My role requires that I work with a broad range of people across the University, from students and teachers to department heads and vice chancellors. To this end, good communication forms a key part of my everyday role which often involves:
- Communicating in person, over the phone and via e-mail among others
- Communication with a variety of academic and administrative staff in a clear, supportive manner
- Representing my unit, school and the University through taking part in professional conversations online and in person and through attending and/or leading sessions at external events
- Office 365 for collaboration with staff across the institution
- Basecamp for collaboration within my team and to keep abreast of projects (see snapshot here)
- My presentations, workshops and publications
Collaboration & communication – internally and externally
Within my current role, I regularly work with academic and administrative staff with the aim of developing and raising awareness of good practices for blending modules and creating fully online modules.
I work with two other colleagues and we regularly meet with lecturers in order to consider approaches to designing the learning for modules. My colleagues and I use Basecamp and Outlook to track projects and keep abreast of goals and upcoming deadlines; we also use calendar sharing whenever appropriate. In addition, as a result from idea shared at a course I’m attending, called Leader@Lancaster, I schedule an hour of ‘prep time’ prior to meetings with colleagues in order to have time to prepare for and reflect upon what the meeting might entail and plan accordingly.
I try to broker support for the projects by providing staff with a positive, supportive demeanor and welcoming any questions. I also offer coffee and tea within my office setting as I feel this is one way to put others at ease and feel welcomed and perhaps more open to the idea of discussing potential ideas and solutions which they may or may not wish to pursue independently.
In terms of external collaboration and networking, I mainly use Twitter @DustinHosseini to source and share insights and information and to report from events that I attend. I also use LinkedIn and Academia.edu to a lesser extent. I also read, bounce ideas off of and occasionally contribute to the following jiscmail groups: ALT, BALEAP, LDNHE and SEDA. I also was a session chair during the ALT Online Winter Conference 2017.
Between April 2018 to late June 2018, I communicated and collaborated with a range of colleagues to organize and deliver a well-received event as part of the Teach-Learn-Share initiative between the Lancaster University Management School and the Lancaster University Faculty of Health and Medicine. I had to apply for a grant, which was accepted, and which allowed the event to run. This event was called Enhancing Learning & Teaching in Management Education: Getting to grips with a changing landscape (or ELTME2018 for short) and it attracted over 70 participants. This Twitter moment captures some of the what the day was like.
Planning meetings: blended learning and design for learning
A typical example of this is a meeting about a series of modules. My colleague approaches a lecturer with a proposed date and time and a rough agenda for a meeting to talk about developing a module that is being blended. During the meeting, we invite the lecturer to tell us a little about their own module and what the general aims of the module are and how they normally teach the module.
Where a lecturer has not taught online, we’ll provide a template that can help the lecturers develop the design for learning. This template is based upon ideas developed by the Open University and the Digital Education Team at University College London. We print this out on a large, A3-sized piece of paper with an example course filled in, and we also share this electronically. This template is also color-coded and slightly annotated with sufficient notes to make clear the purpose of each type of learning activity to our lecturer-colleagues.
From the interactions with colleagues, I believe this approach has helped to reduce barriers between the unit where I work and lecturers. I think this approach has also helped to inform and support lecturers’ own development as learners who are learning to blend and design courses for online delivery. I also make clear that staff are welcomed to drop by and e-mail with any questions. One example of communication via email is here.