Designing the ePioneers programme.

Mike Sharples:
Well the idea behind the ePioneers programme, were that there were people who had particular needs and interests in teaching and learning, not necessarily at that point teaching and learning with technology, but they had particular opportunities, or issues to solve about how they could teach more effectively, how they could support learning, how they could deal with diverse types of student. And then, the aim was to identify those people and to explore how and whether, in what ways technology could support them.

Rather than impose from the top-down that you have to use this technology in your teaching, we wanted to draw on the enthusiasms, the interests of people that we knew were starting to work with technologies, to identify them and then support them.

How did you become aware of ePioneers and get involved in it?

Helen Frost:
They quite simply sent round an email to everybody within the school, roughly outlining what they were trying to achieve. It was something quick. There was some money to outsource expertise if required. And it was a just a rapid response thing, so I went along to the initial talk, to learn a bit more and see if I was still interested.

How did you first find out about it?

Richard Pemberton:
I don’t know. I guess it must have been an email. Everything is by email.

Jane Evison:
An email. It’s always an email, isn’t it.

I mean, there were posters around, but I think it was via email.

And I think we just started thinking about, you know, what, sort of - what would we like to do, related to our teaching? And so we came up with these two different ideas, and I think we were lucky that they were both approved.

Elaine Arici:
We invited them to come up with the ideas, through a process of posters, and we invited them to a meeting, and they all talked about the ideas that they had. We looked at all those ideas, and we sent them away to look at them in more detail, and they came up with a two year plan of what they wanted to do from - we gave them some prompts.

Gordon Joyes:
There wasn’t an enormous amount of money going to go alongside it, just maybe a little bit to maybe buy some sandwiches for a focus group, you know, to support maybe a conference attendance. You know, so there was some money to be drawn on, but that wasn’t going to be the motivator.

We didn’t want to turn anybody away, so we thought of ways of grouping projects and ideas together, and once we’d done that, we decided on Mentors who could best support them, and we then had a formal launch of the projects, where we - all the project managers and mentors came together for another lunchtime launch.

When we launched it properly, talked about what we wanted to get or wanted them to get out of the project, and off they went with it.

It has to have senior management buy-in, so it has to be part of something that needs to happen within the school, otherwise you’re going to get - you’re not going to get whole, cross-School support. And also, that I do think there has to be a little bit of notion of funding or something that goes alongside that. So that’s about use of resources. And also legitimising people going through this staff development process, and that appearing within the activity review, and so on.

So I think it’s important that it has buy-in by senior management within the school, but equally, where the ideas come from, respect the professional practice of the individuals. It’s not imposed. So dealing with a pedagogy and dealing with a change, is about the user’s needs, you know, and the user’s needs are about the learners and also the academics and the support staff who are trying to help improve that learning experience.

In conversation with: Elaine Arici, Jane Evison, Helen Frost, Gordon Joyes, Richard Pemberton, Mike Sharples (School of Education).

Produced: June 2006
Duration: 4 minutes : 24 seconds

Videos produced in collaboration with the University's Promoting Enhanced Student Learning (PESL) initiative.

Relevant documents

Dr Rachel Scudamore

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