In 2013 a culture of flexible learning from both a departmental, learner and institutional perspective was cultivated in order to deliver an enhanced ‘Welcome to the University’ orientation for staff and build capacity for future developments at the University of Leeds.
One year on this paper looks to see how the wider aims of the ‘Welcome to The University’ original project to “create a space where staff can collaboratively and individually create online resources for colleagues and students to access” (Little, 2013) have developed. This has been a process of ‘learning to ride’ (ALT, 2014) and a journey across this landscape of practice, which is transformative of the self (Wegner, 2014).
The project aimed to:
Identify an effective and customisable technological solution to fulfil pedagogic requirements, now and in the future.
Empower educators to create engaging online learning opportunities with minimal support.
Foster a collaborative approach towards the development of online learning provision.
Increase learner engagement with professional development.
Using WordPress and carefully creating a specific experience made it possible to enable colleagues to use a new approach to delivering online self-directed professional development and interaction. Specifically, the creation of the online platform enabled “active” and community-based environments which as Puzziferro and Shelton state are the “most favorable for both student satisfaction and learning outcomes.” (Puzziferro, Shelton 2008).
After the creation of the Welcome to Leeds resource the platform was opened up for all staff within the department to create resources and materials. So far nineteen resources have been created. Two options enable either a rapid-approach to content development or a more in-depth project based approach.
This paper will demonstrate the flexibility of this approach, showcase resources and highlight learning gained by all staff during this process – and where we have fallen off (ALT, 2014) and got right back on again! Further examples of WordPress use within education will be highlighted to demonstrate how this approach has already worked in numerous contexts – especially in enabling an approach that is “constructivist, active and authentic activities… [which are the] most effective (Puzziferro, Shelton 2008).
Innovation was in the implementation of WordPress and the flexibility this has enabled. Normally used for creating websites and blogs the customisable platform provides the opportunity to develop a richer learning environment, accessible across a range of devices. Wider support via the WordPress community enabled the department to learn together; this was achieved using an innovative collaborative approach increasingly required for education and research activity. The existing institutional VLE was considered but rejected as it was lacking in flexibility for enabling the creation of specific resources as well as lacking in working seamlessly across desktop and mobile devices. Both of these are a key feature in enabling both colleagues, within the department, and across the wider University the ability to learn anywhere, anytime with high-quality interactions. This is particularly important as staff development often is “fitted around’ other activities and could be on the go.
By returning to this project after a year the journey of learning to ride and make use of new technologies in a specific context can be shared. Often projects are often presented as a one-off – this revisiting and development of the project enables ideas and understanding to be more fully shared.
Hands-On [option if accepted as a 30 minute presentation] Otherwise will present as a 15 minute presentation]
10 minutes of ‘hands-on’ time for conference participants to experience both the resources and the tools used to create them – whether on laptop or mobile devices. Followed by 5 minutes of questions and suggestions from the audience.
ALT (2014). Call for Abstracts for ALT-C 2014 – Introduction. Last accessed 14 April 2014 https://www.alt.ac.uk/alt-conference/altc2014/submit-proposal/call-abstracts-0
Little (2013) ALTC 2013 Abstract: http://www.learningtechnologist.co.uk/2013/09/11/altc2013-building-a-culture-of-flexible-online-learning-presentation/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=altc2013-building-a-culture-of-flexible-online-learning-presentation
Puzziferro, M. Shelton, K (2008) A Model for Developing High-Quality Online Courses: Integrating a Systems Approach with Learning Theory. Journal of Asynchronous Learning Networks, Volume 12: Issue 3-4
Wenger, Etienne (2014) Talking About Teaching at University of Leeds 14 April 2014 http://www.sddu.leeds.ac.uk/sddu-talking-about-teaching-next-event.html
|Affiliation||University of Leeds|