Along with my colleague Nina Brooke I was really delighted to have the opportunity to work with a student this summer through the Reading Internship Scheme, funded by the Digitally Ready project. Simon Hyslop joined us for five weeks with the main task of helping us to establish new Blackboard content to support our new APP (Academic Practice Programme). Our new programme will be delivered in intensive blocks rather than weekly workshops and so we’ll be relying on Blackboard to a greater extent than before to help us support participants in between those intensive blocks. We also hope that our use of Blackboard can model good practice and help to showcase options to new lecturers on the APP who may not have experience of using VLEs to support their teaching.
Having Simon as part of the team, who was able to dedicate time to try out ideas and build content, was invaluable, especially now that Blackboard has become more complex than ever, with all of the additional Campus Pack options that are now available. Because we wanted to make the most of the time Simon was with us, it made us carve out precious time for brainstorming, planning and experimentation, which otherwise might not have happened.
Having approached the internship with some uncertainty, we enjoyed the experience of working with a student and feel we have benefitted greatly. By the end of Simon’s placement we had a robust structure within Blackboard, a new resources area and we’d resolved some tricky assessment issues within Blackboard. Thanks to Simon, we’ve also learned to produce our own videos using the Camtasia licences which were also funded by the Digitally Ready project.
Hopefully, Simon has benefitted too. He fitted in well and very quickly became part of our team in a busy open plan office, being able to work collaboratively and be very flexible in the middle of some upheaval – his internship happened in the middle of a major office move as our centre merged with two others. He brought with him some very good technical skills but developed some new ones and quickly got his head around new software. Perhaps most importantly, he had the opportunity to apply all of these skills in practice in a particular context.