The Royal Agricultural University is a small, specialist institution in the heart of the Cotswolds. While the RAU has been at the forefront of agricultural education for more than 170 years, leading on many creative projects, until recently digital didn’t feature heavily in its portfolio. The arrival of a new VC in 2015 has sparked positive digital change. The most notable is the successful win of HEFCE catalyst funding for the university, in collaboration with the University College of Estate Management (UCEM), to develop four blended learning courses to be ready for delivery in 2021.
In late 2017 Marieke Guy was employed as the first RAU Learning Technologist – her designated mission: to deliver change with a small budget and limited resources in a highly traditional institution where digital is not seen as the norm.
At small institutions staff often wear many hats and cover multiple areas of responsibility. The end result can be that expertise and skills is confined to individuals and not embedded throughout the institution. One of the biggest challenges Marieke has faced is how to create systemic change throughout her institution as oppose to fragmentary change. And how this intrinsic change can happen in parallel with operating at a grass roots level working with practitioners.
Marieke’s talk will focus on her efforts (both successful and unsuccessful) and achievements and offer some top tips for growing a learning technology culture. Many of the more successful efforts have been through collaboration with, and support from, individuals, other HE institutions and learning technology organisations. Helen Keller wisely said: “Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much.”
The growing plan has included:
• Getting the soil right – how small conversations can lead to big visions; support through external networks; identifying existing best practice; engaging students in the journey, understanding pedagogy.
• Sowing the seeds – developing a digital strategy; reviewing VLE use; encouraging diverse approaches to learning and teaching such as video, VR and online assessment; making online the place to be (from resource lists to student portals); building staff digital capability through taking training to where it matters.
• Watching things grow – using institutional drivers; convincing management; thinking about data; nurturing digital champions, normalising practice; using the ‘adopt > embed > normalise’ approach recognised in change management theory.
She will conclude by talking about future plans for the university including partnerships and online delivery.
This session is of interest to anyone who wants to hear about how ‘more with less’ is possible if you make the most of collaborations and outside help. There will be lots of useful tips and far too many agriculture analogies!
Session content: evaluation and reflection
This session is based on existing and ongoing practice at the RAU. We see this practice as part of a digital transformation. At the Royal Agricultural University (RAU) we are at the beginning of this transformation process. We are working on a new Digital Strategy that will form the backbone of our digital activity and allow progress to be made in a comprehensive and integrated manner. Within the strategy there are a basket of metrics that will allow us to reflect on this transformation.
We are currently developing a series of success measures that will support delivery of the strategy and its future appraisal. These will be based on internal and external metrics and data including:
• Results of the Jisc digital student tracker survey
• NSS/ SSS scores
• IT service enquiries
• Library enquiries
• Marketing material usage (hits on websites, blogs etc.)
• VLE usage
• Peer observation records
• Student Union
• Assessment methods (formative and summative)
All our activities will be shared externally through our Digital Transformation at RAU blog.
Digital Transformation at RAU [online] available at: https://digitalrau.wordpress.com/
Royal Agricultural University [online] available at: https://www.rau.ac.uk/
Resources for participants
Marieke Guy posted an update in the session From little acorns…growing a learning technology culture [18-71] 8 months, 3 weeks ago
Here’s my poster for the session https://www.slideshare.net/MariekeGuy/from-little-acornsgrowing-a-learning-technology-culture – too much to get down on paper! Come and find me for a chat instead.