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).
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)
- Video production
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.
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).
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
Karen Greetham, Fabio Serenelli, Anna Wood and Tom Whitelaw from King’s becoming acquainted with the Australian way at UNSW in Sydney.
What are you working on at the moment?
I’ve got four main projects that I’m focused on at the moment.
The LLM International Corporate and Commercial Law is launching next month, so we’re fully in the throws of development and getting into a nice rhythm with the workflow.
There’s another exciting project in the pipeline with The Dickson Poon School of Law, which is top secret at the moment. But I’m enjoying working with the Faculty on another, different project.
We’re running our very successful The Internet of Things MOOC with FutureLearn again in June. Before each run we make some improvements, taking on board students’ feedback from earlier runs and making sure that everything is good to go.
As part of the Shakespeare 400 festival, we’ve partnered with The Globe Theatre and The British Library to develop a new MOOC, Shakespeare: Print and Performance. We’ve got a lot of location shoots scheduled, which is challenging for us to coordinate, but really exciting. I’m really looking forward to seeing the finished product on this one, I think it’s going to be one of our best efforts yet.
Starting a project vs finishing a project – which do you prefer?
Definitely finishing. What we do here is very creative, and I absolutely love seeing the ideas turn into reality. I also really enjoy getting feedback on our work, so we can improve and evolve with each programme we work on.
How long have you worked in Project Management?
I have been doing aspects of project management since I started at King’s in 2014. This is my first dedicated role in project management, and I commenced in this post July 2015.
What is a your favourite thing about your job?
The people, without a doubt. I have the opportunity to work with so many different people on a daily basis, from our creative King’s Online team, to academics, other departments in King’s, and also collaborators from other organisations. I very much enjoy the variety this brings.
Have you got any tips or tricks on how you keep on top of your projects?
Communication, that’s my number one priority on all projects.
If you weren’t a Project Manager at King’s Online, what would you be doing?
In an ideal world? I would own a vineyard and some goats, one of which would be named Tahluhlah.
Karen getting used to the idea of Tahluhlah… We think she might stick to the world of Gannt charts, spreadsheets and Trello boards for awhile yet!
Members of the King’s Online team presented at the Technology Enhanced Learning (TEL) Symposium today, held at King’s College London’s Strand Campus.
They were featured in a programme of speakers, all passionate about the future of online learning in higher education, specifically at King’s College London.
Anna Wood, Director of King’s Online, presented the vision for King’s Online as ‘one of the UK forerunners in online education’. Anna outlined the ambitious programme pipeline for future years, reflecting the level of interest across the College from Faculties and Departments wanting to develop online programmes.
Dr Fabio Serenelli, Senior Instructional Designer (ID) for King’s Online, presented on the role of an ID. Fabio explained his perspective of an ‘ideal ID’ as a multi-faceted role, with a multitude of skills and areas of knowledge, that span not only what people traditionally think of as ID (e-learning content writing, pedagogy, educational psychology), but also elements of multimedia design, learning technology and project management.
“An ID may not be the expert in all of these fields, but we know how to speak to the experts. We are a kind of ‘human interface’ – the connection between subject matter experts (academics) and the design and development team,” Fabio said.
Anna and Fabio were joined by Dr Natasha Khan, who reflected on her personal experience of having been an academic lead on MOOCs, and is now an instructional designer and Health-Related MOOC Lead in IDD. Natasha commented that in her experience, the current model of King’s Online separating out the role of an instructional designer and learning technologist has resulted in more streamlined processes, enhanced creativity and a pooling of expertise.
The TEL Symposium was organised in partnership by the Centre for Technology Enhanced Learning (CTEL) and the King’s Learning Institute.
The level of engagement, lively discussion and thought-provoking presentations were reflective of the interest and passion delegates have for TEL becoming an even greater part of our strategic education priorities at King’s College London.
To find out more about how the Instructional Design & Development team operates, visit the team website.
Lindsey Fulker is an Instructional Designer in the Instructional Design & Development team. She has worked in distance and online learning for more than 10 years.
9.30am – I arrive at work, make myself a cup of tea and catch up on some emails
10.00am – I have a meeting scheduled with one of our academic colleagues from The Dickson Poon School of Law. We meet regularly to work on the content design for the module which he is leading on for the new online LLM programme in Corporate and Commercial Law, and this meeting is to look at a specific week of the module. Our aim is to make the student’s learning experience as engaging as possible, so during the meeting we discuss different activities including drag and drop interactions, discussion forums, infographics and scenarios. Part of the content lends itself to an activity based on an interesting case study, so we spend time deciding how best to use this in the design. During the meeting we use our whiteboard wall to scribble notes on.
12.00pm – I spend an hour writing up the outcome of the meeting while it’s still fresh in my mind. I summarise the decisions about different learning activities in what we call a learning pathway. A learning pathway is a high-level design document which outlines the type of learning activity we aim to use for each step of the learning for a particular week or topic of study. The learning pathway is then used by me and my academic colleague to clarify which content we already have and which content will need to be written by the lecturer.
1.00pm – Lunchtime! King’s Online is located in a great area, so I’m able to take a walk around Lincoln’s Inn Field and Covent Garden during my lunch break.
2.00pm – We have another module leader coming in later in the week to film some content for their module. We have a great studio in King’s Online, and a super cinematographer who is very good at looking after our presenters and making them feel at ease, so I know that I don’t need to worry about the filming itself too much. My job involves the scripts which we receive from lecturers well in advance to give us time to read through them carefully, to make sure they flow well, and to think about any other graphics which could be used during the film. Today, all that is left for me to do is to format the scripts for the autocue software and discuss with the cinematographer which studio set-up would work best so that he can get the background and lighting set up in good time.
2.30pm – There is an exciting new online programme which is in the pipeline, and there is a meeting between King’s Online and the owning Faculty. I’m attending with the Director of King’s Online, and one of our project managers. The meeting is for everyone to get a better understanding of the programme and the development process. I talk about our instructional design process, and tell the Faculty members about the sorts of content which will need to be provided, and about our learning pathway documents and storyboards. Our project manager explains the timeline of programme development, and gives the faculty members a tour of the studio. The meeting goes well, and both us and the faculty are very excited about putting another new programme online.
4.00pm – I have the rest of the day to get on with some storyboarding. This is the last part of the design process for me as an Instructional Designer: once all the content has been gathered, and learning activities have been agreed, the storyboard can be written. A storyboard is a document which details each screen of the content and is like a set of instructions for the learning technologists to use when they build the content. I like to make my storyboards as visual as I can to make it clear what each screen looks like and what the purpose is. Once I’ve finished a storyboard, the development work can begin, and we can really see the module taking shape.
5.30pm – That’s me done for another day! I tidy my desk and close the computer down before heading to the station for my journey home.
Anna Wood is the Director of King’s Online. She brings to the role more than ten years of leadership experience in higher education.
I joined King’s Online at a really exciting time, at the start of 2016. King’s has been running online and distance education programmes for years in some faculties, and we have been offering MOOCs through FutureLearn. One of our MOOCs that ran recently, The Internet of Things, has had in excess of 30,000 students, with the content and delivery mode being really well received.
Online learning is one of the fastest growing industries in the world. Different types of learners engage in online education for many different reasons and purposes. In the US, online course enrolment in higher education has been growing at a more rapid rate than overall university enrolments (Allen & Seaman, 2013). Now other universities and countries across the globe are beginning to offer courses online or considering the option of doing so.
King’s is one of the first Russell Group universities to commit to providing a high quality postgraduate education online and and we have big growth ambitions in this area in the coming years.
Our Principal Ed Byrne has a rich appreciation of the value of online education – a flexible delivery mode that will open up a King’s education to a global audience. His vision for King’s to expand its online learning offering paved the way for King’s Online, and this year, we have developed two fully online Master’s degree programmes. We have a dedicated team – Instructional Design and Development – who work closely with academics to ensure that the quality of the programme is equivalent to the quality of education delivered on campus.
King’s is a fantastic institution – recognised for its world-leading research, teaching and rigorous approach to academic endeavours. In coming years, King’s will also be recognised for its cutting edge, world leading online education offering. Our online programmes are being developed with the same academic rigour, delivered by the same leading academic experts, with the support of a team of experts in online learning theory.
King’s Online is an important endeavour for King’s and one that I’m proud to be leading.
Access the report mentioned by Anna here: Changing Course: Ten Years of Tracking Online Education in the United States
The team will use this blog to give you an insight into the work that goes into developing an online programme, and hopefully teach you a thing or two about instructional design and development along the way!
The team is made up of project managers, instructional designers, learning technologists, cinematographers, graphic designers and multimedia developers. Collectively they have decades of experience in online learning and programme development.
To find out more about the team and their work, please visit the Instructional Design & Development team page on the King’s website.