In my 25 years working experience as an educational technologist, I have worked at seven UK universities and briefly ran a business in Spain. I have been a tutor, learning designer, course developer, advisor, trainer, director, project manager and, many times (important!), an online student. I have also worked on about 20 funded projects and spoken at innumerable events and have been fortunate to get a unique and rich insight into how e-learning works (and sometimes doesn’t) in higher education.
I have worked at University College London (UCL) since 2009. I was promoted in 2012 to E-Learning Advisory Team Leader and lead a team of three E-Learning Facilitators, a Distance Learning Facilitator, working with academic departments to effect e-learning change aligned with UCL’s e-learning strategy. We are undertaking a whole-university review to develop local elearning policies.
I have also developed some 20 e-learning projects, most recently ABC (innovative programme and module design), Arena Digital (short online courses), The Media Manifesto (video use among academics), The Digital Department (JISC and UCL funded) developing digital literacies among support staff, REC:all (Recording and augmenting lectures for learning – Erasmus), UCL E-Learning Champions (UCL and Leadership Foundation), Enhancing Existing Knowledge (UCL) – developing diagnsostics for M-level programmes.
Since 2008 I have been an Associate Lecturer at the Open University, working as a tutor on H810 Accessible online learning: supporting disabled students, a 30 credit module on their MAODE Masters programme. We are currently in the sixth presentation.
I came to UCL as a Learning Technology Advisor and provided e-learning advice /consultancy and live/online support for over fifty departments ranging from engineering and architecture to classics and philosophy. I specialised in distance learning, digital literacies and media for learning. For two years I was a tutor on UCL’s postgraduate teaching certificate.
I came to London in 2008 to work as a Learning Technologist at Imperial College London. I developed a successful and well-received pilot module MOST (month one safety training) a benchmark/exemplar multimedia programme aimed at a wide audience across the university. MOST was built in a Blackboard/HTML shell using video, audio, Camtasia and Flash CS3 with a focus on sustainability, reusability and scalability.
Immediately before I spent about 18 months (starting 2007) at the University of St Andrews (my alma mater) as a Web and Educational Development Consultant. I provided blended e-learning support to academic staff via development courses, individual consultations and a popular series of over 30 online mini-guides. I also undertook an in-depth review of VLE use within one school, and worked with colleagues there to enhance learning resources. I provided design consultancy and critical editorial support for a very successful high-profile international distance learning programme in International Relations, founded and chaired the university’s highly successful Distance Learning Group.
Between 2006 and 2007 I spent a year as a consultant largely outside of the UK HE sector. I was the Co-Director of a Spanish start-up called elceve which was established to pilot and deliver high-quality international training programmes and associated services related to the use of communication and information technologies in teaching and learning. Our primary product was a Spanish version of ePICT (European Pedagogical ICT Licence), but I also undertook consultancy work for the University of East London to develop support material on good practice in e-learning via a VLE and continued an earlier association with Glasgow Caledonian University as project coordinator for two international Socrates Minerva projects: VideoAktiv (media-based education) and Learn@Work (online support for learning in the workplace). The Spanish operation was a victim of the sudden economic downturn in Spain and I returned to the UK in 2007.
For over three years (2002 to 2006) I had an extraordinarily rewarding and challenging post as Director of General Academic and Professional Studies (GAPS) at Glasgow Caledonian University. GAPS was one of four departments within Learning Services (Library, IT, and student services). With 42 staff and a budget of over £2M, the focus of GAPS was teaching and learning innovation, comprising two interlinked themes; promoting and enabling accessible and flexible modes of study and providing support services for students and staff. We had 350 students on our programmes, established a key role in access and HE/FE transition and developed an international reputation in e-learning and work-based learning, leading two international consortia. I left GCU to start a business.
Between 1994 and 2002 I worked at UMIST (now part of the University of Manchester). I rose to Head of e-Learning. My remit as head of a seven-member service, research and development team was to promote the expansion of information and learning technologies. I was responsible for the development of the core e-Learning service i.e. providing direct provision, support and consultancy for e-learning to UMIST academic and support staff. I was part of the team that brought ALT-C 2000 (the annual conference of the Association of Learning Technology) to UMIST in September 2000 and played a key role in organising what was generally regarded as a highly successful conference. I also developed and ran an extensive and integrated training programme for staff on web and learning technologies. This included a reflective portfolio process within a national framework of objectives, a model that was used later for the professional development of librarians and e-Learning for Enterprise, a 12-week completely online course, introducing SME practitioners to the principles and ‘best practice’ of web and internet-based learning.
Back in the mists of time (1990), I came into the profession as the Co-ordinator for the CTI Centre for Land Use Studies University of Aberdeen. As the first Centre Manager of the CTI Centre, I had a leading role in the development of its strategy, programme and image. The CTI post was a national co-ordinating role to support innovative use of ICT at university level in the subjects of agriculture, forestry and environmental sciences. This involved the development of publications, guides and training workshops. The national basis of this project enabled an unusually wide comparative perspective of UK universities. In 1992 I became the Project Manager for a Teaching and Learning Technology Programme (TLTP) initiative. I was responsible for three programming staff. We developed several high quality multimedia courseware titles and I had overall responsibility for the development strategy (procedural, pedagogic and technical), management of the development team, maintenance of quality standards and evaluation. I felt I gained unparalleled insight and experience of the management of a demanding, resource-restricted project and a real understanding of the ‘art of the possible’ in a field in which the management of resources is notoriously difficult. In 1993, I managed (part-time) a second TLTP award, which I had initiated, looking into Excel as an authoring tool. I still think that was an excellent project and 23 years on, Excel is still woefully underused!