5. Specialist Area

Purpose: As well as the core areas, Candidates are required to demonstrate evidence of independent practice in one or more specialist options. This reflects the fact that, although there are common areas of work in this area, practice is extremely diverse and everyone specialises in something different.
Your chosen specialist option might be defined by your manger, your professional body or your own personal interests. You can also define your own specialist topics if none of the recommendations here reflect your role and interests. However, when doing this, you should keep in mind that such areas should be specialist – that is, they should not be things that the majority of practitioners in this area would do.

5 a) Working as an Historian

Description / Evidence  IntroductionBefore becoming a learning technologist I studied to become an historian, receiving my doctorate award in January 2010. In 2012, an opportunity arose to seek funding from the AHRC for a collaborative project between the Institute of Historical Research, the Department of History at the University of Hull, and the Humanities Research Institute at the University of Sheffield, to develop training through workshops and online technology on data management for historians. The idea of the training was to utilise existing discipline-generic training on data management and reframe it for a specific discipline – in this case History – as a means to encourage good practice and to improve impact and uptake. The funding bid was successful and over a 1 year period I managed and co-ordinated the project, of which outcomes were:

  • Three workshops for postgraduate students on data management
  • An online training course on data management for historians


What I did

As a recent graduate myself I was in the unique position of being able to offer advice to students on data management derived from my own personal experiences. I presented on the subject at two of the three workshops and offered advice for the online training course in the form of a video interview and text. These become part of the tutorial alongside advice and information developed by a variety of other experts. My specific background also enabled me to argue for a specific structure for the content in a way that I thought was most beneficial. The final decisions on structure and content was a collaborative process but it was influenced by my own background as an historian and by what I felt I would have benefited from when I began my PhD.

EVIDENCE: Video from workshops where I talk about my research experience.

IHR workshop – History DMT.mp4

EVIDENCE: Screencast looking at the Managing your Research course – one example of where my historian background came in use

MP Historian role CMALT.mp4

EVIDENCE: Online course development example document – core module outline draft 4

EVIDENCE: Evaluation document from ULCC

Reflection Much of the advice I offered for the course came about from my own reflection of my data management practices whilst studying as a postgraduate. I found that I had done some elements well, but other elements were poor and I could therefore talk about both good practice and bad practice using myself as a real example. This was also the inspiration for filming and interviewing other historians to talk about their various experiences, making the course more interesting and useful in the process.

This approach appears to have been successful. In the final feedback session of the last workshop students noted that the advice was useful for historians specifically, avoiding the problems implicit in generic training on the subject which lacks usefulness.

Core Areas