Find out how the University of Huddersfield’s Approach to Tech-Enabled Learning is Transforming the Learner Experience
This year, OEB, the global cross-sector conference on technology supported learning and training, takes place in Berlin on 5-7 December and we are excited to be a part of it.
The theme, ‘Learning to Love Learning’ taps right into the trend of lifelong and continuous learning. All aspects of our home, work and academic lives are now impacted by technology, which has changed the type of work that we do and the way that we do it. Such a level of change demands of us all that we continuously adapt and learn new skills.
Educators and learning and development (L&D) professionals strive to provide the means for this learning to take place. In doing so, they too continuously adapt to meet the needs of all learners by bringing in new ways of delivering learning.
For these new approaches to succeed, teachers and teaching staff must be actively engaged in the change process. When it comes to implementing technology – or a change of learning platform – all universities face similar upskilling challenges.
It’s a situation that is well understood by the University of Huddersfield. The university is rated gold by the Teaching Excellence Framework (TEF) and was the winner of the first Global Teaching Excellence Award from the Higher Education Academy in 2017. For many years, the university has embraced the contribution that technology-enabled learning can make to achieving excellent student outcomes and has embedded technology into its courses as part of a blended learning approach.
When it was decided to transition from one learning platform to Brightspace, it was determined to use the opportunity to transform the way it supports students online. Its experience provides a fascinating insight into change management in higher education institutions, and it’s something you can hear about from Dr Daniel Belton, of the University of Huddersfield, at OEB.
Dr Belton is taking part in the panel session, The Enigma of Change in Higher Education Institutions where he will discuss how the University’s innovative use of staff offsites, or retreats, helped transform its use of the learning management system (LMS).
“It’s all very well having fantastic technology, but you have to win the hearts and minds of people for them to want to bring it into their practice, so that students get the full benefit of the investment,” says Dr Belton. “When you want to bring about institutional change, it’s a challenge to bring everyone with you on that journey.”
You can find out more about this in Dr Belton and Dr Sue Folley’s blog on ‘elevating course design’.
A catalyst for change
The institutional change for Huddersfield went beyond the simple change of one learning platform for another. The University saw this as a catalyst for change; a chance to make its learning experiences fully engaging with interactive resources such as quizzes and online collaboration.
“Lots of resources help students access learning in different ways and this differentiates learning to cater for all students who get to create their own learning journeys,” explains Dr Belton. “The retreats supported the development of these differentiated learning resources – they weren’t for just basic content build. So, if there were going to be quiz questions, the offsite attendees had to have those questions ready; if they were going to create videos, they had to have the media ready for building those.”
As an OEB panel speaker, Dr Belton will share some of the findings from the University’s post-implementation review. Intriguingly, the outcomes it measures, focus not so much on how the academics find using the LMS – the technical side of the implementation – but rather on the holistic impact the platform has had on the approach to teaching. “Has it changed them fundamentally as practitioners of teaching?” asks Dr Belton. “What I’m really interested in is the personal development, in how it may have made them think differently about the way they approach their teaching.”
With a range of practitioners sharing best practice on the panel, Dr Belton is looking forward to the exchange of ideas the session will facilitate and the opportunity to learn from other experiences, because the fast pace of change demands continuous improvement. “If you’re standing still, you’re sort of going backwards,” he explains.
“There’s new technology coming along, and students are expecting more. At Huddersfield, we want to make the most of technology and enhanced learning to help upskill our undergraduate students so that they can become the graduates of the future with all the skills they’re going to need. We want to keep upping our game; to keep doing the best that we can. That was a driver for transforming the way we teach online.”
If you are thinking about attending but have not sorted your conference pass yet, you can qualify for a 15% discount on the OEB conference pass by booking an advance meeting with D2L in Berlin. We look forward to seeing you at OEB and hope you can make the panel session on 6 December, The Enigma of Change in Higher Education Institutions to hear all about the University of Huddersfield’s experience.