For my CMALT I was an elearning developer with no formal teaching responsibilities, so this section was difficult however I drew on the content that led to my internal teaching award. It was awarded Adequate. Since then I have designed and lead undergraduate, online and postgraduate courses and am now in an academic position.
2a: An understanding of teaching, learning and/or assessment processes
My overall teaching philosophy is that of a critical constructionist approach. Committed to creative pedagogy firmly rooted in educational theory, I have embedded LEGO® Serious Play® (LSP), already popular in other tertiary education and corporate settings, in the school and beyond. I also specifically encourage creative approaches to problem-solving and learning where possible both for students and staff. This area of my teaching work is covered in detail within the Advanced Area. I am continually inspired by educators from around the world but especially by the work of bell hooks, adrienne marie brown and Paulo Freire. Within the edtech sphere I draw on the knowledge and experience of contemporaries, far too many to list here but being able to digitally connect across institutions, sectors and countries is a privilege that I never take for granted.
Regardless of the learning design framework I employ, whether ABC, Viewpoints etc, it is underpinned with Universal Design for Learning and a pedagogy of care. Having had an introduction to teaching and learning theory in 2001 in the MSc in Computer Based Learning, I developed a deeper understanding of wider learning theories and their applications to technology (analogue and digital). In places I consolidated my previous knowledge and experience and in others I had a completely new lens to look at my practice. Here I was free to play, experiment, be challenged, extend my technical skills and most of all rekindled my passion for learning technology.
Since graduated in 2017 I have contributed to formal teaching in several ways, medical education Student Selected Components (Queen’s University Belfast), eTutor course (Ulster University) and part of the teaching teams for two courses on the PGCertTL (Heriot-Watt). Across these I have designed courses, teaching sessions and assessment; provided feedback for assessments and contributed to quality assurance processes.
For this section I have selected my work with Wikipedia as the specific example which demonstrates all the key elements of my teaching, assessment and feedback.
After reading tweets from staff at the University of Edinburgh regarding the use of Wikipedia for learning, I proposed an internal session to explore this in Queen’s. The Centre for Educational Development then invited Euan McAndrew, from Edinburgh to speak. Subsequently, I reached out to the librarians to collaborate with me in delivering a module for year 3 medical students, ‘Wikipedia in Medicine: Digital Citizenship’. It also was a wonderful opportunity to discuss open education practice with the students and provoke rethinking of the university as a gatekeeper of knowledge only accessed by the privileged.
This three week full time module focused on digital and information literacies, culminating with the students writing or editing Wikipedia articles; a non-disposable assignment. I also invited the Wikimedia.ie representative, Rebecca O’Neil, to facilitate a workshop for the students to get them started with editing. Working together inspired the librarian to create a suite of help videos for students across the faculty and to use Kahoot in his workshops. As a female and thus in the under-represented group of Wikipedia editors, Rebecca has enthused me to continue with this work encouraging staff and students to become editors and work towards a better balance of diversity. We also increased awareness with the students: “It was shocking to hear about how often female editors work is not published-this frustrates me.”, year 3 student.
There were many benefits and impacts from this work including improved digital and information literacies, increased understanding of plagiarism, contributions to Wiki Loves Monuments. However, the statistics of the different articles the students’ wrote standout as exemplars of non-disposable assignments and contribution to society via open sharing and publishing of medical knowledge. Some of these are detailed below within the Evidence section.
Following the success with students I organised a staff facing workshop, for elearners and librarians, again inviting Rebecca to speak. There was representation from all three QUB faculties and from Ulster University as I widened the invitation to the ALTNI committee members.
Whilst I have described my formal teaching above, I have applied all of the same principles and knowledge across my whole higher education career. Despite this parallel it can be very difficult to get formal teaching experience as a learning technologist, as the perception persists that we are technical support rather than teaching and learning professionals. Gaining an institution individual teaching award and Fellowship of the HEA (AdvanceHE) were so important in validating my identity as an educator. However, it wasn’t until I had participated on the MSc of Digital Education that I began to get formal teaching experience.
The difference in the experiences is being in front of learners rather than the faceless teacher behind the materials as the elearning developer. Each time I do worry that something will go horribly wrong, yet I have found that when things do go wrong I am able to keep calm and resolve problems as they arise. Overall, despite my reservations I always feel energised and strive to push myself to try new techniques and continue to learn and develop. This is an especially rewarding aspect of teaching on a PGCertTL as when marking assignments from colleagues across the institution (of which there are five global campuses) I gain as much from their experiences as they have from my knowledge and experience (CV3).
Most importantly I strive to model good practice and bring care and respect into my teaching. When encouraging innovative approaches, I can share what worked well and what needed adaptation. Active learning is something I design in to all my practice, ensuring that my learners contribute to the discussions in the manner of their choice, nearly always facilitated by technology (CV1). This is not an easy route and takes confidence to be comfortable with silence for example. Designing in short, inclusive activities is important and I will expand on this work in my Specialist Area 2.
Learning from others and having strong mentors is crucial for me and I will continue to strengthen my education networks as well as gaining from the new teaching leadership roles and continue to try out-of-the-box approaches as I always ensure these are supported and guided by research and scholarship (CV1).
I strive to role model good practice and ensure I utilise a pedagogy of care. Feedback from learners (students and staff), highlight how much this is appreciated. As an open education practitioner I share my experiences in this area both internally and across the sector. Including conference presentations, internal teaching and learning meetings, publications, blog posts and more. Evidence can be viewed on the Publications page of my blog. (CV4)
Qualifications, Recognition and Awards
- Senior Fellowship HEA certificate
- Postgraduate Diploma in Digital Education (Distinction)
- 2022 Collaborative Award for Teaching Excellence • AdvanceHE
- 2022 UU Students’ Union Special Recognition ODL Team Award, Ulster University (photo below)
- 2021 Distinguished Education Excellence Awards, Collaborative Excellence, Ulster University (photo below)
- 2018 Team Teaching Award, Queen’s University Belfast – shortlisted
- 2016 Discretionary Award for Exceptional Performance, Queen’s University Belfast
- Teaching Award for Sustained Excellence Category, Queen’s University Belfast (2014)
- 2011 Team Teaching Award, Queen’s University Belfast
- 2010 Best Poster, Irish Network of Medical Educators Conference
Article statistics as of May 2023
- 70,085 page views https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Neurogenic_bowel_dysfunction
- 18,109 page views https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Psychological_stress_and_sleep
- 8,480 page views https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tertiary_peritonitis
- 4,027 page views https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Organ_donation_in_Ireland
- 14,396 page views https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Holywell_Hospital
My OER Guide to using Wikipedia in teaching and learning, which is also embedded on the University of Edinburgh’s website and also uploaded to the National Teaching Repository (NTR) with 410+ views and 50+ downloads as of May 2023.
My talk on the Wikipedia module at OER19
Entry in the Wikimedia Community Ireland Report 2018 which includes this work
“First event with a Northern Irish university. An aim of both WCI and WMUK for a number of years has been to foster engagement with Wikipedia in Northern Ireland, with little success thus far. WCI was contacted by Clare Thomson, the e-Learning Developer at the School of Medicine in Queens University Belfast to facilitate an editing event with a cohort of 2nd year medical students as part of a module on citations and referencing. Initially, the contact was to just solicit support through learning materials, but the ability to support Thomson’s student group with a presentation in person, made her far more confident in that module and in pursuing Wikipedia in other settings. On foot of the success of that pilot module, the Project Coordinator has been invited back to give a seminar on Wikipedia for Educators to other staff within QUB on 5 November. The aim of this is to build on the use of Wikipedia within modules in the School of Medicine and foster its use in other schools within the university.”
Student Feedback from the Wikipedia module – 2017-2019:
“We were given a lot of freedom to choose the topics which I liked. Also we learned a lot of skills which are very important but we never usually get properly taught e.g. learning how to do research properly”
“Really enjoyed the module the use of collaborative space Teams was nice”