A community approach to staff development in eLearning - Moodle research conference 2012


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Tabitha Roder and Nicoletta Rata-Skudder presentation for the First Moodle Research Conference 2012, Crete.
Title - a community approach to staff development in eLearning.

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  • Introduce self and Nicoletta
  • Unitec NZ's largest Institute of Technology 4 campuses in Auckland, New Zealand mostly face to face delivery  increasing demand for flexible courses
  • Blackboard purchased license 1998 Courses were used as repositories sporadic use of Web 2.0 tools throughout institute links to youtube videos vox wikispaces blogs   no strong institutional commitment to elearning and a lack of clarity in strategic direction in this area Started having connections to other tertiary institutes that created a simmering interest in Moodle
  • Our MoE wanted to establish a benchmark to set expectations in regard to the Tertiary Education Strategy In 2008 the report was published with assessments in respect to five dimensions Delivery Planning Definition Management Optimisation   This gave Unitec a map of its strengths and weaknesses
  • The assessment shows strengths in delivery across the dimensions, planning and definition adequate, but found weaknesses in management and optimisation. It was clear which areas needed to be developed.
  • Meanwhile, an LMS evaluation was carried out with a project team made up of Elearning team members IT staff Business analyst Academic advisors Lecturers  They used a Moodle course to coordinate the evaluation project. A Moodle pilot was carried out in three departments Education Computing Natural Sciences Unitec confirmed the move to Moodle and that Bb will be discontinued at the end of 2012.
  • As a result of a large change project the “Living curriculum” was developed, and within that is embedded the elearning strategy.  Note the driver for change; this was a pedagogical decision. Moodle fit better with the changes in pedagogy Unitec were looking for. The Manger of Te Puna Ako, Robert Ayres said "The shift to Moodle facilitates changes in learning and teaching through our elearning strategy framed within the living curricula" In the eLearning team we were excited about the shift as "The focus is on teaching not technology"
  • These are the key principles of the Living Curriculum. To integrate eLearning, institutional capability had to be developed and structures put in place. An eLearning Development Strategy aimed to integrate learning technologies in creative and meaningful ways to enhance the learning experienced offered to students. As a vehicle for realising these objectives, the Community of Practice model was selected as a potentially empowering approach to building social capital.
  • So we know that CoPs are ...
  • Te Puna Ako – general, literacy, and eLearning advisors Learning centre Additional funded temporary roles for around 18 months, some extended: 1 full-time addition to eLearning team 1 full-time eLearning Librarian 3 full-time Faculty based eLearning Development Advisors Time release for existing staff in each department as eLearning Community Coordinators, generally 0.2 time release for one or two staff per department
  • The key driver to changing pedagogy was to be the community of practice. Unitec leadership recognised that the demands of the change. Staff would need time “to engage with each other, the technology stewards, and with new technologies”.
  • Teacher or Learner? IDENTITY Expert or life-long learner and collaborative constructor A CoP model gave the opportunity for the practitioner to adopt the role of both expert and learner within the communities, depending on the skillsets and knowledge of the domain held by the participants. This is of particular significance given the nature of the Living Curricula, and in questioning the traditional role and identity of academic staff as experts rather than life-long learners and collaborative constructors within the domain. Ako is the (indigenous people of NZ) Maori concept of teaching and learning as a reciprocal, connected and interrelated process, where the educator is learning from the student and where educator's practices are informed by the latest research and are both deliberate and reflective. Ako also recognises that the learner and the whanau [family and community] cannot be separated.
  • We used various technologies to support the CoP, which were decided and changed regularly by the members of the CoP. This exposure helped them determine technologies that would support their changing teaching practice as they grew to understand a Living Curriculum.
  • We know there are essential enablers and conversely threats to the success of a CoP. In Unitec's case, the threat was a recognised tension between a management directed strategy and the organic nature of a CoP model. To counter the tension “every effort was made to allow complete autonomy for each department CoP to form its own structure and explicit objectives”.
  • In 2010 there was a five day workshop by Etienne Wenger & Bev Trayner on communities of practice attended by the newly appointed eLearning community coordinators and the eLearning team
  • Developing all our staff using the CoP was deemed better use of expenditure than outsourcing eLearning development. So what did the elcc's do? They had regular informal and formal events coffee catch ups and workshops regular mini symposiums where they share what they were doing, tips and tricks they had picked up, and talked together about the challenges they have been facing some also attended Moodlemoots and iMoots They had their own community events in their department and supported their peers using their own methods
  • The eLearning team and FeLDAs modelled the role of technology stewards for the communities, encouraging interdepartmental interactions and sharing of best practice, which led to eLCCs becoming technology stewards for their departmental communities.
  • Some eLCCs, FeLDAs and the eLearning team participated at moodlemoots and iMoots. Moodle has a well established community of practice that we encouraged staff to participate in. We recommended participation in the Moodle community, not only to learn but to give back and help other education providers learn. The use of the Moodle Docs wiki, Moodle tracker, and the Moodle.org forums supplemented the internal support provided to staff.
  • This is an example of how some departments communicated and tracked the progress of their community. This is the accounting and finance department community of practice Moodle page.  You can see they have designed their own theme - they used this for their courses with students too.  The pictures are of their building and the surrounding area with pukekos and pohutakawa trees (native birds and trees). This helped them build a sense of identity and take ownership of their community.   They are using poll everywhere to focus their community on trying new things.
  • We carried out midpoint survey and endpoint interviews of eLCCs and identified some themes. Time and workload were the biggest issues. ELCCs found it difficult to balance the priorities of their teaching and research roles with supporting the CoP and offering professional development to their colleagues. The time allocation was a crucial enabler. One eLCC said “having an official role and time release within my department allowed me to greatly expand the eLearning support I had previously been unofficially providing to staff in my department. It enabled me to have individual discussions with each of my colleagues and provide them customised support to achieve their eLearning goals”.
  • Digital literacy Digital literacy levels of staff impacted on the uptake of eLearning technologies and their ability to recognise the pedagogical affordances of these technologies. There were many staff requesting Moodle basic tools workshops who were simply not ready to discuss Living Curriculum characteristics or the eLearning Strategy as they did not feel confident using online technologies. One of the eLearning team member’s research outputs give us this useful insight “The radical pedagogical changes noted in these projects were not because of the technology itself, but rather how it was used, thus pedagogy played an intricate role in the process.” (Narayan, 2011). The Natural Sciences department found the collaborative design and use of a Moodle course template alleviated some of the barriers related to literacy issues for their staff.
  • Resistance to CoP approach A significant issue raised was that the community of practice model was being imposed. In some cases resentment was expressed by staff that they were being forced to apply the CoP label to their existing practices. This conflict may have impacted on the adoption rates of both the community approach, and the implementation of the eLearning Strategy. "Mainly because of the resistance it made it difficult to engage everyone. Also getting them to take it seriously and not just consider it a "fluffy ideology" imposed on them." (eLCC).
  • Support Both the central support and the support of the department peers and managers was necessary for significant change to occur. The staff valued the face to face support of the “experts” from Te Puna Ako. HoD buy-in was crucial. Different support approaches worked for different departments. One factor that seemed to significantly impact the eLCCs was role ambiguity. And the way the role was understood by the department. Many of the eLCCs felt that if the roles were clearer and better communicated to peers and management there would have been more significant change achieved.
  • Reflections on community
  • We could see the shift in focus from learning how to use the tools to the pedagogy; how they can use the tools with their students, which tool when, and giving students more options on how they share and contribute to their own learning and their class
  • Moodle 2.2 in place Moodle 2.3 for Christmas eLCC funding already ended and FeLDAs funding ends this year New CoPs emerging – iPad CoP
  • Thank you
  • A community approach to staff development in eLearning - Moodle research conference 2012

    1. 1. A community approach to staff development in eLearning
    3. 3. Distance & Flexible Education Capability Assessment>> UNITEC INSTITUTE OF TECHNOLOGY
    4. 4. Distance & Flexible Education Capability Assessment>> UNITEC INSTITUTE OF TECHNOLOGY
    5. 5. LMS investigations>> UNITEC INSTITUTE OF TECHNOLOGY
    6. 6. Leadership commitment >> UNITEC INSTITUTE OF TECHNOLOGY
    7. 7. Living Curriculum• Involve Complex conversations• Are Curiosity / Inquiry led and stimulating• Are practice-focussed – educating students for work, in work, through work• Are socially constructed – self-sufficiency and collaboration are equally valued, and together they help nurture resourcefulness and resilience• Blend face-to-face and web-based learning• Are research-informed• Have a discipline base, and are also interdisciplinary• Develop literacies for lifelong learning• Include embedded assessment• Active and responsive interaction with industry, professional and community groups shapes content, curricula and delivery modes >> UNITEC INSTITUTE OF TECHNOLOGY
    8. 8. Communities of Practice “Groups of people who share a concern or a passion for something they do and learn how to do it better as they interact regularly” Wenger 2006 >> UNITEC INSTITUTE OF TECHNOLOGY
    9. 9. Support
    10. 10. Support “The CoP model has been a key vehicle for facilitating collaboration within and across departments, as has the funding of specific ‘technology stewards’ (eLCCs) within the departments. These eLCCs are vital shaping voices in helping keep the focus and purpose of eLearning developments on core pedagogic issues.” Keesing-Styles and Ayres (2011)>> UNITEC INSTITUTE OF TECHNOLOGY
    11. 11. Identity Flickr - gnuckx>> UNITEC INSTITUTE OF TECHNOLOGY
    12. 12. Technology Cochrane>> UNITEC INSTITUTE OF TECHNOLOGY
    13. 13. Enablers and Threats ● Passion for domain ● Lack of time ● Internal leadership ● Leader neglect ● Energized core group ● Focus on events ● Focus on practice ● Focus on documents ● Trust ● De-energizing tasks ● Community rhythm ● Red tape ● Personal touch ● Logistics or IT ● High value for time ● Command/control ● High expectations ● Cookie-cutter approach ● Engaged sponsorship ● Ideology ● Skilled support Wenger & Trayner 2010>> UNITEC INSTITUTE OF TECHNOLOGY
    14. 14. Getting everyone on board>> UNITEC INSTITUTE OF TECHNOLOGY
    15. 15. eLCC Feedback eLCC feedback “I cannot emphasise enough how important and meaningful this event was for me. Wenger and Trayner provided the eLCC group with an important introduction into community of practice theory and practice, and eLCCs spent the week conversing, bonding and learning. We entered as individuals and exited as a community. As far as I’m concerned, the organisation of that workshop was a stroke of genius.” (eLCC quoted in Benseman, 2011, p. 8)>> UNITEC INSTITUTE OF TECHNOLOGY
    16. 16. Dawn of a new era>> UNITEC INSTITUTE OF TECHNOLOGY
    18. 18. Global community>> UNITEC INSTITUTE OF TECHNOLOGY
    19. 19. Department community>> UNITEC INSTITUTE OF TECHNOLOGY
    20. 20. Feedback – time and workload Flickr - simpologist>> UNITEC INSTITUTE OF TECHNOLOGY
    21. 21. Feedback – digital literacy Flickr - Cristóbal Cobo Romaní>> UNITEC INSTITUTE OF TECHNOLOGY
    22. 22. Feedback - resistance Flickr - David Gallagher>> UNITEC INSTITUTE OF TECHNOLOGY
    23. 23. Feedback - support Flickr - blentley>> UNITEC INSTITUTE OF TECHNOLOGY
    24. 24. Reflections on community “My involvement in the Unitec eLearning Community of Practice was hugely beneficial to me, impacting my role both within my own department and across the institution as a whole... Being part of a wider community exposed me to a range of other Unitec staff with an interest in eLearning. I was able to share my ideas with others from different disciplines and to adopt ideas used elsewhere to good effect. I have certainly learned a lot from the experience and continue to benefit from a number of ongoing professional relationships formed through this community.” eLCC>> UNITEC INSTITUTE OF TECHNOLOGY
    25. 25. Reflections on community Narayan 2010>> UNITEC INSTITUTE OF TECHNOLOGY
    26. 26. Where to from here?>> UNITEC INSTITUTE OF TECHNOLOGY