We are the Community!

Have you heard of our Learning Technology Community (LTC)?

You may remember the Learning Technology Showcases at the University of Edinburgh which we ran back in the day when we could all gather together in one room and chat about what’s going on over snacks… Well, this online version was borne out of that, and the best part, you get to have your choice of delicious refreshments from your own kitchen 😊.

In 2020, Stuart Nicol suggested some important themes that would be of interest to colleagues across the Universities, particularly those working with learning technology. To meet the challenges of online teaching and learning in the current climate which has included hybrid learning, online assessments, innovation…it’s starting to look like the themes we are covering in my current OU course.

Similar to the Showcases, in this virtual community, my role has included setting up a hub (in Teams); coordinating our organising group; helping to plan the meetings; and creating the means by which meetings could take place.

In just a few short months we have grown to become a popular group of almost 150 members and growing every day. Synchronous meetings typically attract fifty or more participants every month, with asynchronous discussions between meetings.

I am now creating surveys to find out more about what has motivated colleagues to join and how they would like the community to grow; and to make sure everyone really feels a part of this, finding ways to encourage more of the community to contribute, suggesting different ways they might do this.

Wherever you are in the University, if you’re are interested in Learning Technology and looking for a space to bounce-off ideas, learn something new, or meet like-minded colleagues, do check us out!

The Teams area is open to all staff to join and become more involved by suggesting activities, organising events etc. You don’t have to be a learning technologist!

We look forward to seeing you at our next meeting, and if you are already a member, bring a colleague with you.


Image attribution: “I Am A Community Organizer (300×243)” by baratunde is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

Finding meaning in the Alt text

a pencil sketch of a pigeon
Image: pencil sketch of a pigeon in a field

I posted my first sketch in the Sketch-A-Day app after weeks of marvelling at the talent on display every day and losing the nerve to get started. Finally, I decided to contribute to the day’s subject: Pigeon.

My pigeon has had a wobbly landing and is balancing on one leg, symbolic of my own wobbly start to creating art. I am aiming for a sketch a week (because that’s how slow I am at this 😄) to incorporate some learning into it if possible.

This is also my first week on the “Online Teaching: Creating Courses for Adult Learners” course by The Open University, so I thought I would add this funky bird to the public domain while practising adding alt text. That’s killing multiple birds (not pigeons) with one stone today… sorry about this 😄.
Looking specifically at the small things we can do to make the content we publish accessible, most websites and platforms have alt text fields built-in, but it’s still easy to skip if you don’t already have this factored into your process. Maybe it should be a “required” field (as it is in EdWeb, our website content management system).

WordPress has an informative guide you can access when uploading content; you will find it linked below the “Alternative Text” field. It provides clear examples of formats and their use.
We know making content accessible and inclusive is not just useful for users of assistive technology, it makes sense for all and should not be an afterthought.
I look forward to covering this subject further in the course.

A conversation about the Aspiring Manager Programme

In these strange lockdown times, it feels like extra effort to keep our mental health on a high, and I’m sure it’s even more challenging to be upbeat while juggling work, family and the general devastation that the virus has caused. With all that going on, what if you are having a rough time at work?

Many employee surveys cite Manager behaviour in the top five reasons for being unhappy at work or the cause for leaving their jobs. Management is undoubtedly an important topic for any organisation that takes wellbeing, productivity and employee retention seriously. The University offers a variety of opportunities for management and leadership development at various levels, some of which is built into working relationships with line managers and senior management, so do explore options within your team and HR resources.

The Aspiring Manager Programme is a good starting point for anyone interested in developing into a management role. I enjoyed the programme and found the content immediately applicable. Hopefully, this foundation will keep me on the right side of someone’s management story someday. The underlining message for me is, like most things, to get better, you have to keep working at it. As Michael Jordan puts it, “Earn your leadership every day”. The Programme offers practical tools, useful references and a helpful way of framing and thinking about leadership and management responsibilities.

A big chunk of the work is self-directed learning but the group discussions and other conversations I had with colleagues around the resources really helped deepen my understanding. If you do join the programme, I would encourage taking the opportunity to start conversations and perhaps even add another dimension to your existing line management meetings.

A few of us from LTW participated in the programme, so we got together to share thoughts in this short video.

Linked image preview of PadletWe’ve added our final comments to Padlet. We especially encourage our line managers to leave glowing reviews on there — joking! All thoughts and ideas on developing leadership and management practice welcomed. Feel free to throw in some wild cards. 😁

Special thanks to my panel for their input in pulling this together. This has truly been a joint effort.


Rachael Mfoafo
Famous for colourful accessories
eLearning Support Officer, EDE

Sean Sweeney
Library cat curator
Service Co-ordinator, DLAM

Tracey Madden
Learning Technology Advisor, EDE

Liam Duffy
Legendary cocktail maker
Media Service Co-ordinator, DLAM

Craig Gilliland
The better known Rangers Manager
eLearning Support Officer, EDE