Author: Simon Hawkesworth – CCL Learning Enhancement (Digital)
One of the impacts of or recent experience of Covid has been generation of huge range of materials designed to help staff understand the many options, technologies and process surrounding online teaching and learning. Some of that information had to be quickly created, while others had to be rethought to take account of how systems were being repurposed for synchronous and asynchronous teaching, remote meeting and electronic assessment. Processes that had been delivered face-to-face were now being delivered wholly online with a whole range of guidance, training and instructions being needed for staff to understand how to do this, and in a very short time.
While staff have done remarkably well in dealing with these challenges, one of the main concerns has been how to navigate the many options and the array of available guidance so that they can become confident and comfortable in using the key technologies. The range of platforms, formats and systems where content is held has also added to what can be a confusing process for people – particularly those new to the University.
To help staff navigate these resources we decided to create a number of ‘roadmaps’ that would guide staff through a series of key learning stages, at the end of which they would have the skills and understanding to use some of essential technologies and processes required for electronic teaching and learning.
Three initial roadmaps were devised with some of most widely used and important areas:
- Using Blackboard VLE.
- Electronic Assessment and Feedback.
- Working with Microsoft Teams.
While somewhat prescriptive – staff being encouraged to work through each stage in turn and to complete all elements to gain the full range of knowledge – there was some degree to which they are also encouraged to explore options as not all of the associated technologies are relevant to all staff. For example, with electronic assessment and feedback, a range of technologies are mapped out rather than a single, linear path.
One of the dilemmas has been in finding the best platform to deliver these resources on. In the past we would have produced these are a graphical workflow with hyperlinks built into a PDF. However, making this kind of resource fully accessible is difficult and we have looked to move away from this approach for most content. Likewise, Word, while easy to use and with lots of accessible functionality, didn’t lend itself to the information that would be needed.
In the end, the platform we decided to use Microsoft Sway. Sway not only gave us a simple way to deploy the content with a dedicated weblink, but it allowed for some introductory content to be given within the Sway interface without having to send users to other, external files. For the key stages, users are directed to guides (Word format), the teams webpages, or the booking link for workshops. While each of these key stages has a number of potential resources we have restricted users interaction in the first instance to a single, key resource, with contact details to the team that would allow them to ask questions or get further help if needed. While this restricts the resources we might initially provide to staff, if hugely simplifies the information they have to absorb and should make the process of getting to grips with these key areas simpler and less daunting, while still being able to call on support and help.
If this approach proves successful we will adopt this with others areas of teaching and learning to help make the process of gaining digital capability and confidence much easier. Future developments may also include a dedicated web platform to better deliver the resources.