Changing staff development (3 Short Papers 0009, 0118, 0152)


12:00 - 13:00 on Wednesday, 8 September 2010 in Room 1


9 Leading e-Learning: achieving personal growth whilst overcoming self-doubt
Kyriaki Anagnostopoulou, Susannah Quinsee


118 Online teaching of ICT skills within subject content – resolving the tensions
Marion Hall


152 Cultivating a digital habitat: developing the e-flective
practitioner by creating a virtual collaborative learning
environment
Paul Lowe, Lindsay Jordan


9 Leading e-Learning: achieving personal growth whilst overcoming self-doubt
Kyriaki Anagnostopoulou, Susannah Quinsee
Stemming from the lack of leadership development available for Heads of e-Learning (HeL) in UK higher education institutions this paper reports on research which sits within a larger boundary and identity study funded by the Leadership Foundation in Higher Education. “Outstanding leaders base their hopes for the future on what they have learnt through assessing their past experiences” (Ramsden 1998, 12). It is precisely this previous learning which leaders of e-learning have done, how they conceive of it and how it influences the way in which they lead the enhancement of learning and teaching in their institutions was explored during this research project. The absence of research which brings together the two phenomena coupled with the uniqueness of the role of HeLs provided the basis for an original contribution to the field of research. A phenomenological approach was used to explore the conceptions of learning and leadership and the conceptual framework was underpinned by Heideggerian theory. Data was collected during 6 in-depth semi-structured interviews which enquired about HeLs’ experiences. Theories and perceptions of the two phenomena and transcripts were then analysed using the modified Stevick-Colaizzi-Keen method (Moustakas, 1994). Focus groups were used to present and substantiate the findings as applicable to the community of HeLs. A comparison of the structures of the two phenomena revealed that they are intertwined under certain conditions. This has resulted in two key findings which will inform the planning of leadership development for HeLs. Firstly, when greater self-presence of participants was evident both phenomena afforded challenging learning experiences which led to personal growth. However research findings position greater self-presence positively with regard to learning, but negatively in relation to functional performance in leadership. Secondly, feelings of fraudulence, of being imposters, were evident in conceptions of both phenomena which could inhibit personal growth. Findings and recommendations are offered with caution as they may not be applicable for, or generalisable to, leaders not in this unique position of ‘Head of e-Learning’ (middle manager, new professional, straddling both the academic and administrative domains, etc) or leaders outside the higher education sector as value systems vary significantly.


118 Online teaching of ICT skills within subject content – resolving the tensions
Marion Hall
To conform with concepts of ‘graduateness’ and meet employer requirements, graduates should have acquired and be able to demonstrate information literacy and computing (ICT) skills. These skills are usually taught in isolation from the subject matter of undergraduate courses, so students often see them as irrelevant or find them difficult to learn. Previously, integrating ICT skills teaching into subject contexts has not been seen as an option, for several reasons. ‘Subject’ teachers tend to regard teaching and assessment of ICT skills as competing with teaching and assessment of their subject. They may not have expertise or confidence to teach ICT. If ICT skills teaching is embedded in course materials, students already having the necessary skills may resent working through it simply to acquire the subject knowledge they need. Finally, ICT learning materials need frequent updating, placing an extra burden on teachers. A new, second-level, distance-learning module, being developed for presentation in October 2010 as a core part of a health and social care degree, aims to solve all these problems. The module is structured around a series of online activities, many of which demand the use of ICT. Students without the necessary skills are sent ‘at point of need’ to an ICT skills activity, maintained in the faculty’s online ‘resource bank’. These skills activities can be used for any module and previously were made available to all students simply as ‘optional extras’. Each activity is, however, designed so students can complete it using a subject-specific task set in their module, thus eliminating duplication of effort. To satisfy teachers’ desire to assess content over skills, ‘light-touch’ skills assessment is also being adopted. This involves assessing outcomes of activities rather than skills per se. Plans to evaluate this novel approach to ICT skills teaching include investigating the impact on student and staff perceptions and experiences via questionnaires and interviews, measuring ICT competency at course start and end and analysing assessment scores to look at effects on student attainment. I expect increased use of ICT skills activities, increased competence in ICT and greater appreciation of the relevance of ICT to work and study.


152 Cultivating a digital habitat: developing the e-flective
practitioner by creating a virtual collaborative learning
environment
Paul Lowe, Lindsay Jordan
The online Masters in Photojournalism at LCC operates entirely virtually utilising a variety of web 2.0 and social networking approaches, creating a 'learnscape'; a series of overlapping interactive spaces that act as a 'virtual commons' replicating the physical spaces in a face-to-face environment. Informed by Wenger's ideas of Communities of Practice and his newer ideas on creating 'Digital Habitats', the course also draws on Eskow's concept of e-learning, which argues that the power of experiential learning can be amplified by the affordances of e learning and in particular social media, by unpacking and opening up the process of learning and sharing it easily with others. This creates self-reflective 'scholar practitioners', and, in our reworking of Schon's idea, 'e-flective practitioners', who use social media to debate, discuss and deconstruct their learning with their peers in an ongoing, iterative process. Central to this is the notion that we are all learners; in the fast changing world of digital media, we are all, staff and students, endeavouring to understand and evaluate the evolving landscape of practice. We collaborate with the students in identifying the pedagogic goal(s) we need to achieve, such as enhanced collaboration, or developing the critical judgment necessary to assess one's own practice. We then collectively experiment with various solutions, thereby co-creating the learning space, trialling and exploring ideas to find the best ones for the group by using the most suitable available technologies to address current pedagogic issues, moving to better alternatives as they emerge. Our learning design philosophy thus becomes a 'living curriculum' maintained in conjunction with the students, so that together we are constantly engaged in developing a virtual collaborative learning environment (CLE) that blends together a variety of different social media platforms, with different temporalities that allow learners to interact in ways that suit them, rather than ways that are dictated to them by a more closed system such as a traditional VLE. The CLE is thus an organic, fluid space, in which peer-to-peer support and engagement is central, and in which the goals are to collaboratively enhance the group and individual's digital literacies.