Early Adopters Driving Digital Literacy :Professional Development in Technology Enhanced Learning

Main Article Content

Jade Kimberley, MA SFHEA SCMALT FAUA AFSEDA Katie Suvandzhieva, MA


The University of Nottingham International College moved the delivery of its pathway programmes online from March to August 2020, and since September 2020 has offered flexible learning modes for students wishing to study either on campus or online from their home country. The creation of engaging activities for online learners, which encourage them to actively collaborate and participate has been led by a group of digitally confident and curious tutors, coined by Rogers (2003) as ‘early adopters’. Their eagerness to explore and develop new activities, and in turn share these and support their peers in using them, has led to a significant general increase in digital literacy among the team. In July 2020, these tutors volunteered to co-host a ‘TEL Talks’ CPD event where various technologies were demonstrated and discussed by past and present teaching staff. Holding an online event enabled recordings and resources to be presented on an online repository, which is available as a reference point for tutors wishing to review or explore new learning technologies.

Successes in the increased use of learning technologies in online classes have been due to creating an environment where all tutors can ask each other for help and offer advice, and providing CPD opportunities to develop their skills as digital practitioners, and to encourage and recognise tutors who are in a position to showcase their skills and inspire others.

After the shift to online teaching and learning in 2020, it is clear that in some form, it is here to stay. This ‘on-the-horizon’ piece will reflect on how our early adopters have been resourced and encouraged, the impact they have had and how to continue staff development moving forward.

Article Details

On the Horizon
Author Biographies

Jade Kimberley, MA SFHEA SCMALT FAUA AFSEDA, University of Nottingham International College

Jade Kimberley MA SFHEA SCMALT FAUA AFSEDA is an Academic Leader at the University of Nottingham International College. She leads a team of English Language and Academic Skills tutors and oversees the college CPD programme. She has led on innovations in active learning and technology enhanced learning in her current role. Email: jade.kimberley@kaplan.com Twitter: @Jade_K_HE

Katie Suvandzhieva, MA, University of Nottingham International College

Katie Suvandzhieva MA is an English Language, Academic Skills and Social Science Tutor at the University of Nottingham International College. She co-ordinates an Academic Skills module and an initiative focused on facilitating students’ digital and teamworking skills. Active learning and technology enhanced learning lie at the core of Katie’s teaching practice. Email: katie.suvandzhieva@kaplan.com


Almpanis, T. (2015). Staff development and institutional support for technology enhanced learning in UK universities. The Electronic Journal of e-Learning, 13(5), 380-389. Retrieved 22 February, 2021, from: https://core.ac.uk/download/pdf/158351265.pdf
Armstrong, E. (2019). Maximising motivators for technology-enhanced learning for further education teachers: moving beyond the early adopters in a time of austerity. Research in Learning Technology, 27.
doi: https://doi.org/10.25304/rlt.v27.2032
Bennett, L. (2014). Learning from the early adopters: developing the digital practitioner. Research in Learning Technology, 22, 21453.
doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.3402/rlt.v22.21453
Bradshaw, P., Twining, P. & Walsh, C. (2012). The Vital Program: Transforming ICT Professional Development. American Journal of Distance Education, 26(2), 74-85.
doi: https://doi.org/10.1080/08923647.2012.655553
Campbell, A. (2016). Talking point - flexible targeted online staff development that works. Journal of Interactive Media in Education, 1(3), 1-10.
doi: https://doi.org/10.5334/jime.395
Clark, D. & Taylor, P. (2021, March 3). Supporting academic staff in the move to online learning [Webinar]. Association for Learning Technology. Retrieved 23 February, 2021, from: https://www.alt.ac.uk/civicrm/event/info?id=602
Compton, M. & Almpanis, T. (2018). One size doesn’t fit all: rethinking approaches to continuing professional development in technology enhanced learning. Compass: Journal of Learning and Technology, 11(1), 95-100.
doi: https://doi.org/10.21100/compass.v11i1.708
Cox, M. (2001). 5: Faculty learning communities: change agents for transforming institutions into learning organizations. To Improve the Academy 19(1), 69-93. doi: https://doi.org/10.1002/j.2334-4822.2001.tb00525.x
Golden, J. (2016). Supporting online faculty through communities of practice: finding the faculty voice. Innovations in Teaching and Education International, 53(1), 84-93.
doi: https://doi.org/10.1080/14703297.2014.910129
Gupta, R., Seetharaman, A. & Maddulety, K. (2020). Critical success factors influencing the adoption of digitalisation for teaching and learning by business schools. Education and Information Technologies 25, 3481-3502.
doi: https://doi.org/10.1007/s10639-020-10246-9
Harissi-Dagher, M. (2021). COVID-19 and continuing professional development: an opportunity for inclusion. Canadian Journal of Ophthalmology, 56(1), 2-3. doi: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jcjo.2020.12.012
Howard, S. & Gigliotti, A. (2015). Having a go: looking at teachers’ experience of risk-taking in technology integration. Education and Information Technologies 21, 1351-1366.
doi: https://doi.org/10.1007/s10639-015-9386-4
Kisilevsky, E., Margolin, E. & Kohly, R. (2021). Access, an unintended consequence of virtual continuing medical education during COVID-19: a department's experience at the University of Toronto. Canadian Journal of Ophthalmology, 56(1), 18-19.
doi: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jcjo.2020.10.002
Latif, F. (2017). TELFest: an approach to encouraging the adoption of educational technologies. Research in Learning Technology, 25.
doi: https://doi.org/10.25304/rlt.v25.1869
Liu, Q., Geertshuis, S. & Grainger, R. (2020). Understanding academics’ adoption of learning technologies: A systematic review. Computers and Education, 151, 103857.
doi: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.compedu.2020.103857
Loughlin, C. (2017). Staff Perceptions of Technology Enhanced Learning in Higher Education. In A. Mesquita, & P. Peres (Eds.), Proceedings of the 16th European Conference on eLearning, EXCEL2017 (pp. 335-343). ACPI (Academic Conference Publishing International). Retrieved 24 February, 2021, from: https://lup.lub.lu.se/record/ef80b400-1e2b-4874-875f-ce185b45fb59
Maguire, D., Dale, L. & Pauli, M. (2020). Learning and teaching reimagined: a new dawn for higher education? Bristol: JISC. Retrieved 21 February, 2021, from: https://www.jisc.ac.uk/reports/learning-and-teaching-reimagined-a-new-dawn-for-higher-education
Peacock, S. & DePlacido, C. (2018). Supporting staff transitions into online learning: a networking approach. Journal of Perspectives in Applied Academic Practice 6(2), 67-75.
doi: https://doi.org/10.14297/jpaap.v6i2.336
Reed, P. (2014). Staff experience and attitudes towards technology-enhanced learning initiatives in one faculty of Health and Life Sciences. Research in Learning Technology, 22.
doi: https://doi.org/10.3402/rlt.v22.22770
Rogers, E. (2003). Diffusion of Innovations (5th ed.). New York: Free Press.
Sahin, I. (2006). Detailed review of Roger’s diffusion of innovations theory and educational technology-related studies based on Roger’s theory. The Turkish Online Journal of Educational Technology, 5(2), 14-23. Retrieved 23 February, 2021, from: https://www.researchgate.net/publication/284675572_Detailed_review_of_Rogers'_diffusion_of_innovations_theory_and_educational_technology-related_studies_based_on_Rogers'_theory
Sanders, J., Correia, R., Dankbaar, M., de Jong, P., Goh, P., Hege, I. & Pusic, M. (2020). Twelve tips for rapidly migrating to online learning during the COVID-19 pandemic. MedEdPublish, 9(1), 82-95.
doi: https://doi.org/10.15694/mep.2020.000082.1
Shraim, K. & Crompton, H. (2020). The use of technology to continue learning in Palestine disrupted with COVID-19. Asian Journal of Distance Education, 15(2), 1-20.
doi: https://doi.org/10.5281/zenodo.4292589
Smith, K. (2012). Lessons learnt from literature on the diffusion of innovative learning and teaching practices in higher education. Innovations in Education and Teaching International, 49(2), 173-182.
doi: https://doi.org/10.1080/14703297.2012.677599
Taylor, J., Lister, K., Judd, C. & Liogier, V. (2021, March 2). Supporting wellbeing through inclusive use of technology and inclusion in digital pedagogy [Webinar]. Jisc. Retrieved 2 March, 2021 from: https://www.jisc.ac.uk/events/supporting-wellbeing-through-inclusive-use-of-technology-and-inclusive-digital-pedagogy-02-mar-2021
White, S. (2007). Critical success factors for e-learning and institutional change. British Journal of Educational Technology, 38(5), 840-850.
doi: https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1467-8535.2007.00760.x
Zhou, X. & Milecka-Forrest, M. (2021). Two groups separated by a shared goal: how academic managers and lecturers have embraced the introduction of digital technologies in UK higher education. Research in Learning Technology, 29.
doi: https://doi.org/10.25304/rlt.v29.2446