18 months on – My experience as an early career Learning Technologist

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Robyn Weeks
Learning Technologist in HAS

What a year to become a Learning Technologist. I started back in August 2019, although I’ve worked at UWE since 2013. When I tell others I’m a Learning Technologist, most people have never heard of the role, so they may ask what I do day to day. I usually answer that I support teaching staff and students in the development and deployment of different technologies, such as software, equipment and apps. Put simply, that’s what I do. Yet this doesn’t describe the breadth of skills that I’ve developed over the past 18 months. Neither does it show how dynamic the role can be.

My background is varied; a degree in Media Writing, my early career spent as Tutor in adult education, then another 5 years working for the Disability Services at UWE. Having a background in these areas certainly helps, but it’s by no means the only route in to Learning Technology. My colleagues have equally varied backgrounds, ranging from Library Services to Biosciences, as well as audio visual and I.T. experience. You’d be surprised how diverse us Learning Technologists can be.

Whatever our backgrounds, there are some attributes you’ll find in most Learning Technologists. In my first 18 months I have discovered that:

Curiosity is key. You need to ask a lot of questions when exploring new technologies or working on projects. How does this work? Why does is work that way? Is this accessible? What’s the best outcome? And most importantly, does this technology support learning?  

Keep it simple, make it clear. A Learning Technologist helps to make technology easy to use and understand for both teaching staff and students. Technology can be overwhelming for a lot of people, so no bamboozling jargon or complicated gimmicky features please. Unless, of course, someone is interested in the jargon or feature. In which case, proceed.

Creativity is not only for artists. Creativity is not a word that springs to mind when you think of a ‘technologist’ but be ready to develop these skills in the role. In the space of a year I produced and edited screencasts, did voiceovers, participated in podcasts, wrote articles and created webpages. At the moment I’m even exploring some animation software to use in future learning resources.

My first 18 months as Learning Technologist has provided me with some unexpected insights experience, and I have found the role more rewarding and diverse than I imagined. There is still so much to discover, as well as new skills to develop. However, if there is one thing I now understand about the role, is that there is always something new to learn.

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