Highly Commended in the 2017 Learning Technologist of the Year Team Award

9 November 2017

Being shortlisted for, and achieving a Highly Commended in, the 2017 Learning Technologist of the Year Team Award has been great for us, and we see more opportunities ahead to improve the way we learn through technology-enhanced learning.


The award is run by the UK’s Association for Learning Technology (ALT), whose members represent all UK Universities and many HE Providers and FE colleges. Read about the winners on the ALT website.

Colleagues here have been very complimentary about the shortlisting. We’re asking many of them to make quite significant changes – for example, around online marking and Turnitin, and the award we hope has raised our credibility here even more.

More generally, I believe there is more that the NHS and the ALT can learn from each other. The NHS and further and higher education have been intertwined since the beginning of the health service: clinicians often have a foot in both sectors; collaboration is strong (the forthcoming NHS Digital Academy involving Harvard, Edinburgh, Imperial and others  being a good example); and the NHS is quick to exploit new technologies.

There is a high expectation of TEL transforming training in the NHS. The world-class eLearning for Healthcare platform has trained hundreds of thousands of NHS staff. Health Education England’s TEL Hub, launched in 2013, is making progress in areas such as digital literacies. HEE is a member of FutureLearn where there is an increasing number of healthcare MOOCs; and the development and use of apps for health care on the ward are well embedded.

There are two areas of technology-enhanced learning where we could bring across the experience and knowledge of ALT members:

  1. the application of learning design and the benefits of social learning to augment the predominantly slide based (instructional design) approaches used in most NHS elearning courses.
  2. a greater realisation of the benefits of open educational resource repositories, Creative Commons and the sharing of learning materials.

On the first point, I strongly believe we learn best online when we learn with others – preferably under the guidance of an experienced facilitator. Peer-based methods offer increased motivation for learners and, if the research literature in this field is correct, deeper understanding of key concepts as well as the opportunity for co-creation of new knowledge. This is, after all, how we train our students in the Clinic.

On the second, I would like to embed at the Trust a greater understanding of how we use the fantastic resources available to us in a way that’s in keeping with a public sector organisation. And, of course, to add our own resources for others to use. This can be done in a way that doesn’t undercut the financial imperatives we work under. If you’re interested in this, a good place to start is the Creative Commons search page.

I wrote the submission to the award at the eleventh hour thinking it would be great if the team was acknowledged for the hard work that they have all done.

The interview panel were great and very informal, which put Horatio Monge, Louie Oestreicher and Jas Dahele at ease. Those that know me will know that talking endlessly about TEL has never been a problem! But it was a new experience for these three young learning technologists, and I was very proud of how they engaged with the panel in the interview.

ALT is very important to us – it is our community of practice. We’re proud to be finalists alongside some incredible teams. For me, it’s a bit like the Olympics. You might not get a medal but saying you were an Olympic Finalist is still pretty cool.

Having said that, and with the arrival of our new TEL team member Amrik Perera, we will be punting for the gold medal in a couple of years!

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Simon Kear

By Simon Kear,
Head of Technology Enhanced Learning


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