What was the simple idea? To move our teaching and learning skills support from the University website into our Moodle-based VLE. Why did we want to make this change? Initially, we were primarily concerned with moving away from text-heavy, static web pages to something concise and interactive to allow staff to actively develop their skills. What’s surprised us about the making this move? The broad variety of ways in which the VLE can operate to support staff as we shift from simply ‘transmitting’ information about teaching and learning to creating a space that actively models some of the practices and ideas we’re introducing.
For instance, we realised early on that although teaching staff would be coming to the Toolkit for support around other pedagogical issues – such as teaching your first class, how to teach study skills, how to support students with a range of needs – we had the opportunity to model the possibilities for good use of VLEs. Studies such as Kreber (2010) show that experience has a much greater impact on shaping academics understanding of pedagogy than explicit training, so in modelling the possibilities of VLEs for learning, we provide staff with experiences that develop their understanding of the pedagogical use and value of VLEs.
Similarly, Gayle et al (2013) argue that lecturers only develop a nuanced understanding of teaching and learning when they can connect theory to experience. Placing the Toolkit in the VLE has meant teachers from across the University have made contributions (videos, top tips etc.) and hence, teachers using the Toolkit hear examples and advice from their colleagues, about contexts they recognise. As well as aiding staff learning, this also models the value of peer-to-peer teaching and learning, as well as of reflection for continued professional development.
Having explored the ways in which we’ve used the VLE to empower lecturers’ learning about pedagogy, we’ll close by outlining our future plans for the Toolkit, including how we can use data generated by use of the Toolkit to gain insight into how teachers learn to inform the Toolkit’s development and our wider teaching training and support activities.
Gayle, Barbara M., Nancy Randall, Lin Langley, and Raymond Preiss. (2013) Faculty Learning Processes: A Model for Moving from Scholarly Teaching to the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning. Teaching and Learning Inquiry: The ISSOTL Journal 1:1, pp. 81–93. doi: 10.1353/iss.2013.0001.
Kreber, Carolin (2010) Academics’ Teacher Identities, Authenticity and Pedagogy. Studies in Higher Education 35:2, pp. 171–94. doi:10.1080/03075070902953048.