1.c Supporting the deployment of learning technologies

Supporting Design for deploying in the physical and digital teaching environment

Course Design

At times at UWE, I have specialised in the design of online courses.  By online courses here I mean heavily blended or fully distance learning courses. This activity ranges from contributing to the QA procedures involved in getting a course into module specifications through to learning design and module building. This has included:

MSc Environmental Health

The MSc Environmental Health launched in 2016. Within the programme we endeavoured to embed as much interactive media as possible to bring content to life. The challenge was enabling professional and skills based learning at a distance. So an active component was present in each module; be it through group work, reflective work or interactive presentations. This unfortunately cannot be displayed below due to data protection concerns.  Below are some screenshots of the programme and module pages.

PG Dip in Science Communication

Through the use of short courses aimed at the CPD market the Faculty of HAS has tip toed towards a fully online Diploma in Science Communication. This was a great way to provide proof of concept and manage the risk of going to market. The design on this course was done in a team environment and I love the structure of the courses. As they are peppered with activities and branded content that together meet the learning objectives and create a really good product. Due to the amount of social learning spaces it is not that informative to too many display pictures of the course for your perusal but here accompanying some screenshots here is the poster I presented to the UWE teaching and learning conference.

Designing for discussion

Systems Design

Design is really a way of thinking about the world. How to see a problem and think of a solution. One of my proudest projects was a self starting one. I noticed that we tended to not share the output of our considerable investment in eLearning investment. We worked in silos and had no mechanism to encourage sharing.

I designed and manged the production of a method of doing this in the new intranet rolled out at the University in the calendar year 2015 – ?(I don’t think it has finished yet) . The product was called ourUWE and is a referatory for published RLOs and the assets needed to recreate them in the future.

A referatory is a catalogue of resources stored elsewhere. A learning object referatory is a catalogue of stand alone e-learning resources developed here at the the University of the West of England. The learning objects themselves may be stored on a Blackboard content collection or a less well known mechanism but in this interface they are catalogued together for staff to browse, try and then use within their teaching. It is supporting deployment through sustainable practices.

Here are some images of the referatory.

Learning Space Design

Onsite at laundry
Onsite at laundry

I have been involved in a £5.5 million project to revive an old NHS laundry space into a flexible and innovative teaching space. My part in this has been:

  • Consultation with SME’s and programme leaders over the affordances needed in this space.
  • The co-authoring of the tender under lot 3 for the design.
  • Tender design judging.
  • The AV design installation consultation.
  • The product selection from the tender winner.
  • Controller programming design.
  • Material design for the space.
  • Early adopter training.

The overall design optimizes the value of multiple investments made by the university but also services anticipated needs for the university above and beyond the imagination scope of the current leaders within the Faculty.

Phase 1 has covered the more traditional AV of screen location, sound re-enforcement and the interplay of teaching across the fluid space.

The above design shows the screen locations but not the fluidity of the space of the around the sound and screen sharing design. These are designed to allow for any iteration of space around ‘Teaching Skills 2’  with content sharing across sound and screen. Including sharing from mobile devices.

Phase 2 will cover the installation of an IP camera system that will cover the flat and areas of the wider space and be viewable from within the space and through online platforms. This will require a data protection impact assessment.

The space will have repeater screens around Teaching Skills 1 and 2 which will allow for multiple modes of action. These screens will move up and down within a range of motion of 70 cm and are interactive with touch screen to a computer behind them. They screen can be adjusted down for use by students to engage in self directed and in the future un-facilitated clinical learning. The modes of action are as follows:

Screen positions diagram
Modes for 42-inch side screens in Laundry
Active / passiveEnablesStatusSoftware
AActiveClick through activities (Elsevier / narrative virtual patients / Skills demonstrations)

Enquiry based activities

Independent student lead learning

Kiosk style / electronic poster presentation conferences

Ready

Ready

Future

Future / ready

Web based

Web based

Web based

TBC / Office

BActiveStudent lead recording (simulations / roleplays / skills demonstration)

Kiosk style / electronic poster presentation conferences

Staff lead recording

Ready

Future / ready

Ready

Kaltura

TBC

Kaltura / Panopto

CActiveStudent lead recording (simulations / roleplays / skills demonstration)

Kiosk style / electronic poster presentation conferences

Staff lead recording

Simulation display

Ready

Future / ready

Ready

Ready

Kaltura

TBC / Office

Kaltura / Panopto

Web based

DPassiveRepeater screenReadyLectern

The benefits of this flexibility will be fully understood in praxis. To combat regressive practice I facilitated three early adopters groups to explain the space to academic / clinical teachers going forward. They were well received but if I am honest the need for flat bed teaching spaces has outstripped the need for innovation in the short term.

Video of techicians conference in the space taken by the Faculties Dean Marc Griffiths – https://twitter.com/griffiths_marc/status/1149705794742554629

Supporting on boarding staff

I give departmental, programme level and individual tutorials for new staff to help get their head around the UWE digital learning products. We are very reliant on folk memory currently to navigate the existing support structures so I give a one and a half hour discursive session. Not everyone can make these sessions and as they are so discursive there is little value in recording these via event capture. The slides in themselves do not convey much in the way of information. So I do a different and compressed presentation for those who cannot attend. You can view this presentation.

Reflection

Supporting deployment used to mean a lot of the above. Hand holding, meetings, training and all that. Recently I have been thinking more in terms of systems and bandwidths. How do I use my position to make a sensible support model within the Faculty, for the Faculty with only implicitly drawn outcomes. Our support structure has weathered high staff turnover and I have managed to grow and absorb other none-learning technology roles. It has been hard trying to drive strategy from below. Yet with funding and people you can paper over quite a lot of cracks.

What I am starting to realize is being somewhere in the middle is incredibly hard. Only powers of influence and a small amount of staff juggling the support needs of a large Faculty. In times of huge change (accessibility and GDPR) and big central projects under delivering support (PebblePad, Kramer, Panopto) this is actually too much. I have found the skills I had for supporting individual projects and academics are VERY labour intensive and impossible to scale up to that level. I couldn’t continue burning as hot as I did in 2018. So I decided to change how I approached things.

I tried to scale back my thought processes and ‘scope’ to the Faculty specific and things that have not worked out well. Trying to single handedly stop all problems is counter productive however large scale institutional issues about pervasive stuff stuff as digital skills, digital transformation, accessibility regulations, tier 0 resources etc will counter your productivity anyway. Whether I was concentrating on wider issues or local issues made no different to my emotional wellbeing.

Basically, being a reluctant middle manager is a pretty sucky place to be at times. Having to watch things fail knowing that if you really really wanted to work all hours you could make it 5% better is hard. The temptation is there. What I am trying to learn is how to be in the situation outlined in this tweet https://twitter.com/Charlesknight/status/1182556340574707713 and still maintain my authentic leadership style. Not be too emotionally invested. My reflection at this moment is not decisive, what I do next I don’t know.