From GIST to Enhancing Academic Skills Online

Antonia Lewis reports on a TaLIC Teaching & Learning Fellowship Award project, commissioned during spring, 2017.

staff photoThis project originally stemmed from the need to update an online library and academic skills tutorial situated on learn.gold – GIST (Goldsmiths Information Skills Tutorial).  GIST, also realised with funding from TaLIC in 2012, was designed as a collaborative project between Library staff and the former CELAW.  It followed observations that information and academic skills resources needed to be more clearly sign-posted as a ‘one-stop shop’.  GIST proved popular, but its content and appearance had become out of date.  Many of the resources it listed had been superseded, particularly as the Library had undergone a process to update its online catalogue.  Student feedback from a focus group run in January also confirmed that a new approach would be worthwhile.  The old, existing GIST resource was felt to be ‘too detailed’ and felt ‘overwhelming’.  Feedback suggested that more visual elements were needed and clearer, more obvious chapter headings, such as “How to write an essay”, might work more effectively.

This time, it made sense to work collaboratively with members of the team who deliver the Enhancing Academic Skills (EAS) workshops (www.gold.ac.uk/eas) – most of whom are now members of the new Academic Skills Centre.  It was proposed that the GIST structure could be unpicked and rebuilt as an academic skills resource, modelled on the portfolio of sessions delivered as part of EAS.  With these changes, the materials might better support and reinforce face-to-face teaching that was taking place at the same time.

There were several challenges in getting started.  The project timeline coincided with departmental restructures and some senior staff moving on or leaving.  The creation of the Academic Skills Centre had just been announced.  Working collaboratively across departments when staff have different priorities and management responsibilities also took a while to negotiate.  However with some persistence, a solid team emerged and we pressed forward with the project plan.

Progress was slow, but by working steadily and consistently over the summer, a resource began to take shape.  At times, there were some technical challenges.  Many of the applications we used to create content with had to be self-taught and a process of trial and error was often used to get the sound and visuals up to standard.  The practicalities of finding time, despite the extra funding, created additional pressure.

By the end of September, the majority of the content was complete and the  Enhancing Academic Skills Online (http://libguides.gold.ac.uk/eas) resource was launched, just after Welcome Week in September.  A decision was also made to retain some content on the VLE, but the main resource sits on the platform – Libguides – a simple and widely used content management system designed for Libraries.

Enhancing Academic Skills Online includes chapters on – ‘Making the Most of Lectures and Seminars’ – ‘Researching, Using the Library and Referencing’ (with subsections such as ‘Using Library Search’, ‘Advanced Search Techniques’ and Zotero). Each section contains tutorials, video demos and interactive elements.

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Enhancing Academic Skills Online is still seen as a work in progress.  The next stage will  be to test the resource and gather feedback on its use, to finalise developments and to refine the roll-out strategy.  Another student focus group is planned for the middle of January 2018 and the resulting feedback will be rolled into the next iteration.  Let us know what you think.

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For more information or to feedback your views, please contact: Antonia Lewis (antonia.lewis@gold.ac.uk)

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Update on the development of the key situations in social work research

adi_staempfiAdi Staempfli (Lecturer in Social Work) updates us on the progress made in his project supported by TaLIC’s Fellowship (now Awards) scheme in 2017.

In my research I am developing the Key Situation reflective learning model for English social work education and continuous professional development.  It is a situation-based pedagogical approach (Ghisla, Boldrini and Bausch, 2014) that organises learning and artefacts around typical recurring professional situations (Tov, Kunz and Staempfli, 2016).  The concept of ‘situation’ is thus a tool for capturing and describing practice that allows reflexive learning and knowledge management that is rooted in practice.  To adopt the model for English social work I have started a participatory research process with experienced social workers to describe English social work key situations.

Funding, obtained through Goldsmiths’ Teaching and Learning Fellowship, enabled me to offer participants vouchers for their participation in a one-day research workshop.  I have successfully recruited 13 participants who took part in one of two workshops.  The social workers represented both adult, children and families and independent social work fields and came from far and wide, from both urban and rural areas of England.  I was humbled by the willingness of these practitioners to give up at least a day of their time to participate.

The participants identified over 180 tasks, processes and practice situations that were visualised, discussed, analysed and clustered into 16 areas of responsibilities.

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Participants started to name key situations, such as ‘Having an initial conversation’; ‘Gather information to plan next steps’; ‘Dealing with a crisis situation’ and ‘Having a first meeting’ and around 40 draft situations have been named.

Following these workshops, I will review the situations and analyse whether any important fields or practice areas have been left out.  After this, participants will be invited to join a Wiki page on the key situation platform to further develop the key situations.  In a last round I am planning to invite others to join the online discussion and to review the whole title list as part of an external before opening the new Key Situations in English Social Work platform to the profession.

If you are interested in contributing to the review and validation of key situations, please contact me by email: adi.staempfli@keysituations.net.

Adi Staempfli, Lecturer in Social Work, Programme Convener MA in Advanced Social Work (Practice Education) and Co-president of the Association Network Key Situations in Social Work

 

Selected publications

Ghisla, Gianni; Bausch Elena and Boldrini, Luca (2014) Bausch SiD –Situation-based Didactics. A guide for teachers in vocational training. Lugano and Zollikofen: Swiss Federal Institute for Vocational Education and Training SFIVET.

Staempfli, Adi; Tov, Eva; Kunz, Regula, Tschopp, Dominik & Eugster-Stamm, Stefan (2016). Improving professionalism through reflection and discourse in communities of practice: The key situations in social work model and project. Journal of Practice Teaching and Learning, 14(2), 59-79.

Staempfli, Adi; Kunz, Regula & Tov, Eva (2012). Creating a bridge between theory and practice: working with key situations. European Journal of Social Education, 22/23, 60-78

Tov, E., Kunz, R., & Stämpfli, A. (2016). Schlüsselsituationen der Sozialen Arbeit. Professionalität durch Wissen, Reflexion und Diskurs in Communities of Practice. 2. Auflage