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My name is Joel Armando and I’m senior consultant from Bb. I worked my whole life in Higher Education fulfilling different roles all of them related to educational technologies.
At Blackboard, we’ve been working on a certification program for teachers and educational technologists in Digital Teaching and Learning.
This is a comprehensive program: it covers the competences that teachers need in order to be able to teach in online and blended programs.
What I’d like to share with you today are some of the criteria that guided us when building this programme.
In particular, what we think are the core competences that learning technologists need in order to perform their role in changing technological and institutional environments.
We´ll start thinking about change: changes in the environment of higher education, how they affect the role of EdTechs, and why we need to focus on pedagogical principles. Then, I´d like to provide an overview of competency frameworks that guide professional development for learning technologists. Against this background, I’ll outline Blackboard's new certification programme, and describe its approach to teaching the core competency set. I will do this through three different examples: personalised learning, collaborative activity design, and gamification.
So let´s start talking about change
We, the professionals working on educational technologies talk about change all the time. We analyse new trends, look out for innovative ways of teaching and learning. This is what we’re all about, this is why we need to stay one step ahead of change.
It’s not that everything is changing all the time, but at any given time, right now, some things are changing.
For instance, the need to compete in a global market has pushed higher education institutions into thinking about how to integrate international students and staff.
The demand to quickly adapt to changing career paths and industries has led to a more flexible curriculum.
Institutions now offer new career options based in modular curricula. These are easier to adjust and change according to the demand of the labour market.
This has also led to a diversification of University’s curricular offer, and created new non-traditional career paths like degree apprenticeships.
There’s also a trend to open the curriculum, to share the knowledge of universities beyond their campuses, and at the same time to integrate students that traditionally wouldn´t have had access to higher education.
All these changes impact on our work.
Saying that the EdTech role is changing may sound exaggerated. How much change can happen in a role that is essentially new? We wouldn’t find EdTechs working at universities 50 years ago.
However, it is undeniable that institutions are adopting technologies at a rapid pace, and we know that technologies don’t produce changes by themselves.
People are the drivers of change, and it’s the role of the EdTech to lead this adoption and to translate it into changes in teaching and learning.
It’s easy to fall into the trap of using new tools to reproduce the same old practices. Real change happens when we start doing new things.
This is why we need to move from a tool-oriented definition of the role of the EdTech (the Bb people, the moodle people) to one that can support innovation.
EdTechs helping teachers to design new teaching strategies, and to evaluate their efficacy.
From a role focused on reacting to teacher questions (mostly trouble shooting) to one that focuses on providing the best student experience, on designing new environments for learning.
Teaching and technology don’t change at the same pace.
As platforms and applications change all the time, our knowledge of how people learn evolves much more slowly.
It’s been about 100 years since Vigotsky put forward the idea that learning is social, leading to sociocultural studies that highlight the importance of social interactions, tools and cultural environments for learning.
Constructivist approaches to learning, built around engaging the students in problem solving, information analysis and producing ideas are at least 50 years old. We’ve known forever that learning is personal, that people approach and take advantage of learning in different ways.
We could also build a similar set of core principles that apply to teaching. Here I took just an example of 7 principles from exactly 30 years ago. They don’t specifically refer to online teaching (there was no such thing), but it’s remarkable how well they apply to the design of online courses.
While information technology has enabled us to make use of this knowledge in new ways, this is not about the tool. These are principles that go beyond the tool, they are broadly applicable.
An EdTech that centers their work around using these principles to guide the selection and use of new tools can pursue long term goals even in the context of ever-changing environments.
That´s why we need to look at the core competences from a pedagogical perspective. While lecturers are proficient at teaching their specific subjects, many of them haven’t had any formal training on how to teach, much less on how to teach online. Getting them to enroll on such formal training is a tough proposition for experienced professionals with tight time constraints, too. They will only do so in the context of a clear value proposition. Competency frameworks are an attempt to guide teachers and EdTechs’ s professional development.
These are three competency frameworks which provide guidance on the core knowledge needed to perform EdTech role
The UNESCO ICT Competency Framework for Teachers (ICT-CFT) is meant to inform educational policy makers and providers. It´s also meant to assist Member States in the development of national ICT competency standards for teachers.
In the UK, the Professional Standards Framework (UKPSF) from the HE Academy recognises teaching quality to improve the student experience and forms the basis for professional recognition schemes.
Another UK framework is the one provided by the Association of Learning Technologists (ALT) for its certified membership.
These three frameworks differ in goals, level, structure and recognition, and we could spend this whole talk in this slide alone. One thing they have in common though, is that they all focus on pedagogical approaches like Curriculum and Assessment or Professional Values, not on tools or products.
We took inspiration on these frameworks, and created a certification program that focuses on teaching with digital tools, not on tools for teaching.
Blackboard’s Digital Teaching & Learning Certification Program compiles what we currently know about teaching and learning with technologies, and organises it in a program.
Spanning 3 intensive courses, the DTLP is a professional development certification in: 1) The foundation of teaching and learning online, covering topics such as the introduction to eLearning, common practices in delivering online instruction, assessment and feedback, and using web and video conferencing to deliver instruction 2) Digital Teaching and Learning in Practice builds upon the foundational course, providing practical application of course concepts in a virtual learning environment 3) Designing Exemplary Online Courses, teaches faculty how to design courses, how to optimise their use of technology for student engagement, and how to design strategies for the mobile learner
At the conclusion of each course, participants are assessed on their learning via an exam and, if successful, are awarded a certificate
Certifications are progressive and cumulative, but institutions and participants can choose to certify in one, two or all three modules, based on the participants knowledge level Participants can also ‘advance’ through the program by testing out of each module If they complete all three examinations they become a ‘certified expert’
With the whole programme in mind, let’s focus on the third course of the DTL series, and briefly exemplify how we approach some these topics.
We approach each of the modules with a focus on the pedagogical approaches. We work on the tools that enable these pedagogical approaches and provide opportunities for hands-on practice with these tools in meaningful contexts. We present use cases and best practices for these approaches and propose activities that allow teachers to reflect on their experience and challenge their own ideas.
For instance, using collaborative learning activities in an online environment can take some planning on the part of the eTeacher, and it might be more challenging than taking this approach in a face to face situation. In this module we discuss strategies for creating groups online and for fostering collaboration. The tools for collaboration are presented in the context of the purposes they might serve and the challenges their use can present. The module proposes hands-on activities in which teachers design teaching environments and situations for collaboration. Their production is enriched by the analysis and reflection on experiences of other teachers, and best practices.
Here some images from the materials of the program. Each course has a workbook with contents and activities, and an online course companion course. The images illustrate examples of best practices and the enabling tools related to collaborative activity design.
In this module we cover how to evaluate learner needs, devise a personal learning strategy for the student and learning resources to suit them. We analyse the benefits of personalised learning and different types of personalized learning (for instance Flexible Learning Environments and Competency-Based Progression). In the same context, teachers learn how to use of existing tools to create these different learning paths and design personlised learning environments. Again, case studies and best practices are provided on the context of activities that allow them to reflect on their own practice. -----
“Personalized learning aims to provide a more tailored education for every learner. It begins with an in-depth understanding of each learner’s needs, and then seeks to provide relevant and challenging opportunities that support them as they progress in their learning and development.” (National College for Teaching and Leadership, n.d.)
These images illustrate how contents are presented and one type of practical activity focused in the teacher as a designer of learning.
In this module we analyse the learning theories behind the gamification movement and the different types of gamification. In this context we present different examples of uses of gamification elements like: Using badges or other rewards to record achievements Encouraging progression through tasks by offering progress markers Including competitive elements and rankings Game-based learning or ‘serious games’ We encourage teachers to use gamification design strategies by analysing the provided examples and applying their principles to their practices.
Gamification is a teaching strategy in which techniques or approaches from games are adopted or incorporated into non-gaming activities to make them more engaging or enjoyable.
The images selected for gamification show how we explain the theories behind the approach and the use cases we propose for the reflective activities.
Staying one step ahead: Pedagogical approaches to eLearning and teaching
Staying one step ahead
Pedagogical approaches to eLearning and teaching
Change and continuity
Competency Frameworks for Digital Teaching and
Higher Education Curriculum is Changing
Diversity of students
Stronger links with industry
Diversification of the offer
The Role of Learning Technologists is Changing
Principles about Teaching and Learning
Time on Task
and Ways of
(Chickering & Gamson, 1987)
Frameworks for Digital
Teaching and Learning
UNESCO HE Academy UK ALT UK
Goal Guide for Teacher
Level (Ed System) All levels HE Mostly FE / HE
Focus ICT and Teaching Teaching Learning Technology
Structure Understanding ICT in Education
Curriculum and Assessment
Teacher Professional Learning
Areas of Activity
Teaching, learning and / or
The wider context
Communication - working with
Recognition N/A 4 Recognition levels Certified membership
Digital Teaching and Learning Certification Programme
Course A Course B Course C
Fundamentals of Digital
Teaching and Learning
• Introduction to Digital
Teaching and Learning
• Designing and developing
• Assessment and Feedback
• Web and Video Conferencing
• Support and Success of the
• Evaluation and Reflection
Excellence in Digital
Teaching and Learning
• Advanced Digital Teaching
• Information Literacy
• Personalized, Reflective,
• The Flipped Classroom
• Advanced Web Conferencing
• Designing for the Mobile Learner
• Assuring Quality
• Exemplary Courses
Digital Teaching and
Learning in Practice
• Course Structures
• Designing Engaging
• Tests and Assignments
• Rubrics, Grade Center
• Keeping Students on Track
• Creating and Facilitating
• Communication Tools
• Interactive Tools
• Web conferencing
Successful completion of each course awards a certification
Fundamentals of Digital Teaching &
Digital Teaching & Learning in Practice
Excellence in Digital Teaching & Learning
Certified ExpertTeachers can ‘fast track’
to certification based on
Course C: Excellence in Digital Teaching and Learning
1. Introduction to Advanced Digital Teaching
2. Information Literacies
3. Accessible Content
4. Personalized Learning
5. Reflective Learning
6. Collaborative Activity Design
7. Dynamic Discussions
8. The Flipped Classroom
9. Advanced Web and Video Conferencing
10. Designing for the Mobile Learner
11. Designing Offline Activities
12. Gamifying Your Course
13. Communicating and Community Building
14. Assuring Quality
15. Evaluating Effectiveness
16. Exemplary Courses
Collaborative Activity Design
•Strategies for Creating
Hands on Practice
•Designing Online Group
Studies, and Best
• Motivational theory
• Gamification design
Studies, and Best
• Association for Learning Technology UK. (n.d.). CMALT and UK Professional Standards Framework
(UKPSF). Retrieved from https://www.alt.ac.uk/certified-membership
• Blackboard. (2017). Digital Teaching and Learning Series. Course C Workbook: Excellence in Digital
Teaching and Learning.
• Chickering, A. W., & Gamson, Z. F. (1987). Seven Principles For Good Practice in Undergraduate
Education. AAHE Bulletin.
• Higher Education Academy. (2011, November 2). The UK Professional Standards Framework for
teaching and supporting learning in higher education. Retrieved from
• Sawyer, R. K. (2014). The Cambridge handbook of the learning sciences.
• UNESCO. (2011). UNESCO ICT Ccometency Framework for Teachers v.2. Retrieved from