Part 2: How to make Technology Enhanced Learning work for a University – Training and Culture

In my last post I talked about the importance of technology that works and that people find reliable and easy to use.  We have now reached the 3rd level of Gliddon’s Heirarcy of TEL, Training and Culture.  The aim here is to move your organisation along a path from where a technology is not used/known about to where it becomes part of the culture or just something that is done.

Training

The first thing to have is an “Introduction to….” training session, the aim is to take those staff that know little or nothing about the system and get them to a stage where they are using it for the basics.  Keep it short, make sure it is about what kind of things you can do rather than which buttons to press and when you have nearly finished the training say

It can do loads more, do have a play around with it and see what you can do, if you want to know more we have more training, or you can contact the helpdesk, or if you are trying to do something interesting we will sit down and help you plan it out”

Have a handful of more advanced training sessions, again things you can do rather than which buttons to press.

Provide training that people want and that supports projects.  You want to talk to senior staff at your institution and ask them what problems they would like solved in their area, then design training to solve these and offer it to train their staff.  Similarly any project you are doing consider if training would make them more successful.  The key point to remember here is that academic staff are very time poor and struggle to find time for training, however if what you are doing is making one of their problems go away they will make a real effort to find time.

Experiment with different times and ways to deliver the training (face to face, blended, online).

Culture

Then simply sit back and wait for the culture to change?  Sadly no the training above will cover the Innovators and Early adopters and then if everything goes well a year or two later you will start getting the Early Majority turning up for training.

What this means is that you are likely to have 60-80% of your staff either not using your TEL systems or using them to do the minimum and not really aware they can do more (because they haven’t had any contact with you).

Fortunately there are ways to accelerate cultural change

Packages

What is a package?  Well its a group of things that are bundled together that can then be put into multiple courses – think of it as an elaborate “Copy and Paste”, and if your institution has a Content Repository you can update anything deployed in one simple change.

So if someone wants their students to do group projects, rather than training them to add a wiki, set up a shared folder, create groups and make things visible to only one group.

Instead you import the “Group project” package; 6 wikis, 6 shared folders, 6 groups, all things visible to the correct group.  Video and handout instructions on how to use wiki & shared folders for students, Video and handout instructions visible to staff on how to assign students to groups and how to assess wikis (possibly even tips and a link to a case study).

You can also import a package into a lot of courses at once (most VLEs you can do this kind of thing server side using the same kind of processes that you do for annual course copies or archiving) a good example of this would be where a faculty wanted every course to do a particular thing for example Online Assessment, An Assessment Package is dropped into every course.  Because the support is built into the package its easy for staff and in one year/term you go from assessment being something they were considering to something that is done by nearly everyone (you will need to provide additional phone support and hand holding for the 16% laggards)

Ok – its late and this post is getting quite long, so I will pick up on what else you can do to change culture (and there is a lot!) in my next post

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