Student Story: Cheryl Clarke – E-Learning Assistant at Robert Gordon University
Can you tell us about yourself and your current role?
I work as an e-learning assistant at Robert Gordon University in Aberdeen. It did start very much as a secondment in a support role for an e-learning advisor that we had in the school. I was working in an admin role and it just gradually became the thing I was doing most of the time.
With COVID-19 and us going into lockdown, the role just grew arms and legs and it became clear that really we needed to dedicate a bit more time to developing e-learning resources and making the student experience better because we had no way of knowing how long this was going to be for.
I realized that I didn’t really have any formal training to back up what I was doing. I was looking at some courses that would give me that formal training, and give me the ability to structure training courses in a more cohesive way. The DLI course seemed to fit the bill, so I decided to sign up for it.
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How did working with DLI complement the job role transition in terms of being the administrative assistant to where you are now?
It helped an awful lot because, as I said, I had no formal training. It showed me how to develop a course from start to finish, what stages you needed to go through, and what you needed to consider, and provided a framework for if were developing new material, that we could use to make it better.
It was like somebody could almost hold your hand and say, ‘if you do this, you will pretty much have a decent course that people will understand and be able to work with’. That was the big thing for me, going from having really none of that background at all to having something in place.
Also, your coursemates are working in corporate environments or some in similar environments to mine, so working with people who have different degrees of experience was useful as well, to draw from their experiences and get some advice and perspectives.
We were given some great suggestions about different e-learning tools we could use, which I’d never heard of before. So that’s been immensely helpful, really helpful.
What impact do you think the course had on the university?
It has allowed us to really consider what our students need. We now have the time with us coming back to the hybrid environment, to spend time making things better and developing material. That has been immensely helpful and I think that it will only improve what we provide students with in the future. I can’t claim that we are 100% there yet, but we are certainly on the path to getting there.
Why did you choose to work with the Digital Learning Institute?
I was really attracted to the idea that it was fully online. I liked that you could participate in the lectures live if you wanted to or if you were able to, but you could also catch up later. That was a huge thing because obviously if you’re working full time, you don’t always have a huge amount of time to go to lectures or even to attend lectures at a set time.
One of my mentors had recommended the Digital Learning Institute as a good place to look for training. There were lots of factors at play there really but certainly, the flexibility was a huge thing, being able to do it in my own time when I could find the time to do that.
Can you describe your learning experience with DLI?
It was all very new to me. It had been a long time since I had studied and just the idea of getting back into learning was a big thing for me to get my head around.
I think just the modules were very cohesively structured. I liked being able to work through modules and feel that I understood the material before I moved on to the next part. It was great being able to meet with colleagues and fellow students every few weeks to discuss how they were finding things.
The feedback was absolutely fantastic. The team gave really good constructive feedback in a really timely fashion, and that was really helpful as well.
How likely are you to recommend DLI if someone reading this is on the fence about doing the course?
I’d say just go for it and don’t be afraid. A lot of people are really afraid to try to learn new things, and you have a lot of self-doubts, especially if you haven’t studied for a while. But using baby steps, you just get through it little by little. I would just say go for it. You are capable of much more than you think you are.