In this section I cover my involvement in supporting the deployment of learning technology, through offering technical support and advice to academic staff along with offering staff development in the use of technology relating to the educational use of technology.
On January 18th 2013 I delivered a one hour online staff development session using the video conferencing software Big Blue Button (BBB) through our Virtual Learning Environment (Moodle). Eight members of staff attended the online session. The purpose was to raise awareness of the software Evernote and demonstrate how it can be used within an educational environment.
I went over the functionality of the software and its accessibility across various platforms, followed by how the software is being used as an online portfolio by certain educational institutions. This lead onto me going through the user interface, then demoing the various features of the software and explored how Evernote can be used as a collaborative software tool.
After the session I had a Q&A session where I answered questions regarding Evernote. I recorded the BBB session using Camtasia Studio 8 and when the footage was edited (as a series of 4 videos) I made them available to all staff through UWS’s video server Helix. This made the session available to a wide ranging audience and ensured it could be used a learning resource.
Since the BBB staff development session, I have had a number of staff development sessions with UWS members of staff on the use of Evernote and done a presentation at our Social Media Group (March 7th 2013) covering its uses.
A video section of my Evernote development session can be seen on this page along with supporting statements of members of staff who attended the online session. I enjoyed delivering this staff development session as it allowed me to use Evernote software and explore its possibilities and then share this knowledge with my colleagues. I also enjoyed being able to use different pieces of technology throughout the presentation; Evernote, Moodle, Big Blue Button, PowerPoint (for my presentation slides) and Camtasia Studio 8.
Turnitin is used widely across the University of the West of Scotland (UWS) as a means of submitting module assignments electronically. The software can be broken down into three main areas; Originality Report, Gradebook and Peermark all of which I offer staff assistance and development for. However the two key areas of downloading Turnitin assignments from www.submit.ac.uk and how to store them electronically had not yet been covered.
In an effort to encourage staff to download Turnitin assignments and store them electronically, I developed staff training materials on how to download assignments from submit.ac.uk and advised on methods of electronic storage. Whilst going through the process of developing the training materials, it became apparent that other aspects were going have to be covered aside from simply downloading assignments.
The other sections that had to be covered were;
- Gaining access to submit.ac.uk
- Changing and resetting your submit.ac.uk password
- How to fix Moodle modules not displaying in submit.ac.uk
The training materials had to be accessible to staff with varying levels of experience with using Turnitin and submit.ac.uk. Therefore the additional sections were added to address issues that novice/1st time users may encounter. The training materials were available in two formats; a series of videos which I developed using Camtasia Studio 8 and Word/PDF document for those who wanted a hard copy.
UWS staff members provided me with feedback on how effective the training materials were and how accessible they were to new users. I worked closely with Marcella Kean, Claire Chalmers and Claire Campbell in relation to staff feedback. I edited the videos based on the feedback I received from UWs staff and included more features that novice users may require like; where to type in a web address in an internet browser, how to copy and paste a hyperlink and how to extract items from a zip folder.
After implementing the feedback I received from members of staff I made the training materials available to UWS members of staff on April 19th 2013 through a module located on our VLE (Moodle). Since producing these training materials I have given a presentation for the Faculty Learning and Teaching Development (April 29th 2013), detailing the process of downloading assignments and then discussing the most effective method of electronic storage. I have also been offering Turnitin technical advice to UWS member of staff David J Campbell who undertook business analysis with a view to implementing a policy on the electronic storage of Turnitin assessments within UWS.
I have enjoyed seeing this project grow from producing training materials for members of staff to delivering presentations and offering technical advice on a future university policy. Not only has it expanded my knowledge of Turnitin and www.submit.ac.uk (by producing the training materials), but it has also given me the chance to work with different members of UWS staff and gain further knowledge of the institution and policies.
In relation to both of these staff development experiences, I enjoyed passing on the knowledge and skills I have learned as my time as an e-learning developer. It has been most gratifying to see staff employ the skills I passed onto them and ultimately see the student benefit by having a lecturer who is confident in the use of technology and software. As with any experience there of course lessons to be learned, I found during the staff training sessions the IT confidence and technical ability varied on an individual basis. The staff members that struggled I arranged to see individually after the training session at their convenience, and to further support the staff I produced videos they could refer. I also periodically check in with the staff to see how they are getting on and if there’s anything I can help with. I have also found it is good practice to have training materials in a variety of formats, some staff prefer videos, whilst others prefer written documentation – I think it is important to gauge your audience and prepare to meet their requirements. Ultimately I want to empower them with the skill set and knowledge to go forward and use new technology and software. This is something I will continue to be involved in; during June 2014 I was involved in running 3 one hour sessions focusing on Turnitin. These staff facing sessions had a maximum number of 10 attendees of varying ability, I was able to employ the lessons I have learned in previous staff development sessions.