Zen and the Art of Learning Development

#Becomingeducational My name is… and I am an expert Learning Developer

We are posting this re-blog from Helen Webster because her thoughts on the status and role of the Learning Developer here is so thoughtful and nuanced – so absolutely insightful and spot on – that it has taken our collective breath away.

A wonderful coda to #aldcon…

And we could think of no better way of wishing you all a Happy Easter!!

All the best,

Sandra & Tom

rattus scholasticus

At the ALDinHE conference this year, two colleagues, Carina Buckley and Louise Frith, presented some work they’ve been doing on professional identity within LD. They outlined a model of how within a distributed community of practice like ALDinHE, we might grow in expertise through moving through various roles or levels of networkedness. We discussed this model, where we might locate ourselves, how we’ve progressed and where the sticking points were.

During this discussion, something emerged which I’ve observed in other conversations with LDers. Everyone shied away from that central status, Expert.

There’s various reasons why this might be. For lower status professions in Higher Education, the term ‘Expert’ might seem reserved for academics, not for the likes of us who don’t spend our lives researching and teaching in a specialised field. It might also be to do with the way knowledge is broken up into disciplines – we LDers teach…

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TLC webinar: Authentically Student-centred LD

#Becomingeducational… Loves the TLC (Teaching and Learning Conversations)!!

Today’s conversation is from our Dr Helen Webster – on the FIVE P’s of LEARNING DEVELOPMENT!!
When: Tuesday 2nd April 2019 12:00-13:00 (UK Time)

Joining the conversation

Simply follow this link http://mmu.adobeconnect.com/tlc/ and enter as a guest by typing your name, institution and country into the name field and clicking on the “Join Meeting” button.

Whether or not you have previously participated in a webinar or online activity using Adobe Connect we advise that you make sure that you do some checking and preparation in advance. Check your set-up and connection here.

You may also find our Adobe Connect Webinar Participant Guide useful to print out in advance of the session.We really hope that you will be able to join for what should be a lively and highly interactive TLC.

rattus scholasticus

I’m presenting my 5 Ps approach to Formulation at the Teaching and Learning Conversations webinar today. This is a fab series of discussions on a variety of topics around teaching and learning which I’ve followed for a while, and can strongly recommend – always interesting speakers!

Anyway, today’s session is the latest and longest opportunity I’ve had to talk about where I’ve got to in developing this work. If you can’t make it, they will be recording the session and making it available on their website. Or the slides are here:

TLC Authentic 121 LD

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The One Day Board Game Workshop

#Becomingeducational Play. That. Game.

We are really happy to pass on this blog on the playing – designing – and playing of board games for learning.

Just a little challenge to you – how could you use these ideas in your own practice?

Go on – let us know?

All the best,
Sandra & Tom

Tactile Academia

I had so much fun creating the game that I couldn’t put down the marker eventually politely took it off me 🙂 The facilitation of the workshop was excellent. Thank you & and all others for this inspiring day! ()

After our workshop on making a Sociological Research Board Game had been so well received at last year’s Undisciplining conference, The Sociological Review asked Katy and myself to do another one – but this time we had the luxury of a full day!

detail from the handout

The venue was another art gallery, this time The Lowry at Salford Quays, and based on feedback from the conference at The Baltic, we had also set some time aside to go on a short tour of the permanent exhibition about Lowry himself during the lunch break.

The bag…

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UHMLG: Academic Literacy/ies talk

#Becomingeducational Welcomes a cool look at Academic Literacies

We are so happy to re-post this blog from our Helen Webster.
It is rare to see such a clear exposition of the differences implicit in the Study Skills – Socialisation – Academic Literacies model first teased out by Lea and Street, 1998.

And if you are really interested in this – and are working it out through your own practice – do not forget JLDHE’s call for pieces on Lea and Street twenty years on – submissions by the 31st May.

Hope you enjoy this as much as we did.

All the best,

Sandra & Tom

rattus scholasticus

I’m off to London later today, at the kind invitation of the University Health and Medical Librarians’ Group, to talk about Academic literacy – what it is, what it covers, how it’s taught. Boy, are they going to be disappointed when I don’t actually have any sensible answers for any of those questions!

Academic Literacy UHMLG


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Emancipatory practice: the defining LD value?

#Becomingeducational Learning Developers are third space professionals…

Uniquely placed to enable diverse students to negotiate academic discourse and its power relations – more on their own terms… and as they become academic by harnessing their own strengths, by recognising their own needs…

This is an inspirational post from Helen Webster who would like us to continue the conversation:

What does emancipatory practice mean to you?

We hope that you do join in the conversation.

Sandra & Tom

rattus scholasticus

I’ve been trying to write this post for quite a while now, as I have long had the feeling that emancipatory practice is the core defining value of Learning Development, but have struggled to fully understand and articulate what it means and how to do it. I suspect that it has profound implications for our work and also how we position ourselves as a profession. As often happens when you’re mulling something over in the back of your mind, it has repeatedly popped up in various guises and contexts recently and started to crystallise into something meaningful through some very helpful discussions with #LoveLD colleagues (particular thanks to @DanceswithCloud, @LeeFallin, @SandieDonnelly2 @kimshahabudin and @estebanrooney).

There has long been a streak of social justice in educational theory, questioning how the institutional structures of education might exclude or disadvantage students who lack the expected cultural, social and economic capital. The origins of Learning…

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Learning Cycles & Feedback Loops

#Becomingeducational A very very belated Happy New Year!!

But it’s been worth the wait – for we have brought you this brilliant blogpost by Ed Foster.

Ed relates the learning cycle – the the points of student disengagement or struggle that should trigger our interventions…

Living Learning Analytics Blog

One of my first jobs after graduating was training students in transferrable skills. I read an enormous amount of training theory, text books on time management, systems-thinking, NLP, public-speaking etc. Certain keystone ideas stuck. One was of course David A Kolb’s (1984) experiential learning cycle. I can remember explaining it by modelling the process of learning how to open one of the doors to the training room. I’m certain that I’ll have used the simple version: act – reflect – make rules – plan rather than the fuller, more-sophisticated version. I’ve used it a lot with students and there’s often an ‘of course!’ revelation.

Screen grab of some of the range of learning analytics cycles and associated theories online

Learning cycles, feedback loops and systems thinking are all ideas that inherently feel right. I think it’s partly because there are some rock solid examples of these systems working (from the…

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To Read in Advance, or Not to Read in Advance

#Becomingeducational                  It’s so nearly Christmas…
This week we’ve become engrossed in Dr Helen Webster’s reflection on the ways we work as Learning Developers – specifically she’s discussing issues around whether or not we should read samples of the student’s writing in advance of having a one-to-one with the student  – or – and possibly worse (?) – just reading and critiquing student writing without the student coming near us at all.

Helen makes the point that as part of our ALDinHE values, we are committed to working alongside students to help them make sense of academia… and if we are reading and working on *their* writing in our office, on the train, at home on the sofa… then we are literally not working alongside them: the students are far away and we are working only on their writing…

Whilst there are so many good reasons why committed learning developers might want to do this – including a commitment to and an understanding of the pressured, time-poor student – we are in practice saying: send me your work – and I will fix it for you!

In the end, despite the lack of resource of time and staff that is endemic in our profession, we have to work out what is in the best long term interest of the student – and what is in the best interest of the student and their understanding and development of their writing…

rattus scholasticus

This is another of the big questions in Learning Development practice. Does your one to one service require students to send a sample of work for the Learning Developer to read before the appointment, or do you ask them to bring it with them on the day so you can skim through it in situ?

This issue has implications for logistics and practice, but also fundamentally affects how we conceptualize Learning Development, so it’s worth giving serious thought to. My practice has always been in teams that don’t read work in advance, so it’s what I’m used to, but discussions with LDers whose services insist on written work in advance have been very useful in making me reflect on whether I practise this way because it’s familiar to me, or because there is a pedagogic justification for it. Having given it long thought, I’m sticking with No Work In Advance, for…

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