Student Ambassadors for Learning Technology

E-Learning Services Manager Steve Hoole from Bucks New University gave a fascinating presentation at London’s BUG about how the university employ 2nd year students as Learning Technology Ambassadors (LTAs) to help bridge the gap in digital literacy and enhance the LMS for improved student learning. Employed on a casual basis, earning £8 per hour, (same as student ambassadors) three 2nd year students (during term-time) work 10 hours per week to help support and advocate the use of learning technology among staff and students at Bucks.

So intrigued (and impressed) about this practice, I’ve decided to share a few note-worthy tips…

Advertising the posts…

With help from Bucks Careers Service, calls for interest were sent via a mailshot advertising the positions, these stated applicants would need to have an avid interest in digital technologies along with the people skills to transfer such knowledge and expertise to people that might be less adapt (or familiar) with digital literacy.

Making a selection…

Selection was through interview and presentation. Student applicants were asked to present 2 of their favourite technologies and give reasons why they had made this selection. The interview process teased out the best of the bunch and 3 appointments were made.

Training up the troops…

Time was allocated to induct the LTAs with the Blackboard course environment and each was given access to a course training area with instructor permissions. This allowed the LTAs time and opportunity to explore the full range of tools and become familiar and confident with each. Apart from this LTA training area, they only had access to their own course areas in Blackboard as regular students. They  also used Lynda.com as a support resource to learn new software that might be required in their new job. The LTAs were also provided with a uniform (Bucks e-learning T-shirt or Sweatshirt) so people would easily identify them from the general mill of students.

Typical LTA activities…

  • Work with staff on a one-to-one basis showing them how to make resources available in the LMS
  • Working with academic staff to transform teaching material into more engaging and interactive learning resources with software such as Captivate.
  • Explaining to students/staff which software to use for researching, bookmarking and social/professional networking.
  • Giving practical demonstrations on file compression, Photoshop techniques etc.
  • Helping to man the virtual library’s 24hr instant messenger
  • Creating campaigns to promote the use of certain technologies
  • Creating campaigns to for different service areas
  • Working closely with the e-Leaning Team and Student Union to address areas of identified need in learning technology
  • Help to flag up problems students often encounter that would normally go unnoticed

Successes…

The digital literacy gap has improved and staff/students feel more supported. I also see this initiative as helping to close the divide that sometimes happens between students and institutional systems – as the LTAs are able to bring a new dimension to the service whereby students feel they have more ownership and control of how learning happens and is delivered.

Lessons Learnt…

Bucks intends to repeat the initiative in 14/15 and providing funding can be found, I can see this being a great success at UCA if implemented – perhaps having a LTA at each campus. Certainly, the LTAs are the ideal candidates to help run focus groups and identify with those individuals that ‘have something worthwhile to say about what LMS the university uses and how’.

Well done Bucks!

Learning Technology Ambassador Action Sheet

Learning Technology Ambassador Action Sheet – Used to target specific areas of support and record action taken

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