Incoming ELESIG Officers 2020 – 2021: Who are they?

Each of the incoming officers was asked to write about why they were interested in applying for the role. This is what they have written.

Chair: Denise Sweeney

In my current role in the School of Education, University of Nottingham I support university teachers to reflect on their teaching practice with the aim of enhancing their students’ learning using a range of learning technologies.

As Chair of ELESIG over the 2020 2021 period as I would like to establish an ELESIG mentoring scheme for those members new to the learning technology field, those wanting to find ways to progress their careers as well as support those conducting research to develop and enhance their learner evaluation research design methodological competencies. This small scheme would enhance other ELESIG endeavours such as the proposed webinar series and toolkit as well as help ELESIG grow where members openly give and receive and create a supportive and collaborative professional culture.

I would like to build a stronger link with ALT. I have been an active peer reviewer for the ALT annual conference and have been a Conference Programme Committee member in 2013, 2014, 2015, 2017, and was enrolled for the 2020 conference. This engagement has helped me keep in touch with current learner evaluation research concerns and support researchers position their work within the literature.

Vice-Chair : Jim Turner

I have been an active member of ELESIG NW for a number of years helping to run events alongside my colleagues from University of Liverpool and Manchester. The reason I believe that this group is so important to this sector is because it tries to promote the wider appreciation of the research in the area of technology and the student experience.

One of the first sessions that ELESIG NW ran with my support was with Paul Ashwin from the University of Lancaster. His presentation impressed upon me the need for those in this area to dedicate more time to understanding the research in order to improve its quality. This led to our group applying for a small grant from ELESIG to start a Journal club shared across a number of institutions in the northwest. I would class myself as a beginner in the world of academic research, having not published widely. However, I think this post requires somebody with an appreciation of the difficulties that members of our community have in finding time and also confidence in researching this particular field.

In my own institution I am a senior learning technologist. I’ve been in this post for over 10 years and my role is to support staff in their pedagogical understanding of how to apply technology to the educational context. This involves me reading many articles, attending conferences, and supporting others in small educational research projects. I teach on the postgraduate certificate in higher education at the University. I am also an active member on the ALT NW group. Prior to this I was involved in a research project that developed commercial learning technologies for the primary and secondary education market for over 10 years.

ELESIG faces some unique challenges and opportunities. Learning technology as a culture and a community is always forward thinking and looking to what’s next. After 20 years of working in this area I believe that there is a need to be more reflective. The unique challenges and opportunities in the past six months has turbocharged the sector to explore learning technology as never before. We need practitioners and users of those technologies to be aware of the dangers and the possibilities.

Secretary: Jess Humphries

I was originally involved with ELESIG-Midlands back when I worked in the library world. After a number of years as a passive member and two children later I re-engaged several years ago. Working alongside Rob Howe and Laura Hollinshead, we hosted a symposium at the University Warwick where colleagues from across the region came together to share their research around student experience. Being part of this network is inspiring and insightful. Whilst a lot of my work is around staff development, the student experience is at the core of what I do and I am always keen to develop my experience and understanding. I am at the stage in my career where I am starting to think about developing my research profile. Working with ELESIG provides an opportunity to meet colleagues from across the country who have an interest in this area. The opportunity to work alongside experienced inspiring colleagues as secretary of ELESIG is a privilege – and hopefully I can also bring something back to the group – supporting the future work of ELESIG.

Within my role as a Senior Teaching Fellow at the University of Warwick I lead on a Postgraduate Award in Technology Enhanced Learning – supporting staff through a project based course on the development of TEL interventions. More recently I have also taken on the portfolio of lead of a new Learning Design Consultancy Unit – working with colleagues from the Academic Development Centre, Academic Technology and experts from across the university to support staff in the move to teaching online. The pivot to online has placed a spotlight on digital education and there is a need to evaluate effectively the possibilities and challenges that we face within this landscape and what we take forward in a new blended post-covid world.


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