My 106th post: The tools may change but the important things remain.

As the longest standing (and oldest) member of the Educational Enhancement team I have written a lot of posts for this blog. On checking recently, I found that this will be my 106th. I may have missed a trick by not marking my 100th but better late than never!

Thinking about what to write this time, I was reflecting on all those past posts and what has changed since the first in 2014 – and what has remained important. So here are some observations about change, constant issues and being an old(er) Learning Technologist.

Technologies are constantly changing, and learning technologies are no exception. Over time digital tools, apps, software (even the names shift) appear, change, develop and often disappear again. Sometimes they are replaced by better tools, sometimes they morph into less useful versions or our needs change so they become less relevant. However, the challenges we want them to address tend to remain. For example, my first post for what was then the TEL (Technology Enhanced Learning) blog was Using creative commons images in presentations and I revisited the topic in 2020 with Free images to use in presentations and Canvas. Finding images that staff and students have permission to use continues to be an area of interest so I expect this is something that will be covered again at some point.


Probably the biggest consideration when looking at learning technologies now is accessibility. This has always been important, but the accessibility requirements for public sector bodies which came into effect in 2018 made this a duty. Accessibility regulations led to more posts on accessibility such as Top tips for creating inclusive presentations. We ran a whole series of Accessibility Tips posts including on Digital accessibility tools and how to Check accessibility.

Canvas and Panopto

At Sussex, the biggest shift in recent years was the move from our old Moodle-based VLE (called Study Direct) to Canvas. My earlier posts were often about Study Direct but from 2018/19 the team wrote a lot of Canvas-focused posts.

The platform had changed, but the impetus to design sites in a way that makes them easy to use by students and with activities to engage them remained central so my posts addressed  topics such as: Making use of announcements, getting ready for the next academic year and Managing online activities with Canvas Sections and Groups. Canvas continues to be an important topic for the blog and my most recent post was latest was Canvas ‘hacks’ to save you time and stress.

Following the move to Canvas the university’s systems for recording lectures were replaced with Panopto, so the blog turned its attention to the new platform. As a team we put together a series of Focus on Panopto posts and I contributed Editing recordings.

Pandemic teaching

With Canvas sites in place for every taught module and Panopto being able to be used at desks as well as in teaching rooms we already had some powerful tools at our disposal when COVID arrived. Zoom was added to our arsenal and I introduced our readers to Zoom for online teaching. Not surprisingly, 2020 and early 2021 were the busiest time for the blog with about 200 views per day during that period.

Digital skills

One area that the sudden move to online teaching in 2020 highlighted is that of digital skills – for staff and students. There is often an incorrect assumption that students know how to use online tools. Other members of the EE team have, I hope, put that fallacy to bed (see Dan Axson’s Why we still need to talk about digital skills in 2023 and Helen Morley’s Digital literacy and capability in school-leavers).

I still sometimes encounter staff who lack confidence in using digital tools and who suggest that they are ‘too old’ to adapt to new learning technologies. I hope that as a Learning Technologist nearing retirement age, I can disprove that particular myth.

When I started work in the 1970s it was in an entirely paper-based office. Over the years I have worked with records on microfiche, a whole building devoted to the ‘computer’ where people manually transferred masses of paper records to punch cards, then computer terminals that allowed data to be entered directly from remote locations and latterly web-based systems. I still remember getting my first email address when I started my postgraduate research but at that point notes were still on paper – boxes of it! These days pen and paper play very little role in my life. I use digital tools on my mobile devices for domestic/personal tasks, notes and projects which builds up confidence in the ability to adapt to new things. The best way to get to grips with technological change has always been, for me, to dive in and have a go.

Keeping your eye on the prize

But enough about me and what must seem like ancient history. The message I want to leave you with is that whatever technologies may come and go it is important to keep focused on what we are trying to achieve, then looking at which tools might help us get there. We have a great team in Educational Enhancement (EE) who are ready to help, so please do have a look at the EE website or get in touch with us at and of course please keep reading the blog – you wouldn’t want to miss my 107th post!


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We are the Educational Enhancement team at the University of Sussex. We publish posts each week on using technology to support teaching and learning. Read more about us.

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