Beginning ocTEL: Big and little questions

question marks

The open course on Technology Enhanced Learning (#octel) from ALT (the Association for Learning Technology) began its second run yesterday and I have signed up. For the next few weeks then, this blog will record my participation, learning and reflections as I read, engage and … whatever the tutors have planned for us. Posts will also be tweeted and shared on Googleplus where I hope they might lead to some wider discussion.

This first week of ocTEL has been framed as a period of orientation and that is going to be valuable given the challenges participants often experience on this type of open course. With a lot of online spaces available for sharing and discussion it can seem overwhelming if you try to see and do everything. Hopefully the time and the activities in these first five days will allow participants to get their bearings.

The first activity, which is the subject proper of this post, gets us off to a good start by bringing the focus down to what each of us wants to get from the course. By reflecting on our own context and articulating our ambitions we are able to clarify what we might need to look for as we move through the course. By selecting materials and choosing discussions I expect to be able to tailor the course to my learning needs, but unless I have a clear idea of what those might be I risk spending the time trying to take in everything – and getting frustrated and anxious in the process!

The first task, then, is to reflect on my work experience and ambitions for developing and teaching to identify the most important question about TEL or cluster of issues that matter to me.

I suppose the over-arching question – the BIG question of the title – would have to be around digital literacy. How can I use my role, knowledge and experience to develop digital literacies among staff so that they can in turn develop them in their students?

This breaks down into smaller questions:

  • How can I encourage colleagues to explore or try digital technology options?
  • How can I best bridge the gap between teaching/learning from a (research) academic perspective and technology?

Does identifying these questions help me to establish some learning outcomes for myself in ocTEL? Would doing that limit my learning in this great big open resource that could hold so many possibilities for serendipitous learning? I think it is probably too early to say. For now I have recorded what seems important to me now, but I will try to stay alert to opportunities throughout the course.

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6 Responses to Beginning ocTEL: Big and little questions

  1. Janet Gordon says:

    Interesting questions, Anne. Before we move out of orientation, I wonder what works well already? What would you continue doing and why?


  2. annehole says:

    Thanks for your comment Janet. You ask some very good questions too. What works well already? That is very difficult to know. Evaluating what I do is challenging. In one-to-one interactions it is possible to begin to know the outcomes of conversations and other interventions, but when the encouragement is in the form of blog posts, online resources or workshops it becomes harder to know what impact one is having. So I’m going to continue building relationships so that I can get a better sense of what is needed and what is working.
    I think that bridging the gap between teaching and technology happens best when you start with the learning need and then think about whether there is a technology solution. I see the role of the learning technologist as a sort of matchmaker – understanding the learning/teaching issues that faculty have and the range of tools that technology is offering and making connections between them.
    Given that, some of the things that work well are: keeping abreast of teaching colleagues’ and students’ needs; connecting with other learning technologists through a well developed PLN; exploring and playing with new tools, services and platforms – and having a system for collecting and curating interesting finds for the future.


  3. I know what you mean about evaluation. Today someone spoke enthusiastically about how useful they had found some screencasts. I happen to know who made them and can pass on the positive feedback, but this was caught by chance.

    I like “matchmaker”. I’d like to do more matchmaking between colleagues – getting them talking to each other about what they’re doing or what they’d like to do and having them share experiences and examples of their use of technology. If only there were more time for this, in person or online.

    What do you favour for curation and do you keep your finds private or share them with colleagues / your wider network?


    • annehole says:

      I use a combination of things for collecting and curating material I find. Some things I want to share straight away either with individuals, groups or the public so I’ll share with Twitter and/or Googleplus. Flipboard is great for themed ‘magazines’ that you can get others to contribute to and I’ve got a couple I keep going all the time and recently set up a couple for special week long events. I use Diigo to collect tagged links that I think have some longevity and will be useful to a wider audience over time – it is linked from our website but in reality it’s mainly shared when someone says ‘do you know anything about x’ and I can pull up a collection of bookmarks for them! I also have a personal stash in Evernote!


  4. Pingback: Enthusing academic staff for technology-enhanced learning | Education, Learning and Technology

  5. Pingback: Enthusing staff for technology-enhanced learning

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