Monday, 30 April 2018

TEL it like it is

As a learning technologists job relies a lot on heavy thinking which includes critically evaluating and analysing approaches in both theory and in practice.  It's good to have some critical downtime and rest your brain.  On Friday afternoons, I aim to read up on role-related literature.  Recently, it has occurred to me that I rarely read learning technologist blogs! 😱

Admittedly, I've not been as proactive in reading others' blogs as much as I should be.  I make a conscious effort to publish at least one blog post a month, but oddly I don't take the time to check others'.  I don't even have comments enabled to welcome any discussion or feedback on my own - I need to think about this.  Plus, I have realised that I need a good 'go to' list of people to keep me informed of areas that are not on my radar.  I did a little bit on this back in 2013, but people have either stopped blogging or have moved into different roles.  So I've decided now is a good time to find some people and teams I can go to, to 'TEL it like it is'.  As part of this process I want to be more aware of peoples and teams blogs and engage with them a lot more than I do.  In this 'live' post (updated when I find new blogs), I've set out on a specific quest...  Who are the people and teams I need to go to find inspiration or to generally keep up to date on TEL in HE?  So here’s a good reason to start sourcing some useful blogs that I can not only find new ideas but know a bit more about other HE environments and how they relate to what I am doing.

Capacity to progress

As reflected on my recent transition to HE in my last post, I have a big need to source HE good practice and generally keep up to date.  I am interested in people that work in HE and are overall technologists.  I did follow HE people and teams before on Twitter, but now it's more important to actually network, collaborate and give more as well as take from the community.  I'm also delving further into the subject of Digital leadership, so I guess I am looking for some focus on that amongst the material I find.  I want to pick up where I left off in my previous position in FE where I was developing leadership in digital change, but this time the task is much more intense as it is in my new environment of HE.  So the barrier is now above my height - as with most things! 😂  The simplistic image below sums up how I feel about my abilities since transitioning to HE, which is not to scale, but for illustrative purposes (a bit like data usage on a mobile phone tariff).  It shows significant space for me to stretch my understandings on wider HE practices and context.  I'm no longer in front, not behind, but am proactive about reducing the gap.

Discovering TEL blogs

It's relatively straight forward to find TEL blogs through social media and generally the internet, either by searching on specific key words or finding accounts that curate and list people.  But how useful is the content that they publish, how relatable is it and how will it be used?  To help with this, I have some professional learning objectives that I am linking to my CPD of what I need to know.  Additionally, I simply asked myself:

What content am I looking for on these sites?

  • Accessible, honest, open and straight to the point writing
  • Higher Education context
  • Digital capabilities practices and programmes
  • Digital leadership
  • Learning technologist role
  • New and emerging digital technologies and practices
  • Modelling best practice
  • Underpinning TEL and digital capability theories and frameworks

Once I have found appropriate blogs that meets some of my initial needs as above, I asked:

What attracts me to these blogs?

  • Gets straight to the point, is captivating and descriptive in their writing
  • Accessible writing - non-commercial and theory heavy
  • Open and honest about their experiences
  • Frequent meaningful and relatable material
  • Able to relate their experiences or at least have a sense of what they are talking about
  • Can leave with some practical tips that I can immediately start applying
  • Creative thinking/thought provoking material - challenges what I currently know and do

Below are some people and teams I have pulled together (in alphabetical order) where I found their blog posts/social media content really helpful (again this will be updated as I come across new blogs).  Some of these people I already knew or from presence on social media.  But this time I actually took more time to explore them further.

TEL individuals

TEL teams/groups

It's now time to ask myself:

How will I use these people and teams in my new role and context?

I'll aim to look at these blogs (and more as I discover them) at least once a week, ideally on Friday afternoons.  I'll check out new posts and determine how the new content relates to my role and how it can be used in my practices, and if not, why not?  As well as networking and joining in on more discussions on social media.

A big 👍 to all TEL bloggers and please continue writing openly as you do.  It allows everyone to learn from other experts in field and share common ideas, problems and solutions.  Furthermore, to help us all to be more informed of our specialism that supports and develops our organisations.  If anyone blogs about TEL stuff (ideally HE but I'm still interested in keeping up to date with FE) please do send your blog URL(s) my way via Chat (Twitter) or Profile (LinkedIn) above.


Better reading

I've a lot of reference books that I keep meaning to read and get into, but priorities, time and procrastination doesn't allow it to happen.  I need to remind myself of the following when I get new reading material, otherwise I am pressing myself with unread stuff sitting on my shelf or external hard drive.

  • What attracted me to the literature in the first place?
  • Why is it important that I read this?  Is it worth my while?
  • How will this help me?
  • What am I going to do with the information from it?

So, to make it easier for me, as I seem to think I have to read a reference book end to end I will:

  • Spend quite a bit of time thinking of the things I want to gain from the material
  • List questions of what I want answers to or guidance on
  • Locate these areas throughout the material

Similar to what you do when studying etc, but I seem to put myself off from picking up a reference book.  I mean it's ideal to read any book end to end to get the real understanding of what is being told, but reference books can be picked up at any time for help - just like mine.  Novels, well you do have to read end to end to get the story.