DEBUT - Personalised Staff Development


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DEBUT (Digital Experience Building in University Teaching) started life out as a an HEA funded project to pilot a new approach to ICT staff development with the the aim is to enable programme participants to be more aware and more confident in exploiting a wide range of modern technologies – to be become digitally literate by using a personalised, contextualised, approach to developing digital literacy in staff based on the individual context and needs of participants. It is now an embedded programme run by the LTEU on an annual basis. This presentation was given at the University of Greenwich in July 2009 and is a variation upon the one originally created by Su Westerman (DEBUT Project Manager, LTEU, CCCU).

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  • Not digital immigrants, but not comfortable and so not creative One at a time wasnt working – no incremental increase Digital literacy - DigEULit
  • Although the project was open to all members of staff, we only had one member of the support staff. The DEBUT applicants were characterised by an awareness of rapidly developing technology and a need to build their skill and confidence levels, and their desire to learn new ways of supporting learning and working with technology.   To help participants select their choice of tools we organised sessions where all the tools were demonstrated and provided participants with a booklet, also in CD-Rom form, giving further details of each tool. Each participant also had an individual interview to discuss their digital experience, their attitudes to and use of technologies, their professional situation and needs – their context. This interview was conducted by a project mentor, whose intended role was also to act as a point of support and contact through e-portfolios kept by participants. It was stressed that the choice of tools could stem from personal interest as well as professional, and that participants were not expected to immediately apply anything they learned to their practice. We felt it was important that participants worked with tools which had some interest and meaning for them, rather than those which they felt they should know about, and to provide a ‘safe environment’ in which staff could experiment and learn.
  • Debut used these concepts to build the basis of our project
  • Evidence from DEBUT highlights the benefits of contextualised staff development – the opportunity for participants to choose the tools they worked on, depending on their own needs and context, was a key success factor. For most participants experiencing a range of tools within a short time frame was instrumental in this, although a small number would have preferred to have more time between tool experiences to consolidate their learning. The form of staff development support which received the most positive feedback was a group workshop or demonstration where a task or ‘homework’ was given, followed up by a one-to-one or small group coaching session. This form of staff development enabled participants to ‘play’ with a tool and see its benefits for them, followed by highly personalised support with the opportunity to share practice and learn from others. One comment was “People from different disciplines approached it in a totally different way. It was quite amazing and very interesting to see what they were doing.” The ‘homework’ element acted as a motivator and the follow-up session reinforced learning, producing a positive experience with technology which really helped build confidence. One participant said ‘The thing that has been most useful in terms of the training I have had has been a fairly immediate follow-up session where I have been forced into doing something and forced into putting it into practice.
  • There was one important issue with workshops and working in small groups. When a group was of mixed digital ability this could be an issue for those at both ends of the ability scale – the more advanced wanted to move ahead, and the less confident felt, as one participant put it, “inferior and insecure”. One aspect of DEBUT that did not turn out as we had anticipated was the use of the project mentor, a teaching fellow. All the participants valued the opportunity to talk during their interviews at the beginning and in the middle of the project but none of them contacted her with any problems or queries during the project – they wanted technical support, and contacted a learning technologist. A barrier to staff developing their digital skills was time, or lack of time to attend sessions or try things out and consolidate their learning. Participants felt they could have made more progress if they had had more time, but interestingly their feelings of responsibility for their students’ learning meant that they did not want to be released from current teaching commitments but wanted acknowledgement of the time needed for staff development.   Access to equipment was a problem for some of the participants. There were a few instances where software could not be installed on their computers at an appropriate time. Lack of access to mobile devices was an access factor that many participants commented on – with increased mobile working staff want technology that they can use not only on campus but from home, on the road and from partner organisations.
  • DEBUT - Personalised Staff Development

    1. 1. DEBUT personalised staff development Wayne Barry Learning and Teaching Enhancement Unit (LTEU) Canterbury Christ Church University
    2. 2. … established in 1962 first teacher training college founded by C of E in 20 th Century … largest centre in HE for the Public Services – teacher training; policing; health and social care … … in 2005 , awarded full University title 5 Faculties – Arts & Humanities; Business & Management; Education; Health & Social Care; Social & Applied Sciences … a teaching-led University … … approx 15,000 students – diverse student corpus (mature / part-time / international / widening participation) about Canterbury Christ Church …
    3. 3. where’s Canterbury Christ Church?
    4. 4. DEBUT in a nutshell … D igital E xperience B uilding in U niversity T eaching started life as an HEA funded project ... it piloted a new approach to ICT staff development ... … the aim is to enable programme participants to be more aware and more confident in exploiting a wide range of modern technologies – to be become digitally literate … … uses a personalised , contextualised , approach to developing digital literacy in staff based on the individual context and needs of participants … … now an embedded programme run by the LTEU on an annual basis …
    5. 5. why DEBUT ? involvement in the HEA Benchmarking e-Learning Exercise … … showed widespread use of the VLE in the institution but few examples of creative practice , or use of other digital tools. … meanwhile, the range of digital tools, and their uses is rapidly increasing, but students need support to critically use these to support their learning. systems-based staff development on different tools was not resulting in incremental gains in staff confidence in using digital tools … to develop our use of learning technologies in a sustainable way, we needed to explore new approaches which developed the digital confidence levels of staff rather than their skills on particular systems.
    6. 6. key elements of DEBUT … … Year One of DEBUT, expressions of interest were sought across the University … … 25 staff were accepted onto the pilot … … were representative of the academic and demographic profile of the institution … having different digital literacy levels … … asked to rank their digital literacy levels at the outset and end of the project … … some tools were standard University technologies, some were external Web 2.0 tools and others were technologies new to the institution, such as podcasting … a wide choice of digital tools (23) were offered … which they needed undertake a minimum of 6 , to gain a range of digital experiences …
    7. 7. key elements of DEBUT … … participants were helped in selecting tools which had meaning for them and suited their context through a demonstration and individual interviews … they were then asked to evaluate each experience … … tools were supported by a variety of staff development approaches (including workshop, 1:1 and self-directed) and each tool was offered between 1 and 3 times over the 10 months of the programme, depending on its popularity …
    8. 8. a bit about digital literacy ... Source: interest in the concept of digital literacy derived from Allan Martin and colleagues on the DigEULit project ... “ ... digital literacy is the awareness , attitude and ability of individuals to appropriately use digital tools and facilities to identify , access , manage , integrate , evaluate , analyse and synthesise digital resources, construct new knowledge , create media expressions , and communicate with others, in the context of specific life situations, in order to enable constructive social action , and to reflect upon this process.” suggests that digital literacy is cultural rather than technological and is socially located ... no ‘ one size fits all ’, e-literacy is dynamic – needs of individuals will change as their situation and environment change ...
    9. 9. a bit about digital literacy ... Source: Martin suggests that for the individual, e-literacy consists of five elements :   awareness of the IT and information environment confidence in using generic IT and information tools evaluation of information-handling operations and products; reflection on one’s own e-literacy development adaptability and willingness to meet e-literacy challenges. The DEBUT programme uses these elements to construct the digital literacy scale on which participants could position themselves, from 1 ( complete beginner ) through to 5 ( expert ), at the beginning and end of the programme.
    10. 10. lessons learnt ... … key indicator of the pilot’s success was evidence of a marked increase in the digital literacy levels of the participants … … all but the most experienced had made progress on their digital journey, very significant progress in a number of cases … … participants commented on the increase in their ability and confidence not only with the tools they had experienced as part of DEBUT, but with digital tools generally … … many participants also immediately integrated the use of their chosen tools into their practice …
    11. 11. lessons learnt ... … key success factors quoted by the participants were … … most favoured staff development approach was group sessions where homework was given and a follow-up session enabling the opportunity to learn from others was provided … 1) the awareness raising events at the outset of the programme … 2) contextualised staff development … 3) the opportunity to explore a range of digital tools … 4) exploring these tools intensely within a short time frame … 5) the support provided … 6) the opportunity to share practice …
    12. 12. lessons learnt ... … key issues were … 1) mixed ability groups could be an issue … 3) relationships built on expertise and trust … 2) more differentiation needs to be built into programme … 4) time available to spend on staff development … 5) easy access to appropriate technologies …
    13. 13. moving forward ... … the positive outcomes from the project have led to the University committing to DEBUT being embedded as an annual programme … learning from the lessons in year one … … cohort 2 ran in June 2008 and cohort 3 began in June 2009 … … aims is to continue working on DEBUT with a new cohort of participants to further evaluate and enhance the approach … taking lessons learnt from the initial pilot we are … 1) asking participants to explicitly think how they can link DEBUT to their current work … 2) providing more group activities with follow-ups to enable sharing of practice … 3) building in more activities to allow for differentiation …
    14. 14. moving forward ... … working with year one participants to enable a longitudinal study of the impact on the student experience resulting from the first year of DEBUT … … DEBUT as a key element in the drive to build institutional e-capacity , to foster a community of digitally confident staff who can exploit technologies for themselves and, alongside the LTEU and support colleagues … … envisage DEBUT involving staff from across the University – not just the academic faculties … … would like to see the programme being used strategically by all departments …
    15. 15. any questions ?