This chapter has been composed as a piece of reflective practice, and as such traces and researches the development of a new technology-rich first-year module from the point of view of one particular developer, myself. The main emphasis in my role was on advising and assisting with the development of a student learning experience that provided, above all, an inquiry-based learning environment for students to acquire the skills necessary to succeed in their ongoing degree. Technology and e-learning offered a number of interesting options for development and implementation, necessitating the further brokering of technological expertise. The chapter highlights the collaborative issues that occur in a multiprofessional team working in such a developmental environment, and explores the role of the developer and how this role might be interpreted by other staff and institutions. The chapter concludes by offering ideas for future research into what remains an emerging field of scholarship.
The context for this chapter results from a government-funded initiative to establish Centres for Excellence in Teaching and Learning (CETLs) at higher education institutions in England and Northern Ireland. In 2005, 74 such CETLs were established, all building on existing excellence within institutions, and all with a strong remit to support new learning and teaching initiatives. At the University of Sheffield, the Centre for Inquiry-Based Learning in the Arts and Social Sciences (CILASS) currently supports 19 departments within three core faculties, namely, the Faculties of Arts, Social Sciences, and Law. Two learning development and research associates (LDRAs), one specialising in information literacy and the other in networked learning, support inquiry-based learning projects within these departments, and also broker support from professional learning services within the institution, such as the library and the Learning Development and Media Unit (LDMU). In searching the literature, it appears that the terminology describing the role of an individual involved in planning, advising on, and developing academic content and pedagogy, which includes the component of technology, is by no means clear (Fraser, 2001; Oliver, 2002; Wright & Miller, 2000). For me, the role of an LDRA for networked learning originally seemed a very specific description, especially within the main remit of inquiry-based learning. There are, however, distinct overlaps with the more traditional roles of learning technologist, educational developer, educational technologist, academic developer, and further variations on the same themes. For this reason, this chapter draws on literature from all these fields to explore the issues surrounding the collaboration that leads to the implementation of innovative projects in the field of e-learning.