This paper outlines the experiences of our Learning Technology team as we discovered that accidental engagements can create better relationships and learning experiences than formal training. It shows how the creation of a podcast about digitally enhanced learning revealed the need for collaboration with staff from across the institution and improved engagement with the technology agenda demonstrating that creative and collaborative activities provide the best opportunities for progressing such outcomes.
Engaging academics with learning technologies is a key issue in Higher Education. Student expectations of their learning environment include access to relevant hardware, software and networks, and support for personal devices (Beetham, 2012). Staff are expected to be able to use an ever increasing variety of resources. To explore this area of development, the Digitally Enhanced Learning Team at the University of Wales, Newport (now University of South Wales) chose podcasting as a method of engaging with our users, reflecting the benefits of podcasting in Learning and Technology (Salmon & Nie, 2008) to enable delivery and contact with users whenever and wherever they choose.
By creating a podcast, the Learning Technologists were prompted to reflect on their practice to change from a reactive to a proactive way of networking with staff and work in subject contexts to discover potential discussion topics and interviewees. Not only were we able to foster closer working relationships with the interviewees but this process also led to the creation of a wider network of contacts and increased awareness of our work.
Following an action research approach, our team then used the outcomes of this engagement to progress wider engagement; supporting Digitally Enhanced Learning across the organisation. The consequence of the critical reflection led to the move from simply teaching staff how to use the systems to working with them as suggested by the socio-technical systems approach (Applebaum, 1997). The act of creation stimulated networking and inspired discussions and learning. Staff were no longer our ‘students’ but our co-creators and they were able to engage more readily with the technology agenda and consider its importance within their work.
Subsequently, the team used these valuable lessons learned in creating a second series of podcasts and planning for collaborative videos illustrating best practices in digital technologies around the university, demonstrating that creative and innovative collaboration activities developed in localised secure working environments offer an excellent way to collaboratively engage and learn with staff.
Applebaum, S. (1997) Socio-technical systems theory: an intervention strategy for organizational development. Management Decisions [online]. 35(6). pp.452-463. [Accessed 22 November 2013].
Beetham, H. (2012) Digital literacies in UK Universities: assessing the state of play. ALT-C 2012: a confrontation with reality, ALT, University of Manchester, 11-13 September 2012. ALT Open Access Repository [online]. Available from: http://repository.alt.ac.uk/2231/1/ALT-C_2012_abstracts_1.1.pdf [Accessed 12 March 2014].
Salmon, G. & Nie, M. (2008). Doubling the life of iPods. In Podcasting for learning in
universities, ed. Salmon, G & Edirisingha, P. pp.1–11. Glasgow: McGraw Hill/Open University Press.
|Affiliation||University of South Wales|