Educational developers and learning technologists – a meeting of minds

Flowers at Wolfson College

I wanted to write some more about last week’s SEDA Digital Literacies summer school. Partly because I received a scholarship from JISC to attend which requires me to blog about the event, but mainly because of how much I feel I learnt during the three days. Here’s some of the things that a week on are really making me think:

  • There is a real skill in being a good staff developer and seeing the professional staff who ran the SEDA summer school has really inspired me to work harder at my workshops and really focus on outcomes and what people will be able to do at the end of a session.
  • I work in a really exciting field, where there are so many opportunities and a community of people with similar interests – in the past I had often thought it was only librarians who have this shared interest, but in fact learning technologists and educational developers have so many overlapping interests and we really need to work across the professions together.
  • Focus on pedagogy first, then tools and technologies – I think like anyone I am easily seduced by a new tool because I find technology fun and exciting, but I must remember that for many people it’s not fun, it’s quite scary and not something they feel confident exploring. I need to always focus on what they are trying to achieve, whether it’s related to their research or teaching and then see if there is a technology that can help.
  • I really need to think about indicators and collecting evidence that I am making a difference. This has come up several times recently as a recurring theme. I need to think about how the workshops I offer have an impact on staff and I need to collect evidence that information literacy interventions with students make a difference. But what are good indicators in these cases?
  • Working in learning technology is not all about knowing the latest tool, or being really technical, it’s actually about helping people deal with change and the most important skills I need are networking, listening to people and then understanding technology might be able to help them.
  • Finally don’t stop learning, ever! I came away from the event with a stack of things I wanted to read more about, to try out and a host of people to follow up discussions with. What a great place to be!

I actually have applied some of what I learnt already as I was helping to organise our team away day last week on Friday. Sue Thompson had used a technique called ‘clean questions’ at the start of the summer school as a way of helping us explore what we wanted to achieve during the 3 days. I tried this out with colleagues to help us explore how we work better together and how to engage with academics. I think they enjoyed it and we ended up with some fresh ideas, which I hope we can take forward. Sue Beckingham has made a Storify of the Summer School if you’d like to find out more. Thank you SEDA for a fantastic event and as a result I think we are going to become institutional members and I hope to get involved with the organisation further.

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