Guest post – DigiLearn: Building better creativity, confidence, and coherence for staff using Microsoft Teams
Author: Bryan Jones – Principal Lecturer (School of Sport and Wellbeing)
The landscape of learning is changing, and we are at the centre of a learning revolution. The learner has a very different set of skills, needs, preferences and aspirations to those of students who attended University only 5 years ago. As a consequence, our students’ expectations of delivery have shifted too.
No longer is access to information a barrier to learning, yet in the main, our delivery practices have not changed that much. It is essential that staff are aware of the student expectations and have the confidence to try new techniques and experiment with new technologies along the way. To this end, the University have responded by embracing Microsoft as an educational partner, bringing a plethora of new and exciting tools that can add value to our delivery.
One of the problems that we as a School have encountered is project-based learning in groups, as we have struggled to access a relevant tool to co-create resources. Thankfully, with the introduction of Microsoft Teams, we have the answer. In my role as Academic Development Lead, I wanted to introduce all staff to the benefits of using Microsoft Teams for students working in groups. Similarly, I wanted a tool that would act as a platform for staff to share ideas and tools as well as discuss the merits of different techniques. Microsoft Teams is now the main platform used to communicate new initiatives and share important documents. This ensures that staff can try new things and talk about them.
There is evidence of coherent approaches across modules and courses, examples of staff pushing their own pedagogical boundaries and others that have developed new ways of delivering making use of many of the new Microsoft technologies such as Sway and Forms. Teams has allowed the school to let staff loose on different tools rather than ‘bottleneck’ their understanding through seminars/workshops. There are some wonderful practices now occurring in the School, and this has come through staff collaboration and discussion. In fact, the use of Teams at the staff level has led module tutors to mirror this approach on modules, thereby meeting some of the learner expectation mentioned earlier. This is only the start of the big shift, but I really look forward to the future of HE learning.