Opening up my practice 5/5

“Only open journalism reveals the whole picture.” The Guardian

I spend a lot of classroom time talking about open journalism practices, discussing how digital technologies have changed forever the relationship between journalists and the “people formerly known as the audience.” (Rosen 2006). No longer can journalists lock themselves away in closed newsrooms, acting as gatekeepers of information. (UK PSF K1, K2, A1, A2)

But when it comes to my own educational practices, how open am I?

I certainly make use of other academics’ openness. For example, Mindy McAdams is a professor at the University of Florida, where she teaches courses about online journalism. A lot of what she teaches is cutting edge and there aren’t many academics qualified to cover it (eg multimedia journalism, coding) but she is generous enough to share her syllabi, materials and lots of blog posts about her teaching. That’s a great resource and helpful in achieving UKPSF A5, K1, K2, V3, V4.

I don’t feel I have enough that is of value to share in this way. However, I do want to be part of this Community of Practice, using social connections to collaborate rather than struggling to produce resources on my own (Tosato and Bodi 2011). So a first step is to engage in the comments section on key blogs, which I’ve already started doing in a small way. I also engage on twitter and note that it doesn’t take long for people with similar interests to find and follow me.

On December 10th, PBS’ MediaShift hosted the first #EdShift Twitter chat about how  students and teachers build collaborations and community in journalism classrooms. It’s been Storified and, again, is a great resource emerging from an open community of like-minded professionals. Next time, maybe I’ll join in!

I do share my teaching materials with other HPLs new to teaching at Salford. This feels a little awkward. I only have a few more years’ experience than they have so I explain that by sharing I’m not claiming to be the last word on the subject or to have the most stylish slides! But they might be a helpful starting point.

Are there opportunities to be more open at course or institutional level? I was interested in David Wiley’s experiment in creating a minimalist online course in parallel to his campus-based course (Hilton III, Graham, Rich & Wiley 2010). It made me think about what institutions can gain from opening up and sharing for non monetary gain. They might gain prestige and enhanced reputation from the wider recognition their teaching programme would get. They might also futureproof themselves from possible competition from MOOCs and other innovations (Weller and Anderson 2013). However, the study into Wiley’s experiment was very small-scale and responses from students were limited making it hard to draw useful generalisations.

As part of my research for this reflection, I came across a Data Journalism MOOC starting early 2014. I’ve signed up! (UK PSF A5) It’s taught by data journalism experts whose work I already know so I’m excited to be part of their project. It’s a whole new niche area of journalism so I need to skill up (and pass these skills on to students) but can’t afford the £100s normally charged for f2f courses in this subject. I’m also intrigued by the whole MOOC experience.

In 2007, Jeff Jarvis, a journalism professor at the City University of New York, came up with a new rule for journalists in his blog, Buzzmachine  – “Cover what you do best. Link to the rest.” (Jarvis 2007) It’s a call for newspapers to stop replicating each other’s stories and instead concentrate dwindling resources on finding their unique value and producing something special. Perhaps this is applicable to universities too.

Maybe HE institutions have the resilience to use technology in a way which enables them to adapt their practices whilst still keeping their core function and surviving (Weller and Anderson 2013) – something which the newspaper industry has largely failed to do.

References Accessed 15.12.13.

Guardian Three Little Pigs advert retrieved 13.12.13.

Hilton III, J. L., Graham, C., Rich, P., & Wiley, D. (2010). Using online technologies to extend a classroom to learners at a distance. Distance Education31(1), 77-92.

Jarvis, J. (2007) Buzzmachine blog. Retrieved from Accessed on 13.12.13.

McAdams, M. Retrieved from Accessed on 13.12.13.

PBS MediaShift (2013). Collaborative Journalism Education: #EdShift. Retrieved from Accessed 15.12.13.

Rosen, J. (2006) Huffington Post. Retrieved from Accessed on 13.12.13.

Tosato, P., & Bodi, G. (2011). Collaborative Environments to Foster Creativity, Reuse and Sharing of OER. European Journal of Open and Distance Learning (Special Edition OER) available electronically from: http://www. eurodl. org.

The Higher Education Academy (2011) UK Professional Standards Framework. Available from:

Weller, M., & Anderson, T. (2013). Digital resilience in higher education. European Journal of Open, Distance and Elearning (EURODL)2013(1).


How do I support my students and what are the opportunities for further improvement through digital technologies? 4/5

Supporting my students with CaKE

Supporting my students with CaKE after a successful newsroom simulation task

One of the most satisfying parts of my teaching role is supporting students through that tricky first semester in line with UKPSF A2, A4, K4 and V2. I’m very aware that students at university today are from many diverse backgrounds and many have difficult challenges to overcome in order to succeed in higher education (UKPSF V1, V4).

A key part of my support strategy is to make myself approachable. Although the courses I teach are conventional face-to-face courses, I do feel the need to adopt some distance learning practices because I’m an HPL and therefore not available on site outside teaching hours. I don’t want my students to feel abandoned in between the weekly sessions. As suggested by Coomey and Stephenson (2001), the need for support is a key part of online learning but the way this support is offered varies depending on the level of teacher control and formal structure of the course so I shall reflect on my own support strategy in this context.

I encourage my students to follow me on twitter and I have a # for each of my modules. I try to lead by example, using the # to RT relevant material and positive announcements. Gradually, some of the students join in and I make sure I engage in their comments and questions (UKPSF A3 and A4). For me, the beauty of twitter is that it enables me to create an accessible persona online with little additional effort.

I email students at least once during the week to remind them of preparation for the next class and comment on Good Things from the previous session.

Students email specific questions about assessments etc to me directly and I do my best to respond quickly to their individual needs.

In some ways, this strategy shares attributes with the PaMS strategy outlined by Simpson (2008) and certainly digital technologies – not discussed by Simpson – do facilitate this approach. However, I do find Simpson’s PaMS problematic since he does not refer to the number of students this approach is suitable for. Can tutors be expected to provide this level of support to large cohorts?

Certainly, this has become an issue for me. Having spent the first half of the semester working hard to develop my approachability, the second half of the semester is spent drowning under the weight of student emails!

So I’m starting to explore alternative ways of dealing with this such as an online forum, perhaps within the VLE. So instead of emailing me directly with a question about the assessment, students would be advised to post the question on the forum where I could respond publicly. I wonder, however, if some students would be reluctant to ask questions publicly for fear of looking foolish so perhaps I would need to find a way for them to do so anonomously?

This workload issue is addressed by MacDonald (2011) who recognises that the easy access afforded by email leads to students expecting “just in time” assistance and demanding more individual attention than was ever possible pre digitial technologies! (MacDonald 2011 p17).

The other implication of this kind of “just in time” support is that it could be too overbearing allowing little room for student autonomy. Am I creating a dependency which does not prepare students well for the world beyond university?! Certainly, my approach would put me in the NW quadrant of Coomey and Stephenson’s paradigm grid of online learning (Coomey and Stephenson 2001). Maybe I need to let go more?

Perhaps. But I do still feel that first term students do expect and require a high-level of support from their tutors whilst they develop their learning and collaborative skills. I do include lots of group activities in my sessions from the very start as a way of developing this and I’ve noticed – especially in my largest class – that students quickly learn to support each other. When it comes to the end-of-semester Newsday – a major collaborative project – the students supported each other via Facebook and I was pleasantly surprised how little they seemed to need me when they were working together.


Coomey, M. & Stephenson, J. 2001. Online learning: it is all about dialogue, involvement, support and control – according to the research. In J. Stephenson (ed.) Teaching and learning online : pedagogies for new technologies. London: Kogan Page.

MacDonald, J. (2011). Blended Learning and Online Tutoring: Planning Learner Support and Activity Design. London: Gower.

Simpson, O. (2008) ‘Motivating Learners in Open and DIstance Learning: Do we Need a New Theory of Learner Support?’ Open Learning: The Journal of Open and Distance Learning. 23:3, 159-170.

The Higher Education Academy (2011) UK Professional Standards Framework. Available from:

Extending collaborative learning using digital technologies 3/5

What is collaboration?

Collaborative learning has been defined in many ways in the literature but it usually simplifies to a description of a learning situation in which students exchange ideas and learn together as active participants in the acquisition of knowledge (Siemens 2002, Brindley et al 2009). But this doesn’t seem to go far enough to differentiate “collaborative learning” from the more general “social interaction” which we might expect from a group of likeminded individuals.  Instead, I’m inclined to think more in terms of working together for a common objective (Jarche 2012) which requires the social interactions described above but extend that to a situation whereby students are able to create something – tangible or theoretical – as a result of working together. I see collaboration as product-oriented because that creates the kind of behaviour many of our students will encounter in the work place.

“Media Production is an activity that is collaborative by its very nature, and degree programmes need to develop an effective group work strategy.” (Ireland, A. 2004; p2)

So in my subject area of journalism, collaborative learning is not simply a pedagogical choice but intrinsic to the subject and therefore essential if we are to incorporate UKPSF K1, K2, K3, K4 and V4. In fact, the University of Bournemouth co-ordinated a project  – Group Work & Assessment in Media Production (GWAMP) – in 2000-2004 as a means of sharing common problems and solutions.The project then went on to develop an online system called CASPAR which enabled students to peer assess each other’s performance in group work.

However, the Masters course in International Journalism has a less practical element and I am always keen to find ways of using digital technologies to encourage and support collaborative learning. The discussion board on Blackboard has not been popular whereas when I set collaborative, beyond-the-classroom tasks which require the students to produce something at the end of the process, the results have been far more encouraging.

I am using this approach for a unit on mobile reporting – using smart phones to create and share news (Bradshaw and Rohumaa 2011). Content is made available on Blackboard and discussed fairly briefly in class. But students are then required to work in small groups away from class and use their smart phones to create content – video, stills, audio and text. They will then use the Creative Hive platform to collate that into a news feature (the subject I’ve chosen is the Manchester Christmas Markets!) They can complete this final part of the collaborative task in class with my support. They will also use digital technologies to communicate with each other between classes. So the activity is designed to promote collaboration, use digital technologies in a creative way but all within an authentic task appropriate to the core subject in accordance with UKPSF A1-4, K4.

When designing this task, I find Siemens (2002) four-stage continuum of collaborative learning informative because of its defined order of occurrences.

  1. Communication (people talking, discussing)

  2. Collaboration (sharing ideas and working together, occasionally sharing resources, in a loose environment)

  3. Cooperation (doing things together, but each with his or her own purpose)

  4. Community (striving for a common purpose) (Siemens 2002)

No collaboration can take place without communication between students but by having a common purpose – the finished article – they are, I hope, motivated to collaborate.

There is opportunity to extend the collaboration still further since the Creative Hive platform itself is a web space designed to encourage collaboration across courses and disciplines at the University so it will be interesting to see how far the students take this.

Strategies for encouraging collaborative learning


Barkley, E., Cross, K. & Howell Major, C. (2005) Collaborative Learning Techniques.  A Handbook for College Faculty.  San Francisco: John WIley & Sons

Bradshaw, P. & Rohumaa, L. (2011). The Online Journalism Handbook: Skills to survive and thrive in the digital age. Harlow: Routledge.

Brindley, J., Blaschke, L. M., & Walti, C. (2009). Creating effective collaborative learning groups in an online environment. The International Review of Research in Open and Distance Learning, 10(3).

Ireland, A. (2004). Group Work and Assessment in Media Production-Resource Pack. Accessed on 20.10.13.

Jarche, H. (2012). Principles for Collaborative Work. In Advanced Learning Technologies (ICALT), 2012 IEEE 12th International Conference (pp. 1-2). IEEE.

Johnson, R. T., & Johnson, D. W. (1986). Action Research: Cooperative Learning in the Science Classroom. Science and Children, 24(2), 31-32.

Lord, T. R. (2001). 101 reasons for using cooperative learning in biology teaching. The American Biology Teacher, 63(1), 30-38.

Siemens, G. (2002).  Interaction. E-Learning Course. Accessed 15 November 2013

The Higher Education Academy (2011) UK Professional Standards Framework. Available from:

My digital teaching practice and opportunities for change 2/5

As a result of this module, I have been trying to find ways of using digital technologies to extend student learning beyond the classroom and create opportunities for students to exchange experiences online.

I teach a group of ten students on the MA International Journalism (not an online course). Because they come from so many different parts of the world and so many different journalistic backgrounds, I see the “group” as a valuable learning resource. To take advantage of this, I have set up discussion threads in Blackboard, encouraged them to share material on Twitter using our course hashtag and we also use a blogging platform, Creative Hive, for students to create and share content.

However, in spite of these different technologies being available to the students, I’ve been disappointed with the results, especially the Blackboard discussion.

Why wouldn’t they want to do this?

A few students do take part and make interesting contributions. But it is always the same few students. Once they’ve posted their comment, they tend not to return to that thread to enter into a discussion.

I have tried asking them to suggest a discussion topic but that didn’t lead to better participation rates.

It was not all negative. I realise that the students who are quietest in class are the most active in any online discussion I set up. The students who contribute most in class never participate in online discussion! Is this reason enough to continue? It would comply with UKPSF V1, V2, K4 and A4 in providing opportunities and learning environments for different learners.

Dialogue has to have purpose

The literature confirms this is not easy. Students cannot be relied upon to participate and the tutor/moderator needs to work hard and devote time if it is to reap benefits (Wozniak and Silveira 2004)

Wozniak and Silveira (2004) describe highly structured online discussions which are embedded into the design of the module and the assessment. As an HPL, I’m not in a position to change module design but I can feedback my suggestions and look at the design of my own sessions.

Dialogue has to have a purpose, otherwise we cannot expect students to participate (Coomey & Stephenson 2001). So how can I help my students see the purpose of these online discussions?

Bringing online discussions into the classroom

Having reflected and investigated, I now think I need to give students more support (scaffolding) to help them see the value of and participate in online discussions. I tend to assume they are all happy in the online world but I’m increasingly coming to doubt that. So I need to be clearer about how the discussion forum is used, perhaps with some taster discussions in class (UKPSF K3)

I should explain very clearly the purpose and value of engaging in the discussions. I am already working to bring the discussions into the classroom to integrate them into our face-to-face time so they become a “near-synchronous activity” (Macdonald 2008 p.60). I also make sure I actively participate and respond to students’ posts.

Perhaps students in a traditional face-to-face course don’t see any value in discussing online.

So why do I see value in it? I see it as a way of collecting and sharing practice in a way that produces an online archive of experience. I think that complements the discussions in class which leave no digital trace and can be superficial because students don’t have time to think through answers before speaking (Garrison and Kanuka 2004).

Increasingly, we’re going to need to make use of these online interactions as socio-economic changes mean more students will seek distance/flexible alternatives to traditional higher education provision (Mahieu and Wolming 2013).

Looking at my own profession in accordance with UKPSF V3 and V4, there is a growing demand for training in digital journalism skills and, according to a report just published by the Knight Foundation, an increasing number of journalists are willing to have that training online because their own news organisations are unable/unwilling to provide it. (McLellan and Newton 2013)

Creelman notes that online courses with active discussion forums have better completion rates so investigating ways to motivate students to participate is both important and timely (Creelman 2013)

However, my investigation suggests there are no easy answers.


COOMEY, M. & STEPHENSON, J. 2001. “Online learning: it is all about dialogue, involvement, support and control – according to the research.” In J. Stephenson (ed.) Teaching and learning online : pedagogies for new technologies. London: Kogan Page.

Creelman, A. and Reneland-Forsman, L. (2013) Completion Rates – A False Trail to Measuring Course Quality?: Let’s Call in the HEROEs Instead. European Journal of Open, Distance and e-Learning, v. 16, n. 2, p. 40,

Garrison, D. R. and Kanuka, H. (2004). Blended learning: Uncovering its transformative potential in higher education. The internet and higher education,7(2), 95-105.

The Higher Education Academy (2011) UK Professional Standards Framework. Available from:

Macdonald, J. (2008) Blended learning and online tutoring : planning learner support and activity design.  Aldershot: Aldershot : Gower

Mahieu, R., & Wolming, S. (2013). Motives for Lifelong Learners to Choose Web-based Courses. European Journal of Open, Distance and E-Learning,16(1), 1-10.

McLellan, M. and Newton, E. (2013) Digital Training comes of Age. Knight Foundation   Retrieved from

Wozniak, H., & Silveira, S. (2004). Online discussions: Promoting effective student to student interaction. In Beyond the comfort zone: Proceedings of the 21st ASCILITE Conference (pp. 956-960).

PBL, group work and ME

Maybe I’m not cut out for group work?

This was how I was feeling at the start of our first group online PBL project. I found the whole process of getting in touch with people I didn’t know, had never met and starting to produce work together very stressful and surprisingly time-consuming. There were so many barriers to success – synchronising times, finding technologies that worked, agreeing common goals.

At the same time, my attempts to engage in the OpenFDOL group work failed when my group collapsed and was disbanded by the facilitator!

It was getting hard not to take it personally…

“Distributing the cognitive load…..”

I like the idea of group work and felt I had the technological skills and tools to succeed. Constructing knowledge through social interaction is an important part of the learning process (Chernobilsky, Nagarajan, Hmelo-Silver 2005) and I was definitely pleased with our finished product – the beautiful images created by Nadine. We worked asynchronously on google docs and synchronously on google hangouts and old-fashioned telephone. I found the sharing of information and solving problems together rewarding and enjoyable because of the shared responsibility. (Busfield and Peijs 2003)

But flexible…..?

So why was I finding it so frustrating and time-consuming? Reflecting back on the process I found that my frustration came from two directions. I felt I had to work immediately to complete the work needed by my group because I worried that others would be waiting for me. That led to work overload at times and resentment of the task. Secondly, I found sometimes I couldn’t progress when I did have time because I was dependent on others. Those two factors combined meant my work felt totally dependent on other people’s timeframes and I did not have any control over it. So all flexibility was lost!

This would, presumably, be the same for everyone in the group – although I accept I probably worry about it more than most sensible people would!

So are online group work and flexibility mutually exclusive? Or do I need to find different strategies for making it work? Certainly work carried out by Chernobilsky et al in 2005 suggests that collaborative, asynchronous learning does require more dependence on others which would seem to go against the flexiblility usually associated with online courses  (Anderson & Simpson 2012; Creelman & Reneland Forsman 2013)

Making it work

The group work definitely improved by the second task as we learnt from our experiences and, importantly, I think, got to know each other. Was our face-to-face meeting the trigger for this? I felt it removed a lot of my fears and helped to foster trust and confidence in each other.

We started to establish mutually agreed working practices but I think we need to work even more on this. “I will do this task by this date” allows other people to build their work around you and start to reclaim that flexibility.

For me, that helps me regain some control over my time and manage my expectations.

The support of the facilitator was also a key factor although I envisage we will need that less and less as we become more used to this type of collaborative work.

So I shall continue to reflect on this as the module progresses not only because of its implications for me as a learner but also as a teacher who wants to foster these collaborative practices in students.


BUSFIELD, J.; PEIJS, T. Learning materials in a problem based course. Materials Education, v. 12,  2003.

CHERNOBILSKY, E.; NAGARAJAN, A.; HMELO-SILVER, C. E. Problem-based learning online: multiple perspectives on collaborative knowledge construction. Proceedings of the 2005 conference on Computer support for collaborative learning: learning 2005: the next 10 years!, 2005,   International Society of the Learning Sciences. p.53-62.

CREELMAN, A.; RENELAND-FORSMAN, L. Completion Rates–A False Trail to Measuring Course Quality?: Let’s Call in the HEROEs Instead. European Journal of Open, Distance and e-Learning, v. 16, n. 2, p. 40,  2013.

Online Learning: it is all about dialogue, involvement, support and control – according to the research (Coomey, M. and Stephenson, J. 2012)

SIMPSON, M.; ANDERSON, B. History and heritage in open, flexible and distance education. Journal of Open, Flexible and Distance Learning, v. 16, n. 2, p. 1-10,  2012. ISSN 1179-7673.

Handouts – Beware the sell by date

As we were discussing digital literacies in our PBL group recently, we started talking about what teachers of online/distant courses can do to improve students’ digital literacy. We agreed that digital literacy greatly enhances online learning such as enabling students to access resources and collaborate beyond the classroom (Keegan, H. et al 2009).

But how do teachers of online courses get all their students up to scratch so that nobody feels left behind, isolated, frustrated and eventually drops out? How do you teach digital literacies?

One suggestion was to use handouts. Give students handouts about how to use Twitter, G+, Hangouts, Collaborate, Google docs, Storify etc and they’ll become digitally literate.

This took me back to my student days. I used to love it when lecturers gave us handouts. It meant we didn’t have to take notes. Or concentrate. Or think. We had the handout which solidified All I Need to Know About This in a once-and-for-all format. The subject was closed. The handout was the last word.

This led me to think that such a static form of teaching content was probably inappropriate in an environment where the very meaning of literacy is changing so rapidly (Belshaw 2012). Today’s handout will be obsolete so quickly – but how’s the student to know that? It won’t send a notification to the student’s inbox alerting him that paragraph 3 of the handout is no longer valid! How will the student update their understanding and skills if they are used to waiting for handouts?

We create a dependency and that’s not going to enable them to become digitally literate for life rather than for yesterday.

If I reflect on how I have worked to develop my own digital literacy in recent years, I find it  is always self-directed and usually starts with an online search for the latest tutorials (always check the dates though!). If I encounter a problem, I’ll go online to find an answer. For example, I discovered at the start of this course that Collaborate no longer worked on my Mac because of various secret updates it didn’t tell me about. It wasn’t a problem Salford’s IT helpdesk had come across so they couldn’t help. But I did find the answer on the San Jose University website in their Blackboard Collaborate recently-updated FAQs!

Similarly, I’ve used G+ and hangouts a lot since starting this course. I’d never used them before. As it happens, I was a fairly early adopter of G+ but lost interest because nobody I knew was using it so it was pretty lonely and I couldn’t get a feel for how it could help me. I went back to twitter which was where I felt comfortable.

I always promised myself I’d look into Google Hangouts because they sounded pretty cool but I was just too busy to invest the time into doing that.

Then suddenly I find myself having to organise group discussions online and G+ and Hangouts now seem the answer to all my needs! As a result, I am suddenly no longer too busy and I have invested time into finding tutorials online, looking at forums etc to answer all the questions I have. I’ve updated my digital literacy with the new knowledge I need for the latest task.

So I think it’s not simply a case of “teaching” our students digital literacies with a set of handouts or similar static information. I think we need to create the motivation that makes them want to learn this new stuff (Belshaw 2013) otherwise they’ll just see it as another time suck.

Then we need to foster in students the ability to Google their way out of any situation. The knowledge they need doesn’t sit on a handout waiting for them to look at it. The knowledge is being created, updated, remixed and shared every second online all around the world.

I now need to think how we might actually foster those behaviours and whether there is anything in my current practice which encourages or discourages this.


Belshaw, D. (2012). What is’ digital literacy’? A Pragmatic investigation(Doctoral dissertation, Durham University).

Belshaw, Douglas Tedx Talk YouTube. Available TEDxWarwick – Doug Belshaw – The Essential Elements of Digital Literacies Accessed 13.10.13.

Keegan, H et al (2009) ‘Mentoring For 21st Century Skills – It’s all about the Learning’ University of Salford

The Digital Me – Past, Present and Future 1/5

My PiA couple of years ago, I had an epiphany. I came across a quotation from Fred Wilson, a venture capitalist in New York.

On Thursday night I gave a talk at NYU Poly and in the Q&A a young man asked me for advice for “those who aren’t technical”. I said he should try to get technical.

(Wilson 2011)

This really made me stop and reflect. I’ve always described myself as “not technical.” But I began to think – what if this is just a state of mind? What if it’s just laziness on my part? I started an experiment on myself. Was it possible for a non-techy journalist to get technical by sheer force of will? You can read about some of my efforts on my other blog and judge for yourself.

But by then I’d already become very interested in social media and have been an early adopter with a few tools such as Pinterest.

My Pinterest Board - Coding for Beginners

 They’ve become indispensable to journalism so I needed to keep up-to-date with how my profession was changing. I’m by no means an expert but I am comfortable in that environment and enjoy exploring new tools and developments, the challenges and the opportunities. So Prensky’s (2001) assertion that we are either digital natives or digital immigrants – depending on our birth date – seems totally outmoded. Rather the “Digital Me” is surely defined by our attitude and feelings towards the digital world. So I define myself more as a Digital Resident (White and Le Cornu 2011), valuing relationships as well as knowledge acquisition online.

I’m also very aware that social media and digital technology have had a hugely disruptive impact on my industry with news organisations struggling to find an economic model to fit the Web 2.0 era. The same is true of Higher Education and both institutions need to find a raison d’etre in an information-rich world. So although I use technology in my classes and beyond – primarily for engagement with students – I do not feel I use technology for learning and teaching, as such, and I need to learn more about the pedagogy for this.  I’m aware there’s a danger of using “warmed-over” traditional approaches rather than using Web 2.0 technologies to their true potential to design and create student-centric learning environments (Barnes and Tynan 2007). Failure to do this will leave students looking elsewhere for their education.

As I develop, I would like to help students use technology to construct knowledge collaboratively, since in the digital era this is a more valuable skill than simple information recall. New technologies offer exciting ways of doing this (Conole 2013). However, this does not take into account the relatively small number of students who may not have access to smart phones and other tools. Higher Education is increasingly diverse and we need to respect the equality of opportunities for learners as defined in the UK PSF (HEA 2011)

Laurillard (2012, p 199) stresses that “technology enables, it does not drive, or ensure success.” The success of any technology-dependent task is still dependent on the teacher who designs the task. So I want to learn more about what my role as teacher should be in a technology enhanced learning environment in keeping with UKPSF (HEA 2011)

If I reflect on how I have worked to develop my own digital literacies in recent years, I find it  is always self-directed and usually starts with an online search for the latest tutorials, for instance on Google hangouts which I hadn’t used before this course.

So this experience has led me to conclude that rather than teaching a particular “digital literacy” to our students, we need to create the motivation that makes them want to integrate perpetual learning into their lives (Belshaw 2013).


Barnes, C. and Tynan, B. (2007) ‘The Adventures of Miranda in the Brave New World: Learning in a Web 2.0.’ ALT-J, 15:3, 189 – 200.

Belshaw, Douglas Tedx Talk YouTube. Available TEDxWarwick – Doug Belshaw – The Essential Elements of Digital Literacies Accessed 13.10.13.

Conole, G. (2012). Designing for learning in an open world (Vol. 4). Springer

HEA. (2011). The UK Professional Standards Framework for teaching and supporting learning in higher education   Retrieved from

Laurillard, D. (2012). Teaching as a Design Science: Building Pedagogical Patterns for Learning and Technology. Florence, Kentucky: Routledge, Taylor & Francis Group

Prensky, M. (2001) “Digital Natives, Digital Immigrants Part 1”, On the Horizon, Vol. 9 Iss: 5, pp.1 – 6

White, D. and Le Cornu, A. (2011) “Visitors and Residents: A new typology for online engagement.” First Monday, 16 (9).

Wilson, F. (2011) AVC Musings of a VC in NYC. Program or be Programmed. Retrieved from Accessed 19.09.13.