Researcher Development is the art of the possible. The team here in IAD is relatively small and we have a fixed budget to support many thousands of research students and staff. Our approach is to support Schools around the University (where they need help) to develop their local, contextualised provision, whilst complementing this with a central programme (which you can download here). There are obviously limits to what we can offer and I’m aware that it can be frustrating to discover a course which would help you in your practice as a researcher, only to realise that it isn’t due to run for months or is fully booked.
Coming into post this month, I’ve been having lots of conversations with our various stakeholders around the University, suggesting a few ideas which I’d like to focus on over the next year. One of these is the idea of moving some courses online – either to complement existing programmes or to fill in gaps. Generally this has been well-received by researchers and School and College leaders. My challenge now is to make some decisions with the rest of the Researcher Development team and other colleagues about how best to develop our online provision. These include:
- which topics to start with
- which platform to use
- the model of online delivery
- the level of support for learners on the courses
I’ve spent most of my career in training and development so I’m comfortable with face to face delivery and facilitation. I’ve previously written a range of things which now appear online but wouldn’t describe them as online provision – they are materials you can download from a website. It may be that this is how we start – by transfering materials associated with some topics online with some questions to help you engage with the material, but no synchronous learner support.
My next step is to find out from our researchers what they need from an online provision. If you are at Edinburgh, let me know what you think my priorities should be. If you know about good online provision that I can use for inspiration, please point me towards it. If you are interested in helping me to translate our workshop programme, get in touch and explain how this might work. All suggestions gratefully received.
In the meantime, here are some links to resources. There’s clearly much more out there but these are institutions I’m familiar with.
The University of Newcastle upon Tyne has a long history of innovative career support for research staff. They’ve run a series of workshops in recent years on the early years of a postdoc career and reworked these into career guides. Their library also hosts a guide explaining how different social media tools can be used in research.
More universally available are the Lynda.com courses which we have access to at Edinburgh (although all the links to our institutional pages are broken so you clearly need to pass an initiative test first).
So, watch this space as my thinking about online provision develops and please steer me towards the best that’s out there and where I need to start.