Award winner reflects on the value of a UCISA bursary

Emma Fletcher
Technology Enhanced Learning Advisor
York St John University

 

 

EDUCAUSE 2017 Conference, Philadelphia

Emma Fletcher was funded to attend this event as a 2017 UCISA bursary winner

Receiving a UCISA bursary allowed me to attend the EDUCAUSE annual conference in Philadelphia during November 2017. I believe it has had a number of positive effects on my personal development in higher education, for the directorate I’m a part of, and for colleagues within the university that I work with to support and advise.

Professional development

In terms of benefits to my personal CPD, I chose a number of relevant and useful sessions to attend at the conference. I selected sessions that aligned well with my role (and the University’s foci) to ensure it was a worthwhile experience. Some of the sessions have impacted on my practice at the University, such as the sessions focussing on video and recording academic staff. One of my team’s current projects is the digital transformation of a particular school, which involves recording staff talking about key themes in their modules. I have used some of the suggestions and ideas from the conference to develop these recordings which have been beneficial to the academic staff, along with the students who will be using the videos.

The overall experience and the information I gained from attending Educause has helped me in my own career and I have since applied for a technology enhanced learning (TEL) role at another institution. I used reflections from my time at the conference during the interview process and was successful.

Institution

Prior to attending the conference, the Director of my directorate was extremely positive about my being awarded the bursary and told me that Deputy Vice-Chancellor knew about it and was impressed. After the conference, I was given time during the directorate team meeting to speak about the conference with my colleagues. The team includes our educational developers, who work with academic staff on their teaching and learning. The team showed a real interest in some of the sessions and as a result I have had one to ones with some colleagues within the directorate about the sessions I attended and have shared some of the resources I collected whilst I was there.

I have spoken with my line manager about my experiences at the conference. We discussed the learning spaces and active learning sessions, as the former session was one I was asked to attend. Learning spaces is a particular area of interest, with my line manager overseeing a project at the University involving a redesigned learning space.

I have been able to informally present a number of times to colleagues at the university about some of the sessions I attended that relate to them. Along with the UCISA blogs I produced covering areas such as active learning spaces and universal design for learning (UDL) and learning management systems (LMS), I wrote a separate blog for the University, which highlighted sessions that I thought would be more relevant to the institution such as: learning spaces, universal design for learning and learning management systems, active learning, microlearning and social media, video creation and working with academic staff for technology innovation. When meeting colleagues across the University, I have spoken about the conference or sessions that I feel are relevant to them and hope this has impacted positively on them.

HE IT community

My attendance at the conference has broadened my knowledge and understanding of TEL, particularly from an international context, and allowed me to draw comparisons with the UK sector, and in particular the external factors influencing decisions we make about TEL (for example, Teaching Excellence Framework (TEF), apprenticeships etc.). This has impacted on my interaction, for example when speaking with colleagues across the university. I feel more confident in my knowledge of HE and Technology Enhanced Learning (TEL) (something which has been a steep learning curve after spending most of my career in secondary education) and I believe colleagues have seen the benefits.

I found the scale and programme of the conference made it difficult to connect with other attendees, however I discovered a lot of great people on Twitter and have developed my personal learning network a great deal. It has been particularly interesting to see TEL in an international context and I hope to cement some of the links I made over time.

Interested in finding out more about a UCISA bursary, then visit UCISA Bursary Scheme.

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