EDEU shaped futures: development is another word for change

Dancing on the table; capturing the EDEU AwayDay Matso tree photo 2 (2) EDUE Team AwayDay Student Engagement Team at EDEU Awayday

There’s a lot of development going on. We are EDEU, a new Educational Development Unit. Our job titles include the words Development and Developers. We are Staff Development and Continuing and Professional Development. In the literature of professional support for higher education, development can be prefixed with academic and learning as well as educational but what does the development part mean? Who is developing what? Trying to pin down meaning often reveals the slippiness of language. The closer you get to the words the more they shape-shift. The term educational development is loose and while I appreciate the flexibility of open endedness, some starting points are worth having.

The literature of SEDA, the Staff and Educational Development Association, refers to academic development and the enhancement of learning, teaching and professional development http://www.seda.ac.uk/ In a 2009 paper Forms of knowing and academic development practice, Sue Clegg writes how Academic Development is the ‘primary site though which the ‘subject’ of ‘teaching and learning in higher education’ has come into being.’ Against a background of changes in higher education, debates around the purpose of the university and the contested identities of teaching and research, she describes how academic development slipped in as a ‘defined set of practices and epistemologies’, taking on ‘…a more strategic role in reshaping institutional provision to fit more closely with government priorities’ with academic developers finding themselves ‘…positioned precariously between senior management and academic staff.’ Clegg 2009 p407. I prefer the analogy of bridge to precarious perch but with EDEU’s remit including implementation of the teaching, learning and digital education plans – plan being another word for strategy – an element of inbetween-ness can be identified.

At EDEU’s first AwayDay the eclectic nature of our existing and future work was revealed. Using the cool tool Ketso, we mapped out the constituent parts.

Educational Technology section of the Matso EDEU tree Technology Enhanced learning branch 

A key outcome was the need to identify support for digital technology as scholarly rather than techie. Clegg writes how research into higher education is essential to understand academic practice. This is particularly relevant with internet technologies. We need to know where we came from and how we got to the places we are today. The use of VLE benefits from critical reflection. Not only should educational engagement be pedagogically driven, it must be informed through critical engagement with the published evidence base.

The Ed Dev team decided supporting a DIY approach to VLE, one which provides scaffolded learning, rather than DIFY (Do It For You)  is the way the way to go.  Narrowing divides between those who support the networks and those who use them for teaching is still about drives and drivers- you have to know your plugs from your sockets -but it’s also about the wider emotional impact of change, in particular  from a traditionally face-to-face practice to an online one.

Words are a bit like technology. They mask what’s going on underneath. Reflection on the slippage between educational and academic – when paired with development – is ultimately pedantic because at the end of the day, it’s the definition of development which matters and this is about informed support for change. EDEU started with difference in terms of faces, spaces and working practice and there’s going to be more of it ahead because an EDEU shaped future is where development is another word for change.


Clegg, S. (2009) Forms of Knowing and academic development practice. Studies in Higher Education, vol 34, no 4, 403-416

EDEU Week One; moving to the edge, space shaping and team making

The National Centre for Food Manufacture (NCFM) at Holbeach was in the news this week The NCFM hosted one of a series of workshops on PicknPack dissemination. Funded by the European Union Seventh Framework Programme, PicknPack is a flexible robotic system developed to automate food processing and packaging.

The role of food packaging is a thankless one. Designed to be functional and attractive, it ends up in the bin, destined for landfill, but I guess you’re not meant to think of it that way.

fields between Lincoln and Holbeach  fields between Lincoln and Holbeach fields between Lincoln and Holbeach  fields between Lincoln and Holbeach

Travelling between Lincoln and Holbeach is to journey through a showcase of local production. In spring the fields are full of daffodils and tulips; in September there are leeks, sweetcorn and cabbages, always cabbages. Colours range from wheaten gold to ploughed-earth chocolate brown; all under the broad, deep Lincolnshire skies.

This week two Digital Education Developers joined EDEU and it was a pleasure to include a trip to the NCFM as part of their induction. Chavan Kissoon was e-learning guru for Work Based and Distance Learning in the Business School at the university and Marcus Elliot joins us from Grimsby Institute. Chavan will work with the College of Social Science and Marcus with the College of Science. I’m still waiting for my DED (apologies for the acronym) for the College of Arts. A third Senior Lecturer in Educational Development or SLED (we did slightly better with that one) will also be joining EDEU. By January 2015 we should be complete.

The move to the edge was eased by the facilities at One Campus Way; continual supplies of coffee and a special welcome from EDEU Director Dr Karin Crawford; for picky eaters like me the fruit was welcome 🙂

  shared facilities in one campus way  welcome from EDEU Director Dr Karin Crawford

Week One has been good. The rest of the team, Dan Derricott and the Student Engagers, arrive on Monday. Next week is our first full team Awayday.  EDEU is taking shape.

That's me in the corner That’s me in the corner. The door to the meeting room is locked making the space into a 3-sided room.

There’s no direct light shining on my screens and I have my own bookcase (already filled with a cunning plan to encourage book returns)

 piles of books packed ready to move to EDEU

Duck and Spider have arrived. I’ve yet to introduce the wider EDEU team to the phenomena of Rubber Duck Debugging  That will come. As for Spider, it’s 14 years old and interesting to reflect on the changes since I first built the Achievers in Excellence website in 2000. In 2014 we weave with modules and plugins from content management systems rather than direct html. I’m left wondering if any other generation has seen so many changes happen so quickly. EDEU are in an excellent place to take the university’s remit for digital education forward.

The rubber duck and web weaver have arrived

We are EDEU; the Educational Development and Enhancement Unit at the University of Lincoln

You can tell it’s the last week in August. The phone is quiet. No scam emails. Even the comments from mightyviagara and powershower dot org saying they just dropped by and my blog posts are awesome – have stopped. All is quiet. Falsely so. There’s a sense of movement under the surface, an awareness of imminent change. Next week it will start. Staff will return. The bubbles are there, waiting to burst into Blackboard enquiries; I can’t see my sites, will you enrol me, where is my…how do I…..please can you help?

From now on, requests for assistance need to go through the ICT Service Desk not individuals. This represents a change in practice but one which makes sense. Here is a way to track the length and breadth of the support side of our work. The quick and the complex; the easy and the more challenging shades of assistance. We haven’t been good at monitoring what we do and as a result, much of our work is invisible.

Also, we are moving…

My boxes are packed, I’m ready to go. I’ve locked the office for the very last time. Goodbye Bridge House. Portocabin Heaven. Don’t slam the door or the floor will shake. I’ll miss you. Too hot in the summer, too cold in the winter but everything else was fine. Hello One Campus Way.  Out on the edge. Above the launderette. Every move takes me further from the centre. On Monday 1st September I’m hoping my computer will be attached to the network and phone working, so I can unpack ready to welcome our new staff. Introduce them to Blackboard. They’ll be getting to know each other over the next few weeks as staff and then students arrive.

September is always a special time. This is what higher education is about. New beginnings, the promise of learning and all that entails; raising awareness, critical thinking, reflecting on practice, on prior experience or a difficult phrase in a book or paper. Asking questions. What does that mean? Why did that happen? Who said that? I came into higher education as a mature student. Pre MS Windows – computers had arrived but they ran on DOS and there was no internet. It wasn’t that long ago! I’ll never forget the pains and joys. Queuing up to enrol on my very first day with no idea of what lay ahead. The sense of discovery as I found the library, had my first lectures, met other students juggling family and multiple commitments. My first degree was a challenge but one of the best things I ever did. It’s a privilege to work in an environment which offers such potentially life changing opportunities.

September is the new year, time for resolutions and plans. There will be changes but positive ones. I’ll have further to walk – will need comfy shoes – and although we remain a central unit, we’re each aligned to a college. I’m with the College of Arts – which everyone says suits me – I hope that bodes well!

We are EDEU. The Educational Development and Enhancement Unit. Most of the team are pictured here http://edeu.blogs.lincoln.ac.uk/edeu-staff/ We have an embyronic  website http://edeu.blogs.lincoln.ac.uk, our own mailbox edeu@lincoln.ac.uk and twitter moniker @LincolnEDEU. We have arrived. Although not formally launching until October, from next week we are a team, located in the same place, working towards shared goals for fostering excellence and innovation in student education and engagement, supporting academic staff in developing their teaching practice and programmes and supporting professional services staff in working with students to enhance the quality of services.

The future is bright. The future is EDEU shaped. Bring on the new academic year 🙂 

Festival of Teaching and Learning and a new team for educational development and enhancement at the University of Lincoln

On Friday 20th June Scott Davidson, Deputy Vice Chancellor (Teaching Quality & Student Experience), opened the Festival of Teaching and Learning by announcing EDEU. The wheel has turned. From Best Practice Office to the Teaching and Learning Development Office, followed by a period as Educational Research and Development, I’m now in an Educational Development and Enhancement Unit. What’s in a name? Quite a lot because everyone has their own interpretation of what this new Unit represents and the Festival was a welcome opportunity to begin the conversations.

More events like these please!

Sharing practice, discovering what else is happening, putting faces to names all help ensure conferences develop and enhance teaching and learning. Presenting, listening, networking and reflecting on an eclectic mix of information reinforces the reasons for being involved in education. As an educational developer, I appreciate opportunities to identify new directions and themes and festival participants also asked for more events more often.

There was clear interest in developing and exploring the use of multimedia. Following Embedding OER Practice, I used project funding to purchase copies of Camtasia Studio. Entry level software for capturing and editing video, it’s not as sophisticated as Premier or Avid but good enough to record narration over powerpoint, create talking heads, do screen capture and import video. Based on staff experience, I’m confident this is appropriate software to promote across the network and invest in support and guidance.  A single licence copy is @£100. Multiple educational licences are cheaper.  I’m also a fan of the free Audacity recording software which offers edit and export functions rivalling paid-for equivalents. It needs administrator rights to download. I show staff how to run it from a data stick. A request to have it installed on the network was turned down. Between them, Camtasia and Audacity offer ‘do-able’ potential to enhance text with video and audio. Other benefits include increases in transferable digital literacies and opportunities to raise awareness of inclusive practice. I hope EDEU can take issues like these forward.

At the festival I presented on the TELEDA course (now courses!) and the development of online workshops – mini TELEDA experiences which can be customised.  TELEDA is about establishing online communities of shared practice and inquiry based learning, but is also about developing the confidence and competence to teach in virtual environments. Appropriate scaffolding is essential for this and I hope EDEU can take this forward. An online resource supporting digital practices and pedagogies would be useful. During Embedding OER Practice a repository was built for sharing content. OPAL (Open Practice at Lincoln) should still exist in some dusty server corner alongside the OERL (Open Educational Resources at Lincoln) resource centre. How good it would be to revisit and revise these unfinished projects 🙂

The prospect of being part of a central resource supporting teaching and learning at Lincoln is exciting. It will be challenging too. On the one hand, it’ll be business as usual. On the other it will take time to embed as a team of old colleagues and new. First, we need to move. I try not to mind how each change takes me further away from the centre. It’s good to walk. The new office space has air conditioning and is above the launderette. A pragmatic mix which will serve us well.  The new Director of EDEU is Dr Karin Crawford. An inspirational choice which will work on many different levels; not least it means we can hit the ground running with no need to explain our history. It’s good to talk and there’ll be lots of conversations about the future for teaching and learning at Lincoln, one which incorporates the virtual as much as the real.

Did I say I was excited?

I can’t wait to begin!

photo last




Exciting Digital Education Developer job opportunities at the University of Lincoln

Digital Education Developer

Educational Development and Enhancement Unit

Location:  Brayford
Salary:   From £25,759 per annum
Please note there are three Developer posts available.
Closing Date:   Monday 02 June 2014
Reference:  EDEU008A

To support the implementation of its ambitious new Digital Education Strategy, the University of Lincoln is seeking to recruit three Digital Educational Developers. These permanent posts will be based within the newly created Educational Development and Enhancement Unit (EDEU), designed to provide co-ordinated and innovative support and deliver the University’s research-engaged teaching and learning agenda.
This is an exciting opportunity to join a dynamic team, working at the forefront of educational and technological innovation. The successful candidates will have good experience of the design and delivery of programmes for online and blended delivery, as well as a proven ability to support users in the effective use of educational technology, including Blackboard or a similar environment. You will have good technical skills, particularly in the use of web-based, multimedia and mobile technologies, allowing you to create high quality, pedagogically-informed learning resources.
Go to  http://jobs.lincoln.ac.uk/vacancy.aspx?ref=EDEU008A  for job description, person specification and to apply online

2014: a year of change and reflection

2014 is the year of change. The Centre for Educational Research and Development (CERD) is becoming an Educational Development and Enhancement Unit (EDEU) and a School of Education. The dividing of the ways marks a return to where we came from, when the Teaching and Learning Development Office (TLDO) merged with the International Institute for Educational Leadership (IIEL).

To mark the occasion, my blog has a new look. Changing templates is a big deal and finding an appropriate one has been a challenge. I’m still unsure about all the Blue but like the sidebars. The About Me… page now contains bits and pieces from previous Research and Creativity pages. Digital Inclusion stays, as does the PhD log, but there is new page for Academic Writing and also The Digital Literist which invites reader contribution.

Our digital ages are determined by what we remember. There’s an advantage to being err, um…. a little more mature. I can legitimately say I was there at the beginning. When cd-roms were  the cutting edge of digital information and the internet – once it finally arrived – came via dial-up modems. 

So age is measured by familiarity with this sound. How old are you?