Getting Started with Personal and Professional Digital Capacity
Hear from participants-turned-facilitators of the GSPPDC course, created in partnership by the EDTL project team and the National Forum for the Enhancement of Teaching & Learning.
The student population is increasing in diversity and there are demands for increased flexibility in when and how learning opportunities are provided. Digital devices and applications are ubiquitous. To respond to the changes in student population and the increasingly digital environment, educators have to develop their digital skills and adapt to more innovative teaching approaches.
The GSPPDC open course is designed to allow participants to reflect on how they currently use technology for teaching and to identify in which areas digital technology can enhance their teaching. Developed by the National Forum for the Enhancement of Teaching and Learning in Higher Education in partnership with the EDTL project.
First running in 2021 and running for a second time in 2022, the course has seen over 160 participants in the last two years, with a number of facilitators in this year’s edition being participants of the course in 2021. We spoke to these participants, as well as course lead Kate Molloy to gauge their experiences on starting out with the course and their development to become facilitators for the course in 2022.
Kate Molloy – Course Lead
“In the second national rollout of the Getting Started with Personal and Professional Digital Capacity course, we opted for a more flexible structure and worked closely with our previous participants to plan the next version of the course. By launching the course in May, we have been able to cover the core units of the course synchronously, and allow our participants time over the summer to catch up on course materials, collaborate with peers, and ultimately complete their teaching enhancement in time for next term! We will reconvene in August as a group to complete the final unit, sign off on work, and share information about pursuing the facilitator badge.
As course leader, I’m very lucky to be supported by some of the original course developers from our EDTL team, but new facilitators who completed the course last year. Three of our new facilitators were in the same peer group last time, and it’s become obvious that the course helped to create space for peer learning, and develop meaningful, supportive professional networks. Indeed, we can see those networks developing and thriving within the course once again through the lively discussion boards, webinars, drop-in sessions, and more.
This course aims to meet participants where they are, to self-assess their digital competencies, identify an area for growth based on their context, and to ultimately implement a teaching enhancement based on that process. Our hope is that our participants will be empowered by that process going forward and become even more daring in teaching enhancements!
Developing and delivering an open course a national level has been hugely rewarding. The project has been committed since its early days to open, sustainable practice. It’s heartening to see our course grow beyond the project team and we’re excited to see how future facilitators will use our materials going forward.“
Jean Rawson – Waterford and Wexford Education and Training Board
“The Getting Started with Personal and Professional Digital Capacity course is one of the easiest and most organised digital badges that I have ever taken and what I love about it is when they say 25 hours they mean it. It is obvious that a huge amount of work has been completed in the background to work on the content and layout of the course.
During Covid, I had worked, homeschooled 4 children, and undertook a Level 8 in TEL with NUIG along with many digital badges and in some senses I burned myself out and had decided not to do anything in this academic year, but of course because Technology is what I love to do, this one piqued my interest. As I began I realised I really didn’t have time to be taking anything else on and was going to drop out after week 1, but my peer group convinced me to stay, they had read the literature and convinced me it really was simple and that I just needed to keep it simple in my re-design. Thankfully I stuck with it and it was fantastic. I learned so much from the course content and the discussion within my peer group was invaluable. For my re-design I increased my digital capacity by learning to use H5P and I changed the theory element for the IT Skills module for one of our courses to a digital, interactive and highly engaging element of the course. Our tutors now use this in class and have found learners find it much more engaging than the usual walk and chalk way that it has previously been delivered.
When I was asked to help facilitate, I was delighted to be able to give something back, but again as the core facilitators have it so well organised, there is very little for me to do apart from look after the discussion board by times and even this is very little work, because everything is so well laid out that the participants have very little queries and again it is obvious how well they are working in the peers.”
Ann Whyte – DCU Business School
“I chose to participate in the GSPPDC course for a variety of reasons. I wanted to self asses and self reflect on my current digital capacity and to what degree it was meeting student needs, while expanding my digital knowledge and ability. I have invested time in learning and engaging with a variety of technologies but throughout the pandemic I started to question the effectiveness of my approach in adopting these. I want students to be at the core of my teaching with modules and materials designed in an accessible and engaging manner that is student led. I had noted a drop in engagement during the pandemic, perhaps everything moving online and external stresses were a factor in this, I felt it was a good point to evaluate progress to date and try to enhance student offerings.
The course was accessible, manageable, engaging, student led and informative. For me the greatest benefit was being part of an engaging online community of learning. The peer learning opportunities and shared learning platform were invaluable. The opportunity to work with peers in other educational institutions created a more rounded experience offering insight into alternatives opinions and approaches. It was a unique experience in which everyone went beyond the scope of enhancing their own skills and supported others in doing so too.
I returned to the course as a facilitator to be able to continue the shared learning process and remain an active part of this digital community of learning. Supporting peer learning and engagement with digital learning is supporting the progression of teaching and learning. I had a positive response from students on the digital enhancements introduced and am committed to building on this progression. I am happy to share my experience and learning with others in support of their progression with digital capacity. With constant innovation and progression in technology and digital offerings it is importing to remain engaged with current, relevant, creative and innovative new approaches and opportunities and GSPPDC offers the scope and opportunity to do so.”
Nataliya Romanyatova – South East Technological University
“I had no worries about doing this course; my only concern was getting a place in it. However, I should admit I had a very realistic ambition. Having participated with some of the course facilitators in several other National Forum courses as a participant, triad member and co-facilitator, I was tempted to see their innovative approach. My intuition told me that the course team would challenge themselves and create something different from what National Forum offered.
And it was right, it turned out to be an exciting experience. I loved the graphic design and the workload, which was exactly the amount advertised. In addition, the triad work was very inspiring and encouraging. I still remember how we were sharing…sharing…sharing… the screens and discussing each other’s ideas for implementation in our contexts.
In the beginning though, I felt a bit sceptical as seeing such a flexible course structure was very unusual, especially after doing many other open courses with a different approach. It was also the first National Forum course for me when the final assignment was something I was working on in the course and at work. So, I benefitted twice after completing it.
Moving from a participant to a co-facilitator was quite interesting as well. Almost all my peer triad members joined the team, so I felt like part of a family.”
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