Reflections on an Erasmus visit to Sussex TEL

Claire Fennell

Claire Fennell, Office of Vice-President for Teaching & Learning, UCC. Photo by Tomas Tyner, UCC.

My name is Claire Fennell and I am a Senior Instructional Designer from University College Cork (UCC) in Ireland. I recently visited the TEL Sussex team as part of the ERASMUS + programme, an EU funded programme allowing staff in Higher Education to visit another HE institution in the EU so as to allow the teams to share knowledge, practices and learn from each other.  The TEL team have asked me to give a reflection on my visit for this blogpost.

Before I start, I should explain that I chose to visit the University of Sussex because I had been following both the TEL Sussex blog and twitter feed and I could see that TEL Sussex were very active in promoting various TEL opportunities/workshops to their staff and this was an area I was keen to learn more about.

Now that I have returned to Ireland, I find myself realising that I covered a lot more than the promotion of TEL to staff. In the few short days I was in Falmer I was exposed to a variety of areas including:

  • Immersive technologies: one of my favourite initiatives was the “Go Bag” initiative, where the TEL Sussex team had equipped gear bags with tools which would allow for the creation of virtual reality content. What I liked about the initiative was that it encouraged both staff and students to be creators of content and to explore possibilities. It seemed like an excellent way to allow people to experience and learn about these emerging technologies.

Go Bag

  • Podcasting: TEL Sussex appear to have had good success with podcasting (see the Teaching with Tech Podcast), this is not something we have focussed on much in UCC and so recording an interview and seeing how the podcast was put together was a very useful learning experience for me and now that I have had this exposure I can explore the possibility of using it in UCC. Here is the podcast that features my conversation with Tab Betts on ‘Blending Classroom Teaching with Online Learning in your VLE’.
  • The Active Learning Network seemed like a great example of collaboration and of promoting best practices both across the university and further afield and I think it is something that I and others from UCC would be keen to follow.
  • The transition to Canvas: It’s not very often that any university changes VLE and so it was a real treat for me to see how such a big transition is implemented. It was also very interesting to me to see a VLE that was different to our own and to learn about the functionalities and possibilities it allows.

There is no doubt that I learned a considerable amount about a variety of TEL areas but I think the lesson that stood with me the most was the importance of taking a step back from time to time. Going to Sussex meant I took the time to look at TEL away from my own role in Ireland. It was extremely refreshing to be able to take this step back and just explore new areas of TEL and as a result of the experience I have come back to Ireland feeling refreshed and excited about the possibilities that TEL offers.

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