A large lake surrounded by mountains on a cloudy day. A shaft of light spotlights a part of the lake.

In our previous blog post Digital Confidence: Springboard and safety net we explained how we see the development of digital confidence in our colleagues as a key part of our role. We discussed how we act as a springboard and a safety net – providing the guidance and information that colleagues need to launch a new idea for teaching and learning online, and also providing the relevant and timely support and advice needed if anything goes wrong.  

Alongside these important roles, we have also been supporting the development of our colleagues’ digital confidence in another way. In a time of more extensive digital teaching and learning, and when increasingly inventive ways are required to measure engagement without webcams, we know that the unique qualities of what is being done can be hard to find time to reflect on and recognise.  Our team, through our one to one support sessions and ASK drop-ins, can gain a unique perspective on the innovative practice that has been developed by Arts and Humanities colleagues, and we want to make sure that’s identified and celebrated.  

The spotlight

To build on our role as springboard and safety net we aim, as a team, to make sure that the work that colleagues do is spotlighted and recognised, and that it is shared with others inside and outside of the school. We do this by: 

  • Discussing colleagues’ practice with them and showcasing their ideas on the AAH LTSU blog
  • Presenting examples of colleagues’ digital learning and teaching at conferences and events 
  • Working with colleagues to increase the reach of their innovative practice, such as collaborating on papers to submit and presenting at webinars held by other institutions.  

The benefits of recognition

During the emergency remote teaching that was instigated by the pandemic, there was a higher than usual amount of innovation required as colleagues updated, changed, and created resources to allow for teaching online. It may have felt normal and an extension of usual practice, because everything that a colleague has learned about student-centred learning can be applied to all aspects of their learning and teaching design, and that contributes to the quality work that is done. But each educator’s unique perspective, experiences and pedagogical approach, and the way they apply that, holds the potential to positively change another practitioner’s methods and to influence the learning of innumerable students.  

It can sometimes be challenging to recognise our own work as something new, especially when it is created through unprecedented circumstance and necessity. As a team we feel that part of what we can support is our colleagues’ reflection on, and recognition of, the innovation in the practice they have evolved. Beginning as improvisation and experimentation, these approaches can then be reviewed, revised, reused and embedded into everyday online teaching and learning.  

Having peers learn from our practice can be a massive boost to digital confidence, as it helps with external recognition of what has been learned, what has been contributed, and the development that has taken place, but just as important is the impact of our own reflection and recognition on our work.  

The LTSU’s role in this is to collaborate with colleagues to bring their ideas to fruition (springboard), and to ensure that (as a safety net) we are available and in eager readiness to offer our support. It’s also to spotlight these ideas, with concrete examples, so that others can learn from them. This has the added benefit, we feel, that the academic can develop their digital confidence through the (internal and external) recognition of their practice as something special. 

Finding work to celebrate

You can see an example of how we’ve learned from and shared our colleagues’ practice in our blog post Flexible Peer-Learning Activities: What, why, how. In it, we collate what we have learned from different colleagues, and link to the innovative practice they have discussed with us. We have more exciting practice to share this year!  

So take a bow!

We are always eager to hear about, help to launch, and support the use of new and innovative means of digital teaching; we want to make sure that the excellent work we see can inspire others to do the same in their practice.  

Please contact us at AAH.LTSU@ntu.ac.uk if you have something you’d like to share!  

Further reading

Bancroft, R., Pearce, R., Challen, R., Jeckells, D. and Kenney, J. (2021)Locating opportunities for building digital confidence in staff’, Journal of Learning Development in Higher Education, (22). https://doi.org/10.47408/jldhe.vi22.775.

Corcoran, C. A. & Leahy, R (2003) ‘Growing Professionally through
Reflective Practice’, Kappa Delta Pi Record, 40:1, pp 30-33, DOI: 10.1080/00228958.2003.10516411

Mihai, A. (2020). Time to reflect… retrieved from https://educationalist.eu/time-to-reflect-4c56ee5d23c6 [9th January 2023]