Learning Developer as Mentor

#becomingeducational Enjoying my vacation now but…
I really enjoyed this blogpost by Helen Webster on one of the roles of the Learning Developer.
Here Helen discusses the notion of LDer as mentor – as always – it is a thoughtful and usefully provocative post…
What do you think?

rattus scholasticus

There’s a question that hovers in the air in a learning development tutorial.

“What would you do? How would you do this if you were me?”

Sometimes it’s voiced, sometimes it simply hangs unspoken at the margins of the conversation. When it’s asked, we might choose to answer it, with caveats, or we might turn the question back on the student – it’s not about what I would do, it’s your work, your decision. Does the question make us uncomfortable? Possibly. It somehow feels beside the point, too easy, too dependent, too deferent?

But it’s a valid and reasonable question. It reveals something about why the student has approached us, and what they value in our advice. I think we need to find a productive way of responding, while avoiding any of the pitfalls it opens up.

How do students see us? What do they see in us? Some of…

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The Danger of the Comfort Zone

#becomingeducational Recognises this post from fellow LDer Helen Webster
How many times do we see the subtlety and nuance of our work reduced to – could you just check my spelling or from lecturers – they can’t write – can you give them help with their spelling, punctuation and grammar?
As Helen says in her elegant post below – we are learning developers – and we care about writing as a medium for learning – and of course as the most popular and privileged form through which students will be assessed.
We typically believe that the elements of writing – that grammar and syntax – will improve through meaningful writing habits and practices… and that where students fear writing and only write for assessment – they will not develop the writing habit that will also develop their writing practices.
Anyway – Helen says it so much better – so do read her blog.
Happy summer!

rattus scholasticus

I don’t care about writing.

For someone with a degree in Modern Languages, who heads something called the Writing Development Centre, who loves literature and language and who winces at grocer’s apostrophe’s, that’s a pretty bold statement.

Many students and academic staff expect that a major part of my role is to be the Grammar Police, waging a war against poor writing, the abused apostrophe, the careless comma, the split infinitive and the dangling modifier. Lecturers ask me to teach students to improve their grammar and sort out their syntax; students perk up when I show them a list of conjunctions which will improve their cohesion, a ‘recipe’ for writing a paragraph or the rules of their/there/they’re. That’s what they want me to do, that’s what they think will help.

In the context of Learning Development though, I care about writing only in as much as it is the medium…

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Spotlight on…the Padlet Project

#becomingeducational It’s the summer… time to be impressed –
by this wonderful project
We’ve just been blown away by the empowering and supportive Padlet project – and the way that it has sought to help students make sense of their reading – and of academia itself.
Have a look at what they’ve done – and see what you think!
Best,
Sandra & Tom

The Active Learning Network

What is the Padlet Project?

The Padlet Project is an active learning initiative developed by Wendy Garnham in conjunction with the Technology Enhanced Learning team at University of Sussex for use with Foundation Year Psychology students.

Why was the project developed?

Traditional seminars were dominated by one or two more confident students whilst a number of other students either remained silent or had not completed the necessary reading before arriving. Students who experienced some anxiety about attending seminars found it difficult to walk into a room where others were already seated and waiting to begin. Student engagement reduced across the term.

How does the Padlet Project work?

The Padlet Project is now entering Phase 3 in its development. Below is a timeline of how the project has developed.

Phase 1:

Before the seminar, students were expected to read a key seminar paper. As students entered the seminar room, they immediately…

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Sharing ReGenring – with a little help from my template

#becomingeducational Gets all #reGenring17
The power of reGenring was explored and celebrated at #reGenring17 – NTU this June.
It was a fabulous day – full of excitement, fun and laughter – not something you can always say about an academic conference!
This post looks at the power of reGenring – and the way that ALke structured this with her Poster Template…
What reGenring so you do?

Tactile Academia

Here the first follow-up post promised in my write up of the #ReGenring17 conference.

For the afternoon we had scheduled a ‘Sharing Session’ – essentially some time for people to just talk to each other. In order to give some broader starting points than just the keynotes, I had put out a Call for Practice as a first announcement of the conference, and quite a few people had responded to that.

The idea was that people would pick an example of their genring practice to show off, so that delegates could have a look at this. I had decided to give a structure to this by asking the sharers to fill in a very basic questionnaire about their projects to send to me the week previously, which I then fitted into a basic template. So everybody who shared their work had a poster that was following the same format.

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Training: The What or the How of LD?

#becomingeducational
What do learning developers do – and how can they do it well?
Really thoughtful and engaging post by Helen Webster on the what and how – of learning development work.
Do join in the conversation…

rattus scholasticus

What do you expect from professional training? As I’m developing some training for ALDinHE on one to one work, I’ve given quite a bit of thought as to what participants might expect, and whether I’ll be meeting those expectations. As I see it, training offers two main aspects, the What (i.e. the content) and the How (i.e. the skills), and the balance between these can vary enormously in training programmes.

For example, when I did my PGCE, the focus of that training was exclusively on the How – it was assumed that our original degrees or other professional background had already covered the What. Talking to our Student Union advisers, however, their training and CPD seemed to consist almost entirely of the What – the legislative background which underpinned the advice they were providing, and very little of the How to advise effectively – it was expected that you’d pick…

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#Take5 #22: The best way to make PhD Students write?

#becomingeducational It’s really summer now!!
Firstly: HAVE YOU REVIEWED YOUR YEAR?
Active review is always useful. At the end of any significant activity – from a day out to a whole academic year – take a moment to pause, reflect – and surface the learning/growth/development/achievements/losses …
of that moment/day/year.
It is when we take these moments to reflect that we understand our world and ourselves better.
Tips:
* NEVER beat yourself up – so even if you did not keep to your study timetable – work out WHY it didn’t work this time – and plan to do it differently next time
* Have a thinking plan: what did i do – why – what were my feelings – what did I learn – what next… is one that we recommend in our book (Essential Study Skills: the complete guide to success at university) – but other strategies work too: What surprised me – what enlightened me – what did I do about that?
* Get creative – and do it as a ‘journalling’ (or scrap book) activity: http://www.yourlifeyourvoice.org/…/tip-tips-for-journaling.…
* Get digital – and do it as a colourful, illustrated online blog.
AND NOW FOR SOMETHING COMPLETELY DIFFERENT:
What do you think about the idea of THESIS BOOTCAMP?
And do you want one in your University?

Take 5

The Thesis Boot Camp

Thank you to Heather Campbell for this #Take5 post

Take twenty-six PhD students, keep them in a room for 24 hours over a weekend, feed them, water them, motivate them and encourage them, and what happens? They write. In fact, collectively they write over 200,000 words towards their theses.

Here at Queen Mary University of London the Thinking Writing team have just completed our fourth Thesis Boot Camp and the event seems to be going from strength to strength. The premise of providing the time, space and motivation for PhD students to write may be a simple one, but the impact of the boot camp on the students seems to be immense. One reason is that we also provide something less immediately obvious – support. Whether it be gently pushing them to achieve more than they think they can, helping them to overcome writers’ block, or…

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From Nametags to Feedback Bunting

#becomingeducational Week 30 plus three: #reGenre17
For many of you the vacation is underway – and oh we do hope that you make time to reflect on the year – and recover from it! 😀
Some of you are probably still hanging around – finishing off assignments – taking internship posts around the University – and/or helping out with the Learning and Teaching Conference…
Whatever you are doing – or not doing – take a few moments to see where we were last week…
We attended #reGenre17 – a Conference on the power of re-genring material – that is – when you turn information from one format to another…
We do a lot of regenring with our own students – one of the first simple ones is where we ask people to produce a small collage reflection on their experiences of the first four weeks of their course… and then to examine their own collages – and turn that into writing…
Another key regenring activity was when we asked our students to present their research findings as a jigsaw puzzle or poem or knitting or 3D object or comic book or animation…
This is not just for fun – though it is – nor just to be more engaging – though it is that too – but the argument is that the act of regenring provokes powerful critical and analytical and organisation thinking…
Anyway – we had a great Conference – and we hope to do more regenring next year!
All the best,
Sandra & Tom

Tactile Academia

Last week was a crazy week for me, but the highlight undoubtedly was the ReGenring Academic Writing and Assessment conference I co-organised at Nottingham Trent University.  (And as co-organiser I might be slightly biased as to how fabulous an event it was…) I promised to write this up quickly for some people who couldn’t join us, so here are my impressions of the day:

The Trent Institute for Learning and Teaching that was hosting us had booked us into a great lecture theatre in their conference centre in the Newton Building. This location worked really well, apart from the fact that they don’t allow you to put up your own signage. Official signage apparently has to be ordered weeks in advance, and we didn’t quite make that deadline, so in a way the day must have started for many people with the challenge to find the room…

But find it…

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