2023: A Year in Review

Another year has gone by, and what a year it has been. According to Grammarly, I’ve been more productive than 99% of their users, and wow, I certainly feel it. If I’ve not been busy writing, then I’ve been busy with my head in a book. Like my usual year in review posts, this is what has been happening.

I set myself a goal of getting an article posted in a journal. It felt a bit like the stars had aligned because shortly after I set out to do this, it actually happened. I was published in the Studies in Technology Enhanced Learning journal, which you can find here: https://stel.pubpub.org/pub/03-02-gottler-2023/release/1, along with a blog post I wrote about it here: https://amygottler.co.uk/writing/first-journal-article-published/. One of the best things about doing the PhD programme at Lancaster University has been the opportunity to conduct various pieces of empirical research. As I don’t directly work for one of the larger universities, it’s been difficult to conduct the exact research that I’ve wanted to pursue, but I’ve really enjoyed the process. I would be interested in undertaking more of an academic role in the future and conducting further research into areas of technology-enhanced learning. Getting my work published was a great achievement for me.

Another goal of mine was to finally finish my PhD. Progress is going well, and I’ve spent the autumn and winter months just writing my thesis. I’ve finished my first draft, which I’ve been thrilled about; I’m currently proofing it and making the final touches before submitting it for Viva. I have to say that I am absolutely scared to death of the Viva and my next step is to prepare for this.

I didn’t really get around to completing any of my subgoals, although I did complete an Introduction to Python course via Code First for Girls; I also won an award for my final project, which I was absolutely chuffed about (I’ve got a blog post planned for this). I would like to pursue more programming languages this year; I have my eyes set on PHP next, as this is the language that Moodle is written in. I’ve started to gain such an in-depth knowledge of Moodle now that it feels like the next logical step is to get under the hood. I really want to find a language that resonates with me and learn more than just the basics. I think PHP would be good career-wise, but I would like to learn something like C++ or C# (I used to know a bit) so I can create my own games and scenarios, but we’ll see. I certainly don’t have too much time for that right now.

In terms of work goals, I think my biggest achievement this year was building and launching a new Moodle Workplace site and implementing a Zendesk helpdesk system. I’ve not used Moodle Workplace before so there was a training element, but it’s really similar to Moodle LMS. I worked with Titus to get the initial build implemented but then decided that it would be better to build the courses from scratch rather than migrate. I went down this path as it was an opportunity to trim the fat and get rid of old content.

On top of the build, I had to create three new, additional tenants (think of these as independent LMS sites within an overarching site). Everything needed its own branding, its own course considerations, and use case. I was really pleased that I managed to deliver everything on time and within budget, but it was hard work, which included a lot of blood, sweat and tears at times.

I was also the project lead for a Zendesk implementation project. The goal was to set up and implement a series of shared mailboxes into a single ticketing system. I have experience with ticketing systems from my previous IT career, so this type of work comes quite naturally to me. The system has been up and running for just over a month now. I did the initial setup (with help from a colleague and our external IT provider when it came to setting up the forwarding) and conducted the internal training. Feedback has been good, but it’s early days. It’s a new process and a new way of working for many people, and it takes time to really customise the different settings, workflows and views.

So what about 2024?

New goals are:

  • Prepare and pass my viva – and finally complete my PhD
  • Do something in relation to teaching / creating my own materials
  • Complete an introduction to PHP course
  • Go on a public speaking course

I really want to go on a public speaking course as I think it’ll help with my confidence. This is also going to be the year where I hopefully start releasing some of my own course material. I’ve got some ideas and a couple of skeleton courses ready, but as usual I just need to put time by to concentrate on this. Once I’ve finished writing my PhD I am going to put my time towards achieving this.

Subgoals are:

  • Upgrade project management certificate
  • Gain a Moodle certificate of some kind

As usual, I wish you all a Happy New Year! Let’s see what 2024 will bring.

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