How can we recognise and share the technology-enhanced practice of academic colleagues?
At the University of Central Lancashire, we have identified an approach with significant and measurable impact.
In our Technology Enabled Learning and Teaching (TELT) team, a core objective is to foster communities of practice around digitally inspired approaches to learning, teaching, research and leadership. These communities facilitate the sharing of TEL best practice, as well as connecting colleagues with others outside of their subject disciplines.
Building on both the success of these communities and increasing engagement with Microsoft’s Educator Community (MEC), a new initiative was launched in September 2018 with our Faculty of Health and Wellbeing. As a wider institutional recognition framework, DigiLearn enables and empowers colleagues in recognising and sharing digital approaches and student impact. The framework is defined around three levels of award that are titled appropriately with nouns that best represent the level of achievement and recognition.
Each level entails its own set of unique additional criteria around sharing practice, initially at an internal faculty level (Practitioner), moving on to institutional level (Advocate) and finally, sector level (Champion). The submitted evidence includes a combination of blog posts, written and video case studies, presentations and publications. As one progresses through the programme, their sphere of influence grows and they are required to evidence how they have supported others along the way.
Since its initial launch, the impact and momentum generated by DigiLearn has proved extremely positive. The initiative is perpetually evolving as more colleagues achieve recognition for their capabilities, and worthwhile enhancements are identified and embedded. A bespoke professional academic practice framework is supporting the implementation phase of our ambitious Learning and Teaching Strategy, with digital capabilities fundamental to its success.
DigiLearn has become a recognised measure of personal achievement for academic colleagues, alongside the benefits acknowledged by our students of being part of an active and technology-enabled learning community. Directly addressing the theme ‘Learning Technology for wider impact’, conversations are now underway between course teams that would not have taken place otherwise, breaking down divisional barriers. Colleagues are regularly sharing innovative practice across the institution and in many cases the wider sector.
As an initiative, DigiLearn has had high impact on lifelong learning and directly supports our academic colleagues through a clear digital development pathway which complements our existing academic development provision.
Reflecting on 12 months of DigiLearn we will identify how participation and progression through the programme, ultimately results in technology-enhanced practice. Delegates will gain insight into how gamification can play an important role in engagement with TEL initiatives, as well as the transformational impact of fostering interdisciplinary communities of practice.
Looking ahead UCLan would like to invite other institutions to participate in the DigiLearn framework, which we strongly believe could be adapted to support technology enablement across the sector. The new DigiLearn Sector Community provides a collaborative platform for colleagues to share practice and innovation, as well as critically discuss topics pertinent to the sector. As of May 2019, members represent over 70 different FE & HE institutions.
Melia, C & Williams, K (2019). Sharing a transformational approach to practice-informed TEL. [online] https://digitalcapability.jiscinvolve.org. Available at: https://digitalcapability.jiscinvolve.org/wp/2019/03/27/sharing-a-transformational-approach-to-practice-informed-tel/ [Accessed 16/05/2019]
Melia, C (2018). DigiLearn: Building community, sharing practice and recognising achievement. [online] https://altc.alt.ac.uk. Available at: https://altc.alt.ac.uk/blog/2018/10/digilearn-building-community-sharing-practice-and-recognising-achievement/#gref [Accessed 06/03/2019]
Microsoft Educator Community – https://education.microsoft.com/