Supporting Staff Development for Online Teaching and Learning through Open Practices

By Dr James Brunton

This brief blog post shares a couple of useful resources and takeaways thanks to James Brunton’s reflections on the recent World Conference on Online Learning, which was attended by over 1400 delegates. DCU will be hosting the next World Conference in November 2019.

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The 27th International Council for Open and Distance Education (ICDE) 2017 World Conference on Online Learning was held in Toronto, Canada from the 16th to the 19th October. The conference attracted an enormous number of presentations where information was shared, connections were made, and future relationships forged. One strand of the conference that offered a number of useful resources to the Higher Education community was focused on empowering educators to build up their knowledge, skills, and competencies relating to online teaching and learning.

Carleton University, in Canada’s Ontario Province, has adopted an open approach to the development of resources for building up “the skills and confidence needed for educators to develop and teach blended and online courses”. Carleton has produced these resources as Open Educational Resources (OERs) such that they can be accessed, adopted, and adapted by other institutions.

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The Ontario Extend initiative has also been created such that a set of resources, emerging out of Simon Bates’ (2014) Anatomy of 21st Century Educators. This project is led by Ontario’s Northern College in collaboration with eCampusOntario and the publicly funded colleges and universities in Northern Ontario. Again, the aim of those behind this initiative is to empower educators to explore a range of emerging technologies and pedagogical practices for effective online and technology-enabled teaching and learning, and more than that to have this empowerment happen across the Higher Education community rather than in isolated pockets. The Ontario Extend team is enthusiastic about sharing these resources and aiding others to effectively incorporate them into their own practices.

The two initiatives described above not only provide exemplars of best practice in supporting staff development of knowledge, skills, and competencies in online teaching and learning, but they provide resources for effective implementation of such staff training. The adoption of open practices in these two cases is a shining example of how we in the Higher Education community can collectively support each other by producing resources as OERs that can be adopted and adapted by others.

You can read the original reflection piece on the World Conference written by James on his personal Linkedin page.

Lend me your ears: The subtle qualities of voice in learning

By Clare Gormley

Seldom a day seems to go by without some mention of the word ‘voice’ in academic discussion. Educators and policymakers frequently refer to the importance of representing ‘the student voice’ in teaching and learning activities. Similarly, the concept of ‘the academic voice’ is often used in conversations around the values, opinions, and perspectives of the university community.  However in this post I would like to take some time to talk about the real-life, living-and-breathing human voice itself in relation to teaching, learning, and assessment. Given the evidence of feedback as a powerful learning tool (Hattie & Timperley, 2007), I would like to reflect on the perhaps underestimated contribution of a person’s actual voice in developing and enhancing knowledge.

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Andrew Middleton, well known for his research and staff development work around the development and use of audio-based feedback in higher education, was guest speaker at the recent DCU Teaching and Learning Day. He described audio feedback as “the recording and distribution of spoken feedback on a student’s work” and gave a wide-ranging, stimulating presentation on why, how, and when feedback in audio format might fit into an assessment strategy. We heard how audio feedback can take many forms, ranging from personal to general, and it is ideally suited to constructive criticism on aspects such as evidence, structure and academic argument. You can watch the video of his presentation here: Andrew Middleton at DCU T&L Day

One of the slides that I felt most vividly captured the potential of the audio medium is shown below – it illustrates some reactions from students who received audio feedback from lecturers and it captures many of the key benefits described in the literature.

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Clearly the timeliness, replayability, and mobility of the approach appeals to students. But it is that intangible quality of being prompted to “listen more when someone is talking to me than if I’m reading it” that is particularly intriguing.

You can read Clare’s full reflection piece on the value of voice in learning, based on several talks and experiences at DCU’s recent Teaching and Learning Day, on her personal blog – Learning Rush.