A Learning Technologist: What’s that, then?

I’ve been working at King’s for almost 5 years now as a Learning Technologist. I started at the King’s Learning Institute before moving to the Centre for Technology Enhanced Learning (CTEL). I’m currently working for King’s Online as part of the Instructional Design and Development (IDD) team.

When someone asks me what I do, and I tell them I’m a Learning Technologist, I’ll occasionally get a quick reply to the tune of “When do you become a full technologist?”, or “When do you finish your apprenticeship?” Most often though I get funny looks followed by another question, usually, “What’s that, then?”

So for the uninitiated, here is broadly what a Learning Technologist does.

As the title suggests, the role focuses on learning technologies. These are tools that essentially enhance learning and teaching in higher education. These tools can be physical systems like Echo360 (lecture capture system used to record lectures) & polling or software based systems like Moodle (a learning management system that King’s uses to deliver e-learning).

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My job is to make sure that lecturers at King’s use these tools appropriately to engage students with the learning content that they teach. I can do this in a number of ways.

At CTEL I would lead or support CPD sessions to teach staff how to use these types of technologies. These could include:

  • KEATS (Moodle) basic training
  • Blogging for beginners
  • Creating accessible learning resources
  • Bringing interactivity to KEATS (Moodle)
  • Podcasting
  • Video production
  • Polling.

Staff would then be able to embed the use of these technologies in their teaching or use them to help enhance their teaching material.

In my current role with King’s Online, I’m in a team of Project Managers, Instructional Designers, Learning Technologists and Video Producers, developing King’s Online postgraduate courses and Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs). My role here is largely content development, developing directly in KEATS, coding HTML and CSS. I also advise on the use of different learning technologies when necessary.

Online learning is a very different scenario than on-campus taught courses. Like on-campus students, online students are often paying a substantial amount of money, so the King’s Online student experience has to be as good as the on-campus student experience. I work closely with the Instructional Designers to make sure it is.

This is the job in a nutshell, though there are many other aspects of learning and teaching that Learning Technologists can get involved with, including assessment, feedback, research and quality assurance (QA).

The essential qualities for this role are communication skills, attention to detail, HTML/CSS, e-learning development tools and at times you will need to work well under pressure, well perhaps a bit more than ‘at times’!

Paul Gillary AFHEA is a Learning Technologist in King’s Online.

King’s Online Down Under

Last week, members of the King’s Online and Students & Education  teams represented King’s College London in a trip to Sydney, Australia to meet fellow colleagues in the PLuS Alliance.

The PLuS Alliance is a tripartite agreement between King’s College London, Arizona State University (ASU) and University of New South Wales (UNSW).

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The purpose of the visit was to connect colleagues from the three universities to discuss opportunities for online module exchanges and to explore the potential for future joint courses.

“One thing I didn’t anticipate, considering we all share the common language of English, was the different terminology we each use to talk about instructional design and development! There were a few quizzical looks around the table in our first meeting, as we all came to grips with the different meanings for programmes, courses, modules, degrees and units!” – Karen Greetham, Programmes Project Manager.

Besides enjoying the local cuisine, abundant sunshine and warm hospitality of the UNSW staff and students, the team benefitted by sharing best practices, challenges and opportunities, processes and potential improvements with their colleagues in UNSW and ASU.

Discussions around areas of study, potential courses to develop, logistical arrangements, assessment, marking, admissions and marketing made for a very busy schedule, in a short one-week visit.

“I’m really looking forward to the future development of this alliance; our commitment to this worldwide partnership is another great step as we continue in our mission to bring a King’s education to a global audience.” – Anna Wood, Director of King’s Online

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Karen Greetham, Fabio Serenelli, Anna Wood and Tom Whitelaw from King’s becoming acquainted with the Australian way at UNSW in Sydney.