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.
2. Teaching, Learning and Assessment Processes
Demonstrating understanding of and engagement with teaching, learning and assessment processes.
As well as the core areas, candidates are required to demonstrate evidence of independent practice in one or more specialist options. This reflects the fact that, although there are common areas of work for learning technologists, practice is extremely diverse and everyone specialises in something different.
Your specialist topic should reflect an area where you have particular expertise. This may be unique to you or common across your team, but goes beyond what would be expected of any learning technologist. Below is an indicative list of possible specialist options. You are free to choose from it, or to select a different area that reflects your expertise.
- producing learning materials/content/courseware;
- project management, including resource management, in learning technology;
- training, mentoring and developing others;
- management/administration of a sustainable e-learning process;
- supporting and tutoring learners;
- designing tools and systems;
- institutional development/strategic work;
- knowledge and application of emerging standards for learning technology;
- assistive technologies;
- VLE administration and maintenance;
- interface design;
- distance learning/blended learning;
- managing and sourcing content;
- learner support;
- inclusive learning practice
- open education resources (OER)
Defining and evidencing your specialist option
In describing your specialist option you should refer to the values listed at the top of these guidelines. Because these are specialist options you should be clear what makes your work distinct from common practice; many people teach on online courses, but designing and delivering fully online courses requires specific skills and would be considered specialist. . Similarly, many teachers provide blended learning, but developing and sharing guidelines for such practice or working with a distinctive blend of contexts might distinguish your work as specialist. It may be that your specialist option is common amongst the group that you work in as you all work in a similar area; that is perfectly acceptable.
Evidence for your specialist activity is likely to be very specific but could include: reports, papers or presentations you have written; this could be backed up by a job description plus written statements supporting your specialist knowledge from colleagues, clients or managers; active membership of professional or other bodies; certificates of completion of specialist training programmes or courses.
Springvale Learning: Project Management; Training and Mentoring Others; Research; Management & Administration of a Sustainable E-Learning Process; Institutional Development & Strategic Work.
The above items named are taken from the indicative list of possible specialist options. These are skills that I have developed in during my employment in Springvale Learning. My role in the organisation was initially as an Essential Skills ICT Tutor, and then as a Computing tutor in the Apprentice NI programme. However it is my additional duties that I wish to focus on – Technology Enhanced Learning champion.
In this role, I was tasked with taking the VLE and turning it from an information dumping area to a worthwhile
Springvale Learning: Project Management
As part of the task I took on in Springvale Learning, it was necessary to create a working document in which the project would be designed, ordered, managed and executed. This document was reviewed by management, in which, requirements were clearly defined and assigned to relevant parties. While the majority of the practical work was assigned to myself, there was agreement from management that an assistant would be employed, who in part would report to me for tasks relating to this project. There were other elements, specifically around purchasing that I was to report to my current manager (within the context of my department) who would oversee this part of the process.
Springvale Learning: Training and Mentoring Others
This subject in part, is also dealt with in the section below (Research), as it was from the products of my research that Training and Mentoring Others came about.
While I should make it clear that research does not equate to mentoring, it was the product of this research that resulted in training others – specifically in the areas of new pedagogy (which included blended learning) and technology enhanced learning. As a result of this training, an informal, casual even, mentoring arose. But even in this, my understanding of mentoring, is more than what happened here. It was through casual conversations that I would talk with colleagues and ask them how they found using a particular tool in their teaching. There was no systematic, or recurring time set aside to discuss with colleagues, specifically under the term of mentoring. However I am aware that in many instances this would still count as mentoring (in some shape or form).
In my current employment, I am the course director for the Foundation Degree in Computing and in this, I am responsible for bringing new lecturers onto the teaching programme. As directed by our partner university, there is a specific programme for doing this, to ensure new lecturers are competent in meeting the academic teaching requirements of the course. This involves observation, partnership and mentoring. I observe their teaching, review their marking processes and understand why they came to certain conclusions, and how this meets the academic expectations of the university.
Springvale Learning: Research
The research aspect of this project took on many different aspects throughout this process. In the first instance, there was research around the design of the the VLE. I was quickly decided upon Moodle, as this was free to use, and the staff already had knowledge of this platform, so it made simple logic to continue to work with what they were already familiar with.
Further research centred on two aspects of training:
1. Staff Development in using a VLE to enhance learning
With regards to developing staff skills in using a VLE to enhance learning, I researched the tools that were available on the Moodle platform and then chatted with staff as to how this might be applied in their subject areas. This varied from staff who teaching in the Training for Success programme, who were classroom based and their subjects ranged from Hair & Beauty to Electrical Engineering; or Apprentice tutors who worked with their students once a week and learning was drawn from professional practice, and learning happened outside the ‘traditional’ idea of the classroom.
For the first group, the main outcome was to develop lessons and to make them available for students in lessons, to draw upon class tasks, web links for tutorials or presentations from the tutor. For the Apprentice NI tutors, it was necessary to train them in the same skills, but also in presenting this information as a coherent lesson/ curriculum, which their students could access and progress through the learning material at their own pace. The greater amount of detail was needed here as staff would not be present to explain curriculum concepts as in a traditional classroom and so alternatives had to resourced, i.e. video content in which the tutor recorded the lesson content and explanations and then the learner would access as required.
2. Staff Development in technology enhanced learning
With regards to training staff in using technology to enhance learning, I quickly found that the Apprentice NI staff were much more receptive to the ideas around technology enhanced learning. This in part was because they could see the value attached to using a VLE, and so this enabled greater success outcomes while training staff for point 1. As there was an extra motivation for this group of staff, it became quickly apparent that I needed a farther reaching training programme to provide this group of staff with the skills to deliver technology enhanced learning to a greater degree. To enable me to do this, I decided to use the Microsoft Innovative Education programme. This brought in new concepts in pedagogy (21st Century Learning Design; blended learning; inclusive education and accessibility), using various apps to enhance learning (OneNote, Bing, Skype and Office 365) and lengthy discussions around how this could be implemented in the different subject areas. The screenshot above provides details of a training session I delivered with the Apprentice NI team in 2016 on using the VLE to deliver 21st Learning Design.
Springvale Learning: Management & Administration of a Sustainable E-Learning Process
In Springvale, I was appointed an assistant, who amongst other duties, was responsible to me to oversee the day to day duties of maintaining the VLE. In the first instance, this required training for him to understand the workings of a VLE, how to setup courses etc. as far as the normal duties of setting up a VLE and getting new users added to the correct courses. For maintenance, I retained overall control of updating the VLE platform files and theme files as I had solitary access to the web server through FTP.
As new users were registered with the Apprentice programme, I would forward the weekly update of new users for my assistant to add to the VLE and register with the specific course they were studying, as well as Essential Skills Literacy and Numeracy as needed. As a side-development of the VLE, it became necessary for the Apprentice tutors to develop courses that catered for a shared basis of users. For example, in Computing, my colleague and I developed 6 central courses that catered to the breadth of IT –
Linked to assistant in Springvale
NRC – paperless college, all learning content for FdSc on DLE.
NRC – online marking and moderation system in development
Springvale Learning: Institutional Development & Strategic Work
Through my role in developing the the Springvale VLE, staff training and pedagogical approach to technology enhanced learning, I undertook the task to develop the ‘Technology Enhanced Learning Strategy’ document after discussion with the Head of Curriculum Development about the opportunity to do it and the plans and direction I would have for the organisation to take in this area. She was happy for me to do it but emphasised that as this was a new area for the organisation, there would be no budget – any training I planned would have to be delivered by me and that the overall direction could be determined by me, but the final agreement on the strategy would be agreed by management. Support and mentoring could be provided by a contact in a local university who assisted in providing tutors with their teaching qualifications if I felt it was needed.
I agreed with this – I had already begun to set the direction through a skills audit of where the staff currently felt their skills lay, areas of weakness they had identified, and then a new area of training focusing on the pedagogy; I had already begun developing the documentation for staff using the VLE and had also began research as to how a strategy document should look, what was needed and a timeline for projected completion. Having management sign off on the document would also provide my efforts with legitimacy within the organisation and bring them to a point where they were happy with the work I was undertaking.
It was requested by the managing director that I present my intentions to the senior management team. He had previous experience in developing this type of programme and was prepared to offer his assistance, where needed. In this presentation I outlined the work undertaken to date; the results of the skills audit; the work yet to be completed and the targets I was setting myself. By this time, I had already a clear idea of what I was doing, how it would be carried out and in which order – my first intention was to work with the Apprentice team (which in the context of the organisation, I had now joined) as the concepts of blended and distance learning were more appropriate to this team, and they had already expressed a huge interest in having this to use, given the nature of how their programmes ran with their students. From this meeting, the managing director could see that I had a well developed plan and that his level of expertise had been surpassed by mine. This in part was due to the nature of the content and my own level of knowledge in the area. But this outcome encouraged me as senior management were on board with my plans and had shown a level of commitment that would ensure an organisation-wide adoption and implementation of my plans.
By the time I left Springvale to take up my current position:
- the VLE was fully operational for all courses; my assistant had been fully trained and was handling the majority of VLE administration – including updating plugins and other technical administrative duties.
- I had completed the technical skills audit for all staff and had begun individual learning plans for each staff member across the organisation. At this point, the staff were learning how to use the VLE and how it could improve student learning, achievement and retention.
- I had completed my own CPD in the Microsoft Innovative Education (MIE) programme to a level which was leading to me becoming a Microsoft Innovative Trainer.
- The Technology Enhanced Learning Strategy was complete and prepared for full adoption by management.
The training programme was yet to begin the MIE pedagogical elements, but this was intentional, as I decided that the staff should learn how to use the tools and how they could improve classroom teaching, rather than the pedagogical reasons for doing so. While there was a pedagogical underpinning to the whole approach, I believed that the staff would be more conducive to the pedagogical training, when they could already call upon the results as they had already been working under that process.
Springvale Learning: A Specialist Approach
I believe that my approach and skills that I learned during my time in Springvale Learning had a direct impact upon my career. It allowed me a ‘close-to-free-rein’ approach in setting up an entire department myself. In the initial stages, I was both the technician and the manager: setting my own targets, managing the administration tasks and setting policy direction.
That I was also involved in the creation of policy also gave me another element of new learning as this required clear discussion with management about the overall direction of the policy, what was involved and what was needed to achieve the goals set out. As I had a unique position of understanding the pedagogy; having the raw data as regards staff competences; the ability to train staff to create blended learning courses and the technical ability to set up the VLE as we needed it to be; I was able to create and execute a policy that was meaningful, achievable and practical for the skills needed by the organisation to achieve specific goals that had been set by DEL.
The extent of these skills was made apparent during an interview, where I was asked to provide details about a time I had managed a project to completion and what I had learned from it. The answer I provided included the details outlined on this page, and when I had finished my answer, the interviewer commented that in his organisation, there were about five people whose job it was to ensure what I had detailed, was completed. This made it clear to me that the skills I had learned were significant and could prove useful in my career.