It has not been a full year yet of our 2014/15 diary but as our anniversary will fall in October, my (and I imagine many others) busiest time of year I thought that I would take this opportunity, during the slightly quieter summer months, to put together my favourite moments and top observations from the blog so far.
The most striking thing about the blog was the variety of tasks that we are all involved in including: supporting PASS schemes; 1-to-1 support for students; running workshops for students and staff; undertaking research; delivering modules; assessment; PhD support, marketing; developing online resources. The most unusual came in June: “We’ve been off running staff development sessions in Romania as part of a European funded project.” (June)
- Running modules
It was exciting to see that a few colleagues are delivering whole modules. I ran my first module last year called The Digital Student and having the opportunity to work with the same students over a long period was really rewarding and gave me a real insight into the highs and lows students can experience over a semester. This entry posted on the blog described what sounded like a really interesting and fun module: “Becoming an Educationalist module – this is a year-long programme that has replaced our Higher Education Orientation module – and Tom Burns & I had great fun in designing it – and building in loads of cool stuff: simulations & role plays; Blogging & Drawing to learn; Develop a Digital me; Live Performance; real research projects…” (March)
- Working with libraries (yes see my bias :))
A number of us are now working more closely with library colleagues. Some of us are based in libraries, some of us are liaising with and/or working more collaboratively and some of us have completely merged roles with librarians. There seems to be a growing opinion amongst many librarians that the role of learning developers and librarians is becoming increasingly blurred: “As someone who moved from librarianship to skills development, I see this as a natural progression for librarians.” (October). I think this poses a lot of questions about professional identity and is a really interesting development for both professions.
We all use technology to some extent in our roles. Pretty much everyone’s day starts with tackling the never ending email mountain! Many of us are now using technology in lots of different ways in our jobs from delivering webinars to training staff on using tools such as Videoscribe. In addition, colleagues are taking advantage of MOOCs for their own professional development: “Tuesday started about 08.30 with a brief quick collage as part of my #ccourses MOOC. #ccourses (http://connectedcourses.net/about/) is a very fluid cMOOC on the topic of the co-creation of knowledge in a connected world”. Also, this post from October was particularly fascinating to me. The project sounds really interesting but also highlights other ways we and our students need might need to use technology that is unfamiliar, even if it is not new: “Analysed some data from a research project I’m doing with colleagues on how students learn about how the NHS works. This is a big deal for me, haven’t looked at this type of data in years and the last time I used SPSS I prepared the data on data sheets and took them to a punch card bureau – truly” (October).
- Working outside of our “role”
This is certainly not clear cut and I think that part of the beauty of our job is that our role is not completely set. I am sure there is lots of debate as to what our roles do and should entail. Job titles, roles and institutions are so varied amongst those contributing to this blog, one person’s terrifying workshop or drop-in appointment is another’s bread and butter. What did strike me however is that we do get asked to provide services that we might not feel wholly comfortable with, but equally might feel we can’t say no to. This was exemplified in the November blog where a colleague shared her ambivalence in delivering a workshop on writing for publication for STEM PhD researchers. She mused whether a collaborative approach to sessions such as these would be more appropriate “was I the best person to deliver the session, or would they have been better served by a professor from the STEM subjects who might be a journal editor with a lot more relevant experience than me? Or both – a professor to bring the ‘case study’ of their own experience, and myself to help them bridge that transition from writing as a student to writing as a peer?” (November).