As mentioned in my contextual statement, I consider communication to be fundamental to the work of a learning technologist, especially in a role such as mine with direct support for staff. In my current role communication and working with others takes place in three key areas:
With curriculum leaders and staff
To directly troubleshoot and support staff, to assist with new technology, to ensure curriculum needs are met. I am required to report to and attend a formal Curriculum Leaders Meeting monthly. We also have the Digital Learning Group meeting most months. This a strategic group that encompasses staff from across the college, here we discuss digital learning issues and also take feedback from staff C,D. Individual staff are invited to contact us for support via phone, email, teams and and a live chat function on the VLE – or even just pop into the office.
With our quality and HR teams
To ensure that current training needs are being met, to make sure that our staff are confident in using technology. I attend regular meetings on the migration to the new CPD platform and we have been actively designing new courses that signpost staff to external digital skills resources, such as the Enhance Digital Teaching Platform A,B
With strategic leadership teams
To reflect wider college mission and promote a consistent digital learning experience for all learners cross college. The college leadership teams have representatives on both the Digital Learning Group and the Curriculum Leaders meeting. I have also participated in a number of college transformation groups including Curriculum and College Induction.
I have prioritised the team working to engage with staff since joining the college. As mentioned under Core Area 2 in February 2020 my plan was to reach out to staff in different buildings, at the same time build our SharePoint pages to be a central repository for help and information. When everything changed in March 2020 the SharePoint pages became central to our communications policy with staff (Ref 4.1). Using the news facility the team could communicate recent developments, disseminate the latest guidance or share good practice B,D. I also kept the team’s more traditional help pages, but rebranded into support, and added weekly Microsoft Teams links for drop-in sessions. These are also advertised via a weekly bulletin to staff with links back to the pages. As our Quality team also use their SharePoint regularly I can cross populate articles were necessary.
Available routes of communication with staff are email, teams, SharePoint site or telephone. Although feedback is that on problem-solving the team is efficient and responsible, we do struggle with engaging staff. Evidence is that response from our email bulletins is limited, and our drop-ins don’t attract more than 1 or 2 staff at most. Take up of drop-in sessions is highest if they are advertised as part of a staff development day, or if we talk to a department head about using it as a dedicated training day for the members of their team.
I do have evidence that the SharePoint news pages are viewed by staff and we have had staff contact us directly as a result of this so I am not worried that staff are not dropping in. Our email and webchat traffic is higher and our staff training survey indicated that staff are not reluctant to ask for help. In fact, we often get requests from staff for help with IT systems outside our remit as we are a trusted point of contact to direct them to the correct place. I am not concerned but I would like to more effectively create a community of practice around eLearning and will continue to explore ways to generate engagement D.
Engaging with the ALT mailing list, the EdTech conferences and the JISC Planning for Coronavirus community meant that I remained connected with the latest developments in eLearning and could communicate best practice to our strategic teams B,D (Ref. 4.2. Digifest 2021 meeting report on sharepoint pdf)