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What’s good for the goose is good for the gander: how and why we introduced Higher Education learning and teaching practices into staff technology training

Through a series of case studies, we will examine the transformation of technology training at The University of Adelaide from a teacher-centric to a learner-centric approach. The intention is to inspire the audience to consider changing their own practice, and to give them the practical advice they need to do it, as well as helping them avoid potential pitfalls. While we will focus on the training of technology to university staff, we will emphasise that these methods can be used for any staff training, including on the job training.

Abstract

Universities teach content. Trainers teach skills. Universities (primarily) have an adolescent and young adult cohort. Trainers teach adult professionals. How could we possibly share practices?

As well as including some sweeping generalisations, the statements above are based on a false dichotomy. What the research into learning theory tells us is that, regardless of the age or outcome of the group doing the learning, a core set of learner-centred approaches can be used successfully in both contexts. Teaching and learning in higher education is changing in response to this research, and in response to the needs of 21st century students learning in a technology-rich world. So, knowing what works, why wouldn’t a higher education institution offer similarly effective learning experiences to their staff?

Technology training has long been dominated by instructor-led practices. At the University of Adelaide, this too was the case. Breaking away from this model requires a significant shift in thinking as well as a concerted effort to change an organisational culture wherein an instructor-led training experience is accepted as the norm. For the Technology Training Team, the opportunity to effect such change presented itself through the University’s adoption of the Beacon of Enlightenment. This strategic plan outlines the University’s commitment to the small-group discovery experience and student-centred teaching and learning approaches.

It is against this backdrop of wider institutional change that our team has transformed our training practices.  When designing and delivering technology training to professional staff, researchers, and academics, we now draw on Backward Design and incorporate Scenario Based Learning, Flipped and Blended Learning, and elements of Small Group Discovery Learning. Where once the focus of our training was to enable users’ mastery of discrete tasks, instead we’re now helping to create an autonomous, digitally-capable workforce.

In this presentation, we’ll present a series of case studies outlining what we changed, how we changed, why we changed, and the impact that change has had on ourselves, our end users and the University.  And, acknowledging that the path to change is rarely smooth and easily navigable, we’ll share a number of lessons learned along the way. We’ll also share with you the ‘Ten Things You Can Do Tomorrow’ if you are ready to begin the transformation of your staff training, whether that training is in in technology, policy, hard and soft skills, and more.