In July, I started at the University of Southampton in the role of Learning Designer. I mentioned to friends and family that I was joining the University of Southampton. Curiously, they would respond with “Oh, that will be tough” or “Get ready for the big leagues”. I think what they failed to mention is that in the so-called “Big leagues” is the big community! Within the first week, I had met with my team members, all of who were very welcoming. I had also met the project that I would be facilitating, launching Blackboard’s Accessibility tool, Ally. From previous employments, I have worked on projects facilitating the implementation and distribution of software, services and hardware. So, I thought to myself “Bring it on!”.
So it begins…
In my first weeks, I had accumulated five student interns who were working to remediate learning content. I was nervous about managing the interns as previously I had only managed individuals, which was challenging enough! Through the recommendation of my manager, I attended a personal leadership workshop which changed my perspective on leadership and management. Today, I view leadership as a mechanism for steering change and motivating others to fuel this. This became prominent in the producing phase of the internship. All hands were on deck, so to speak, to support our media projects alongside the remediation itself.
By the end of the internship, the interns had improved the accessibility of content that could potentially reach 6000 students! I am extremely proud of the result of this internship. In the past, completed work was often reactionary so measuring impact was viewed through a mitigatory scope. This project provided the opportunity to celebrate success and share our experience of this externally at an AbilityNet Webinar.
What’s happened since?
Since the internship, I have continued to expand my knowledge. I am an avid user of the Microsoft Education Centre and aim to complete courses here weekly. I have learned a great deal already and feel as if I have begun to develop a well-rounded knowledge of learning design. Two great resources I would recommend is the Adventures in Learning Design available on Spotify, which covers topics from inclusive design to storyboarding. I must also recommend Design for Learning, Principles, Processes &, Praxis. It is available online, although my paper version brimming with notes and scribbles. Which has been so useful when writing my draft CMALT portfolio!
Working alongside highly knowledgeable peers was, to be honest, intimidating. I would often have to remind myself that I am at the start of a career in this field and that I have time to grow. Now, 6 months into this role I no longer find this notion intimidating. Rather selfishly, I view the team as an ever-flowing fountain of knowledge that runs parallel to my desk! This has inspired me to seek opportunities to reciprocate. Therefore recently, I joined a working group for accessible math notation. Interacting with peers from a range of institutions has already led to some interesting innovations and observations.
Overall, the first 6 months as a learning designer has been tough, with a resounding sense of accomplishment. I do feel that the training wheels are off, and with the support of my peers and continuing to develop I am feeling more confident in this role. Looking towards the future, I am eager to continue to find new workflows that raise the accessibility of STEM notation and develop my understanding of instructional design. I am beginning to view myself as a learning designer and still thinking to myself “Bring it on!”