Friday, 31 January 2020

Preparing for SCMALT

It's getting to close to renewing my Certified Membership of the Association for Learning Technology (CMALT) again.  As I start preparing my thoughts, focus and evidence for this, I will be working towards a new pathway, Senior CMALT.  I work at a senior level and have been involved in learning technology field for 10 years next month.  So what better way to celebrate my expertise than demonstrating and accrediting my knowledge and skills at this level.  🎉

The main challenge I'll have when doing SCMALT is identifying my advanced area of professional practice and demonstrating how it addresses each of the core principles.  In all CMALT pathways you have to identify specialist areas, which I have previously identified as learning design or elements of.  However, I remain to be broad and cover the wide spectrum of Technology Enhanced Learning (TEL).  I've maintained all things TEL as I feel it's important to keep abreast of current developments and be well-rounded.  At some point though, I guess there has to be a tipping point when you do have to narrow things down to specifics, as you can't be and do everything.  Digital is expansive whilst digital learning and teaching is specific to context.

As I start to prepare for SCMALT I will revisit and reflect on my previous portfolios, which I feel are a patchwork representation of my learning technology career.  You can view this as a positive as it shows the diversity and complexity of the different types of TEL roles through their job purpose and activity focus.  As part of my reflection process, I'll start to think more clearly of my specialisms and advanced area.  In doing so it will help me to better prepare my evidence for the new submission, but more so the next direction and next steps I will take in my professionalism.

Inspiration for starters

In March 2019, I saw a bite sized piece of inspiration in the form of Rachel Challen's Principal Fellowship of Higher Education Academy (PFHEA) vlog.  This gave me some focused thinking points that I could ask myself when clarifying my advanced area:

Watched it once. 👍 Watched it twice. 😀 = transcribed the inspirational words to reflect on my own work. Makes a good foundation for @A_L_T #SCMALT too. Thanks @RKChallen!

I made the following points when watching the video:

  • Challenge (continuously) my thinking and perceptions around my knowledge, skills and practice - how valid, current and evidence-based is it?
  • Clarify and articulate what I do and how I think - identify knowledge and skill gaps to build foundations for the future
  • Identify my contributions in strategic leadership and the impact I have beyond my role and department, but towards academics and education itself
  • Identify my lens on the learning and teaching landscape - how has it changed and why is that?  What does it mean to me, my role and practice?
  • Evaluate my outputs and influence pieces - what was the impact of my thought pieces, practical solutions, proposals, sessions, reflections, blog posts, publications etc?  What actually changed as a result?

Also, remember to:

  • Describe what I did/do
  • Evidence it
  • Reflect
  • Provide impact of that project or particular intervention

Defining my advanced area

I have reflected on my key strengths thoroughly in recent blog posts Describing my learning technologist role and DarkLight Phoenix - rising to the surface.  So I don't need to rehash all of this, but if I had to compliment myself (we don't do this often) I would say the following words, in no particular order: proactive; enthusiastic; pragmatic; simplified; approachable; empathetic; supportive; accessible; influential;  leader; reflective; evaluative; meticulous; diligent; creative; collaborative; strategic; solutions focused; architect.

What I need to do now is reflect on my current situation/role and see where all these strengths play their part, whether internal to my organisation and outside of it...  I've come to realise that learning technology consultancy is my advanced area as it enables me to demonstrate, express and draw on my wide TEL expertise.  Plus, tap into my wider networks in different sectors.  Some might argue that being too generalised isn't good, but this has it's advantage of being able to hone in and draw on a variety of aspects rather than just one - turn your hand to anything.  Plus it keeps options open but allows room to narrow down.  If I had to name my advanced area, I'd say perhaps 'Digital Learning and Teaching Consultant' as it covers all of my key areas:

  • Learning design - online/blended course design
  • Digital capabilities development
  • eLearning design
  • Learning technologies
  • Virtual Learning Environments
  • Work-based learning
  • eTutoring
  • Higher/further education and commercial sector

It's a no-brainer really as I am a consultant in my current role and do carry out frequent external work when invited/contracted to critique and contribute across different types of work.  All related to TEL, eLearning and digital skills.

I feel I have established myself well in the learning technology consultancy field: being proactive in my roles and projects and sharing my experiences; obtaining qualifications including my TEL MSc; achieving accolades; publishing my book.  Plus, I am always open to collaborating with others in different sectors, which has led to me being approached to contribute on unique projects.  Such as The Education and Training Foundation's Enhance modules and Essential Digital Skills teaching resources.  Not forgetting being appointed as an External Quality Assurer for digital skills and digital learning design qualifications.

Now that I have identified my advanced area, I will start to prepare how I can evidence this for my SCMALT submission.