Friday, 25 June 2010

Spreading the word

This year, more by luck than judgement, I've started doing consultancy in the broad field of e-learning. I hope to continue and grow this strand of my work. It's good to bring money into the IOE and it's really rewarding to construct and deliver something myself. The variety is interesting and challenging. As I teach in the various setting I am gradually seeing the wood from the trees in how best to structure what I do.

The first thing to say that it's hard - very hard. The first challenge is knowing what the client wants. Usually it's about wanting their trainers/educators to know how to teach online. To approach it the right way, you have to get a feel for the culture of the organisation and the context of the proposed use of learning technologies. This is vital so that what you say is relevant. I have always been heavy on the practical. I've come from a job where showing VLE navigation and usability was a core task and explaining things clearly is a skill that I have. The first few days were very Web 2.0 tool dominated. This worked well but I now feel there is a need to balance it more with pedagogical discussion and practical considerations.

I've been reflecting on my teaching style and, although there has been a lot of hands-on using the technologies sessions, my style is pretty didactic. I prepare slides to talk around and, although I invite discussion, I don't programme in much group discussion time. This will change in the future. I guess this is partly confidence but it's also a desire to practice what I preach. There's no point banging on about the evils of didactic dominance if I don't practice a more participatory pedagogy myself.

What's exciting about this type of work is the lack of precedence. There is no established right way of doing this. Making sense of technology for education is relatively new and companies are looking for someone to come in and give them some answers. So my job is to give a balanced, informative picture based on my experience of working with learning technologies in Higher Education and all the learning I do here and in the blogosphere. Interestingly, it's the latter of these elements that is often the most valuable.

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