Collective Diary 15 May 2024

On the 15th of each month, we are inviting those working in the field of learning development to share their day. Write up what you have done on the 15th of the month (or your nearest working day to this date) (plus reflections) and share it with us via this short submission form. The entries will be shared here on the ALDinHE blog.

In 2010-11 and 2014-15, the ALDinHE website was previously used for a collective online journal by members of the LD community. The collective journal re-launched on the 15 May 2023. You can read the journal entries for each month. The shared experiences and ideas have helped shape CPD resources developed for new and experienced staff, and to identify other areas for future work.

A reminder will go out on the LDHEN list on the 15th of each month. Share your day by completing the short submission form for it to be added to the ALDinHE blog.

image of a diary

Sandra Sinfield and Tom Burns – London Metropolitan University

Today we have been mostly been:
* reviewing written APEL document for accreditation of part of our PGCert LTHE – this is prior to the Professional Conversation that we will have next week where we drill down into philosophy, thinking and activities;
* giving feedback on an SFHEA experiential route application;
* developing the PPT slides for the final session of our Managing the Assessment and Feedback Process, PGCert LTHE module – which concludes next week;
* resolving the feedback and grades for the first MAF module assignment – which was a group multimodal presentation – and that involved 360 degree feedback – that is self-, peer- and tutor-assessment (the awarded grade is the average across the three groups – unless there is a need for tutor moderation);
* been listening to a recorded session on Critical Thinking for staff in our Partner Institutions – given by our colleague Hazel Messenger – which draws on the fabulous John Hilsdon’s Critical thinking model -and also references the Visual Literacies Periosix Table (https://www.visual-literacy.org/periodic_table/periodic_table.html) – first shared with us by the glorious Pauline Ridley;
* reviewing the PPT for our LD@3 tomorrow (shock emoji)
* thought about marking the Curriculum Evaluation and Development projects that come in tomorrow;
* dealt with emails and admin.
PHEW.
Best,
Sandra and Tom

Beverley Mallam – Manchester Metropolitan University

We have a hybrid approach to working here at MMU, and today I was working from home. This meant a nice leisurely lie in before logging on to my laptop to start the day! First thing on the agenda this morning, the fortnightly team meeting. This morning’s meeting provided my colleague and me with the chance to engage with our wider team and gather valuable insights for our Toolkit project. The project aims to compile best practices for collaborating and co-teaching with academics, a key part of our role. Following on from this, we received exciting updates about our impending office relocation, and other university-wide developments.

Whilst today is a quiet day in comparison to the last few months, I spent the rest of this morning responding to staff and student emails and filling out an application for a pilot project to address awarding gaps for students undertaking dissertations at level 6. The opportunity to work on projects with such significant impacts on student outcomes highlights the importance and uniqueness of this role. This afternoon, I have a meeting scheduled with a colleague finalise our application for this project, which we will collaborate on and co-deliver.

The remainder of the day will be occupied with responding to student queries, a task that provides valuable insights into the diverse range of courses requiring math and statistics support. Additionally, I’ll be preparing teaching sessions for the upcoming summer and completing my Fellowship application; wish me luck!

Reflecting on the whirlwind that has been semester 2, making it to the exam season feels like quite a feat! I feel privileged to be in this incredible role of learner development, which has a clear impact on supporting students in their academic journey. Whether it is designing and delivering a wide range of teaching sessions, meeting with academics about embedding study skills, or supporting students in one-to-one appointments, this role presents both privileges and challenges. One of my favourite aspects of the role is its variety; no two days are ever the same.

It is rare to have a day without teaching, meetings, or student appointments, and, whilst the part of my role I enjoy the most is the day-to-day interaction with students, it is nice to take a step back today and focus on those projects that will have a positive impact to the student experience.

Adam Paxman – Edge Hill University

Dear Collective Diary,
Today I added my 1-2-1 appointment slots for June to my Outlook calendar and to our system. We’ll soon be moving to a new system called Target Connect (yay) and won’t have to use Engage2Serve anymore (yay). This might sound like a task that takes minutes. Well, it does. In the sense that hours, days and weeks can be counted in minutes.
After an early lunch and walk around the lake with a colleague, I delivered an online workshop on Being Critical. This wasn’t well attended but the feedback was positive. I was also able to signpost to the confirmation bias blog post I wrote in January as an extra resource. I really enjoy delivering online workshops, and Being Critical is filled with interesting examples of statistical manipulation and bias.
Straight after the workshop I attended a Learning at Work Week event on Viking Chess. This was organised by a colleague from the same department but a different team, and was great fun. The game itself, called Hnefatafl, was easy to pick up and really enjoyable. It also differs greatly from chess. I played four games with two colleagues, winning two and losing two. It was an opportunity to get to know some colleagues better, which is always rewarding. I’ll definitely play Hnefatafl with my son.
I was intending to develop part of my toolkit on literature reviews, but a student sent in work for an appointment tomorrow, so I read over the draft dissertation introduction on Borderline Personality Disorder and provided review comments. This was enlightening because I had to do some fact checking to provide guidance on how the definitions might be made more robust, as well as more meat and potatoes everyday structural and SPaG guidance.
All in all, it’s been a very enjoyable day.

Robert Ping-Nan Chang – University of the Arts London

It has been a hectic month for me with students of several courses I am supporting to hand in high-stake summative assignments shortly. Today I had a full day of tutorials back to back, plus a team meeting. One interesting thing I have observed in tutorials is the significant improvement of (international) students’ writing, at least in terms of the language. I speculate that this is attributed to the advance of technologies, such as Machine Translation and Generative AI. The application of such tools and the much better writing as a result have allowed me to focus more on the concept development, structure, connection to the brief, and coherence of writing. The prevalence of such technologies has also promoted me to add advice and instructions about using them more effectively to my embedded workshops over the past year. One recent example I showed students was a BBC Chinese article about brutalist architecture (originally in English) and two versions by Google Translate and DeepL, to showcase potential issues in MT that students may heed to. I am fairly open to any technologies which may assist with learning. It’s more a matter how they are used effectively, which I find myself in a good position to support students with.

Kate Swinton – University of Northampton

Today has been the perfect day to reflect. I have spent the day full of online tutorials, while looking out at the sea in Mousehole. My tutorials have been mainly final year dissertation students, who I have had the pleasure of seeing develop and grow their skill over the past three years. Answering their final questions, reassuring them that the final push is worth it, congratulating them on all their hard work, agreeing that the reference list is long and feels tedious. The ending of each tutorial was hard, saying goodbye to students whose resilience has been inspiring. Each tutorial has made me reflect on the role of a learning developer and the wider role of university. We are in a world where attainment seems to be the main focus, what classification did the students get and how did learning development help improve their grades? I do truly believe that there is a place for measuring impact and of course we can’t ignore degree classifications. However, today I have celebrated with those students who have put their heart and soul into their degree, with outside commitments and limited, if no support network outside the university. In each tutorial today, the student said Learning development helped them stay on the course, the workshops and the one-to-one tutorials were their ‘rock’. This evening, I sit here, looking out at the sea, feeling privileged to have played a part in their journey and proud of each one of them. I want to say the focus should not be on their degree classification but the hurdles they overcame to submit a dissertation and get a degree, this achievement should be celebrated. I have ended my work day remembering how I much I love working in learning development, it’s a good day

Leila Griffiths – Bangor University

I have had an enjoyable and relaxed day today whilst working from home. I currently work three days a week and have the option of working from home when there are no on-campus face-to-face sessions or appointments scheduled. Since my journey to work involves an hour’s drive (albeit with its magnificent coastal views coming from the Llŷn Peninsula), it is always a welcome and refreshing change to take it a bit slower, and to log in instead of drive in.

Today began with a Study & Writing 1-2-1 appointment over Teams with a PG student who had been out of academia for a while and therefore wanted support with planning for her assignments.

Shortly afterwards, I had a Teams meeting with a member of staff from the School of Education who is running a part-time MA programme consisting of 80% international students. The majority of the cohort had cheated on their previous assignments and, consequently, myself, together with a Learning Technologist colleague, was asked to support this cohort and introduce them to best practices relating to academic integrity and effective use of gen-AI. We have created a separate Welsh and English interactive formative Blackboard Form that students can work through in their own time and at their own pace, responding to questions and receiving automatic feedback throughout. We have made it explicit that the resource will not count towards their module marks, to enable real engagement and exploration.

The next Teams meeting was to revisit a series of support workshops for UG Midwifery students across both Bangor and Wrexham campuses, and discussing with two module coordinators how best to proceed, given that this was in its 4th iteration. I proposed a flipped classroom approach. The study support element would be recorded on Panopto and used as the pre-session material, and then the session itself delivered by staff members at both campuses, separately. My hope with this type of handover is to give ownership to staff since they can deliver the Panopto recording themselves, pausing to encourage group work and discussion, therefore making the study support element truly embedded. Also, I hope it will give staff and students more flexibility, since students don’t need to be all at the same campus for the live session, and it doesn’t need to be live-streamed either (which is what currently happens, without much success).

The remaining few hours consisted of responding to emails and staff referrals, and preparing a workshop for UG Healthcare students who need support with their paraphrasing and delivering oral presentation skills.

Being involved in learning development gives me such rewarding days, and lately I have been immersing myself in so many different LD podcasts, blogs, and resources, that I feel a real sense of belonging and community. On to the next week!

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