Project update – Aug 2014

Sine the last updates, Ann and I have been working hard on the analysis of the date produced in the focus groups and interviews. At the moment, we have completed the categorization of the enablers and barriers to the adoption of TEL in each of our institutions. We are beginning to draw the analysis together, and thinking about sharing this material and analysis via presentations and a couple of papers.


Timetable and outputs for the project

At present, it looks like this:

Jan 2014  –  Present to BETT conference  /  publicise blog

Feb 2014 – Incorporate feedback from conference and blog

Mar 2014 – Arrange Focus Groups (please let Steve or Ann know if you are interested in being part of one!)

Apr 2014 – Conduct Focus Groups

May 2014 – Evaluations and analysis

June 2014 – Prepare report

July 2014 – present report as workshop session at selected conferences – actually this will be Cumbria L+T Conference (July) and the ALT+C Conference (September)



TEL and MOOCs – how does it all fit together?

There’s a buzz about MOOCs, and quite right too. They open up new education opportunities to many people, and they’re free – what’s not to like? 

But some express concern that this will displace other types of teaching, including those which make use of technology. What will MOOCs mean for TEL?

My personal view is that MOOCs will be part of a diversified portfolio of options offered by many universities. There will always be a place for presence-based courses, backed up by effective use of technology for on-site students. Blended learning, and conventional web-based distance learning will have their place too. MOOCs will, I think, evolve into being another card in our hand.

MOOCs will impact on-site teaching too. Tracy Futhey, CIO at Duke University, said at the Educause conference in 2013 that each academic at Duke who had taught on a MOOC had reflected on, and changed, some element of their face-to-face teaching.

Some universities (whatever that includes in the future!) will specialise in online, while others specialise in presence-based. This is no different from some specialising today in arts and others in sciences.

What do you think?


Does a University need a separate eLearning strategy?

Embedding TEL into the curriculum – rather than it being an add-on – seems obvious to us. Desigining the technology into the learning is the way to make the learning as effective as possible. Ann’s posted on this above. But even if we accept that hypothesis, there are two different views on the best way to handle it.

1 – a separate eLearning strategy is needed. This focuses people in the institution on desiging and integrating the right technologies into teaching and learning. It sets standards, which helps with economies of scale. Specific focus is important – and a separate strategy delivers this.

2 – a separate eLearning strategy is not needed. Instead, if you want to have TEL as an integrated part of learning, include references to TEL in your Teaching and Learning strategy. A separate document just makes TEL look separate.

Two coherent arguments. Which one do YOU support, and why?

First cut list of barriers to TEL

Here are some things people quote as reasons NOT to get engaged with TEL. How real do YOU think they are? This may form part of further research…


Issue Real? Do what about it
There’s no way that (my subject) can be taught online N  
Online assessment won’t work – we need discussion each time N  
I need to see it in their faces N Improve the confidence of the teacher
I haven’t got time Y People need time to prepare. So give them preparation leave. Also consider ‘wizards’ which allow content to be prepared easily.
I need to know my students N This can in fact be better online, with a different but richer set of contacts
Students may SAY they want blended learning, but it’s not really of value N  
The software tools I can access aren’t good enough to develop quality content ? This could either be a training issue (perhaps the tools are fine) or it could be real
The benefits are not clear to me N  
I’ve just got used to the old version of the software, and now you’ve damn well changed it all! Y Lots of communication, carefully planned releases, high-touch, walk-around training.
I am a research professor. I’m not interested in online learning. ? Perhaps leave this person in their lab? Or, in the future, an online persona may be part of a senior academic’s prestige or reputation. So encourage them to build one. The Prof can be the persona of the course, without having to do the heavy lifting!
I am interested, but my tech skills are low Y Use student digital mentors/student technology assistants or some other sort of digital literacy programme. Remember that turning a luddite into an enthusiast can be a real bonus. Also use champions – exemplars of excellent practice (National Teaching Fellows?)
I don’t really know who is doing what Y Spread the word about successful case studies. Encourage academics to engage directly with software suppliers.
I want to use product X but the IT department say to use product Y Y This is tricky. Academics will do what they want – this needs careful liaison and discussions.