believe it is also important not to make assumptions on the level of digital literacy and of the willingness to engage with learning technologies. Some people may only wish to use the technologies in a very basic way and others may be willing to engage more with them. I have found that the key lies in understanding the motivations and reasons for undertaking the training, addressing concerns and encouraging participants to take small and manageable steps that are more likely to boost confidence.
All in all, I believe that training sessions in learning technologies should be purposeful. Technologies available are very robust and covering all of their functionalities may be discouraging and overwhelming for less advanced users. When the purpose of the training session is identified, I find it easier to focus on what is relevant and deliver teaching and learning more effectively.