Student Stories

Student Story: Mary Anne Culhane

20 September

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Student Story: Mary Anne Culhane

What is your academic and professional background?

I have a strong academic background.  I am qualified as a Data Protection Officer (CDPO); I hold an MSc in Computer Science – Technology and Learning (DUB); BA (NUI); JEB Teachers Diploma, ECDL; Certificate in Computer Applications, Diploma in Business, Certificates in French and most recently achieved a Distinction in the Professional Diploma in Digital Learning.

I work as an Education Technologist in the Advance Centre in UCD.  I previously worked in Information Governance and as an ICT Trainer for an Irish hospital.  Prior to that I worked in third level and also worked as a trainer for SOLAS.  

My role in the Advance Centre in UCD involves providing pedagogic and technical advice, support and training on the use of educational technology to academic staff. I provide academic staff with teaching, learning and assessment solutions using appropriate educational technologies to meet pedagogical requirements while supporting the work plan of the Advance Centre.

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What does The Advance Centre specialise in?

The Advance Centre is a partnership between UCD, ATU Sligo & TU Dublin. The Centre is financially supported by the HEA under the HCI Pillar 3. The Advance Centre brings together academic experts and industry leaders from across the high-tech sector with the common goal of delivering a portfolio of modules and courses addressing Irish industry’s future skills needs in the digital arena.

What do you think has been the biggest impact within The Advance Centre and UCD’s Education Technologist Approach?

In UCD the phrase Technology Enhanced Learning (TEL) is used as a comprehensive term that supports a range of learning delivery modes such as blended, web-enhanced, fully online and face to face learning. The Professional Diploma gives good guidelines around how to work with Subject Matter Experts within industry standards.  This aligns with the UCD Ed Tech approach to provide TEL consultations which offers faculty a time to consider pedagogical and practice aspects associated with expanding the use of technologies to enhance learning, teaching and assessment practices.  Ed Tech TEL consultations offer an opportunity for faculty to discuss their assessment and teaching needs and challenges while seeking to provide advice plus support to identify appropriate TEL solutions. Some themes covered during Ed Tech TEL consultations include Programme Design/Module Enhancement which includes effective use of technology and Technology Enhanced Assessment and Feedback.  This approach is aligned to the UCD Strategy for Education and Student Success 2020-2024 to embed technology enhanced learning in ways that are educationally appropriate, programme-focused, accessible, innovative and impactful. 

What areas of your career do you feel improved from taking the course? And why do you think they improved?

The practical areas within my practice have improved.  I utilise the following to create engaging learning experiences namely learning theories; taxonomies, learning outcomes; design principles; UDL and visual design. As part of the professional diploma I learnt that designing learning experience around learning style and concepts creates a more meaningful experience for the learner and appeals to their learning style.  Keeping learning centred by using learning theories, visual guidelines and design principles while applying learning theories helps structure the course.  

UCD utilise ADDIE (Analysis, Design, Development, Implementation, and Evaluation) as the digital learning model.  ADDIE is a cyclical process with ongoing evaluation.  There are many benefits to using ADDIE namely it delivers a clear cyclical process for subject matter experts.  Using ADDIE helps to build on learning needs and assists in outlining roles and responsibilities.  ADDIE is liner and easy to follow.  There is a strong focus on ADDIE within the professional diploma.

As an Education Technologist it is important to be aware of design trends which are constantly emerging.  Many trends are having an impact on learning design such as personalised and social learning, micro-learning, gamification.  Technology trends are also changing such as AR & VR, mobile learning, learning analytics.  As an Education Technologist it is important to be able to evaluate data, see trends and be aware of the Hype Cycle (Gartner, 2010) to make informed decisions.  The professional diploma consistently considers trends within the course.

What were you hoping to bring to your current position with a diploma in Digital Learning?

I was hoping to learn, adopt and implement pedagogically sound and industry standard UX and LX design principles and methodologies. As an example within the professional diploma I was introduced to the importance of the learner persona which I used for an assessment.  For one of the assignments, I created a multimedia learning resource with a map out of a micro learning design from cradle to grave.  I engaged fully in the process of scoping document, wire frame, screen plan, story board and finally reflection. I engaged with Mayers Principles in the protype design using Rise 360 which lends itself well to Signalling Principle where specific lessons and headings can help learning be broken up into elements to be worked through.  I used the Spatial Contiguity Principle as well as the Segmenting Principle where students learn better with multimedia.  I also used Gagne Nine Levels of Learning throughout the micro design such as Hook; Expectancy; Retrieval; Stimulus; Guidance; Elicit Performance; Feedback; Retrieval; Retention and Transfer.

If a colleague was on the fence about signing up for the course, what would you tell them?

From attending the online open day and learning of the DLI from management the course stood out as a good place for professional development.  The Professional Diploma is a practical course which helps to build skills in digital learning. I would recommend the course as it is a certified practical and pedagogically sound programme.