As part of my current role and more recent roles, I have regularly had practical experience of developing my knowledge, skills and abilities per technologies. Specifically, some of my skills include:
- Using Moodle to author, edit and maintain course/module content (e.g. modifying pages and the HTML underlying pages to include text, images, embedded audio and/or video and creating/modifying HTML blocks for a variety of purposes) and activities (e.g. assignments, quizzes, discussion forums and others);
- Using collaborative technologies to work with others on a variety of documents (e.g. collaborating on documents using tools such as G Suite; Word within Office 365 and Box as a means to edit/share documents and media with colleagues across the University);
- Using screencasting software (e.g. Camtasia; QuickTime) to create succinct, just-in-time resources for students and staff alike to support their understanding of Moodle and other technologies (e.g. Mahara) that we regularly use;
- Using journaling and portfolio tools such as OneNote, Mahara and WordPress; one example of this is using WordPress to create and maintain my own space on the web and to use as a space for my CMALT portfolio.
- Participation in voluntary and required digital training provided by Lancaster University ISS. Evidence of the badges can be accessed by clicking the links below.
- Creating and managing Moodle courses, pages, content and activities while using relevant, complementary external tools such as Adobe Spark to create engaging content.
- This CMALT portfolio was written in OneNote and formatted within WordPress, where I also host my own space on the web.
I frequently have opportunities to develop technical skills since I am in regular contact with staff who require advice, expertise or solutions related to the tools that they regularly use, such as the Moodle VLE for delivering both blended and fully online learning and teaching. The training that I undertake is often self-driven through experimentation rather than through taking formal courses, although I occasionally take advantage of free training opportunities offered by Google Digital Garage, the Microsoft Educator Community and Adobe Education Exchange.
At times I often find myself solution-oriented and this in turn means that I am often exploring new ways of finding and testing out solutions which can ultimately provide staff with new and hopefully easier ways of designing, creating and delivering their own content for digital education opportunities and spaces. As an example, I’ve been looking for a solution that will allow lecturers to create mathematical content – which often requires mathematical, statistical and financial symbols – to be created with ease through the use of a tablet and stylus. This seems to be an appropriate way forward given that it might be impossible to require staff to learn an authoring system such as LaTeX. Although I have trained myself to use LaTeX and I know the general basics to the extent that I can likely author content on behalf of others, I also recognize that a teacher who will deliver a course/subject is often the most suitable person to design the materials to-be-delivered.
One thing that I try to keep in mind is that there will not always be a perfect solution, and where there is, there might be a financial cost involved which might well negate the value of the solution. This can, at times, be frustrating for all involved especially when that ‘perfect’ solution is found, and is also found to have a price which makes it far less attractive as a solution. To this end, I aim to keep an open mind when looking for and sourcing solutions.
Finally, I keep abreast of what the University ISS department provides in terms of technical training to staff by voluntarily undertaking (e.g. the Lancaster University Digital Skills Certificate and others) such training in order to understand the content, its structure and its aims while picking up badges to help advocate for these training tools that can be used by others across the school in which I am based. This helps me understand what is on offer and be in a position to offer and/or advocate for such training to staff as and when it is needed or desired.