Teaching: on the front line

February 6, 2004

What is your experience of teaching? Pat Leon asks teachers how they manage

Name: Lindsey Martin

Age: 48

Job: Academic liaison coordinator to the faculty of humanities, management, applied and social sciences, Edge Hill College of Higher Education.

Salary: £23,000

Qualifications: BA sociology (Leicester); postgraduate diploma in information and library management (Liverpool John Moores).

Experience: I was a civil servant - manager and caseworker - with the Charity Commission. During my career break, I trained as an antenatal teacher with the National Childbirth Trust.

The training was based on peer review, feedback from parents-to-be and personal reflection. It was very energetic. I joined Edge Hill in 1994 as a part-time library assistant and worked my way up.

Hours spent teaching: Up to 15 hours a week at the start of a semester, after which it dwindles to about two. I do lots of face-to-face teaching about how to handle and critically appraise information.

Hours on red tape: I'm a librarian, so a lot. I also sit on various committees.

Hours on research: As a central support service, we research new approaches to learning and teaching.

Teaching bugbear: Dumping static material online. Electronic databases and journal collections should be something that students and staff enjoy exploring.

How would you solve it? Interactive online tutorials. A lot of people are dipping their toes into this and, rather than customise one, we decided it would be better to do our own. It's called ExpertEase. We piloted it with teaching staff and students. This academic year, we went live with an information skills tutorial for health students. It is bright and colourful and has a fellow called Jay who pops up whenever there is an idea we want students to explore.

Worst teaching moment? The upset faces of a new intake of health students when they did their first self-audit of skills online. We hadn't expected them to be competitive and tell one another. We changed the format, put a positive spin on skills gaps and set up face-to-face remedial tutorials.

Best teaching moment? Reading the comments from nurses and teaching staff on our discussion board. If something's untried, you have no idea how it will be received. People were "chatting" at times we never expected.

Teaching tip? Let your imagination run riot when you create materials for online learning and make sure you collaborate with a talented learning technologist, such as my colleague Mark Roche.

Outside interests: A late convert to the gym and running.

* Lindsey Martin (pictured) and Elizabeth Skinner (Teaching: On the Front Line, THES , November 21 2003) of the University of Gloucester are runners up in The THES /LTSN e-tutor of the year competition.

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