Use this section to navigate my portfolio for CMALT

This sub-section of my website is specifically focused on CMALT certification. In it, I provide insight on Operational Issues; Teaching, Learning and Assessment Processes; a View of the Wider Context; Communication; my Specialism; and Future Plans.

1. Operational Issues

Demonstrating the use of technology to enhance teaching and learning.

4. Communication

Demonstrating knowledge and skills in communication through working with others.

2. Teaching, Learning and Assessment Processes

Demonstrating understanding of and engagement with teaching, learning and assessment processes.

5. Specialism

Demonstrating evidence of independent practice in one or more specialist options: VLE adminstration & maintenance; producing learning materials/ content/ courseware/ supporting and tutoring learners/ research.

3. The Wider Context

Demonstrating awareness of and engagement with wider issues that informs practice.

6. Future Plans

Planning my future professional development: HE Fellowship training, PhD.

An Understanding of Teaching, Learning and Assessment

Statements here might relate to areas such as teaching experience, learning design, curriculum development, work-based assessment, the creation and execution of a programme of training and so on.

Evidence might include being on the register of the Higher Education Academy, a PGCE award, having completed a SEDA approved course, extracts from your Institute for Learning (IfL) portfolio or undertaken relevant sections of the Certified E Learning Professional courses. Commentaries from peers on your approach would also provide suitable evidence. Other possibilities include teaching experience, reflective statements that analyse experience in terms of learning theory, pedagogic approaches, sociological theories, or a comparable, recognised perspective. In relation to learning design, a report, specification or reflective statement might be provided that clearly elaborates the principles that informed the design process. In any collection of evidence there should be some consideration of how technology is changing approaches to teaching and learning and/or the roles of learners, teachers and support staff.

As part of my role as Foundation Degree Director, I am to identify areas of training that the Foundation Degree lecturing team need. This encompasses two main areas:

  1. Technical competence
  2. Pedagogical competence

With regards to point 1, I (in conjunction with the team) identify areas of training related to computing concepts and areas of study that we need to update our training in. In the next two years in this area, we will receive training in python, databases, web application development and cyber security.

With regards to point 2, there are two main areas of training that has been identified. The first is CMALT training. I believe this will be of benefit to lecturers with regards to their ongoing CPD, and further developing their reflective practice in how they deliver technology enhanced learning and how they can further develop this. The second area of training that will aid my own teaching development (and the FD team) will be completion of the HE Academy Fellowship training. This will provide a good basis of training for staff who have no formal training or qualifications in the area of Higher Education teaching.

In my own career, I have a degree in Education (2005). After this, I completed a Masters Degree in E-Learning (2007), in which modules of study focused on ‘Evaluating on the use of ICT in teaching and learning’ and ‘e-learning: Concepts and Practice.’

In my teaching career, I taught ICT to A-Level, as well as in the primary and Special Needs sectors. ICT was always a career focus as this was the area I got most enjoyment from. I worked in a training organisation for a period of two years, and it was while delivering IT training to older, more mature learners that I realised this was the area of teaching I wanted to focus on – Further and Higher Education. This informed my job applications and resulted in my current job with Northern Regional College.

While I teach in the Computing Department, my main area of interest beyond computing subjects (Web Development & Cyber Security) is in pedagogy and technology enhanced learning.

While I am the Foundation Degree Director, I also have module leadership roles and in this I am responsible for the planning and delivering of teaching resources both in sessions and asynchronous learning. For these I use a range of learning environments including the use of the colleges’ digital learning environment (Moodle), my own website and Flipboard magazine. I have recently been involved in completing the revalidation of the Foundation Degree programme where I was involved in a developing the new modules including assessment procedures and programmes of study. I am responsible for both the formative and summative assessment of the learners within the modules and the creation of a range of assessment strategies. These have included written assignments, e-learning journals with screencast feedback, and the creation of presentations and production of programming products (websites, web apps, software development).

What I Have Learned From This

Through completing my Masters Degree I became aware of the similarities and differences between teaching, learning and assessment between the primary and HE sectors. This also allowed me to identify how my strategies can be adapted and how an innovative approach can be used to promote student engagement and progression. This course also allowed me to establish important links between the teaching and learning theories with more specific theories relating to e-learning. As my understanding of a range of technology has increased I have developed my use of technology to support not only my teaching within sessions but also how I use technology to promote learning asynchronously. This approach to assessment is very different within the HE sector and I am constantly improving my development of my understanding in how technology can impact and support this process. Having acknowledged the similarities and differences between the learning strategies within the sectors, I am keen to continue to implement the use of a range of technologies to support all areas of teaching and assessment as well as completing further research as part of my intended PhD study.

An Understanding of Your Target Learners

Statements should show how you have found out about learners’ needs and the context for their studies, and how you have developed approaches that reflect this.

Evidence might include a description of how assistive technologies have been used to support disabled students, how learner feedback has influenced the design of an e-portfolio, how the needs of work-based learners or overseas students have shaped the curriculum, or records of conversations with product analysts, marketing departments or course teams and the resulting plans
for your design. Evidence of changed practice, rather than simply the recognition that this is an important area, is required.

One of the main reasons for assessment is to determine how learners learn and subsequently how they can be more effectively supported in the learning process. Being responsible for a group of students for specific modules in the Foundation Degree in Computing allows me to engage and understand how the students respond to a range of teaching/learning strategies. This process and subsequent reflection is crucial to producing new and further resources as well as promoting discussions on how and why they found approaches useful. Using plenary summaries at the end of each lecture is a strategy I use to collect this information as well as regular engagement through discussion within the session – it is important at this point to identify why they have found certain approaches more beneficial than others.

Evaluations include questions that encourage students to reflect on what they find to be helpful or hindering their learning or the process of their learning. This provides additional information which can in some instances be implemented through the second part of the module. The creation of an open learning environment which promotes interaction and challenge is also key to gaining an insight into what is supportive for the students learning.

In a similar way, responses from the COM268 module (Introduction to Programming) presented a common thread that more practical challenges and their solutions would have a greater impact on student learning. This was shared with the students and implemented within sessions, with a greater emphasis on practical applications of programming concepts and the possible solutions to the problems set. Students responded positively to this as they could make the link between theory and practice.

While teaching within the special educational needs sector I developed an understanding of a range of specific learning difficulties and how to support these, including dyslexia and speech and language impairment. This has been beneficial for me when interpreting the learning needs of students through their IEPs. These are shared by the Student Support Service and emailed to any lecturers that are involved with the students learning. Although these IEPs detail generic support which should be provided for the students, in accordance with the requirements  to make reasonable adjustments (Equality Act 2010) in order to support two students with dyslexia I have taught, an initial meeting was held with both learners and their support workers to establish the best way to support them within sessions.

Tutorials are an important element of assignment support and these are available to all students through a timetabled class each week. In order to support the students with specific learning difficulties, e.g. dyslexia, or auditory processing issues,  tutorials are arranged for when they can attend accompanied by their student support tutor. This allows for the discussion to be engaged with by both the learner and the tutor, ensuring that nothing is omitted or changed in interpretation at future support sessions and also that the student support tutor can work more effectively towards helping the student to meet the course requirements. In agreement with the student and the student support tutor, we record the meeting, so that the session can be revisited by the student and, in order to increase the effectiveness of the recording, should there be any action points for me to follow up on. I will ensure that my answers are clear and maintain a clear focus on the key points. While doing this it is essential to ensure that similar opportunities are available for all students so that a dyslexic student has no perceived advantages due to the implementation of the reasonable adjustments.

With assignments or exams that are due after vacations, many students have requested some extra support, in addition to the answering of emails, for these assessments. This is particularly important when the learners are on placement. In response to their needs, virtual assignment support sessions were offered through the use of Moodle’s Big Blue Button. Not only were these well attended, demonstrated how useful they were, but due to them being recorded, they provided an additional support for the students who could not attend the ‘live’ version. This has subsequently impacted on my own practice with this form of support being offered in all the modules I teach on.

I believe it is vitally important to remember that not all learners engage in learning with the use of technology. In order to ensure an inclusive approach to learning and equal access for all students, all  core information is provided on the college’s DLE with additional information provided through the use of Slack, which is sent directly to the student through the app. The information on Twitter from the college’s feed can be accessed through the embedded timeline on the Moodle page. The Foundation Degree in Computing has its own twitter account, but this is still in its infancy.

Beyond social media, I also have created an online magazine using the app Flipboard. This allows me to bring together articles of interest that are connected to the modules of study and provide students with a central online location by which to keep up to date with the current work being discussed in the field of computing.

What I Have Learned From This

As I progress within the FE/HE sector I am keen to adapt and implement the teaching strategies that I learnt from my experience of teaching in the primary, post-primary and special educational needs sectors to the support my learners. I am also keen to implement and move into new, innovative and cutting edge educational techniques, where the research literature indicates best practice. I have found that implementing this across the foundation degree in computing programme will have additional issues as there is a team of lecturers to convince to take on a new practice, but this can be mitigated through leading from the front and demonstrating how best practice can benefit the students.

I am aware that I need to develop a more inclusive practice into my own use of technology, e.g. the creation of transcripts for the screencasts or the use of YouTube’s subtitle facility. These are practices that I will incrementally reduce and remove as there are amendments and additions I wish to make.

I have begun preparation for our new foundation degree programme that is starting in September 2019 and for new innovative practices that we will be implementing, like Genius Hour – which will give students time in their timetable to investigate, learn and create in an area of computing that is their choosing. There is a direct structure that this will follow, but the aim is to provide students with a period of time to pursue their own creative interests. This addition was commended by the University panel and will offer students something new, innovative and different to their degree studies.