43 minutes | Mar 29, 2021

Episode 14 - Dr, Heather Hind and Dr. Philippa Earle (Digital Learning Developers at the University of Exeter)

Welcome to the Beyond Your Research Degree podcast from the University of Exeter Doctoral College! The podcast about careers and all the opportunities available to you... beyond your research degree!  In this episode Kelly Preece, Researcher Development Manager talks Dr. Heather Hind and Dr. Philippa Earle, who are doctoral graduates from English currently work as Digital Learning Developers in the College of Medicine and Health at the University of Exeter.    Music from https://filmmusic.io ’Cheery Monday’ by Kevin MacLeod (https://incompetech.com) License: CC BY (https://creativecommons.org/licenses   Podcast transcript   1 00:00:10,890 --> 00:00:23,400 Hello and welcome to the Beyond Your Research Degree podcast by the University of Exeter Doctoral College 2 00:00:23,400 --> 00:00:28,320 Hello, and a warm welcome to another episode of Beyond Your Research Degree. 3 00:00:28,320 --> 00:00:31,560 I'm Kelly Preece, the research development manager in the Doctoral College, 4 00:00:31,560 --> 00:00:38,670 and I'm continuing episodes on the theme of getting jobs and moving forward with your career. 5 00:00:38,670 --> 00:00:44,190 During COVID 19, by talking to actually in this episode, two of our doctoral graduates. 6 00:00:44,190 --> 00:00:50,880 So Dr Philippa Earle and Dr Heather Huind both of whom did their PhDs in English but are now working in professional 7 00:00:50,880 --> 00:00:58,320 services roles at the University of Exeter in roles that were created in response to the COVID 19 pandemic. 8 00:00:58,320 --> 00:01:02,880 So Heather and Philippa, are you happy to introduce yourselves? I'm Dr Heather Hind 9 00:01:02,880 --> 00:01:10,860 I did my PhD in English literature, specifically Victorian literature and things that the Victorians made out of human hair. 10 00:01:10,860 --> 00:01:20,610 And I finished in while I handed in in March 2020, just before the first lockdown's started and had my viva last year. 11 00:01:20,610 --> 00:01:26,970 And since then, I've been working for the university as a digital learning developer for the College of Medicine and Health. 12 00:01:26,970 --> 00:01:34,090 So I'm Dr Philippa Earle I finished my PhD at Exeter in. 13 00:01:34,090 --> 00:01:41,350 Summer of 2018. It seems a long time ago now. And my thesis was on John Milton. 14 00:01:41,350 --> 00:01:47,800 And I'm really interested in his material philosophy, which is commonly called monism. 15 00:01:47,800 --> 00:01:52,600 And so I've kind of been floating around since then, doing various things. 16 00:01:52,600 --> 00:01:58,590 I'd really like to get into academia. I really enjoy teaching. 17 00:01:58,590 --> 00:02:04,650 I have done some casual teaching since then to different roles at different universities, 18 00:02:04,650 --> 00:02:10,680 and I then came into doing this digital learning development role kind of last September. 19 00:02:10,680 --> 00:02:17,100 So I was kind of last minute recruits and it kind of slotted in working with Heather. 20 00:02:17,100 --> 00:02:22,560 That's fabulous. Like you say, probably it's useful just to start with, kind of back it up, back a little bit. 21 00:02:22,560 --> 00:02:30,110 What a digital learning developer is. And I think particularly as well how these roles have. 22 00:02:30,110 --> 00:02:35,670 It evolved because of the situation with the current pandemic. 23 00:02:35,670 --> 00:02:41,730 And so when they were first advertised, I think I applied last June, 24 00:02:41,730 --> 00:02:47,320 I think I started my application the week before my viva, and then I had the interview the week after my viva. 25 00:02:47,320 --> 00:02:54,390 Wow. Yes, it was the time. It was honestly really fortuitous for me as it worked out. 26 00:02:54,390 --> 00:03:02,610 But they were advertised as roles to support the shift to online teaching during the pandemic. 27 00:03:02,610 --> 00:03:04,650 And to think what the job description said. 28 00:03:04,650 --> 00:03:13,680 It said, you know, supporting teaching staff, troubleshooting online issues, helping to develop the virtual learning environment. 29 00:03:13,680 --> 00:03:18,300 ELE at Exeter. But it was it was relatively vague. 30 00:03:18,300 --> 00:03:22,950 I don't know if Philippa would agree, but it was, you know, relatively, you know, job speak sort of. 31 00:03:22,950 --> 00:03:27,330 These are all of the possible things that you might be asked to do. Vague. 32 00:03:27,330 --> 00:03:36,780 But as the role has gone on and we've been able to shape it to a certain extent to what sort of support our college needs. 33 00:03:36,780 --> 00:03:41,700 It's been a lot more about kind of project management, checking over modules and quality, 34 00:03:41,700 --> 00:03:47,040 assuring them for the online side of things to make sure that the students are properly supported. 35 00:03:47,040 --> 00:03:49,230 Have all the information they need, 36 00:03:49,230 --> 00:04:00,360 online seminars and lectures and things are running smoothly and that we're continually trying to make things better, innovate, use new digital tools. 37 00:04:00,360 --> 00:04:07,560 Yeah, I think I hadn't kind of anticipated quite how much I would learn, I suppose, because I was sort of thinking, well, 38 00:04:07,560 --> 00:04:16,650 we were both kind of chucked into the online teaching through the kind of teaching roles we were doing at the time last March. 39 00:04:16,650 --> 00:04:25,950 And I kind of needed something more stable. And these were full time roles, even though they're fixed term. 40 00:04:25,950 --> 00:04:31,350 And yeah, I think Heather and I kind of came at this from a very similar angle, really. 41 00:04:31,350 --> 00:04:39,660 We're both English PhD graduates. Both interested in it and going into academia and. 42 00:04:39,660 --> 00:04:46,860 Yeah. I suppose we kind of thought of this as a way of being sort of resourceful with the kind of options that are out there, 43 00:04:46,860 --> 00:04:52,470 but also having a bit more kind of job security. So, you know, I came to this role thinking, well, 44 00:04:52,470 --> 00:05:00,000 I can bring a little bit of my experience that I've had just from having to sort of fumble your way through and shove everything online last minute, 45 00:05:00,000 --> 00:05:09,180 but actually have just learnt so much. And yeah, as has Heather was saying, about kind of quality assurance, different digital tools and the options. 46 00:05:09,180 --> 00:05:14,130 And so actually, I'm I'm really pleased that I've managed to kind of get loads out of this and 47 00:05:14,130 --> 00:05:17,400 not just for kind of improving the quality of the teaching and the college, 48 00:05:17,400 --> 00:05:26,400 but also kind of my own understanding of pedagogy and the way that you can kind of support your own teaching with digital tools and what works. 49 00:05:26,400 --> 00:05:34,480 It's just been brilliant, really. Yeah, I think it's really interesting to hear you talk about it that way and also the you know, 50 00:05:34,480 --> 00:05:39,400 the the fact that it's fitting into a kind of an aim for an academic career path. 51 00:05:39,400 --> 00:05:47,380 And because it's it's giving you obviously it's giving you some job stability in the interim, but also, 52 00:05:47,380 --> 00:05:54,770 you know, a real a range of really specialist skills that as a result of the pandemic are going to be. 53 00:05:54,770 --> 00:06:01,040 You know, the way that education is going to change in that inevitably is going to be so highly valued. 54 00:06:01,040 --> 00:06:06,470 Moving forward. And I think also, yeah. 55 00:06:06,470 --> 00:06:10,820 Because there is just so much uncertainty. These were advertised as fixed term roles. 56 00:06:10,820 --> 00:06:16,490 And, you know, the university hasn't quite decided what direction they're going in yet, whether they're going to be renewed. 57 00:06:16,490 --> 00:06:21,560 So I think we're both trying to keep an open mind and think, well, this is kind of plan A. 58 00:06:21,560 --> 00:06:26,960 But equally, you know, we're quite happy doing these roles and then they're very valuable. 59 00:06:26,960 --> 00:06:33,650 So it's a good stepping stone, really. And, you know, it's always good to have a backup plan is knowing the market as it is. 60 00:06:33,650 --> 00:06:41,990 So it's giving us a really good insight into professional services and just the other side of things at the university. 61 00:06:41,990 --> 00:06:50,540 The university structure working within kind of lots of different teams, different, introduced to different kinds of management there. 62 00:06:50,540 --> 00:06:58,620 So, yeah, really good insight. And, you know, opening up kind of alternative possibilities, you know, if Plan A doesn't work out as well. 63 00:06:58,620 --> 00:07:03,740 Yeah, I think that's that's a really, really fantastic way of looking at it and kind of, 64 00:07:03,740 --> 00:07:08,180 you know, all of the various skills that you're going to be developing. 65 00:07:08,180 --> 00:07:16,340 I wondered if you could talk a little bit about. So you both did your PhDs in English and now you're working in medicine. 66 00:07:16,340 --> 00:07:19,820 And I wondered if you could talk a little bit about what that experience is like 67 00:07:19,820 --> 00:07:24,140 and what it's like working in a different college and supporting teaching, 68 00:07:24,140 --> 00:07:25,490 learning in a discipline, you know, 69 00:07:25,490 --> 00:07:34,870 relatively far removed from your own and and what that's like and kind of what you're taking across almost from one subject to another. 70 00:07:34,870 --> 00:07:41,960 And so I think we both applied for this role, but put down our preference for working in humanities. 71 00:07:41,960 --> 00:07:50,150 I guess I had I's envisioned it, as, you know, being able to have a hand in the sorts of courses that I would be able to teach or, 72 00:07:50,150 --> 00:07:53,390 you know, captioning the sorts of lectures that I would one day give. 73 00:07:53,390 --> 00:08:01,910 And so I really had it in my mind while I was applying that I really wanted this job in the College of Humanities. 74 00:08:01,910 --> 00:08:09,590 And so when they offered it for the College of Medicine and Health, I was a little bit unsure of what that would involve. 75 00:08:09,590 --> 00:08:17,600 And to what extent I would need some sort of knowledge base for supporting medicine courses, 76 00:08:17,600 --> 00:08:26,720 but actually because we we support the postgraduate taught programmes and the continuing professional development programmes. 77 00:08:26,720 --> 00:08:32,900 What we've really been able to carry across is our experience of being in postgraduates. 78 00:08:32,900 --> 00:08:40,400 Well, postgraduates, I mean researchers now. But, you know, people that have been through master's courses and know what it's like to go through 79 00:08:40,400 --> 00:08:48,170 that very intense year where you move into an even more independent source of learning. 80 00:08:48,170 --> 00:08:53,900 So there's definitely been that that we've been able to carry across. 81 00:08:53,900 --> 00:08:56,090 We haven't needed too much subject specialist knowledge. 82 00:08:56,090 --> 00:09:03,410 Occasionally when we're captioning, we will have to Google some, you know, drug names or some bones or something. 83 00:09:03,410 --> 00:09:10,210 But it's really been about our knowledge of teaching and supporting 84 00:09:10,210 --> 00:09:16,310 Learners, that has really helped us to, for example, look at an ELE module page and say, oh, 85 00:09:16,310 --> 00:09:24,530 actually this assessment brief is not very clear or it's missing some really key information about this or the prereading for this course is, 86 00:09:24,530 --> 00:09:29,120 you know, not in the most, you know, obvious, clear place for people coming to it. 87 00:09:29,120 --> 00:09:35,850 So so it's those sorts of universal things that I think we've been able to carry across. 88 00:09:35,850 --> 00:09:40,550 Yeah, I think I would just add to that the sum of the parts I've particularly enjoyed 89 00:09:40,550 --> 00:09:45,290 have been the opportunity to actually collaborate with academics as well. 90 00:09:45,290 --> 00:09:50,870 So we have the opportunity to have one to one meetings with them to really 91 00:09:50,870 --> 00:09:56,540 discuss kind of what they ideally would like to do or the kinds of activities. 92 00:09:56,540 --> 00:10:05,300 They've usually done in the past and and kind of help them come up with something that's really going to work in an online format. 93 00:10:05,300 --> 00:10:17,380 So there's been a lot of trial and error, a few kind of failings along the way with, you know, synchronous sessions and what works best and. 94 00:10:17,380 --> 00:10:21,680 Well, you know, all sorts of things trying to put people into breakout rooms, 95 00:10:21,680 --> 00:10:26,460 reassigning on Zoom and just kind of, you know, coming across different pitfalls. 96 00:10:26,460 --> 00:10:34,650 But we've actually managed to kind of develop our own kind of ways of working and solutions and kind of recommended methods, 97 00:10:34,650 --> 00:10:36,660 which is really quite exciting. And, yeah, 98 00:10:36,660 --> 00:10:43,650 I just I particularly enjoy kind of talking through what the academic wants to achieve and then being able to kind of 99 00:10:43,650 --> 00:10:53,460 draw on my knowledge that I've gained in this role of the digital tools how ELE works the best kind of format for, 100 00:10:53,460 --> 00:10:53,730 you know, 101 00:10:53,730 --> 00:11:02,310 contact days or synchronous sessions and just really be sort of part of that and feel very much the our experience and knowledge is kind of valued. 102 00:11:02,310 --> 00:11:10,170 And I think, as Heather was saying, the fact that we do actually have some teaching experience ourselves, we can kind of, you know, 103 00:11:10,170 --> 00:11:14,970 get our minds into that that gear to really think about how it's going to work 104 00:11:14,970 --> 00:11:19,680 and what's what's really gonna be best for the students learning as well. 105 00:11:19,680 --> 00:11:29,070 And just to add to that that we've actually been given a lot of responsibility in that sense, more than I was kind of expecting really in this role. 106 00:11:29,070 --> 00:11:36,130 And, yeah. Of our kind of we've been sort of trusted to input our thoughts and in terms of kind 107 00:11:36,130 --> 00:11:41,790 of evaluating the strategy in the college and really kind of working at high levels, 108 00:11:41,790 --> 00:11:50,220 talking with the programme directors. The Dean for Education, Project enhance leadership team meetings. 109 00:11:50,220 --> 00:11:57,330 So it's it's really great, actually, that we've been trusted and given the responsibility that we've had and that we've 110 00:11:57,330 --> 00:12:03,840 actually had the opportunity to kind of shape how we do things at a higher level as well, 111 00:12:03,840 --> 00:12:08,800 as well as kind of working with individuals. That's something I really appreciated. Yeah. 112 00:12:08,800 --> 00:12:12,420 And I think there's a couple of things, really brilliant things to pick out of that. 113 00:12:12,420 --> 00:12:21,510 The first of which is, you know, there were a lot of these roles across the institution and some of them have, 114 00:12:21,510 --> 00:12:26,430 you know, gone to so they;re what, the University of Exeter call graduate business partner roles. 115 00:12:26,430 --> 00:12:36,600 Is that right? Yes. Yeah. GBPs. So some some people in these roles will be having just come out of undergraduate or postgraduate taught degrees. 116 00:12:36,600 --> 00:12:43,680 And so their experience will be will be useful and certainly kind of, you know, people with the same level, you know, 117 00:12:43,680 --> 00:12:48,600 really good digital skills, but also, you know, what you're talking about in terms of that student perspective. 118 00:12:48,600 --> 00:12:51,710 But like you're saying, what you bring that to that as a doctoral 119 00:12:51,710 --> 00:12:59,520 Graduate is that extra dimension of understanding, research, but understanding, teaching and pedagogy in a different way. 120 00:12:59,520 --> 00:13:04,770 And I think, you know, quite often when we see things like GBPs or graduate schemes, 121 00:13:04,770 --> 00:13:09,270 we assume that they're aimed at undergraduates and perhaps some of the language. 122 00:13:09,270 --> 00:13:12,900 And then the way in which they're written does kind of reinforce that. 123 00:13:12,900 --> 00:13:18,270 But actually, it doesn't mean they're not applicable to PGRs and that actually PGRs, you know. 124 00:13:18,270 --> 00:13:25,560 Or doctoral graduates will potentially have the opportunity and the roles to to do more and to go further. 125 00:13:25,560 --> 00:13:32,880 Because because of how that much further along they are in their academic career. 126 00:13:32,880 --> 00:13:37,920 The other thing that I wanted to pick up on is why I was be interested in what you're 127 00:13:37,920 --> 00:13:43,120 saying about kind of the management side and the strategy side of being involved in that. 128 00:13:43,120 --> 00:13:49,950 And I wondered if you could say something about kind of what a bit more about what you valued, about learning, I guess, 129 00:13:49,950 --> 00:13:53,910 about the more administrative or managerial side of the university, 130 00:13:53,910 --> 00:14:00,600 which you don't get as much of an exposure to what you're doing, a research degree. 131 00:14:00,600 --> 00:14:09,780 Yeah, I. So for me, as I say, it's it's great to have the insight into kind of the structure of the institution, 132 00:14:09,780 --> 00:14:16,380 obviously, to meet these different people as well and to learn from them and their expertise. 133 00:14:16,380 --> 00:14:22,170 And it's yeah, it's really kind of opened up so many opportunities that we we just hadn't anticipated. 134 00:14:22,170 --> 00:14:26,370 Lots of professional development opportunities. 135 00:14:26,370 --> 00:14:35,250 And I think it's worth noting that that is something that, first of all, you just don't really have time for when you're doing a casual teaching post, 136 00:14:35,250 --> 00:14:40,410 because as anybody who has done that will know, even if you're only doing about four. 137 00:14:40,410 --> 00:14:44,370 hours teaching a week as an early career academic or researcher. 138 00:14:44,370 --> 00:14:50,280 You're coming into that institution from outside. You're basically going to have a lot of work dumped on you. 139 00:14:50,280 --> 00:14:57,900 And because you're kind of coming in and you probably don't have much notice when you start the role. 140 00:14:57,900 --> 00:15:03,780 For me, it was essentially a full time job, even though I was only teaching about four hours a week each time. 141 00:15:03,780 --> 00:15:09,240 Because if you're producing lectures, etc., it's just an enormous amount of work. 142 00:15:09,240 --> 00:15:13,530 And so you don't really have time to kind of engage in any professional opportunities, 143 00:15:13,530 --> 00:15:21,900 personal development opportunities that might be offered by the institution. But with this role, it's something that has been very much integrated. 144 00:15:21,900 --> 00:15:31,020 So we've been able to kind of continually undertake different kinds of training for different digital tools. 145 00:15:31,020 --> 00:15:35,190 We've also been able to attend the things like the eduexe sessions, 146 00:15:35,190 --> 00:15:42,780 where we're kind of sharing best practise across the university, finding out how people do things in different departments, 147 00:15:42,780 --> 00:15:52,620 different colleges, and seeing what we can kind of take from not to to implement in the College of Medicine and Health and in PGT where we're based. 148 00:15:52,620 --> 00:16:01,590 So I think all of that does feed into our kind of connection and on what we can pass on to people in kind of more senior roles. 149 00:16:01,590 --> 00:16:04,860 And I work with managers in the college. 150 00:16:04,860 --> 00:16:15,240 We work very closely with our programme director for PGT, but also with the team director of Quality and Teaching. 151 00:16:15,240 --> 00:16:23,670 And so we got that's another nice kind of aspect of the role, is that people are interested in actually listening to our ideas. 152 00:16:23,670 --> 00:16:31,110 And again, coming back to all kind of experience as teachers ourselves, having that side of things, 153 00:16:31,110 --> 00:16:39,270 and also kind of new understanding of kind of what digital tools are out there and the the processes and functions of ELE 154 00:16:39,270 --> 00:16:49,510 It's sort of given us of a good ability to see what might potentially work and what we can take, what we can take forward and kind of. 155 00:16:49,510 --> 00:16:56,190 Yeah, pass on to people like the director of teaching quality and really feel like you're actually 156 00:16:56,190 --> 00:17:03,270 making a difference in kind of shaping our path forward in terms of online learning. 157 00:17:03,270 --> 00:17:04,890 So, yeah, I again, 158 00:17:04,890 --> 00:17:12,990 it's it's lovely to be trusted to the extent that we are and kind of valued that much really by senior people in the university, I would say. 159 00:17:12,990 --> 00:17:18,960 And just to be kind of taken seriously and be, you know, have the opportunity to actually input ideas as well. 160 00:17:18,960 --> 00:17:23,520 And I think that applies not just to us as graduate as postgraduates. 161 00:17:23,520 --> 00:17:29,340 I think it really does apply to the undergraduates, too. And, you know, we're working within multiple teams. 162 00:17:29,340 --> 00:17:37,180 We're working with technology enhanced learning where we're often asked for our views on certain things and how we work. 163 00:17:37,180 --> 00:17:43,650 And so, yeah, it's great really to be I suppose the role is so new. 164 00:17:43,650 --> 00:17:47,130 We've we've actually had to establish the way that we work. 165 00:17:47,130 --> 00:17:52,800 And Heather and I have had to kind of really specifically define what we do, how we do things in PGT 166 00:17:52,800 --> 00:18:00,480 even down to kind of, you know, the spreadsheet that we use and and the day to day running of things. 167 00:18:00,480 --> 00:18:08,790 But also, I think DLDs as a whole seem to be, you know, very much included in actually. 168 00:18:08,790 --> 00:18:13,080 Trying to define and determine what happens next, which is quite nice. 169 00:18:13,080 --> 00:18:21,180 Yeah. Now, I was thinking in terms of strategy, as you were saying, it's been really interesting to be part of larger strategy talks, 170 00:18:21,180 --> 00:18:27,870 but also on just the scale of us working with PGT programmes for the College of Medicine and Health. 171 00:18:27,870 --> 00:18:32,340 Being able to strategize what we want to do with the year that we have, 172 00:18:32,340 --> 00:18:37,950 or at least the year that we know we definitely have in this role and being able to think, 173 00:18:37,950 --> 00:18:43,410 okay, you know, what are we going to prioritise for term one? What do we want our modules to look like? 174 00:18:43,410 --> 00:18:50,610 What sorts of digital tools do we want to emphasise or demonstrate for the module leads? 175 00:18:50,610 --> 00:18:53,970 Then what do we want to improve on for term two? How are we going to go about that? 176 00:18:53,970 --> 00:19:01,620 So we've been able to do things like run college, PGT, specific student surveys, 177 00:19:01,620 --> 00:19:11,580 staff surveys and run some demonstration meetings to kind of go through the sorts of things that we think will improve courses. 178 00:19:11,580 --> 00:19:18,210 So just on that smaller scale strategy as well, it's been really interesting to kind of have a handle on that. 179 00:19:18,210 --> 00:19:19,960 And as Philippa said 180 00:19:19,960 --> 00:19:28,890 it's kind of shape the trajectory of what we're doing with the year to make things better during pandemic times with online teaching, 181 00:19:28,890 --> 00:19:35,700 but also think about what will improve things in the long term going forward to potential blended learning. 182 00:19:35,700 --> 00:19:44,900 Because I think improving these courses in their online offering is still going to help when eventually some of it is move back into the classroom. 183 00:19:44,900 --> 00:19:51,980 Yeah. I think all of that's really important. And one of the couple of things I want to pick up out of that is really interesting 184 00:19:51,980 --> 00:19:56,490 to hear you talk about the unique opportunity that you've had within these roles 185 00:19:56,490 --> 00:19:59,970 for professional development and academic professional development that you wouldn't 186 00:19:59,970 --> 00:20:05,560 necessarily have the time or scope for if you were just doing a few hours teaching. 187 00:20:05,560 --> 00:20:13,320 So I wondered if we could talk a little bit more about about what those opportunities might be, but also kind of in tandem with that. 188 00:20:13,320 --> 00:20:21,150 What? We've talked a lot about all the different experiences you're having, and I can absolutely see how all of these would be really, 189 00:20:21,150 --> 00:20:25,340 really beneficial in thinking about moving forward with an academic career. 190 00:20:25,340 --> 00:20:29,220 But I wondered if you could say a little bit about. 191 00:20:29,220 --> 00:20:36,030 From your perspective about what you feel like you're going to really strongly take forward from the role. 192 00:20:36,030 --> 00:20:41,640 The roles that you're doing now and the experiences you're having now into applying for academic jobs. 193 00:20:41,640 --> 00:20:46,260 So I know there are two things that we can really do with professional development first. 194 00:20:46,260 --> 00:20:56,340 Sure. And so with both. Well, we both came into this job with the associate fellow of the Higher Education Academy as our, 195 00:20:56,340 --> 00:20:59,820 you know, professional framework teaching qualification. 196 00:20:59,820 --> 00:21:08,100 And one of the really tangible things to come out of this year is we're using our experience now in our supporting, 197 00:21:08,100 --> 00:21:15,150 teaching and quality enhancing role to go for the fellow of the Higher Education Academy. 198 00:21:15,150 --> 00:21:17,910 We've got our applications together. Fingers crossed. 199 00:21:17,910 --> 00:21:26,310 But, you know, if we can gain that, that's a really good, solid thing that we can use in our applications for other jobs going forward. 200 00:21:26,310 --> 00:21:34,440 But just as employees of Exeter, we've had the opportunity to go to the full suite of professional development workshops, 201 00:21:34,440 --> 00:21:39,780 especially with everything being online. It's been really good to be able to say, okay, 202 00:21:39,780 --> 00:21:48,300 I'd like to go to a CVs workshop to an interviews workshop to all these different things, wellbeing workshops. 203 00:21:48,300 --> 00:21:52,470 It's it's it's part of our role, part of our job. 204 00:21:52,470 --> 00:21:58,660 You know, we have to go through personal development reviews and that sort of thing. 205 00:21:58,660 --> 00:22:05,970 So so it's been really interesting having the opportunity to go to these sorts of workshops and professional development opportunities, 206 00:22:05,970 --> 00:22:16,110 but also to have them as part of the structure of what's the university wants us to do with our with our time and with our progression as well. 207 00:22:16,110 --> 00:22:21,030 And I guess I would just add to that that I think, well, first of all, 208 00:22:21,030 --> 00:22:28,830 the role itself and the kind of modules that we are assisting with because they are postgraduate courses, 209 00:22:28,830 --> 00:22:37,290 but also because they are kind of some of them are focussed very specifically on education and clinical education. 210 00:22:37,290 --> 00:22:43,230 How you effectively teach clinical practises to, you know, 211 00:22:43,230 --> 00:22:48,810 maybe GPs who are taking an extra professional development course or something like that. 212 00:22:48,810 --> 00:22:58,950 So we have actually assisted in the development of and being present for the delivery of clinical education modules, 213 00:22:58,950 --> 00:23:04,680 modules on digital teaching, which was really helpful. 214 00:23:04,680 --> 00:23:13,470 And so all of that is just so useful. We can actually learn not just from the courses, but from the module leads delivering most courses. 215 00:23:13,470 --> 00:23:19,590 We were invited to be actually we were invited to kind of be part of the teaching, 216 00:23:19,590 --> 00:23:28,200 the digital teaching module and to sort of share our own experiences with digital tools and that kind of thing. 217 00:23:28,200 --> 00:23:31,920 And it was just great to learn from the students as well with that, to be honest. I mean, 218 00:23:31,920 --> 00:23:37,060 I wish that we'd actually recorded some of the fantastic presentations because they had the opportunity 219 00:23:37,060 --> 00:23:41,940 to have a play around with some of the digital tools and experiment what you could use them for. 220 00:23:41,940 --> 00:23:49,020 And they were just simply fantastic things on improving the deliver the training for the COVID vaccine and all sorts of wonderful things 221 00:23:49,020 --> 00:23:59,100 that are going to make such a difference in the world and really make me proud to be supporting these these healthcare students. 222 00:23:59,100 --> 00:24:08,820 But with the FHEA more specifically, it's really helped me reflect on what I'm actually getting out of this role. 223 00:24:08,820 --> 00:24:17,640 So all of the stuff that we do with the quality assurance of module's, the continual evaluation of our practise, 224 00:24:17,640 --> 00:24:25,470 how successful things have been, the regular meetings with the project enhance leadership team and the college. 225 00:24:25,470 --> 00:24:31,830 And that's where we get to actually kind of talk to academics that are sort of delivering the teaching. 226 00:24:31,830 --> 00:24:37,320 And we talk through any arising problems and we kind of troubleshoot and continually evaluate. 227 00:24:37,320 --> 00:24:41,460 And all of that has been just great to write about on my application, really, 228 00:24:41,460 --> 00:24:52,040 because it's it's really helping me reflect on my own practise as somebody who's supporting teaching and who's interested in kind of teaching myself. 229 00:24:52,040 --> 00:24:57,290 So we kind of figured we'd kind of unintentionally ended up sort of hitting, you know, 230 00:24:57,290 --> 00:25:01,610 most of the criteria just just through kind of what we're doing on a daily basis. 231 00:25:01,610 --> 00:25:09,520 And so it's been great to actually have that, to really take the time to reflect on exactly what we're getting out of the role. 232 00:25:09,520 --> 00:25:14,620 So in terms of professional development, I'd say it's it's actually exceeded my expectations, really. 233 00:25:14,620 --> 00:25:21,730 And and as Heather says, if we can get this qualification at the end of it, then, you know, it's been a really fantastic stepping stone. 234 00:25:21,730 --> 00:25:29,260 And I think that a lot of roles that I've seen advertised have actually wanted somebody who 235 00:25:29,260 --> 00:25:35,380 knows about digital technology or is interested in using digital technology in their teaching, 236 00:25:35,380 --> 00:25:41,740 because, I mean, I think this is going to be kind of part of the future. It's going to be had to stay really and in whatever form it eventually takes. 237 00:25:41,740 --> 00:25:47,050 So, yeah, it's it's been a really great opportunity, 238 00:25:47,050 --> 00:25:55,060 even though we've been working in a very different field in medicine and health and we're both from English. 239 00:25:55,060 --> 00:25:59,730 There has been a lot of kind of transferable skills that we can bring to this role. 240 00:25:59,730 --> 00:26:00,640 That's really brilliant. 241 00:26:00,640 --> 00:26:08,410 And I think pulling out some of those things like the FHEA, which is really going to set you apart in applying for those academic roles, 242 00:26:08,410 --> 00:26:13,000 because it's it's rare that PGRs when they're doing their research. 243 00:26:13,000 --> 00:26:19,770 are going to have the opportunity to engage in that in that level of teaching practise and the opportunity for that level of reflection as well. 244 00:26:19,770 --> 00:26:32,010 That's needed to achieve that status. So I wondered if you could say a little bit more about how that how this kind of fits in and in. 245 00:26:32,010 --> 00:26:39,420 The longer kind of career go to work in academia and what specifically things like the FHEA that you think that 246 00:26:39,420 --> 00:26:46,140 you want to take forward and that you feel are really going to help you with those academic job applications? 247 00:26:46,140 --> 00:26:55,380 I think for me, it's it's at least understanding the real significance of evaluation and evaluating processes. 248 00:26:55,380 --> 00:27:04,810 And this is something that the university has had to do on a huge scale, shifting, you know, to so much online. 249 00:27:04,810 --> 00:27:10,170 And and basically, you know, transforming digitally. 250 00:27:10,170 --> 00:27:18,570 So I think the fact that we've kind of been forced into this situation where we're constantly having the discussions, is this working? 251 00:27:18,570 --> 00:27:25,640 Is this effective? What can we do better for me? I think that is something I would actually like to take forward. 252 00:27:25,640 --> 00:27:28,230 You know, whatever happens, 253 00:27:28,230 --> 00:27:38,610 I think even if we are doing a lot more face to face teaching eventually or supporting much more kind of blended approaches, 254 00:27:38,610 --> 00:27:49,050 I just think it's it's something that perhaps wasn't emphasised enough before was this sort of continual evaluation of processes, 255 00:27:49,050 --> 00:27:57,150 even if you've been doing it for years. You know, it's the opportunity to actually share best practise and innovate, really. 256 00:27:57,150 --> 00:28:07,230 And and just I think the value of that sort of collaborative approach to teaching is maybe something that we've not fully appreciated before. 257 00:28:07,230 --> 00:28:13,440 And the point of the pandemic has kind of pushed us into confronting really. 258 00:28:13,440 --> 00:28:16,470 And I personally feel that that's something we could really take forward. 259 00:28:16,470 --> 00:28:26,070 And I would like to adopt in my in my practise or wherever I end up, even if I'm if I'm here, if I end up here. 260 00:28:26,070 --> 00:28:32,940 I just think that's something that's so valuable. And, yeah, it's it's a focus on the process itself. 261 00:28:32,940 --> 00:28:37,230 The process of teaching. And and I think that includes our students, too. 262 00:28:37,230 --> 00:28:41,250 So, you know that they are kind of active collaborators in this process. 263 00:28:41,250 --> 00:28:52,330 I think that there's just so much to learn from the approach we've actually taken with Project Enhance and the benefits of that for, 264 00:28:52,330 --> 00:28:57,700 you know, the quality of learning as well and what the students can get out of it. 265 00:28:57,700 --> 00:29:02,430 And that's something I'm quite excited about. I'd like to do more with. 266 00:29:02,430 --> 00:29:05,700 Definitely. I completely agree. 267 00:29:05,700 --> 00:29:15,750 In terms of first applying for teaching posts in the future, we've now gained experience of the side of teaching that we didn't. 268 00:29:15,750 --> 00:29:19,980 Not that we didn't engage with before, but that weren't necessarily our top priority. 269 00:29:19,980 --> 00:29:25,980 When, you know, we need to prep for our seminars, go and teach them to have a set number of hours to do everything. 270 00:29:25,980 --> 00:29:33,750 Having this kind of reflective role and thinking about all the kind of other things that go into 271 00:29:33,750 --> 00:29:39,820 preparing a really good module and really good contact session has been really useful for that. 272 00:29:39,820 --> 00:29:45,150 But I guess the other thing for me is that I always knew there would be, you know, 273 00:29:45,150 --> 00:29:52,980 a bit of a gap between finishing my PhD and hopefully getting some sort of academic role. 274 00:29:52,980 --> 00:29:59,550 And I did think, you know, I'll apply for a job in professional services or maybe I'll get some casual teaching 275 00:29:59,550 --> 00:30:06,880 contracts and hopefully I'll be doing something linked to the university while I'm kind of, 276 00:30:06,880 --> 00:30:10,200 you know, working on a book proposal, working on more articles, 277 00:30:10,200 --> 00:30:17,100 gaining all those other sorts of research experience that I would need to get a postdoc or an academic post. 278 00:30:17,100 --> 00:30:22,950 And I guess this role has just given us a little bit of security and bought us 279 00:30:22,950 --> 00:30:29,460 a little bit of time to be doing those things and thinking about our research. 280 00:30:29,460 --> 00:30:31,830 I mean, not not to say that it hasn't been difficult. 281 00:30:31,830 --> 00:30:40,320 I think, you know, both me and Philippa feel that it's really tiring to be sat at your laptop all day doing this sort of work and then to think, 282 00:30:40,320 --> 00:30:45,330 okay, I need to turn to that to the article proposal that I'm working on. 283 00:30:45,330 --> 00:30:55,630 But that's the other side of this is a lot of post PhD will be in that position of I want to carry on with my research, develop my research profile. 284 00:30:55,630 --> 00:31:03,180 But, you know, I need some paid employment. And at least this role has felt that we've been developing the teaching side of things 285 00:31:03,180 --> 00:31:32,470 while we've been trying to continue to work on our research side of things as well. 286 00:31:32,470 --> 00:31:38,860 Yes. I just want to ask you a little bit about the application process. 287 00:31:38,860 --> 00:31:46,840 So kind of what you have to do in terms of filling in any kind of application form and then what the interview process was like. 288 00:31:46,840 --> 00:31:53,020 So, yeah, can you say a little bit about what you had to do in terms of an application? 289 00:31:53,020 --> 00:31:59,960 And sure. So the application form wasn't overly elaborate. 290 00:31:59,960 --> 00:32:05,810 I filled in much longer involved application forms before. 291 00:32:05,810 --> 00:32:12,320 But it asked for I can't remember how long it was, but a relatively lengthy supporting statement. 292 00:32:12,320 --> 00:32:20,570 So the equivalent of writing a cover letter for a job that wanted you to engage with STAR 293 00:32:20,570 --> 00:32:26,720 And I cannot remember what the acronym stands for, but it's the idea that its situation. 294 00:32:26,720 --> 00:32:31,130 task action, reflection or resolution. Yes. 295 00:32:31,130 --> 00:32:38,330 Yes,. So it it kind of wanted you to go through your experience, what sort of skills and things you're bringing to this job. 296 00:32:38,330 --> 00:32:42,950 But, you know, you talk about, you know, in this situation, I was faced with this challenge. 297 00:32:42,950 --> 00:32:45,380 Here's what I did. And, you know, here was the result. 298 00:32:45,380 --> 00:32:51,830 And I think I don't think I've consciously used that in other job applications before this role. 299 00:32:51,830 --> 00:32:55,970 But that was actually quite useful for me to talk about previous jobs I'd done and 300 00:32:55,970 --> 00:33:00,640 then have to think of some some conflict or some issue that I dealt with within that. 301 00:33:00,640 --> 00:33:05,870 So. So, yeah. So we had this supporting statement to write 302 00:33:05,870 --> 00:33:10,730 And then we were invited for interview, which was a panel interview. 303 00:33:10,730 --> 00:33:17,870 I think there were four or five people on the call. It was virtual, obviously over Microsoft teams. 304 00:33:17,870 --> 00:33:26,900 And I just remember it being very quick, I think, because there were a number of these roles advertised and they had quite a few posts to fill. 305 00:33:26,900 --> 00:33:30,280 It did need to be quite speedy. 306 00:33:30,280 --> 00:33:38,210 But the sorts of questions they asked were, I think they were to do with digital teaching, like, you know, where do you see this going? 307 00:33:38,210 --> 00:33:44,360 Or what's an example of best practise in digital online teaching? 308 00:33:44,360 --> 00:33:47,630 But I did get the impression that they wanted the answers to be quite succinct. 309 00:33:47,630 --> 00:33:53,870 So I felt a little bit a little bit rushed versus some of the job interviews I've been in. 310 00:33:53,870 --> 00:34:01,100 But I got the impression that really they they'd already appreciated what you were going to offer from your written application, 311 00:34:01,100 --> 00:34:04,750 and they were really trying to work out where you would fit in. 312 00:34:04,750 --> 00:34:13,220 And so I think the reason they put me in Philipa on PGT programmes was no doubt because of our experience being postgraduates. 313 00:34:13,220 --> 00:34:22,430 But I think they were just trying to work that out at that stage and obviously check that we were, you know, fit for the role. 314 00:34:22,430 --> 00:34:29,480 And I'd just add that I really appreciated being picked by the College of Medicine and Health. 315 00:34:29,480 --> 00:34:35,300 Even though this is not our specialism. They saw something in us. 316 00:34:35,300 --> 00:34:43,460 And it's really proven transferable how flexible English and humanities graduates can be. 317 00:34:43,460 --> 00:34:49,010 I think, you know, we've been able to bring a creative approach to the problem solving, 318 00:34:49,010 --> 00:34:56,300 to, you know, the kinds of education that we're facing in our programmes. 319 00:34:56,300 --> 00:35:01,640 So, yeah, I think we've definitely had some real strengths to bring to the role. 320 00:35:01,640 --> 00:35:10,070 I initially didn't hear anything when I applied. So Heather was in the first round of sort of employees. 321 00:35:10,070 --> 00:35:17,090 I didn't hear anything for a couple of months. And I chased it up and I was told that I hadn't been shortlisted. 322 00:35:17,090 --> 00:35:21,010 So I just thought, okay, you know, onto the next thing that's that. 323 00:35:21,010 --> 00:35:31,460 But then I had an email out of the blue a couple of months later when I think they were just they realised they needed to recruit some more DLDs 324 00:35:31,460 --> 00:35:37,280 So then I had a very last minute interview for the College of Medicine Health as well. 325 00:35:37,280 --> 00:35:40,280 And, yeah, just just it's been great working there. 326 00:35:40,280 --> 00:35:50,200 And I think we've had an insight also into the extent to which medical professionals actually do value the humanities also. 327 00:35:50,200 --> 00:35:59,600 And what they can learn from them. You know, I hadn't realised that medical students are even taught art history because it helps them with being 328 00:35:59,600 --> 00:36:05,750 able to kind of analyse the symptoms that a patient is presenting and kind of think of it holistically. 329 00:36:05,750 --> 00:36:11,600 So I think it's really been beneficial for us to bring all sort of creative approach to things. 330 00:36:11,600 --> 00:36:19,740 Also with things like the strategy Problem-Solving thinking about ways forward more broadly. 331 00:36:19,740 --> 00:36:28,250 It's been great that that has actually been valued. And yeah, that we were both taken on by the College of Medicine and Health. 332 00:36:28,250 --> 00:36:30,990 That's really, really brilliant and really helpful. Thank you. 333 00:36:30,990 --> 00:36:41,510 And I want to finish, you can just give sort of like we got any advice or kind of top tips to other PGRs who are who are coming to. 334 00:36:41,510 --> 00:36:45,320 The end of their research degree. Maybe they're not sure they want to do. 335 00:36:45,320 --> 00:36:51,830 Or maybe they're, you know, are thinking about pursuing an academic career or something in higher education. 336 00:36:51,830 --> 00:36:59,270 What advice would you give them based on? Based on your experience as a sort of almost the past year? 337 00:36:59,270 --> 00:37:02,330 I think in terms of job searches, 338 00:37:02,330 --> 00:37:11,610 I definitely had already thoughts about going into professional services just because I wanted to keep that link to a university and, 339 00:37:11,610 --> 00:37:19,670 you know, ideally Exeter. I just thought it would kind of keep me in the loop with academic things, at least being in that environment. 340 00:37:19,670 --> 00:37:24,890 So that's definitely something that I was already considering kind of post PhD. 341 00:37:24,890 --> 00:37:31,490 But I think I've realised in this role with how linked it is with teaching and supporting learning, 342 00:37:31,490 --> 00:37:42,770 is that it doesn't just have to be a monetary stopgap to kind of pay the bills while you're looking for, you know, stuff that first academic position. 343 00:37:42,770 --> 00:37:52,310 But there is an awful lot that you can gain towards your academic career from working in other university roles. 344 00:37:52,310 --> 00:37:58,130 I know the sorts of other things I was thinking of. I worked in admissions before I did my PhD. 345 00:37:58,130 --> 00:38:06,080 So that was something I was thinking of going back to. I've seen lots of posts advertised supporting big research projects, 346 00:38:06,080 --> 00:38:09,550 which I think would be a really useful thing to get involved with if you had this, 347 00:38:09,550 --> 00:38:16,670 you know, think about the admin side of of budgets and organising events and all that sort of thing. 348 00:38:16,670 --> 00:38:24,110 So I think there are lots of other roles outside of the university as well that can give you further skills and 349 00:38:24,110 --> 00:38:30,470 experience that still completely translate into the sorts of things that are valued for an academic career. 350 00:38:30,470 --> 00:38:33,560 So it's just trying to adjust your mindset. 351 00:38:33,560 --> 00:38:40,190 Think of it not just as you know, oh, I have to spend this period of time doing something that's not my academic career, 352 00:38:40,190 --> 00:38:46,940 but thinking about what sort of roles you could take on the do still kind of keep you on that path. 353 00:38:46,940 --> 00:38:59,030 Yeah, I mean, I think there's a lot of pressure on early career researchers because postdocs are essentially time dependent. 354 00:38:59,030 --> 00:39:07,190 So as you know, you're only eligible for a postdoc within like three years of finishing your PhD. 355 00:39:07,190 --> 00:39:11,450 And so given how competitive they are, you know, 356 00:39:11,450 --> 00:39:18,260 it's there's a huge amount of pressure to try and publish to try and get the book to try and make yourself stand out. 357 00:39:18,260 --> 00:39:26,540 And if you're not fortunate enough to kind of have somebody who can financially support you while you're writing your book or whatever or, 358 00:39:26,540 --> 00:39:34,040 you know, given the current situation with the pandemic, I'm sure a lot of people have got, you know, completely unexpected circumstances. 359 00:39:34,040 --> 00:39:43,280 I'm currently supporting my mum. So, you know, you want to have some more kind of security. 360 00:39:43,280 --> 00:39:50,720 And so I think my advice would be you have to be open minded, not just flexible. 361 00:39:50,720 --> 00:39:56,480 So I did, as I said, a couple of casual teaching roles. 362 00:39:56,480 --> 00:40:02,300 But given the current situation, I was I knew I needed something more so stable and secure. 363 00:40:02,300 --> 00:40:10,460 And I think it is just about having a look at what's out there and and thinking about, you know, again, those transferable skills. 364 00:40:10,460 --> 00:40:15,140 What can I get from this? Is this going to be a stepping stone? 365 00:40:15,140 --> 00:40:20,750 And I think you're lucky if you can find something that is relevant to what you want to do. 366 00:40:20,750 --> 00:40:30,170 It's not easy. I mean, I've also worked in retail and throughout my my teaching, I also worked weekends in a shop. 367 00:40:30,170 --> 00:40:33,170 So it's really not easy to juggle those things. 368 00:40:33,170 --> 00:40:42,950 But I think the professional services side of things that university does offer, if you want to go into academia. 369 00:40:42,950 --> 00:40:48,560 You know, lots of really useful skills and opportunities as we've talked about things like the professional development. 370 00:40:48,560 --> 00:40:55,700 So I think you just have to be open minded and maybe it isn't going to be the ideal path forward. 371 00:40:55,700 --> 00:41:00,290 But, you know, you just have to try and be kind of resourceful, I suppose. 372 00:41:00,290 --> 00:41:04,040 And it does open up other things and it gives you an insight into other areas. 373 00:41:04,040 --> 00:41:10,850 And, you know, for me, as time goes on, because I've been in this situation for a couple of years now, 374 00:41:10,850 --> 00:41:18,970 you kind of think, okay, well, maybe previously I can imagine really doing anything else because that means. 375 00:41:18,970 --> 00:41:24,970 It isn't going to happen quite like that. And, you know, maybe I'll find another way. 376 00:41:24,970 --> 00:41:33,270 So I just really would say. Be open minded and be resourceful in in the roles that you take on. 377 00:41:33,270 --> 00:41:42,390 So even if it isn't gonna be a teaching role, there are other roles out there that are still going to benefit you and make you more employable. 378 00:41:42,390 --> 00:41:51,630 Thank you so much to Heather and Philippa for taking time out of what I know is an incredibly busy schedule in the roles that they're in. 379 00:41:51,630 --> 00:41:56,840 Talk to me about their roles as digital learning developers at the University of Exeter. 380 00:41:56,840 --> 00:42:01,500 And I think there are a number of things to pull out of this conversation. 381 00:42:01,500 --> 00:42:08,850 You know, that's the important thing that we've been trying to focus on about starting your career and getting jobs during COVID 382 00:42:08,850 --> 00:42:17,790 but also thinking about that kind of route into an academic career, which might not be traditional, 383 00:42:17,790 --> 00:42:24,900 perhaps particularly at the moment, but going into this kind of professional services role where you might be able to develop really, 384 00:42:24,900 --> 00:42:33,660 really relevant skills and experience and expertise that will put you in a really, really strong place in the academic job market. 385 00:42:33,660 --> 00:42:40,680 And I know that the kinds of things that Heather and Philippa were talking about, their teaching and digital skills, 386 00:42:40,680 --> 00:42:44,940 their fellowship with the Higher Education Academy or the professional development they've been undertaking, 387 00:42:44,940 --> 00:43:00,830 is going to put them in a really fantastic place when the kind of academic roles, when they come up. 388 00:43:00,830 --> 00:43:16,577 And that's it for this episode. Join us next time when we'll be talking to another researcher about their career beyond their research degree.  
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