Creating a safe space for learning

Alistair McNaught
6th January 2021

This reflection was contributed as a submission for a 2 Star Badge in Connected and Effective (Leading)

Give a brief description of your work context and responsibilities, e.g. your teaching background, experience, type of organisation (e.g. FE college, ACL), subject/curriculum you teach/lead, your learners (skills level, any particular inclusion needs, age range of group, size of group)

Independent trainer supporting a wide range of teachers in teaching more inclusively with technology. Participants are in the age range 25 to 65 and can be drawn from a different sectors including adult community learning, further and higher education.

How did you use the learning from this/these module(s) (briefly describe the learning context, with a focus on Connected and Effective)

From a personal perspective, ensuring a home office works for up to 10 hours a day has been a continuing challenge that requires regular revisiting and tweaking. I have recently changed from a standing office set up (arguably good for posture) where I was stood staring at a screen and blank wall behind it. I moved to a desk under a roof light which has allowed my peripheral vision to be filled... more

How did you adapt/modify activities and/or resources for your context providing alternative approaches with specific reference to Connected and Effective practices?

There are 3 key ways in which I have modified activities and resources in order to benefit online learners and lower their stress levels.
The first is to ensure people have the baselevel skills they will require for the training. All my training involves interactivity but some learners struggle to move between different open windows, for example to move from my presentation to a related... more

Provide any examples of any new approaches tested out.

I have introduced five-minute "well-being" breaks into all longer sessions where I actively encourage participants to do something physical away from the computer that is "good for their well-being". When we start back after the break, I get them to report in the text chat what they were doing. This is an excellent way of humanising sessions.

What worked well, or did not work so well? How would you approach the activity/use the resource differently next time?

All of the above have helped my own well-being by allowing the pace of the session to be a little slower and by reducing the need for troubleshooting and firefighting whilst trying to deliver content. I also make sure that my 5 minute well-being break is spent in an appropriate way. I've also taken to using Automated Speech Recognition in training sessions to help people who benefit from... more

How did the learning from the module(s) impact on the quality of the learning experience?

The feedback from participants has been very good. The well-being breaks usually produce a welcome moment of lightness and fun in the middle of sessions that otherwise demand quite a lot of concentration. Learners who fail to do the flipped task may still struggle but that's an occupational hazard with short courses and flipped learning! Several participants have positively fed back on the... more

How have you initiated strategic change/quality improvement in relation to Connected and Effective, eg at a peer, department, organisational, regional, national level)?

I work nationally with a number of learning providers and now when discussing training needs I always clarify that the session will include a short break where participants are expected to move away from their device (ie not catch up with emails). I also ensure that presentations are available live during the training so people can - if necessary - go back to something if they need to look at... more

What will be your next step in bringing about further change?

I'm working with Jisc and a Digital Accessibility Working Group to provide guidance on good practices.

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