“Teaching at the heart of the system”

Ripples from Jo Johnson’s speech can be felt across HE this month as he introduces the notion of the Teaching Excellence Framework TEF. Similar to the REF it will aim to improve teaching quality.

Well worth a read as this is an issue we’ll be hearing much more about in the coming months.




Found a brilliant Etienne Wenger chapter called Identity in Practice in the book Pedagogy and Practice: Culture and Identities. I’ve only just started reading this chapter but already I’m picking out little snippets which relate to my project, whether or not these end up in my final dissertation remains to be seen.

“Engagement in practice gives us certain experiences of participation, and what our communities pay attention to reifies us as participants.” (Wenger, 2008, pg.105)

The notion of what it means to be part of a community of practice is an angle I find interesting when relating to course structures in place at a University. Academics are part of a course, which is in turn part of a department, which is part of an institution. Many academics are on fractional contracts maybe only working a few hours a week, however they are still identified as being part of a community they might rarely spend little time engaging with.

Wenger, E., 2008. Identity in Practice. In: K. Hall, P. Murphy and J. Soler, eds. 2008. Pedagogy and Practice: Culture and Identities. Milton Keynes: Sage Publications. Ch.7.


MA Group Presentation

Today I had a presentation in front of the rest of the MA cohort, it actually went a lot better than I thought and I received some really welcome feedback from others in the course. It was really beneficial to hear how everyone’s getting along and reassuring to know that we all share the same worries regarding the final write up stage. This is still the final stumbling block for me, I’ve got one more transcription to write up before I continue writing up. At this point in time I’m contemplating starting again with my write up, the structure I’ve put in place for my dissertation so far seems to be limiting me so I may well start again! Meeting for a tutorial with one of the MA students from last year to get my head around the writing up!

HEA – 2015 Student Academic Experience Survey

Today HEA released the key findings from their student academic experience survey. A particular part of these findings stood out as being related to my current research project;

“A key finding from this year’s survey relates to the importance that students put on their teachers in higher education being trained to teach. When asked to rank the importance of three characteristics of the people who teach them, a higher proportion of students rated staff having been trained in how to teach (39%) and having professional or industry expertise (44%) as the number one priority, than staff being active researchers (17%).”

Although this paragraph puts them emphasis on the training of teachers to me the number one priority was of more interest. The importance of teachers having professional or industry experience was of particular interest especially given my research project. Of the academics I’ve surveyed as part of my MA 85% of respondents state they have professional or industry experience, either previous to teaching or alongside their academic roles.

Even if I use these figures as an aside in my dissertation it’s worth noting that the emphasis students put on professional practice experience appears to be consistent with the lecturers at the University.

ALT Survey – Further Reading

After a supervisor meeting a few weeks ago I was recommended this document to look over. I had come across the ALT survey on the effective use of learning technology in education when it had first been published last Summer, but have to admit that I hadn’t put it on the pile of resources to consider for my study, ironic really given how much it relates to the research I’m doing. Sometime’s it does really pay to have someone outside of your project as they can see an overview of what you’re doing and point you to some really useful articles that come in handy. That’s some more reading sorted for this week!

Talking of ALT I also found out that I’ve been accepted to present a paper at this years conference, this will be the second time I’ve presented and I’m really looking forward to it. ALTc is a really informative conference for those in educational technology, the twitter stream is always really active and is well worth keeping an eye on if you’re unable to attend the event in person.

Data Analysis

Having a look at the moment at the best way I can be analysing my focus group data. I’ve come across a few ways of using frameworks to sort the responses from these sessions but want to be approaching this task in the best way possible.

One book I’m looking at references ‘in-vivo’ as a coding mechanism, which isn’t a term I’ve heard very often. The term itself is referenced to Udo Kelle and so I’ve requested the particular article to see if it’s of reference to my work. The article is titled: Theory Building in Qualitative Research and Computer Programs for the Management of Textual Data. It should be in the library in a few days and I can then see if it’s of relevance to my work.

Supervisor Meeting


Last week I had another really useful meeting with one of my supervisors. During the whole process of my research I have been adaptable to change, I’m quite sporadic in my thinking at the best of times and being constrained to exactly what I had put in my proposal has been a bit stifling especially as my ideas develop and adapt.

The meeting last week really helped with some anxiety about where my project was heading. I’ve been so conscious throughout my project that I should remain totally impartial and to not have any biases that I’ve almost let the very assumptions that subconsciously drive my project take a back seat. Listing these assumptions and seeing where they sit in the grand scheme of my project will really help me in moving the project forward.


Within the next few weeks I hope to have all the transcribing completed for the focus groups I ran with academic and professional services staff. Fortunately I used to have to transcribe as part of an old job so hoping that the typing itself won’t take a very long time. What I do anticipate taking a long time is the sorting of information collected as part of these groups. I’m hoping that during the transcribing process distinct themes will start emerging and should really hope in driving the project forward.

The Really Useful #EdTechBook

If there’s one book I’ve enjoyed above all others this year it has to be David Hopkins’ The Really Useful #EdTechBook. It’s been a while since I related as much to a book such as this one. All contributors are active in the field of learning technology and provide fascinating insights to the field.

Wayne Barry’s chapter ‘…and what do you do?” Can we explain the unexplainable?’ opens with a familiar scenario where someone asks what do you do? to a Learning Technologist. Barry remarks with the following;

“…unlike other occupations, such as teachermechanicplumberdoctor and solicitor, the term ‘learning’ or ‘educational’ technologist does not elicit the same kind of shared, universal universal understanding of most other occupations. Even within our own communities of practice, we find it a little difficult to define what it is that we do.” (Barry, 24, 2015)

I can relate very well to many of the chapters within the book. My working research question for my dissertation is currently: An exploration of factors which affect academic use of the online learning environment from a creative arts perspective. Sharron Flynn discusses peer attitudes to learning technology as a factor of adoption in her chapter “Learning Technologists: Changing The Culture Or Preaching To The Converted?” which is something I’d like to explore further as part of my project.

All in all I’d fully recommend this book to Learning Technologists and Academics alike, it’s a great read fully of interesting opinions and articles and contributes expertly to the varied area of educational technology.

Barry, W. (2015). “…and what do you do?” Can we explain the unexplainable?. In: Hopkins, D., ed., The Really Useful #EdTechBook, 1st ed. David Hopkins, pp.23-34.