Dr. Teeroumanee Nadan, an independent higher education researcher Lisa Mustoe, Learning Technologist at the Royal Agricultural University (RAU) and Pip McDonald, Senior Learning Technology Project Officer Royal Agricultural University (RAU) took part in #HEBlogSwap 2022.
What is #HEBlogSwap is an opportunity created by Santanu Vasant and Emma Kennedy. Participants are invited to find a buddy, write a blog post together and share the post on Twitter using the hashtag #HEBlogSwap It is also possible to share favourite blog posts (Vasnant, 2022). In 2022, Santanu and Emma presented at the PressED, a conference exploring “A WordPress and”… Education, Pedagogy and Research Conference on Twitter” (PressED, n.d.) exploring #HEBlogSwap entitled ‘#HEBlogSwap: Sharing Practice and Building Community in Cyberspace‘.
The Royal Agricultural University (RAU) Digital Transformation blog was created by Marieke Guy in 2017 using WordPress. Since then, a wide range of blog posts have been created exploring the core tools we use and the projects we have delivered. In order to make the #HEBlogSwap happen, a collaborative document was created with a series of questions exploring a range of themes. We also had an a meeting to explore the #HEBlogSwap.
Teeroumanee: Yes, I delivered the first Moodle training to staff at one of my previous employers, designed everything from scratch online along with one more colleague, and exposed staff to the functionalities, as most of them were using features blindly and had no clue of the range of features that were available. What works? KISS – Keep It Simple Stupid. When I last designed such tips, I approached it as I would do for any project. I analysed what was existing (there was a long PDF, which from Learning Analytics, it was obvious that hardly anyone viewed/downloaded). Besides, it was so outdated and screenshots were taken from Moodle, and was not customised to the layout that was in use in the institution. So what works, is remembering, at every stage, why you are doing it, for whom, and what is your goal – both tangible and intangible. Of course, best is to have those tips using the very features of the platform. So, if you are preparing something for Moodle, you can set this up as a short module with features such as quizzes, drag and drop, forums, etc. Do not try to overdo it though, remember, KISS. What does not work? A quick job done because you have been given a short deadline and for the sake of making your TEL department Head look good in senior management meetings – a quick job will serve to no purpose to staff and students and you will get little engagement with the material. So take the time needed to design it.
Lisa: I have created ‘tips’ in previous roles. Some were printed as booklets for students to keep with their written work (reminder of methods) others were held electronically (not published) to guide staff through technical tasks. What works? Catering for different ‘styles’ – words and visuals. Simple navigation. Consider prior knowledge – link to or explain foundational knowledge. Accessible (Know where to find it quickly) as well as digitally accessible! Useful – readers should be able to see some value. Cultural change? – can short/sweet/often empower staff (and now students) towards valuing their skills and skill development more? What does not work? Complex dense documents – the tip should be a more attractive route – short and sweet. A tip which is not relevant for your wider audience. A tip which is confusing. A tip which does not start with a common understanding/skill/ or tool (!). Shouldn’t duplicate existing resources – link to them (future maintenance simpler).
- Catering for different ‘styles’ – words and visuals.
- Simple navigation.
- Consider prior knowledge – link to or explain foundational knowledge.
- Accessible (Know where to find it quickly) as well as digitally accessible!
- Useful – readers should be able to see some value.
- Cultural change? – can short/sweet/often empower staff (and now students) towards valuing their skills and skill development more?
What does not work
- Complex dense documents – the tip should be a more attractive route – short and sweet.
- A tip which is not relevant for your wider audience.
- A tip which is confusing.
- A tip which does not start with a common understanding/skill/ or tool (!)
- Shouldn’t duplicate existing resources – link to them (future maintenance simpler).
Pip: We create TEL and TECH Tips every week to support both staff and students at the RAU. It is always interesting to explore how other educators and institutions have approached the provision of TEL and TECH Tips and exploring what words/does not work and why. KISS – Keep It Simple Stupid sounds like an intuitive approach. What is best practice for TEL and TECH Tips? I try to create a video walkthrough using Camtasia and upload it to Panopto to share. Try to link the tip with examples of activities. Translating tip into tangible pedagogic value can help. Good to have a database so staff can search for tips (Lisa created this).
Teeroumanee: Digital literacy seems to be having different definitions, in particular focusing on skills. I like to focus digital literacy on the ‘how’ to use digital information. Nowadays, security and fake information are issues we are facing in all organisations and even in the society at large. It is important to not only focus on the hard and soft skills to use technology, but also understand the rationale behind. For instance, one of the reasons why GDPR is often breached, is not because people do not have the skills to keep it in check, but it is that they do not have the whole set of skills needed, which includes alternative use of tech (e.g. how to securely transfer files), but also the legal aspects and business acumen needed to use the tech and stay within legal boundaries, while being ethical at the same time.
Lisa: Having a broad understanding of the digital landscape. Being aware of how entwined digital is with our domestic/social lives as well as working lives. Extending a hand to others so that they don’t miss out – think older relatives, reluctant colleagues. Being confident in the skills that you need. Being confident that you will be able to develop new skills (access resources and support, not be scared). Be confident that you can manage the flow of ‘digital’ in your life without being overwhelmed.
Pip: I have been thinking about the idea of literacy as a “commodity” (Elsasser & Irvine, 1982). Also explored idea of critical Zoom literacies. Is this possible? Explored idea of (techno) auto ethnographic approaches to digital literacy with a research poster here (Leschallas & McDonald, 2022). A blog post was also published exploring this approach here (Leschallas & McDonald, 2022). I explored the idea of Zoom literacy in a blog post entitled Indiana Jones & the Breakout Tombs. Exploring Student Zoom Literacy here and Technology to Transgress. Spinoza, Energy & Expeditions of Joy. Exploring Critical Zoom Literacies with #ukfechat here.
Teeroumanee: I am the current Chair – vacancy is open for Co-Chair. The group was first founded outside ALT, and then became an ALT group sometime in Nov 2021. Here is a link to the page. I plan to share a link to my own notes from a recent presentation delivered as part of the pre-conference for ALTc2022.
Teeroumanee: It was my first ever poem, first ever open mic and really grateful for the opportunity. It was an alternative way for me to express my frustrations around social injustice within HE. I felt it was a more acceptable way as well. Here is a little journey of how I started my first ever poem to participating a second time to the Open Mic event. Prepping for my first poem reading! (Nadan, 2022), Celebrating World Creativity & Innovation with #creativeHE (Nadan, 2022). Recording of my creativeHE inaugural Open Mic. Contributing to OER22 serendipity true stories series by CogDog (Nadan, 2022). Finally, I ceated a blog post exploring a poem I wrote and performed at the #altc22 open mic YOU are forgetting me! (Nadan, 2022).
Pip: From host/co-organiser perspective, great to hear original work. Recent article exploring open mic entitled Opening the Mic: Polyvocality, Pedagogy & Creative Possibility (McDonald, 2022). Great to hear Aspa’s reflections on taking part in open mic in a blog post (Paltaglou, 2022).
Teeroumanee: Currently, I find myself doing more leadership work and I am really appreciative of the multimodal ways of presenting my ideas, thus targeting different audiences.Pip: during the Association for Learning Technologists (ALT) open mic event in September, part of the event included a pedagogic reflection exploring open mic as a methodology. I argued that it is an that is accessible, inclusive, interdisciplinary and customisable opportunity (McDonald, 2022). I am working on developing open mic guidelines and a re-usable template to help others create an open mic event with Chrissi Neranzti to publish in the National Teaching Repository. A presentation was delivered at the University of Brighton at the Everyday Creativity Conference here exploring combining technology and poetry (techno-poetics) (Everyday Creativity, n.d.). This was also presented at the Women in Academia Support Network (WIASN) Virtually Undisciplined: Diversifying Higher Education and Research Conference in (McDonald, 2022).
Teeroumanee: Oh, I wrote a blog post on this. Here is a summary, I blog to
- pen the little voice in my head
- reflect and improve my practice
- document my CPD
- for mentoring and reverse mentoring purposes
- complement the video series that I have started earlier this year – the blog articles help me provide further information, references and most importantly my own perspectives
- say what I want within legal obligations – it is my personal space
- showcase my personal projects and in some way a portfolio since I have been in various roles and institutions and have at all times done beyond expectations.
Lisa: Not looking at your replies because I am very new to blogs – here we go:
- Talking about things that you know well.
- Helps others who are interested in those particular experiences.
- Doesn’t have to be major ‘news’ – anything from fitting bathroom to house sitting around the world.
- Someone will have done it and their experiences are so valuable – if you are looking! Annoying if they are full of adverts and pop ups though.
- Great to ‘publish’ one – very exciting to make a digital footprint.
Pip: Blogs provide an online dialogic space.
“Blogging provided a new form of academic identity”(Weller, 2020: p70).
I created a blog post. “Staying with the Blog Trouble”. Diffractive Blogging & Wicked Problems based on a presentation at PressED conference in 2022 (McDonald, 2022). It is interesting to think about the future of blogging as a practice for example turning a blog into a podcast (Lau, 2021). Blog swapping creates a unique collaborative reflective space for meaningful sharing and co-creation and an opportunity to create a “community of practice” (Lave and Wenger, 1991: p30).
Teeroumanee: TEL was already a big part of my work, so was the field of Future of Work. I am actually part of a group of visionary international young leaders, who have been approaching this topic for over a decade now. Our line of work is international – with team members located around the world, working together at different time zones, and making it all happen online, while aiming to reach UN SDGs. Here is an article of when EU and US young leaders met in 2018 which provides some key questions which many faced during the pandemic (Nadan, 2018). So the pandemic meant little change for me, however, I did have to adapt as colleagues across the globe started to trial different and sometimes conflicting platforms. For instance, there were institutions using VLE, Teams, Zoom, Skype all at the same time. It was more of an adaptation to people’s preferences as they discovered different platforms, and in some institutions some platforms were forced onto employees. So in that sense I had to adapt.
Lisa: Was working in a secondary school so everything was face to face – teaching, communication, meetings – apart from emails. Zoom first, then Teams quickly became default for all meetings –even on site. I remember something about security issues for Zoom and safeguarding of students is paramount. Students started turning in to teaching via Teams. Keyworker children were on site so in a class children would be working with different teachers online (some creating in art, some doing maths, some working out to live PE!). On return to class, children could have a cover teacher for behaviour/communication whilst their subject teacher taught them live from home (isolation). I tutor students in Maths/Science so all tutoring happened via Zoom. I had to think carefully about resources. Would the student need something beforehand (graph axis), if so I would email it for printing. What could be lost in communication – I would find visual/multimedia resources to support this. I needed a screen pen to work through examples on screen. Lots more questioning to make sure that students were there, bothering, and understanding!
Pip: I was involved with technology enhanced transnational learning (TETL) projects so my experience explored the transnational online pivot. It was helpful to carry out action research to explore this area for example a case study here (Guy & McDonald, 2020). A presentation exploring uncertainty here (Guy & McDonald, 2020).
The blog post has also been published on Dr. Teeroumanee’s blog here.
Association for Learning Technology (ALT) Open Mic. Association for Learning Technology (ALT) Annual Conference. 5th September 2022. Online.
Elsasser, N., & Irvine, P. (1992). Literacy as Commodity: Redistributing the Goods. The Journal of Education, 174(3), 26–40. http://www.jstor.org/stable/42742261
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Guy, M., & McDonald, P. (2020) The Transnational Online Pivot: A Case Study Exploring Online Delivery in China [PowerPoint presentation] (Online) Available at: https://www.slideshare.net/MariekeGuy/the-transnational-online-pivot-a-case-study-exploring-online-delivery-in-china-238494582 [Accessed 13 September 2022]
Guy, M., & McDonald, P. (2020) The certainty of uncertainty: Transnational Online Pivot in China [PowerPoint presentation] (Online) Available at: https://www2.slideshare.net/MariekeGuy/the-certainty-of-uncertainty-transnational-online-pivot-in-china-239927325 [Accessed 13 September 2022]
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Vasant, S., [@santanuvasant] CALLING #ACADEMICTWITTER #HIGHEREDUCATION FOLKS #HEBLOGSAWP IS BACK-@EMMAKEDDEV AND I HAVE RUN SICNE 2016 – FIND A BUDDY (USE THE # TO SEE PREVIOUS PARTICIPANTS), WRITE A BLOG GUEST POST FOR EACH OTHER’S BLOG. #A;TCC #EDDEV #EDTECH #ACDEV PLEASE RETWEET! [Tweet]. Twitter. (Online) Available at:https://mobile.twitter.com/santanuvasant/status/1563204618678837252
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