Wednesday, 19 January 2011

Learning Development: roles and working lives

The Association of Learning Development in Higher Education is conducting an informal ethnographic study of the work of learning developers across the sector. Each month we are invited to blog what we did on the 15th day – or the nearest working day to the 15th. If you are engaged in any form of learning development role yourself, do go to the blog and add an entry (for January please go to ). If you do not want to blog yourself, just go and read the entries – they are fascinating. I am reproducing my January blog here, fyi:
I did not work on the 15th and as I am 0.8 and I do not work on Fridays either, my nearest working days include Weds/Thurs 12th & 13th January – but also Monday 17th January – so here’s a little bit about all of those.
Some context: as you all know, we all work in increasingly pressured, work heavy and time poor environments – pushed forever to do more with less, for less and in less time. At the same time we are all deluged with increasingly peremptory and steadily mounting demands and pressures: this year we are all blended learning – get up to speed, produce new course designs & resources, develop new Teaching, Learning & Assessment practices … yesterday – or else. Ooooh, this year we are all transitions & student engagement: three-line whip to attend workshops, sit on discussion groups, produce policy documents whilst remembering that we are still ‘blended learning’ so must keep producing those resources and new course designs and activities whilst the university deletes administrative posts so that we all have to do a thousand extra admin tasks as well …
And so it goes! Thus generally we are all nose to grindstone, shoulder to wheel and forehead to door of fridge – and no matter how hard we work, how many hours or days of unpaid over time we give – we never feel we have done enough or that we are good enough…
BUT – they announced our redundancies in November… and this brings me to the 12th & 13th January:
Last week amongst the email and admin which is endless and forever… I dragged my nose, shoulder and forehead to my desk and decided to play. We learn through play. We are engaged by and in play… So I opened a twitter account and started tweeting. I resurrected my blog ( and started blogging. I entered my facebook account without shame – and IM’ed an ex-colleague who now lives in Dublin. I also followed threads and links and posts … I cannot tell you how much I learned in those two days. I now feel ready and able to really DO blended learning. More so than any amount of micromanaging or bullying or hectoring could ever have accomplished.
Homily: In these increasingly harsh times, let us fight for those creative and emancipatory spaces for ourselves. Let us take the time to explore, develop, share, learn and grow – in fun and joy.
17th January: the other day nearest the 15th that I worked involved the usual email and admin – but also our SWAP symposium. The LearnHigher and Write Now CETLs at London Met funded pedagogic research projects in reading, notemaking and writing around the theme of Supporting Academic Writing Practices (SWAP). On Monday we had a symposium wherein the majority of participants were able to report back on their projects. Over 50 people attended the event – and there were fascinating presentations on: Using mobile phones for studying and notemaking; Writing in public: exploring the use of Web 2.0 in developing students’ academic writing; Using tweets for reflection during practice; Re-purposing a Reflective Practice learning object; A teaching resource to guide biological laboratory and scientific report writing; Read to succeed – a project to embed reading and the Academic Liaison Librarian to aid the transition of first year undergraduates; Writing in the disciplines E-pack; and A handbook for creating a story-telling space on virtual 3D environments(Second Life). For reports on these projects do go to:
A merry lunch was eaten and a good day was had by all. Hopefully also this event did not draw a line of closure – but has sparked further ideas, including for further collaborations, between participants. Personally I am hoping that our Events management students will get together with our Computing, multimedia and animation students to run a virtual Get Ahead conference for us this year as there is definitely no money left in the pot to run a real one! (For a look at our last conference by students and for students, go to:

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