Thursday, 21 September 2017

Signed, sealed but not yet delivered

As mentioned in my previous post about the second proposal I submitted to write a book, I am delighted to say that it has been accepted by Critical Publishing Ltd.  This is great news and something new for me to experience and marvel in (until the pressure hits!).

The short book I am writing is tentatively titled 'Learning Technology: A Handbook for FE Teachers and Assessors'.  The reason I've kept this short is because it's my first attempt to write a book and I don't want it to be too intense, especially when I am new to it.  I can't give too much information away on the finer details of the book at this stage as it's highly confidential material.  However, the following are excerpts from what I set out in my rationale for the proposal of the book.


The book is aimed at teachers and assessors in Further Education (FE) and those that support them.  It is ideal for those starting out using or who have some awareness of Information Learning Technology (ILT), and are exploring how to make the most of digital technologies in their learning and teaching practices.  A useful resource to refresh on the grounding basics of how and when to use ILT effectively.


This book is going to be about providing practical advice in sourcing and using learning technology and designing eLearning activities and resources.  It covers each aspect of the teaching and training cycle; identifying needs, plan/design, deliver/facilitate, assess and evaluate.  It is to be used as a handbook that can be easily picked and features a comprehensive index to allow referring and finding particular content.  The main themes to be introduced and discussed are; needs for applying learning technology and using eLearning, barriers to implementing digital learning, importance of digital literacy skills, delivering and assessing learning through ILT and ways of keeping up to date with their own practices.  The following are the objectives of the book:

  • Explain what learning technology and eLearning is in the context of FE
  • Guide readers through the implementation of learning technology and design of eLearning materials for learning, teaching and assessing
  • Identify ways to keep up to date with own practices regarding ILT

This book is a product that would be welcomed by further education (FE) tutors rather than reading heavy theoretical books.  They require instant reminders, ideas and practical solutions that Information Learning Technology (ILT) can offer as well as essential knowledge of its purpose.  The book takes readers through the knowledge and skills process of sourcing and applying learning technology tools and converting traditional learning and teaching resources into engaging and interactive online ones, in all aspects of learning, teaching, assessment and quality assurance.

This book is not a game-changer nor a collection of upcoming innovative ideas, but simply and practically what learning technology and eLearning is and how to make the most of them in teaching and learning practices.  It provides a refreshing perspective on the implementation of learning technology and use of eLearning through my experience, whilst being encouraging but sympathetic toward people’s abilities and organisational challenges and pressures.


When embarking on a career in teaching in FE, or perhaps the desire for tutors to increase their practices with ILT, it can be somewhat of a challenge due to limitations in time to experiment and practice with digital tools and resources, which are often bound by the organisational environment.  Or it could be that a tutor is new to the role(s), has low level digital literacy skills, lacks practical confidence or knowledge of what effective digital tools are available.  For some educational professionals, it can be a challenge and often a huge pressure to include and embed ILT effectively into new or existing practices.


I feel the learning technology/eLearning publishing industry is lacking an easy pick-me-up book that gets straight to the point of what it is about, what it can do and ultimately why it is important for both tutor and learner.  FE is under pressure to deliver high quality online learning to its learners due in part from mounting competition from alternative providers.  However, enabling downloadable resources on a Virtual Learning Environment (VLE) as a knowledge repository is not enough to satisfy the eager and curious learners of the digital age.

Some tutors may well know what learning technology and eLearning is and how it can be used, but often it might just be enough to get by.  Interestingly, in this digital age learners may know more about the advances of ILT (although less able at its practical application to learning) that can leave the tutor feeling low in confidence.  Tutors need to be supported in the wealth of free and paid for digital tools and resources that are available as well as embracing what learners can bring to their courses through their own devices and experiences.

ILT should not be seen as an add-on to enhance a lecture or presentation, Information Communication Technology (ICT) affordances need to be accepted and understood on how its potential can best be exploited to increase enjoyment, engagement and enlightenment for both tutor and learner.  ILT should not create more tasks or take up more time if used correctly and effectively, it should lead to positive impact for all involved – and this book will simplify this.

After my proposal was approved, I had to complete a sample chapter which was successfully approved.  This means I can commence writing the rest of the book with a potential release for Summer 2018.

Nervous?  Very much so.  Excited?  When I feel I am getting it right I am.  Can I actually write a book?  People thought I wouldn't do well after school, do I need to say anymore?  Who cares you're writing a book?  Me.  It's expressing the knowledge, skills and passion I have developed over the last few years to help others through, in narrative/book form.  I'm giving back all I have learned and reflecting on my own expertise in the process.  Plus, I said I would like to write a book (as mentioned at the end of my MSc student profile video) and also in the submission presentation of the award I won and now it's happening.  Will I embrace the highs and lows ahead?  Of course - it's a new area that I am bravely embarking on and I welcome the journey I will take with it.