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This paper aims to investigate an emerging method for delivering online learning for the purposes of staff development. This teaching method, named Bite Sized Learning (BSL), is based on the following principles: 1. Course length is short, around one or two weeks. 2. One task is delivered each day. 3. Tasks are short, around 30 minutes. The intention of BSL is to meet the commonly cited needs of work based learners – flexibility in time, place and mode of consumption – and enable more accessible and more effective staff development in higher education. To this end, BSL is underpinned by research in work based learning, just in time learning, communities of practice and human attention spans.
This study relates to a qualitative study carried out on a series of BSL courses, delivered to academic staff at Edinburgh Napier from 2012 to 2014. Staff members took part in four instances of the course and were asked for feedback on their experience. A thematic analysis process was carried out on this feedback in order to determine the effectiveness of BSL, the advantages it brings and ways in which it can be developed.
Thematic analysis showed that BSL was very well received by participants and that it carries a number of advantages over traditional one-block methods of staff development. Evidence is presented to show that BSL enables effective learning and allows academic staff to participate in development when they otherwise could not. The daily delivery format was found to increase the priority of online learning and build motivation to complete each task, while keeping the tasks short and focused reduced the mental barriers to students in beginning the work.
The analysis forms the basis for a BSL model of learning, and avenues of future development are proposed.
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