Senior CMALT

Contextual Statement

White female with short wavy blond hair and dark glasses, smiling into the camera with a chiffon top.
Clare Thomson

After graduating with a BSc(hons) in Pharmacology I gained experience in purchasing within the private sector before returning to higher education to complete a MSc in Computer Based Learning. Following several years experience in corporate education software companies I started in higher education in an academic development unit as an ICT Development Officer and eighteen years later I now have an academic role.

Qub icon, a red periodic table imageMy previous CMALT portfolio, was centred on my role as an elearning specialist within medical education. There my role, was that of a developer and due to the complexity of needs I created a bespoke VLE for the medical school and had little experience of mainstream EdTech platforms over the period of a decade. During that time I graduated from the University of Edinburgh with a distinction in Digital Education Postgraduate Diploma. Undertaking this course revitalised my excitement for technology within education and changed the direction of my career. I also achieved my AdvanceHE Senior Fellowship as well as the first (and to my knowledge the only) edtech professional to be awarded an individual internal teaching award at that particular institution.

Ulster icon, a bright blue periodic table imageTo advance my career, in 2019 I moved to a central EdTech department at Ulster University, in the role of Digital Education and Enhancement Consultant. This afforded me the opportunity to experience of mainstream EdTech such as Blackboard Learn, Blackboard Collaborate Ultra, Panopto, Turnitin Qwickly attendance reporting and Studiosity.

I was awarded a place on the 2019/2020 Advance HE Aurora Leadership Programme which provided me with the tools and mentorship to hone my networking skills and continue to champion collaborative activities and the professionalism of learning technologists. During my time at Ulster I led several award applications which resulted in an internal collaboration award, a Student Union special recognition award and an AdvanceHE CATE Award 2022 (Collaboration Award in Teaching Excellence).

Heriot-Watt icon, a dark blue periodic table imageIn 2022 I fulfilled my ambition to advance to an academic track and took on a new role at Heriot-Watt University as an Assistant Professor for Digital Pedagogies and Curriculum Design in the Learning and Teaching Academy. This is global university with campuses in the UK, United Arab Emirates and Malaysia. My leadership roles include Deputy Programme Director for the PGCertT programme, Deputy Course Lead on Exploring Learning Spaces, curriculum design workshop institutional lead and Global Digital Pedagogies Reading Group lead. I have two key stems to my work: digital pedagogies and course design however, beyond this I provide teaching and learning support across other courses on the PGCertTL, as well as through department events and projects.

The common threads across all of my roles are critical digital pedagogy, open practice, creativity, accessibility and inclusion, learning design and communities of practice – all bound together in a pedagogy of care.

Before starting on the main areas of the portfolio I thought it would be appropriate to pick up from the end of my existing portfolio – Future Plans and review these:

My Future Plans then were:

  • Professional Accreditation: I wanted gain Fellowship of the Higher Education Academy following completion of my CMALT. Not only did I successfully gain Fellowship but I went on a year later to gain Senior Fellowship.
  • Continuing Professional Development: I had just enrolled on the MSc Digital Education at the University of Edinburgh and had the goal to continue to PhD. Once I had completed the diploma stage, I graduated with distinction, and gained a place with the same Digital Education department and am now in the fifth year, researching reflective practice in medical education.
  • Team Interaction: I wanted to get involved with the newly formed ALT NI regional group. Since then I became co-chair of the group and have led three annual events and co-led a local CMALT Support Programme, which has seen several colleagues in Northern Ireland gain their CMALT recognition.

Given the significant change to my professional role and duties since my CMALT portfolio was written I have substantially updated and re-written my portfolio here on my own domain to better reflect the increased impact and leadership that I now have for senior level rather than do a review of my original portfolio. I first submitted my Senior CMALT portfolio during the pandemic which proved unwise timing as I was unable to focus clearly on the requirements and failed all elements. I have since afforded myself time to reflect, restructure and seek out alternative examples of evidence in support of my senior position within learning technology in the higher education sector.

Networking was a concept that I naturally shied away from yet reaching out and connecting with people was something I did with ease, it wasn’t until recently that I realised that all along I have been excelling at networking. This skill has gone beyond me seeking support for projects and initiatives, it has led to funding awards, strategic change, national recognition and career progression.

“In her role as Digital Learning Consultant, at Ulster University. Clare’s role spanned both academic development and project work and Clare consistently showed strategic vision and leadership which has resulted in continued impact, and institutional change, at Ulster.

I highly valued Clare’s ability to build relationships with academic and professional services staff by understanding problems, co-developing solutions and supporting staff with implementation.  Where I felt Clare excelled, however, was in her ability to connect these small projects to institutional strategy and influence change at an institutional level.”, Head of the Office for Digital Learning, Ulster University

Being a member of ALT has been foundational to my practice and by submitting my portfolio I am not only seeking recognition of my work but hope to add back to the community by openly licensing my portfolio.

To the assessors I thank you for taking the time to read about my journey and work, I know how busy you are and value your feedback and thoughts on this portfolio.

Professional timeline

  • Assistant Professor, Heriot-Watt University, 2022-present
    • Context: Central support for five campuses – Edinburgh, Scottish Borders, Orkney, Dubai and Malaysia
  • Independent technology consultant, 2015-present
  • Digital Education and Enhancement consultant, Ulster University, 2019-2022
    • Context: Central support for four campuses within Northern Ireland (three as of 2022)
  • eLearning Lead, Queen’s University Belfast, 2008-2019
    • Context: School level support for Medicine, Dentistry and Biomedical Sciences
  • ICT Development Officer, Queen’s University Belfast, 2006-2008
    • Context: Central support for Russell Group institution
  • Accessibility Lead & Multimedia Developer, Aurion Belfast, 2003-2006
  • Multimedia Developer & Quality Assurance Officer, ALTA Systems, 2002-2003
  • Demonstrator, Queen’s University Belfast, 2002-2005

I tried to restrict the contents of this updated portfolio to my work at Ulster University. However, I do draw on my previous and current employments, so to help clarify this visually I have added the relevant icon (with thanks to the wizardry of Bryan Mathers and Visual Thinkery). These are:

Qub icon, a red periodic table image
Queen’s University Belfast
Ulster icon, a bright blue periodic table image
Ulster University
Heriot-Watt icon, a dark blue periodic table image
Heriot-Watt University

Core Values

Throughout my portfolio I have tried to highlight my commitment to the four ALT core values as a visual map for both myself and the assessors. As well as these I have a strong ethical underpinning to my work in edtech and this feeds through into my interactions with my learners.

  • CV1 A commitment to exploring and understanding the interplay between technology and learning
  • CV2 A commitment to keep up to date with new technologies
  • CV3 An empathy with and willingness to learn from colleagues from different backgrounds and specialist areas
  • CV4 A commitment to communicate and disseminate effective practice

Operational Issues >>

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