e-learning staff development programme: Annual Report (09-10)

Introduction

The aim of this report is to inform to the Head of e-Learning, the e-Learning Team, the LTEO and the wider community at the University of Bath if the e-learning staff development programme (central provision of events) is achieving its broad aims, and feed into planning decisions for the next academic year.

Background

The need for an appropriate and effective e-learning staff development programme is highlighted by an objective in the Learning and Teaching Strategy . The strategy states the following objective is owned by e-Learning; “develop appropriate and effective e-Learning development and support programmes for staff and students”. Further more, the aims of the e-Learning Team at the University of Bath are;

  • Helping staff to integrate e-Learning into their programmes
  • Sharing innovation and good practice
  • Developing an e-learning community
  • Promoting and evaluating e-Learning
  • Developing e-Learning tools

To help achieve these aims we run a number of central staff development events (workshops, seminars, blended courses and coffee breaks) throughout the academic year (see: http://www.bath.ac.uk/learningandteaching/events-workshops/?dept=elearning)

In terms of our broad aims we need to identify if  “our staff development programme achieves the broad aim of developing staff capacity in e-learning? does it share innovation and good practice while encourage the develop an e-learning community? This report attempts to answer these questions for the 2009-10 period.

Analysis and Recommendations

The following are the descriptive statistics for the e-learning staff development programme (2009-10). It is evident we have run 23 events over the period and canceled 34 sessions. In total, 196 participants attended our centrally provided events.

Table 1: Events (by type)

Semester 1 (ran/canceled)

  • workshop 3 / 7
  • seminar 3/ 6
  • blended course 1/3
  • coffee breaks 0 / 5
  • elpf (external event) 1 / 0
  • Moodle Advisory Group 1 / 0

Semester 2 (ran/canceled)

  • workshop 8/1
  • seminar 3/5
  • blended course 0/3
  • coffee breaks 0/4
  • elpf (external events) 1/0
  • Moodle Advisory Group 1 / 0
  • Moodle Day 1 / 0

Table 2: Events by broad focus (all sessions)

Semester 1 (moodle / non moodle)

  • Workshop 8 /2
  • Seminar 1 / 8
  • Blended Course 0 / 4
  • Coffee Break 0 / 5
  • elpf (external event) 0 / 1
  • Moodle Advisory Group 1/0

Semester 2 (moodle / non moodle)

  • workshop 6 / 4
  • seminar 3 / 5
  • blended course 0 / 3
  • coffee break 0 / 4
  • elpf (external event) 0 / 1
  • Moodle Advisory Group 1 / 0
  • Moodle Day 1 / 0

Table 3: Total attendance (average per session which ran)

Semester 1

  • workshop 8 (2.6)
  • seminar 13 (6.5)
  • blended course 2 (2)
  • Coffee break n/a
  • elpf (external event) 45 (45)
  • Moodle Advisory Group 9 (9)

Semester 2

  • workshop 28 (3.5)
  • seminar 7 (2.3)
  • blended course n/a
  • coffee break n/a
  • elpf (external event) 50 (50)
  • Moodle Advisory Group 8 (8)
  • Moodle Day 25 (25)

The message from the descriptive statistics is mixed. It indicates over half of our events were canceled. This is an increase in cancellations compare to the previous year.  It indicates the traditional event (workshop and seminar) is the most popular, with the new delivery methods of blended course and coffee break (online seminar) being less appealing. However, the the eLPF format of a one day event seems to be much more popular (although the data hasn’t been divided into Bath and non-Bath). The one-day, themed event appears to be a success on a number of different levels; they are popular, they make people aware of e-learning, they get lots of people in a room, promote discussions over lunch and breaks, they create a large quantity of re-usable outputs (lecture captures, links, readings), and the e-learning team enjoy delivering them.

Members of the e-Learning Team are suppose to use the e-Learning Staff Development 1-2-1 tracking database when they undertake 1-2-1, 1-2-few, ad hoc staff development. A review of this data base indicates 77 events where recorded during the 09/10 period, with over 100 people being met. The breakdown by interest tag, indicates 15% concerned with Moodle, and 11% primary discussion was around online submission of assignments.

So, how can we interpret this? I’m still wary of using this data to suggest we stop trying to develop staff through the blended course and the online seminar. I’d argue this data does not indicate there isn’t a demand for this type of event, I think we still need to experiment with the format to find a low maintenance / delivery model which is effective, and more actively promote it to staff. Therefore, the approach (based on conversations with others in the Team), is to combine these to into a purely online course / event. This should last no longer than the three weeks the current course lasts, it should be designed as a standalone experience (so people can complete it much faster if they don’t wish to engage in dialogue with members of the e-learning Team. To better support the online line, self paced nature of this course we will introduce a number of Xerte tutorials.

An important question is, does our staff development programme build capacity in the individuals who attend our sessions and have they applied it within their teaching? We’ll in terms of the descriptive statistics it indicates a large number of staff have attended our events (196), and the seminars and workshops tend to be on average small numbers (around 4 people per event). So based on the small group nature of the course, we can suggest, assuming the course is appropriately designed it will have been a high impact event.

However, a survey was run (24th Nov, 2009 to 24th Dec, 2009) for staff who attended one of our events in the Semester 2 (2008/09). The time delay was to give participants a number of months after the event so they can apply the knowledge and skills gained from the e-learning event before evaluating impact.

The response rate was very low, 4 out of 64 !!! So, take the following discussion with a very large pinch of salt.

The survey included questions to inform us about longer term impacts. For instance, to what extent do you agree with the statement, “I have applied the knowledge and skills which I developed during the workshop in my teaching and/or work”. The responses indicated one strongly agreed, 1 agreed, 2 were neutral and 1 disagreed. When asked to explain why, the extracts indicated a positive impact and implies effective embedding within their practice.

“I have applied the ARS in my teaching, and this received a lot of success from students”

“it was already in place before the session, so the impact was just reinforcement”

In terms of exploring people views of the quality and worth of the session I asked two questions. Firstly, would they recommend an e-learning workshop to a colleague? Secondly, has attending the workshop motivated you to attend more events by the e-Learning Team? The responses indicated all 4 (100%) would recommend it to a colleague, and 3 people said the experience would motivate them to attending another session.

The final question focussed on identifying if people engaged in our support materials after attending the event. The assumption being if they followed up the session by accessing more resources and assistance this would indicate an increase in staff capacity, and sharing good practice. The responses suggest a number people (at least 3) engaged with the following resources over the last three months.

  • Accessed e-learning pages on LTEO web site: 3
  • Visited one of our supporting blogs, such as Moodle blog, ARS, SMS or QR Code: 2
  • Emailed e-learning@bath for assistance: 3
  • Read an e-learning case study from the LTEO web site: 0
  • Accessed a How to Guide: 2
  • Visited the staff area in Moodle: 3

So, what does this imply? Well given the low response rate, not too much. However, it is worth progressing with this type of analysis.

The questions concerning does our programme share good practice at the University, and does it help develop the wider e-learning community can be addressed in a number of ways. In particular, for this to be effective we need to explicitly sign post this to participants at our events. We’ve rolled out the e-learning Staff Development Wiki Area (http://wiki.bath.ac.uk/display/estaffdev/Supporting+for+our+e-Learning+Staff+Development+Programme) and we are being explicit in the authoring and publication of case studies and how to guides from practitioners at the University.

Recommendations & where next

The new programme for Semester 1, 2010-11 is now available. This programme does not include online seminars or blended courses. It also focuses very much on the here and now in terms of the content (workshops and seminars). It would be recommended for Semester 2, we widen the number of seminars to include more wider range of approaches, based around a new technologies theme.

The e-Learning Team (Nitin) has been progressing very well with SORTED programme to provided training for the student trainers around the use of Moodle. This will need to be included within next years Annual Report. The SORTED programme run a number of Moodle inductions. We’ll need to gather the descriptive statistics.

The e-learning Team need to consistently use (enter information into) the e-learning Staff Development (1-2-1) tracking database.

The evaluation approach needs to be enhanced. For instance, if we better identify who has attended our sessions (use the RFID tag approach currently being developed), we need to triangulate the survey data by exploring people’s Moodle courses to identify use, and select a few to follow up (based on appropriate sampling techniques) for a 5 minute phone / face to face interview. Our current approach still does not definitively answer the question, have we developed an appropriate and effective e-Learning development and support programmes for staff and students?

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