We know that “those working in the field of learning technology benefit enormously from collaboration and exchange of expertise with colleagues in similar roles in other institutions” (Dempster et al, 2003), while Wedgwood (2015) highlights the ‘worldwide network of learning professionals who are passionate about the subject and are actively sharing their findings, research, successes and failures’. Moreover, two of the four principles of CMALT (Certified Member of the Association of Learning Technology) accreditation reflect this fact:
an empathy with and willingness to learn from colleagues from different backgrounds and specialisms.
a commitment to communicate and disseminate effective practice.
However, as Reed (2015) points out ‘as Learning Technologists have become embedded within the fabric of the university and a focal point of the student experience, what is needed to plug a gap in one institution can be as unique as that institution and its very students’.
Therefore there is an obvious benefit for Learning Technologists in creating professional networks within an institution, but it is often the case that colleagues in the same organisation, particularly in large, complex Universities, often don’t collaborate as closely as they could, though practice inevitably varies.
This presentation will discuss a variety of mechanisms for cooperation and peer-support among Learning Technologists across Cardiff University. In particular it will track an eighteen-month journey to bring together a group of learning technologists in a way that focuses on their personal and professional development.
The talk will discuss the background of learning technology in the institution and how a diverse and somewhat isolated collection of individuals who identify themselves broadly as learning technologists first started to come together. We will look at how a formal, institution-sponsored community of practice emerged and how this evolved in focus and scale into a larger community within the University focused largely on dissemination of good practice.
The core of the presentation will focus on the creation and subsequent experiences of a smaller group of core ‘learning technologists’ rather prosaically called the Learning Technologists Group. Importantly, this group is independent from any official University department or group and, similarly, there is a greater focus on the personal and professional aspects rather than the institutional and work aspects, although the work context does of course inform much of the shared practice.
Some of the tangible outcomes of this group which will be discussed include:
a directory of expertise
an exploration and investigation of the role of Learning Technologists within the institution
A CMALT portfolio support group
We will report on a survey of members, which will look at general impact and investigate what colleagues value from such a group. We will reflect on lessons learned from this journey as well as challenges faced, and frame this within the wider context of professional networks for learning technologists, including for example ALT.
CMALT Prospectus (2014) – Accessed from: https://www.alt.ac.uk/sites/alt.ac.uk/files/ALT-CMALT-Prospectus-2014-web.pdf
Dempster, A., Beetham, H., Jackson, P., & Richardson, S. (2003). Creating virtual communities of practice for learning technology in higher education: Issues, challenges and experiences. ALT-J, 11(3), 103–117. https://doi.org/10.1080/0968776030110309
Reed, P. (2015). The structure and roles of Learning Technologists within Higher Education Institutions. In: Hopkins, D., ed., The Really Useful #EdTechBook, 1st ed. David Hopkins, pp.41-51.
Wedgwood, J. (2015). The skills and knowledge of a Learning Technologist. In: Hopkins, D., ed., The Really Useful #EdTechBook, 1st ed. David Hopkins, pp.61-90.