b) Technical knowledge and ability in the use of Learning Technology
Having come from a teaching background, my technical skills have had to be developed. I have always had an interest in the way that computers work and what they can do, but my enjoyment and interest come from seeing ways that the technology can assist and support learners. I would say that my interest is in ‘applied’ technology. As my skills have developed, I have realised that my lack of ‘natural’ technical ability has been an advantage in my teaching of technology skills to non-specialists. For example, at an early stage in my teaching, I recall likening ‘minimising a window’ to ‘leaving something simmering at the back of a cooker’. It always got a laugh from participants, but also enabled them to understand what the computer was doing better.
I am largely self-taught in computing, although I do make professional development a key feature in my work.
Having worked in many institutions over the last 25 years, my experience is very broad and I may know many different types of software within one category (eg VLE: Blackboard, Canvas, Brightspace, Moodle, It’s Learning). Below is a list of just some of the software that I am familiar with, but there are not many types of educational technology that I have not explored in some way in the last 25 years.
- Windows and MacOS operating systems; Android and iOS mobile systems
- Conferencing systems (Adobe Connect, Blackboard Collaborate, Big Blue Button, Microsoft Teams)
- Personal Response Systems
- Professional Social Media such as Twitter, LinkedIn, Yammer
- Mobile device applications: Familiar with a wide-range of applications (see my Specialist Topic from my CMALT portfolio)
- Microsoft Office 365
- Video and screen capture (Echo 365, Panopto, Camtasia Studio)
- Language laboratories (Sanako)
- Audio capture (Audacity, Sony Sound Forge)
In the last five years, I have also added a whole new dimension to my knowledge and understanding of educational technology, with an exploration of assistive technology. I am now able to use, teach and advise on appropriate technologies for a very wide range of disabilities and conditions. For example, I am now able to use JAWS and NVDA (used by blind learners) and Read&Write Gold (often used by dyslexic students). My two years of face-to-face experience supporting disabled students provided me with many challenges, but also introduced me to a whole new array of software and user experiences, which I had previously not been fully aware of.