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Digital education

Welcome Gethin Rowlands to the ELTT

9 December 2014

A very warm welcome to Gethin, who started last week and joins us from Coleg Gwent. Gethin writes his first blog post about his experience, his first week, and the Learning Technology challenges here at Cardiff University.

by Gethin Môn Rowlands

This is my second week working for the ELTT team at Cardiff University, and therefore I believe introductions are in order. My name is Gethin Môn Rowlands, and I come from a quiet village called Bethesda in North Wales. I moved to the big city of Cardiff about a year and a half ago, and I love every minute.

Now that I’ve began working for Cardiff University, it’s time for a new chapter in my life and new challenges. And I’m sure, working with the ELTT team, and with Learning Technology within Cardiff University will have its challenges.

Moodle vs Blackboard

Before starting my role here as a Learning Technology Officer, I worked as the e-learning and Informal Learning Officer for Gwent Welsh for Adults located within Coleg Gwent. Here, I was responsible for the Welsh Centre’s e-learning platform, its use of new technology, social networking, and informal learning.

The platform we used was Moodle, so you can imagine the change when working with Learning Central’s Blackboard. However, even though there are differences, there are certainly many similarities. Both platforms have the same objectives, and includes many of the same tools – discussion groups, test, surveys etc. From first impressions, they both look and feel quite similar, and relatively easy to navigate. It didn’t take me that long to familiarise myself with Learning Central.

Speaking honestly, I have to admit that Blackboard has been a pleasant surprise. I find it much quicker to do things and to navigate, and the site itself looks cleaner and it’s much lighter on the eyes. I worked for months on the very old version of Moodle, waiting anxiously for an update that happened too late. Maybe my eagerness towards working with Learning Central stems from my past frustrations with Moodle, but one thing is for certain, I am excited to be working with Blackboard and looking forward to develop and implement this e-learning platform.

College of Physical Sciences and Engineering

The ELTT team consists of three officers, each representing one college. I will be the College of Physical Sciences and Engineering Representative, and I am very excited to be working with this College. I am a History grad, I have worked as a Bilingual Development Officer, a Translator, a Cataloguer for the National Library of Wales, and my previous job was to develop e-learning for a Welsh learning Centre – therefore my previous experiences have mainly been within languages and the Arts. Working with the College of Physical Sciences and Engineering is a welcome change, and I am very much looking forward to seeing how I can work alongside the staff in developing their e-learning provision.

Flip Learning and Learn Plus

One of the projects I was involved with in my previous role was something we called ‘Flip Ddysgu’, the Welsh for Flip Learning. This is the idea that students get the opportunity to watch videos prior to their “lessons”, so that less time is spent on ‘presenting’ and more time on ‘activities’. This set-up works very well in a typical classroom, the type of classroom in a secondary school or within adult community education. However, a previous blog post does concentrate on the notion of the Flipped Classroom in a university context. It does seem, especially with the University’s plan of incorporating Lecture Capture into the lectures, that using video across higher education is a very hot topic at the moment, particularly in Cardiff. I’m sure I’ll be involved with the Learn Plus (Lecture Capture) project over the coming months, and hopefully my past experiences of using and developing video for teaching purposes will prove useful when I get the opportunity to really get involved.

To conclude…

I would like to end my first ever blog post for the ELTT Blog (and in fact, my first blog post ever) by saying how excited I am to join the ELTT team, and to thank the guys for the warm welcome I have received. I am very much looking forward to the challenges ahead. And in keeping with this tone, I’ll finish with one of my favourite, and very cheesy (pun intended), quotes:

“You may see a mousetrap, but I see free cheese and a hell of a challenge!”