a) An understanding of teaching, learning and/or assessment processes
On moving into the field of Technology Enhanced Learning I undertook self-directed study in the form of a Coursera course in 2014 – Learning to Teach Online A. Despite working in Higher Education for 20 years I didn’t hold a formal teaching qualification and my length of service and role meant I was ineligible for internal teaching qualifications. I still wanted to explore concepts of Learning Design and Educational theory to better inform my practice. This course introduced me to the importance of clear learning objectives, evaluating student outcomes, promoting active and authentic learning and different methods of teaching delivery and assessment.
For the purposes of an eLearning support role, our primary target learners are our teaching and professional services staff and our courses take the form of either structured continuing professional development (CPD) or targeted just-in-time delivery. In March 2020 I gained a very real experience of providing just-in-time training as we prepared staff for remote delivery through Teams and Zoom.
The objective of both courses was clear and defined by our Quality Team. Staff should be confident users of remote delivery platforms and be able to deliver live teaching to students. I considered that this was primarily at training need and concentrated on identifying the basic knowledge staff would need to complete the course, the learning outcomes, and the content required to produce this.
For both courses I wanted staff to attend using the platform we were introducing to create an authentic experience and model good design A,D. Both courses followed the same basic structure:
- On course registration staff would be sent a link to the software with guidance on signing up and using the software plus an invitation to get in touch if they had problems. Using this flipped learning technique meant I could standardise prior knowledge and identify any issues before the class A. (Ref. 2.1 Fig. 1. Zoom invitation letter)
- Session would be limited to half an hour and would have a limit of 15 staff. Powerpoint would be used for the agenda (course components) and for information not easily covered by live demonstration but this would be a practical session. Both members of the eLearning team would attend, one presenting the platform and the other monitoring chat and answering questions. Staff would be asked to switch off camera and mic. (Ref. 2.2. Meetings in Zoom – pptx) A smaller class,concentrating on activity rather than a “talking head” with some interaction in the chat would help to keep staff engaged and hopefully offset “zoom fatigue” A.
- At the end of the session staff would be sent a copy of the slides and a guides to the processes we had covered. They were also invited to submit evidence of applying what they had learnt (Ref. 2.3 Fig. 2. Zoom assessment letter)
The sessions were divided into a weekly Basic Microsoft Teams session, with live demonstrations of basic functions in teams (adding members, creating channels, starting and recording meetings, and then separate sessions on creating staff or class teams. For Zoom we ran a weekly Zoom training, covering the well-publicised security considerations when using Zoom, and setting up meetings B.
The most significant driver in my understanding of teaching and learning processes, as applied to CPD, has been the professional networks and associated conferences and webinars I have had access to B,C. In my own personal “learning-by-doing” I have seen the tech learning strategies that engaged audiences and aided retention and I implemented these in training A. Although I considered the learning outcomes of the courses, I didn’t fully consider how they would fit with the teaching staff’s ongoing professional development in blended learning. In effect, we ran parallel to the community of learning developing around delivery, missing an opportunity to fully integrate our courses into our CPD as outlined in Bigg’s theory of Constructive Alignment A.
Another important lesson learnt was to ask for feedback directly after the session (in the assessment email) rather than through a separate site. I receive no comments at all on our formal training feedback form, having the twofold effect that: a) I couldn’t evaluate the effectiveness of our training, b) our learners missed an opportunity to reflect and evaluate what they had learnt A,C. I did, however, receive some informal feedback via email that the staff found the sessions helpful. (Ref. 2.4 Fig. 3. Staff feedback on zoom training)
The resources I developed were not suitable for self-directed learning although we did provide a series of guides specifically for key issues identified during the training. Although they fulfilled our need for rapid delivery at the time it was not a good model for future training. In particular, half-hour recordings of the platforms needed to be re-recorded every time the apps were updated. For just-in-time training to be effective it needs to both meet the learner need and be both timely and relevant A.
In the coming year, I will be applying for a HE fellowship and use this to further explore Learning and Teaching concepts.
b) An understanding of your target learners
My appointment at the College was in November 2019 and soon after arrival, we met with the Quality team to discuss the training needs of staff C,D. An audit of the courses on the VLE had identified gaps in usage and problems with accessibility so our initial training design was to be around course structure in Moodle and creating accessible materials A,D. We designed a Powerpoint presentation for Staff Development Day in Feb 2020 on these themes and started a series of weekly drop-in sessions on the different College Sites. The intention was to familiarise all staff with our team and then work with them to support technology enhanced learning. We were also working in Teams ourselves and starting to disseminate to staff how this could be used as a discussion and collaboration tool with learners A,B,D.
Everything changed in March 2020 when the needs of our learners transformed and online learning became the default. The College had an institutional subscription to Microsoft Teams and staff strongly encouraged to use Microsoft Teams for any online lessons or interactive sessions with students (See discussion under Core Area 1, Operational Issues. Zoom was also used by staff, more for internal meetings, but also with students on work placements or with low computer skills, where they didn’t automatically have access to the software. The aim then was to train as many staff as quickly as possible, as described in section 2a. From April through to June 2020 we trained over 170 staff in Teams and nearly 150 staff in Zoom.
The Microsoft Teams and Zoom training we delivered between March and June was necessary and timely but it was obvious that not all learners were confident in these technologies or engaged with the dedicated training sessions. By September 2020 it became apparent that the support offered should be less reactive and more proactive C. In consultation with colleagues in curriculum and quality, I developed an online survey to anticipate training needs. (Ref 2.5 Fig5, Ref. 2.6 Online survey questions – accessible format – pdf)
The results were interesting but not unexpected (Ref 2.7 Online survey response summary – pdf). Staff requested more detailed pedagogical training in online delivery systems (most noticeably Teams), and technical introductions to blended learning tools. Of the 65 survey responses, well over 50% requested delivery that was a mix of dedicated training sessions and just-in-time delivery. In response to this, I revised my learning design, starting with an online self-directed course presented in accessible formats, which could be augmented by a dedicated drop-in/workshop session, and the materials from which could be added to help pages C,D. (Ref. 2.8. Video of course. Ref. 2.9. transcript of Loom recording Ref. 2.9 Help pages with link to resources). Powerpoints would be used only to present contact information, links, or to bookend sections. All our courses now include a feedback form A,C.
Ref 2.9. Transcript Using the Quiz Activity in My College/VLE (pdf) Loom doesn’t support closed captions or transcripts for free accounts so this was generated by importing the video into Word Online.
It is structured that you can drop in and out and is much more of guide than a block of informationStaff feedback on what they liked about the Quiz Activity course
As a result of the work we had done in the previous 12 months, I decided to continue with the weekly drop-in sessions for staff. Although take-up is small the consistent timings and known availability of the team makes it a solid foundation for a future training programme on, for example, a new VLE platform. The College is migrating to a new CPD platform (Totara) and I have encouraged Course Creators to adopt a course format that includes a confidence check at the start and end of the course and a feedback form C,D.
The College has adopted the JISC digital experiences survey for 2021 and 2022 and I will be using this to gain further insight into my learner’s digital skills and experiences. The move to the Totara platform will also mean we can align more closely our CPD provision with training needs identified by staff during yearly appraisal.