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What makes a Learning Technologist? – Personal reflections on the role

There have been a number of blog posts published around the role of a Learning Technologist. In particular, a recent post by Simon Thomson entitled: “Do we still need Learning Technologists?”, really helped me with reflecting on my own role, responsibilities and overall career path to-date.

A couple of months back, Simon collaborated with Daniel Scott on a survey for colleagues across the sector to share and reflect on their own experiences of becoming a Learning Technologist. The subsequent findings would then go on to be published via the Association for Learning Technology (ALT) blog, as a series of themed posts.

Whilst those findings are currently being reviewed, I thought I would share my own complete submission for the “What makes a Learning Technologist?” survey.

Here goes…

What is your current job title?

Senior Learning Technologist

Briefly summarise what your role is and the duties you undertake?

I am a faculty-based Learning Technologist, working directly with Health and Wellbeing – the largest academic faculty at the University of Central Lancashire. Though aligned to the Faculty – structurally, my role sits within the University’s Technology Enabled Learning and Teaching (TELT) team.

Some of my main responsibilities include:

  • Developing the digital capability of academic colleagues.
  • Supporting the roll-out out of new learning technologies.
  • Advising on the pedagogically-underpinned use of technology to enhance the student experience.
  • Fostering communities of practice to share innovative approaches, and identify digital ‘champions’.
  • Supporting academic colleagues in the development of high-quality online learning resources.
  • Maintaining effective liaison between the academic Faculty, and our Technology Enabled Learning and Teaching team.
  • Supporting academic colleagues to develop digitally-literate, work-ready graduates.

What career path did you travel to get to your current position?

My own pathway into learning technology wasn’t the most conventional one (if there is such a thing!).

Upon leaving university with a degree in Sound Engineering, I found my early search for employment ‘in the field’ to be particularly difficult. For that reason, I initially continued with a part-time retail position I had held during my studies – later progressing to full-time employment within the retail sector.

I had always had an attraction to working in education, and made a conscious decision to actively seek positions at local education institutions. Not long after, a technical support position came up at the University of Central Lancashire – which I applied for, and was successfully appointed to. There began my career in higher education and learning technology… So to speak!

Over the following years, I transitioned across a number of roles – encompassing: multimedia development, VLE support, and an institutional roll-out of event capture and Microsoft Surface technology. This relatively fast-paced development journey, eventually led me to my current role as a Senior Learning Technologist.

What would your ideal job title be?

Educational Developer

What’s the best part of your job?

Contributing to the digital development pathway of both staff and students, is something I find particularly rewarding in my role. I am also increasingly able to see the direct impact that my work and associated initiatives are having on teaching and learning at the University.

Building effective relationships with course teams and individuals across the Faculty, has proven instrumental on a number of levels. Through our “DigiLearn” initiative, academic colleagues are now more actively sharing their expertise and best practice – as well as supporting with each other’s digital journeys.

Representing the institution externally and in-partnership with academic colleagues, is something which I also find extremely rewarding. I feel it adds an authentic perspective to the impact of the work that we continue to share with our wider communities.

What’s the biggest challenge(s) you face in getting your job done?

I believe that my current role is now expanding beyond that of a typical Learning Technologist – particularly as it heads deeper into educational and curriculum development.

As any individual’s role and remit grows, there are often implications around simply having enough time in the working day to engage with so many internal and external activities. That being said – I do tend to thrive off new opportunity, and always look to embrace the next challenge. Having a role which helps facilitate this intrigue and ambition, has led to a deeply fulfilling career thus far.

As referenced at the start of this blog – there are now a number of published posts around the role of a Learning Technologist. Here are just a few examples that I have found to be of particular interest:

Do we still need Learning Technologists? – Simon Thomson

Learning Technologist: A dear child has many names – Karoline Nanfeldt

Describing my learning technologist role – Daniel Scott

Featured image by Chris Bull for Association For Learning Technology 13/9/18

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