The festive season can be a hectic time for us all, rushing here there and everywhere, feeling that you’re constantly racing against the clock to get things done at home and at work. The last minute dash to the shops to buy your loved ones gifts for Christmas, the big food shop to get the all important ingredients for your Christmas dinner (the most eagerly awaited meal of the year!) and the work deadlines that seem to be ongoing and need to be met before everyone breaks up for annual leave – it can be relentless and can easily become overwhelming.
At this busy time, it’s important to take time out not only to recharge your batteries but also to take stock of what you’ve achieved over the last year, time to reflect and to look ahead to the coming year. The beginning of a new year brings with it a fresh start and blank page for all our hopes for 2020.
So, before we start thinking about the Tel team’s hopes for 2020, and all the things we want to achieve and work on, I would like to spend some time practicing ‘reflection’ (for tips on reflection visit my post: Through the mirror – learning through reflection) and look at what we’ve worked on in 2019. It’s easy to forget what we’ve achieved in a year and that’s why it’s so important when actively reflecting to make sure you have recorded your achievements and things you would like to improve on in some way or another. Our blog site, Tel Tales, is a great way of keeping a record of the Tel team’s work over the year and by contributing to the site it helps us take stock of what we have learnt, whether bad or good, collaboratively.
A whistle-stop tour of a year in the life of the Tel team
Accessibility was at the forefront of our minds in 2019. We wanted to ensure staff were aware that we, as a university, have a legal requirement to provide accessible content to our students. We developed Moodle Baseline and, to help with accessibility for digital content, we installed a plugin called Ally into Moodle. We looked at Grackle for accessible Google Docs and Slides, Automatic Media Transcription and how we could convert Print-based booklets to accessible online resources.
We attended conferences such as Remaking Marking Conference, Digifest 2019, a Adobe/Higher Times forum called: Making digital literacy a pillar of education, the 19th EAIR Forum, TED Global Conference and Wonkfest 2019.
We looked at Scenario Based Learning, Wikipedia, Online Exams in Moodle, Videos in Higher Education, Content Capture and Digital Badges. We revisited topics such as Copyright and the all-important informative Did you Know? posts for Moodle. Moodle was upgraded to 3.7. We explored the increasing interest in Audiovisual in Education.
Assessments and feedback were also running topics of 2019. We looked at the different types of online assessments we had to offer and looked at feedback and shifting culture in the way we provided feedback to our students by ‘feeding forward’ to students using Edword.
We started to think about 5G and how this may affect us, by looking at Education 4.0 and Natalie 4.0. We looked at the pedagogy behind practice in learning and how visual note taking such as doodling could aid concentration and memory.
We revisited our social media platforms and looked at ways we could revamp them a little to increase our followers on Instagram and Twitter. So far this has worked and we are now advertising Tel and AcDev workshops, which again has helped increase the number of attendees.
We made time to reflect and looked at the importance of reflection. We explored change particularly in our current climate at the university and how we react to change. We looked at technology and our mental health and wellbeing.
Stuart Sims and Andy Clegg joined the AcDev team and I returned from maternity leave.
We said a fond farewell to Jerry, who was seconded to IS.
Finally, we finished the year by looking at Three Useful Apps in Learning and Teaching. The 12 apps of Christmas had a make-over and was revamped into 12 days of Christmas – Learning and Teaching Advent Calendar.
Phew! I think that was everything! Surprising, when you do take the time to reflect, just how much you can achieve in one year. As you can see, for us it’s quite a lot!!
What’s in store for 2020?
As you may have been aware we have had a few internal promotions within the team: Mike Wilson has been seconded to a Senior Lecturer In Digital Learning & Innovation for part of the working week and Senior Educational Technologist for Tel the rest of the week. Shaun Searle has now been seconded into Jerry Collingswood’s post as a Senior Educational Technologist and Tom Cripps seconded to back-fill Mike’s role when he is working with AcDev.
The new year will therefore welcome Jo Fairwood, seconded to Shaun’s original role on eLearn as an OCD, and Abigail Lee seconded to Tom’s OCD role.
Content capture will continue to grow organically and, following a staff–student consultation, the university will be introducing a Content Capture policy in 2020.
Accessibility will continue to be a focus for the Tel team. We will also be looking at best practice when it comes to external examiners.
We will continue to explore Edword, an online platform that will allow richer feedback to students. And we will be working much more closely with the AcDev team in 2020, which we are very much looking forward to!
We intend to carry on blogging away – so please, when you have a spare five minutes, check in with us to see what we’ve been up to. And feel free to follow us on our social media platforms! Please leave comments – we appreciate any feedback you have for us.
Finally – we are always looking for guest bloggers! So if you have something of interest that you would like to share on Tel Tales then please contact me at email@example.com.
So from myself and all the team we hope you all have a very happy 2020!