A particular theme of my work is the development of better theoretical approaches to academic practice in higher education. The purpose of this is to improve academic practice and ultimately the student experience of learning. My particular interest is how technologies can be pedagogically harnessed to support learning and teaching. I am also interested in improving the nexus between research and practice and in using research findings to underpin education and professional development programmes that support learning and teaching.
I am working with Lund University in Sweden in the development of scholarly practices to using technology in learning and teaching. This adopts a contextualised approach to supporting academics in developing their expertise. Academics are encouraged to engage in a project and to publish the evaluation of their use of technology within their teaching practice and to reflect upon how this supports the development of student learning.
My main area of responsibly is supporting the professional development needs of those involved in learning and teaching at the Open University. This is a research-driven, evidenced-based approach that utilised both institutional research findings and innovative theories and practices from the wider HE context. The approach underpins individual personal development and the university’s commitment to improving the quality of the student experience. In particular my work focuses on helping colleagues to consider how new technologies can be pedagogically employed effectively to enhance the student experience. This is to encourage educational uses of technology that link with assessment in order to constructively align course outcomes with course intentions.
I have been an educational consultant on numerous online learning courses in the OU and I have contributed to the development of innovative uses of technology in the support of student-centred learning. This includes the consultation, development, and evaluation of online learning environments, synchronous and asynchronous communication, and electronic assessment and assignment handling. I have also been a consultant for other universities advising on how effective e-learning could be realized in their courses. Additionally I provide external workshops on the use of technology in education for external institutions.
My research area is student learning and teaching practice in higher education and the contextual influences of technology in this endeavour. I have developed a model that considers the factors that contribute to improving student learning and how variations in those factors impinge on outcomes. This adopts a holistic view to investigating improvements in student learning. It considers the students: their conceptions and approaches to learning, their personological and contextual factors; the teachers; their conceptions and approaches to teaching, their personological and contextual factors; and the institution: the environment, policies and practices.
In developing a synergistic approach to my work I use my research and teaching knowledge to promote the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning and its role in supporting and improving student learning. I have been part of the Carnegie Association for the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning group working on institutional Culture: Philosophy, Policy and Infrastructure. This has several collaborative projects between three USA universities and two UK universities.
I am leading on a project investigating the cultural and contextual influences on the interpretation and enactment of the scholarship of teaching and learning. This uses case studies from four institutions: two from USA institutions and two from UK institutions. These represent institutional perspectives.
I am also leading on a qualitative study that investigates the conceptions that individual academics hold on the interpretation and enactment of SoTL. The data collection consists of 10 interviews at the Open University, UK, and 10 interviews at Buffalo State University, NY, USA. These conceptions represent individual views.
My extensive work is in evaluating the student experience of learning in higher education and using this to promote the synergy between research and practice. I am interested in investigating how variations in the context, particularly in relation to technology, relate to students’ perceptions of their educational experience and whether this impinges on their perceptions of the quality of their experience. I have conducted many evaluations of online learning and have specialized in understanding whether the online context mediates students' perceptions. I have been a pioneer in the research and development of online learning and support.
last updated 09-Mar-2012