Apr 012011

Today I will be liveblogging the eLearning@Ed 2011 conference which is taking place at the National eScience Centre at Edinburgh University today. The usual rules of liveblogging apply of course – posts will be updated through the day and there will be typos, errors, etc. that I will be correcting as I spot them or when I clean up this blog post at the end of the day.

Welcome by Tim O’Shea, Vice-Principal of UoE

This is the 8th eLearning @Ed conference. Emphasized that Informatics one of the top 5 depts in the world, a leader in ISG etc.  All 3 colleges and ISG are here represented today. We are a really huge university. We could have just had elearning in Moray House or the Vet School but a fundamental of the approach that Jeff Hayward and I have taken is to make sure there isn;t just one unit where all elearning is based but a community across the university. The university’s mission is to ensure we have valuable non trivial use of elearning across the university. We are doing something new here, we are creating new spaces for students to learn in. At events like this we can think about taking best advantage of the unique aspects of elearning.It is not about economics but about the student experience.

Cue bad April fools about 2 robots at the back of the room. But I am confident that 10-20 years from now not only have a world cup winning robot team but also some robot teachers.

Assessment in the ‘Digital Age’ and the role of the student – presentation by Ian Pirie, Assistant Principal, Edinburgh College of Art and Stewart Cordiner, Associate Head of Design School and Head of Visual Communication, Edinburgh College of Art

We will start in the offline mode and then move to the technical stuff. In 2001 the Scottish Government introduced the SCQF framework which takes a learning outcome approach with different outcomes mapping to different levels. With 5 categories of assessed earning. Institutions were being asked to adhere to these principles and that means some changes in thinking about course design and assessment – numeracy is an important category and fitting that into an art curriculum can require a little thinking. Across the sector we would see course and module descriptors where the expected outcomes were tacked onto the descriptors. Expecting an invisible outcome between intended outcomes and assessment.

Art college pedagogy – small groups, all students know their teacher, all are very active participants in their own learning, highly student centered and student personalized and by the third year they are driving their own learning. So you would think that in the NSS they would be off the scale satisfaction BUT we have some of the lowest scores in the National Student Survey (NSS) with particular unhappiness with assessment and feedback and how that works. Looked repeatedly at the issue. little understanding of assessment – the personalization can make the process feel unclear.

Image of fashion show – this is an assessment. And a second part of the process is works on display. And peer and tutor critique and feedback (notes that the tutor looks like a student). But the students don’t recognize this peer review process as feedback. It’s a real challenge for the whole sector, especially for art colleges.

Four years ago we looked at how we could demystify the assessment process to genuinely help the students. Felt the students had to take ownership for it to work. Without buy in it would not address our needs. In our assessment regulations we have a clear set of the purpose of assessment. But it is bullet 1 that is the issue “to provide feedback to the student regarding their progress and to support and guide their further learning” – grades are clear but ongoing feedback  is the crucial part for students.  There is some end of year assessment. 80% of time at art college is in the studio, 20% on writing, assignments, lectures etc.

Cue some examples -Van Gogh’s Sunflowers. Mythology is that tutors might grade something A as they like it, another not thrilled so give a C and average a B. And of course in the real world Van Gogh would have been a fail, then an A after his death – doesn’t help that mythology. However in actual fact there is a team based approach, academic consensus, rigerous and robust process (but can be opaque to students).

Constructive alignment of assessment: rather than tutors saying they like a work, instead use work to evidence whether the student has met the learning outcomes – and those learning outcomes can determine grade. The learning outcome doesn’t change across projects so it is there response that is graded. It takes a while for consistency to occur in art anyway. Youc an average performance though I’m not a fan of averaging in general.

But the important thing is student participation in assessment. It’s getting the students to feel assessment isn’t happening to them but they have ownership of the process and get them actively involved in the process. They grade themselves against staff criteria and evaluate this work. Students are responsible for writing their own feedback – for reflecting on their work, acting on actions, commenting back to the staff what the experience was like. Students can’t say they didn’t get feedback, and tutors know that they have understood that feedback properly and are aware of their feedback

Now over to Stuart for the “Digital Glue” part…

So this work was part of a much wider communication overhaul. A portal was created to be a one stop hop for information. The learning management system sat in the C (or ECA) in the middle. Set up for easy navigation and you could go into information (A), course materials and projects (C) or extra stuff (E). The student view is more complex. We have some staff using Moodle still – you’ll see a link on the screen here – but we are trying to move away from this.

This system let us create a project timeline with a release date – students see them when you want them to. Project start and end dates are fixed and there are timings for student evaluation and staff evaluation etc.

Project anatomy – staff make up the project, create module and connect these to the learning outcomes they want, add brief, schedule and resources. Then the students are associated with a given process. And then self evaluation, feedback etc. takes place.

Project-module-learning outcome relationship. There will be learning outcomes that run across the year. We don’t tend to do “velvet trouser 1” or “graphic design 1”. Tend to take a higher level framing for the learning outcomes. The aim is that across the full year of 5 modules all learning outcomes are assessed at least once and preferably twice.

There is a project database for creating projects – and associating with courses, levels, etc. Can attach students to a project. Staff can also make their own groups from the existing ones. Then check boxes for appropriate learning outcomes for this project. Add description and justification. And calendar for events – not a timetable as such. Resources wise you can select items from the library catalogue. If not on the catalogue the library staff can look for the resources listed to trigger new purchases.

Projects are very team based approach. Can add staff as editors, assessors etc. Also have questions for student evaluation – to trigger student thinking.

So, staff view is a very simple webpage appearance but calendar, which tutors and which students are attached (v. important).

Projects happen and students can view course and fill in self-evaluation on own performance. And they grade themselves against the learning outcomes. Then they can upload images – an aid memoir for what the project actually was. When all is filled in they can save for later or submit the info. Though submitting it freezes the grades and comments entered by the students but this can be changed later. Staff do similarly (currently students don’t see notes but working on that). That freezes info but all feedback goes out at the same time rather than as done.When students receive that they can compare their own evaluation and grades against those of the tutors.

Aggregation can take place for grades – you can see interim grades and staff can exclude or alter grades if needed and this freezes this stuff. If you wanted to at f2f tutorials at mid-point of year (or before) that screen can be used to stimulate discussion with the student. What used to happen at tutorials – staff took loads of note but not always returned in timely fashion etc. So now students write their feedback down and can keep own tutorial records. And can submit for approval by tutors to understand what the expectations are. The staff can read the comments and approve them or can correct that feedback/attitude etc.

Once finally graded and agreed it can be released to students and they can see the final grades. It’s basically Jan/Feb time or after exam boards in the summer.

Direct benefits – huge amount of information here and there’s so much that can be done with that. Students can only write 2000 words and that can be tricky but it’s manageable. It’s a really clear system, leads to early elimination of errors in the student records data takes place as a happy side effect as well.

Indirect benefits – revealed pedagogical practices and stimulated discussion and sharing. The student participation has been increased in student elections and NSS. It’s less passive – not looking for emails etc. but expected to go and get stuff. The projects are only available online, it’s not printed as well. Definitely reduction in paper and photocopying.


Q1) Have you used the same system for peer feedback – not just student/teacher

A1) Yes, this is a dynamic system. Definitely able for any group of students to be combined at any level by staff so could do peer review there, or peers throughout the school at any level. We are practically in rolling beta with this – staff and students come forward for ideas all the time and Stuart has been arbitrating these so far and working with the programmer to add new features. We also have a blog/forum space but that is not used. facebook kills blogs

Demo of system: name and photo is really useful – helps you keep track of who is who, can see their record and history of performance etc. I won’t demo that though.

Q2) What technology is being used for this?

A2) ColdFusion with some java and SQL.

Instant mobile feedback for community‐based ESOL – case study by Justin Sales, Stevenson College, and Colin Buchanan (actually is Jerry Duchan standing in), Colleges Scotland

Relationships with tuturs through subject networks. Many subjects represented but technology is not subject specific. Really useful for supporting curriculum for excellence in schools and colleges. The subject networks are great ways across networks. It’s great to be here today as a college in an HE setting – if the tools are agnostic maybe the technology can apply, like the Curriculum for Excellence from nursery to HE?!

What we are really interested in is web based tools. From a college perspective these are great as they need little influence from anyone else in an environment without other internal procedures in the institution. That means students can also influence tech choices. Really taking off apace to a wide varieties of colleges etc.

A wee note after the last talk. A large number of colleagues are moving from proprietary systems to Moodle. It’s a cost effective tool but it does tend to reproduce what was always there in education – no pedagogical change in that system. Your (ECA) system is real pedagogical change and that’s great – and the curriculum for excellence fits well with that and we need to be doing far more project based work in general in Scottish education.

Justin teaches English as a foreign language. We have an image from Craigmillar class. Students from across the world who are looking to settle in Scotland to live and work and we aim to open up education and training to them. We have classes 4 days a week, access to computers 1 day a week. Most have broadband access at home, all have a landline. The one most want to do most in the classes is speaking – one of the hardest things to do.

So, where we started. Moved from chunky tape players, to smaller audio devices, smartphones, bluetooth etc. devices have potential but not all students have them. The classes are very mixed level but iPadio is really easy to use – this turns a phone call into an MP3. We are listening to an example. You can call from a landline, and it records and turns to MP3 as a “phlog”. I also use this tech with IELTS class. They are a bit further along language wise. IELTS part of the assessment is basically a monologue and so this lends its self

iPadio uses SpinVox program to transcribe the words. Students find this brilliant – helps them find problem sounds, helps them to slow down speech etc.

iPadio you register your phoneline when you register your account. Phonecalls are free. Developed to record football match and share, then rolled out to business. James O Malley who set it up is excited about the potential for education and it’s still free right now, but whether that will last or not I don’t know.

SpinVox based in California, brought by Nuance, and they brought a similar company before and price went way up so waiting to see what happens there. I have students trialling the transcription tools in Windows 7 at the moment which are pretty good.

Some students hate the telephone, some love it. Quantity and quality of assessment has gone way up as it’s much more manageable and students get loads more experience talking.


Q1) Has anyone used this for helplines/helpdesk usage?

A) obviously businesses are using this a lot. One of the things I find fascinating is that people use this for filling in forms automatically. Imagine it has the potential to do that. Good website, excellent company. Have a look at iPadio.com

Q2) You mentioned that students had internet access at home? Was any funding provided for that purpose or do they choose to do that?

A) Interent access is becoming a service commodity. The only student without access at home has a fairly chaotic lifestyle that’s the only reason I think she doesn’t have access.

Q3) Dialogue and communication – can it link between different items, threaded conversations etc.

A) I’m not sure about threading. It does generate automatic alerts – RSS, Twitter etc. Stopped doing that though as better if students email me the link when they are ready. Though recently SQAF have said that Skype is acceptable for assessment so presumably this should be too.
The mobile phone, the VLE and intravenous access – case study by Jo Spiller, MVM, and Sam Smith, Centre for Medical Education

So, this is an intravenous cannula (on screen here) and newly qualified doctors must be confident in putting these into the vein, it’s a tricky process and even experts don’t successfully insert the cannula every time. Doctors practice on a plastic arm until confident. Then they try on patients supervised until competent. Then they can do the same process unsupervised until signed off by senior colleague. But all of that sign off is about safety – clean hands etc. and not about how quickly or accurately they cannulate patients. I don’t think that’s acceptable. So we have been trying to set up cumulative sum charts. Red line asks them to seek help and supervision, green line tells the to practice etc. they record whether or not the cannula goes in successfully and when over 70% of attempts are successful you are near that green line on the chart.

We recruited around 100 students (actually about 80) in fifth year. A control group had regular teaching, the other group used the logging of cannula success rate. But students are distributed all over the city on placement. So, when Sam came to us with this project we thought it was a good case to log electronically via phone using edutext. It was a very succinct message to send and a memorable text message could be send: IVA YES SUP or IVA NO etc. We new edutext was in admin use but this looked a great teaching case for the texting.Also students don’t have regular access to internet/PC on placement or whilst working but phones handy.

So how did this work? All students registered mobiles in EEMEC, EEMMEC feed set up from edutext. And this data was then loaded into a chart accessible from their student record. This has been running since August last year. Around 382 texts sent, highest was 42 texts from one student, lowest was 1. Average was 12. We did want feedback – we didn’t let them submit data any other way than mobile. We also did a survey on mobile ownership at the start. Based on Bradley and Holley 2009 (how students in HE use their mobile phones for learning) and IS survey results (2010 mobile survey). 87% of med students have monthly contract (IS 68%, 40% have smart phone, 40% have no internet access on own phone. Then asked how students use mobile for learning. Most said they don’t, some search, some email, some access timetable, some used med apps and exam results etc.

Then some specific questions on this project. Would updating Personal learning record on cannulation – most said yes. So you think submitting question responses via mobile in lecture (50/50) response. Do you think important college and course notices be delivered to mobile (50/50) again. So the tasks they were asked about was quite positive but other uses more mixed picture.

So cannulation was one procedure but there are 36 practical procedures they need to be able to do (tomorrow’s doctors 2009) and we’ve been designing a log book for these. Texts sit as unassigned message until looked at then there are traffic lights for each procedure.

So, last part of this is to find a way to use mobile and web tech to develop an audience response system as clickers/instead of clickers. Low uptake of clickers in the school – seen as faffy, very tied to PowerPoint. And storing data means better analysis possible.

So… On your conference packs are QR codes you can zap with i-nigma or use bit.ly (http://bit.ly/LTS-01)

Question is: What does QR stand for?

  • A) Quantic Reader
  • B) Quick Reader
  • C) Quantic Response
  • D) Quick Response
  • E) Quite Radical

See: http://www.eemec.med.ed.ac.uk/lecture_voting/

You can see live results there and refresh data as needed. The overwhelming response and that’s the correct answer!


Q1) Is all that data stored?

A) YEs, all those results etc. are stored and can be reported back on at the end of the year etc.

Q2) Any likelihood that if texting was free they would be sending in more cannulation data?

A) Students did say that texting isn’t free and you pay more for a contract with more free texts. That’s why we wanted to provide a web based alternative (as just demoed).
And now a break for coffee…

WIlma Alexander is introducing the next session and talking about elearning, the competency framework – initially for senior grades for staff at the university, but also cascading to other grades, to see how staff engage in the university in different roles. To think about what it means to be an elearning professional, to be an elearning practitioner. One of the tools we’ve used is a group of exemplars using PebblePad, with members of the forum reflecting on their roles and their works. So there is a sort of annotated framework there. You can try it out and see how it relates to you. Please have a look at the poster downstairs and please feed in your comments and suggestions, we’d love to hear from you. Now, onto our next talk.Robert is our expert on the ePortfolio system and he is the person to go to with any questions, comments, etc. you may have.

Student eportfolio competition: results and highlights – by Robert Chmielewski, IS Learning Services

Robert is starting with a question – his talk will be 11 mins and 540 seconds… how many minutes? Cue a slow response as the coffee kicks in!

Robert will be looking at a competition we have been running with PebblePad: I am a student myself. When I am being taught how do I know what is right for me? How do teaching staff know what is right for me? Is anyone interested in finding out?

We do have a process for educating here. Humans can be perceived as machines to an extent but they are all very different with hugely different individual experiences and feelings about courses that seem administratively logical and sensible. So for example if we look at how we present things to students – something high definition can be great but something blurry and flexible can allow more scope for thought. Version 1 of the iPad may be outdated. Version 1 of the violin or piano? Maybe not…

Before at the uni – we have courses, programmes, degree – but what do we need to know. Perceptions vary greatly. When students leave university there are so many choices to pick from but too many can be stressful (Bruce Schwartx/Paradox of Choice). Students feel put on the spot in courses and making choices, hard to take the right decisions. And this is all why we are encouraging self-reflection in PebblePad. The student knows themselves better and tutors know their students best. more reflection can lead to more authentic learning.

Some people already use PebblePad and are all trying to pursue more authentic learning. So last year we decided maybe it would be great to have students send us examples of authentic learning in a PebblePad competition. So, for prizes they were able to get 2 Flip video cameras. We had a judging panel from EUSA, eLPP, IAT and IS and there were criteria to ensure entries were genuine, reflective, transferable, etc.

So, Action Plan by Robert Aird/Internship for Summer of 2011 – The plan included a SWOT analysis – this was a small discreet piece of work but very reflective.

One of the more complex items was a Reflective Blog by Gordon Thomson on his Science Education Placement – he was encouraged to blog his experiences. Really reflective account of his experience. A useful record and very useful for reflecting on progress. Really helpful to get to know oneself. This was a runner up in the contest.

Next is a Digital Dissertation by a Nursing Student. This student wasn’t terribly comfortable with technology but she constructed the dissertation around the use of eportfolios in Nursing and did a good job – this was another runner up.

Web essay – Gina Kleinbruckner was Reflections on visual art in a dot.com landscape. This was reflection on the subject but also a reflection on the tool used to create the essay. Multimedia included in the essay using PebblePad templates etc.

The last runner up was an Online Presentation on Open Innovation (by Jaehyuk Imm, Abtin Maghrour, Meritxell Ramirez Olle, Vera Wansink) for MBA programme – most presentations in the school are in PowerPoint or on paper but the web is so important that this was a great opportunity to present the content in a way modern businesses do. This is an attractive site but all easily created.

And… drumroll please…

Winner: Personal ePortfolio – Doing the unthinkable making pottery figures by Linda Hatfield

This is a very personal and descriptive piece of work about her journey working on pottery and making figures. Rich in terms of the text but also in terms of materials- every example is illustrated by her work. And linking her work and her personality and working and thinking process.

Linda has commented on the win and written on her portfolio. Her portfolio is for her personal passion, not her studying area here.

And now we have the second winner who is with us today:

Iona Grant  who has created a photo folio of how she teaches herself Japanese. Iona has the mic – Japanese is so far from English you are always looking for ways to understand a Kanji (Japanese character). I wanted to learn as a child would – so I drew the Kanji and photographed them next to an item that represented what they mean. Iona thinks that by learning in this way she is understanding the type of people she may be teaching Japanese in the future.


Q1) Is there any rationale for sharing ePortfolios for understanding them? And for Iona too – are students sharing ePortfolios for their own development?

A) Sharing is really important. Students are encouraged to share their experiences and how they work. We had a project in biology where students create presentations and there is peer marking before proper marking. They seem to be really effective – students feel encouraged and raise quality as a result of that peer review. Iona adds that as part of our coursework we had to upload portfolios to the gateway and we could compare and learn and see different approaches. Robert: obviously for those using PebblePad you can anonymize content or only share with the tutor – lots of control levels.

Sian Bayne is introducing the next couple of sessions – we have a distance learning double bill and an MVM double bill as well!

MSc supervision at a distance ‐ Translational Medicine as an example – case study by Douglas Roy, Division of Pathway Medicine, MVM
I just wanted to share with you today some of our experiences now that we have reached the dissertation stage of our online programme. This is really a steep learning curve for us and there are a number of issues we are working on that we would like to improve – not just the programme but the student experience.

We have a fully online MSc in Translational Medicine that we introduced in 2008. This is a subject that’s come forward as an innovative new approach to make the process of new drug discovery more effective. Very interdisciplinary, it’s about translating biomedical research into more effective therapeutics, diagnostics etc.

It’s very much a multi sector activity. We try to bring our students together around clinical, societal and molecular areas. This isn’t an academic subject as such – no textbooks – but it is an increasingly important postgraduate

3 yr part time and fully online. Try to combine clinical, bio-science and regulator/policy themes. It was designed for working professionals and wanted to make this a very interactive environment with peer to peer earning. About 80% of the assessment is based on interactive activities. This is a practical course for students careers, we expect them to plough learning directly into their “real life”. This is reflected in the student base – we recruit from medicine, bioscience research, from regulatory and policy sectors in academics, industry and healthcare sectors. We are are attracting students from all career stages – we’ve been surprised that many are mid to late career stages. These students require a really flexible course that allows them to prioritize their own work and family commitments. The online programme is very flexible.

What’s going on at Edinburgh, particularly what we are hearing today, are really excellent opportunities for delivering these types of postgraduate programmes. There is an established approach to the physical students – 1 yr full time, “new” graduates and local to the university, But online all the opposite end of the spectrum. They learn part time, they are working and that is their top priority and they may be quite high profile, their career and family is the major priority in their work/life balance. They may be located all over the world. We have to re-mould our ideas in terms of regulations, processes, structures etc.

The first two years of the programme are broadly didactic, the second year includes both compulsory and elective elements. In the third year we move to dissertations. This phase is student led and is work and career related – we encourage students to think about their project throughout the course. We are keen to see the projects as work related and that means students can take their work back to their workplace. Dissertation is seen as a standardized format and we wanted to break away from that. We have been promoting that students can produce work in any format that is suitable for the work that they do. There is a plan (15%) and a report (85%). We have been keen to bring in local supervisors or mentors in addition to the UoE supervision. It’s been interesting to see how that works. Some students are very independent in their work. In some there is heavy use of supervisors from their own workplaces or from the University. A dynamic differential balance there, we monitor that process. We have regular reporting and feedback to the UoE Supervisor – a research blog has been used but PebblePad also offers similar opportunities.

Last year we produced our first 3 graduates, currently 11 working on their projects.

There is a diversity of projects and formats possible: a programme grant, a case study, meta-analysis, lab research, regulatory package, literature review ( more standard format). So we see very much driving students from standardized dissertations and instead related to own requirements and format.

I would welcome feedback from others on how to work around opportunities and challenges. Advantage is that these projects are work related an of real value, students lead and coordinate their work. And we can access expertise, resources, etc. that potentially the University as a physical space could not afford or be able to do, it extends our flexibility and diversity. There is global reach without barriers. There is a potential for dual supervision to be fantastic but it can be challenging. Supervision involves reviewing of students outputs and one thing supervisors have found very useful has been technology such as Wimba as it helps to facilitate the reviewing process – you can have much more effective sessions giving feedback to students as you can both view annotated documents page by page etc. A key aspect we look for is to add value through publications, interactions etc.

Disadvantages include scalability, global reach and internet usage can meet IP and ethics issues. We have to avoid student isolation – particularly in the WebCT environment where each year is quite isolated from the others so we are looking at ways to build communities especially in the dissertation year – online conferences perhaps. Students tend to find their own level of supervision need etc. We don’t try to control that but we do need to resolve issues as needed. Given diverse nature of projects there is an issue with providing suitable analytical tools, resources and advice. And given the fact that dissertations are in multiple formats it is important, and has been raised in our exam boards, that it is important to ensure there is (and remains) a parity of assessment and marking. Another area I think we face is that our students make inquiries to follow up with PhD’s and I’m not aware of a process for continuing on with PhD’s without coming on site – would be keen to hear about anyone who has experience of delivering PhD’s off-site.

So, we are reflecting on effective supervision and encouragement of early plans (and reporting back on these). Some inputs on business management on milestones, reporting and regular outputs might be useful. We face some issues around assessment and regulations. We need to have a process for resolution of problems. Technologies to facilitate review and feedback – Wimba has been great and blogging might also work well more in the future. And we also want to enhance our community and encourage students to communicate. We are a work in progress so we would love feedback.

And finally, some acknowledgments for our supports – we have had funding from various funds and foundations and the Knowledge Transfer Group as well as those delivering other online MSc programmes at the school (Kim Picozzi (ENID) and Tim Squires (PEM) at MVM.

Easter Bush Farm: developing a Second Life project – case study by Sharon Boyd and Jo-Anne Murray of MVM, and Fiona Littleton, IS Learning Services

In the beginning… in 2008 we had an MVM space on Second Life. We were brought together as a group by Michael Begg about using Second Life in teaching but there were technical problems in accessing SL in the school so we didn’t progress it. In 2009 Jo-Anne and Sharon began the MSc in elearning programme and that made a huge difference, we saw what we could do with the space when properly supported. We decided we wanted to use SL in our MSc/Dip/Cert in Equine Science. This is a course that was to be transferred to another part time distance online MSc programme. We spoke to Fiona and asked her for a farm and that it would be for teaching

Over to Fiona: VUE have commitment from IS until 2013. It has been running for 4 years to date. I manage the space so please speak to me if you are interested in using the sapce.

We looked at Edinburgh East which was a free space on the Island. It didn’t need huge space or buildings, just warm inviting spaces. Some bales of hay. A space for people to come to at a time for tutorials etc. Then we could build and develop based on student comments from there.

Sharon: Fiona said it was simple, that’s because we had so much support. The students really liked the space. Students chose to meet on the farm. We found out there are other students that use the space because they like it so much! Our students have “Vet Group” above their avatars which helps with tutorials. We also have the IS Cream van – it connects the course to the library and information services. Marshall gave us the van but Marshall worked her magic and brought us the IS tack room. Fiona Brown teaches our information skills course, she introduces them to resources, tools, techniques. We have resources but also a yummy cupboard – tasty virtual food is essential. We don’t just use the space for teaching, we also use it for Christmas parties. And these span all years of those on the course. Students felt that the space was safe – in our orientation we explained that SL can be weird but that the university space would be interesting colleagues (even if strange!). And we learned that it was important to have a purpose for this sort of space…

So this feeds into the future. Jo-Anne teaches Horse Handling. They have to understand the materials and kit. We had a barn already and didn’t have a use for it. Fiona put us in touch with an external developer and that developer built, based on photographs, all the physical items they would meet and had seen. There are also movies there as well. There are spaces for group tutorials. The new vet school facilities will be available soon – lovely labs etc. This years orientation will be in person and that will be interesting.

We are also going to have sessions with Andrew Gardner on Communications skills. Right now we have sessions with actors but students say they don’t feel “in the clinic” in the classroom so we will be trying this in SL. This may feel more in the moment and may allow peers to act as patients. And it’s an environment that the students can use whenever they like. And indeed could be used by vet schools across the UK or the world. We are coming to our first graduation soon so we are looking forward to those that can’t come along to virtual graduation.

Huge thank yous to the MSc in eLearning team, to Youann Clarkson(?), Marshall Dozier, Fiona Brown and especially Fiona Littleton.


Q1) Presumably before SL you ran these tutorials in a different format. How are you evaluating how this works?

A) We introduced this facility in the second year of the programme so we can compare those first students that are just graduating to others who have been using it since day one.

Now off to Lunch & the Poster exhibition… more liveblogging when we return!

Back from lunch – where there was delicious cake – and Marshall Dozier is introducing our next speaker who should be of particular interest given the University’s Distance Learning Initiative.

Positive disruptive effects of current and emerging technologies in higher education – presentation by Stylianos Hatzipanagos, eLearning team leader, King’s Learning Institute, King’s College London

I have a hard job here – I feel I am preaching to the converted. What I have heard is exciting and really innovative uses of technology, I was delighted to see this. About the title – there is something old about the title but presumably you’ve had the debate about disruptive technology in higher education. And I took your point here and added the “positive” to the disruptive element. I will try and define what is “emergent” and this disruption. And I will look at challenges and opportunities in social networking, virtual worlds, and e-Assessment and I think this fits well with what has already been presented today.

So, to say something about “emergent” and “emerging” technologies – these are tools that use web as a platform, that are built around an architecture of participation. And there is data consumption and remixing/mashups from other sources. The most effective technologies have a rich interactive, user friendly interface. And there are elements of social networking. But the most important issue is the change of Locus of control (JISC) from institutional silos, and from the teacher to the student.

The other keyword to my talk is disruptive – why? Because these technologies can transform rather than enhance traditional learning nad teaching practices – I’m sure you’ve all seen the HEFCE reviews on this. The locus of cotrol has changed as the institution and the users have become interdependent. And the respective choices condition and interact in new and perhaps unpredictable ways (Conford 2008).

What have been familiar until recently is something that was welcome with great excitement in 1999/2000 – the virtual learning environment. Many were open source, many not. But they are approximations of space that is problematic – this is a non-interactive lecture theatre with a focus on content rather than interaction. Another difficult was that it is very difficult to monitor or measure student learning. They are also insular environments/institutional silos. And they were non customizable or adaptable. So about 2004/5 we started looking at different technologies – social media and user generated content. What was characteristic is that there was an element of collectivity and a collaborative element in how material was created, shared and experienced. Quite a lot of the sites belong to the “me media” category (blogs for instance). Another big characteristic is that the user controls the choice of software, tools and services. And there was this rather ambitious idea that the “collective intelligence” of users is harnessed through aggregation and large-scale cooperative activities.

These social media of web 2.0 tools are ubiquitous and multi-functional

– blogs (reflective aspect)

– wikis (collaborative construction of knowledge)

– social bookmarking (sharing personal references with some form of commentary/tagging)

– social networking (discussion, communication, formal and informal spaces)

– immersive environments (virtual worlds, MUVEs)

– ePortfolios (strange category as they are an aggregation of different tools – so PebblePad can be blogs/wikis etc. But JISC likes to specific it as a separate area in funding calls)

The other areas I was very interested in was Communities of Practice (CoP). The phrase came from Lave and Wenger (1991) and the basic idea is that people organize themselves in groups to carry out activities in professional settings and in education in an formal and informal fashion. This was very popular across different disciplines including education. It’s an inspirational idea – practice not theory. Quite a lot o it had little to do with CoP according to Lave & Wenger though because the theory claims that learners start in a peripheral edge of a world of knowledge and they will move into the centre, an element of enculturation via interaction with experts. However there were quite a lot of challenges about how they can be used in a social media context. There are two discourses here Lave & Wenger and Wenger.

CoPs cannot be created just because ICT in education can provide those opportunities that are against the framework of CoP. Informal learning is not common in HE. Students are not communities – they encounter each other in random fashion, they are transitional groups and they do not conform to criteria as CoP professionals with commons aspirations r aims. Students ado not necessarily engage in “legitimate peripheral participation to develop their own master of knowledge and skills”. And finally professional organizations are not necessarily there to foster communities.

But Social Media can support and sustain CoPs much better than previous learning technologies. It can help learners re-enact some of the actions associated with CoP terms of membership/development.

– linking to professional communities that can provide feedback, support and professional identity scaffolding

– linking to other learner and expert groups, crossing curriculum horizontally and vertically so members not confirmed by disciplinary or profession barriers in sharing experience and learning from others.Though some disciplines fit this model better than others – dentists, medics, lawyers etc.

– linking to co-curricular and interdisciplinary groups

– Embedding informal and formal lines of communication.

– Also students had the ability to create self-help groups (as in ODL) that can move between boundaries, following CoP trajectory

– And was a formal/informal element of assessment

Immersive environments provide a space to talk, to complete activities, to put resources and find resources, a space that is personal and lets you manage your identity, and it is a space in which you can work in progress and finished product. We mentioned Second Live (Muvenation: a SecondLife MUVE) but we also use OpenSim and Open Wonderland – both of these latter environments have rather less of SL’s slightly seedy elements as more strictly learning environments.

MUVES – challenges. A real sense of dislocation from familiar physical spaces, a set of competencies that could be described as enhanced digital literacies – we worked with some teacher training students and we found that induction was an incredibly important stage in using MUVEs, a big learning curve and people respond differently to that. Also people operate under an assumed identity that may or may not facilitate communication. The other barrier is that tasks must be specifically designed for these spaces.

But there are huge opportunities in MUVES. Being present in a virtual world with immersive audio allows you to learn through engaging in discussion, you can have multiple, simultaneous conversations within same virtual space. You can view and discuss materiel in documents, video etc. You can work jointly on an application. Interacting through avatars can be hugely beneficial for role play. You can link to other pedagogical opportunities – e.g. Moodle, you can explore 3D objects, and you can move to different types of spaces instantly through teleporting.

Formative Assessment and technologies – why is this disruptive? We may do this all the time. Do we do this in a black box type of way – you just get a grade with no process. So perhaps to do with understanding of formative assessment. We ran two studies on student feedback for distance learning funded/with the Centre for Distance Education, University of London. Why do this? We are a face to face university? Well in distance learning you cannot cop out of running activities, you have to engage, you have to provide feedback, you can’t delay stuff, have short meetings etc. You need a robust set of tools. We would ask people if they did formative assessment – people said yes but the notions of formative assessment was different between the theory and the practice. Some of the theory (e.g. Bob Black) say that formative and summative assessment is not alien to one another, it’s to do with closing the loop (Sadler) – this means we are formative when we ensure that there is a dialogue after delivery of feedback (not just by giving feedback), a dialogue between student and teacher. And a second step is what the student does with the feedback – need to ensure they embed that feedback into their performance in the next assessment (this is where th loop is closed). The relationship between these understandings of formative assessment map to technologies because of the opportunity of discussion and dialogue between students and teachers. Learning technology promote innovative assessment practices and lead to deeper thinking about how tutors conceptualize assessment in high education (McCormick 2004) but technology has enabled feedback for years, not necessarily in discursive ways (Nicol & Milligan, 2006).

Formative and summative assessment is to do with ranking learning. In diagnostic e-assessment we look at group work, peer review, self-review etc. The best e-assessment comes from collaborative assessment environment.

So for e-Assessment there are a range of technologies to consider. Objective tests (multiple choice tests etc) not very good and disagreed with lots of disciplines. Model answers are ok but non personalized feedback but don’t engage students in dialogue. A lot of people refer to electronic submission of coursework – people could download a word document, add track changes, and let students come back – a formative element but not really

But there were better options. Objective tests using tools such as certainty based marking (multiple choice + how confident students are of answer). Randomized and authenticated item banks, personal response systems, communication tools in VLEs, online tutorial environments, audio or video to canvas opinion and understanding of concepts and issues. Videoconferencing. Games that allow monitoring and intervention. social software – blogs and wikis (though culturally students like commenting but unwilling to edit or create collaboratively). ePortfolios are great – they are effectively formatted webpages but peer review aspect is powerful both during and after the completion of the portfolio.

Finally let me show you something we use a lot – audio feedback. They use Wimba voice (is easy so staff did not resist) to give comments on an assignment – and students can respond in the same format. So we are listening to someone’s feedback on an essay.


Q1) Have you ever used Facebook Pages with students in HE?

A) We only used Facebook groups. They are controversial. If your members of staff are not very happy then that can cause problems. And uptake by students has been mixed. And there is a tension between students wanting not to mix their studies with their personal life. If it is a discursive space though and it is a very well known space.

Marshall is now introducing our next speaker with a a reference to eLearning@Ed and the value of lecture capture for students. We often forget that undergraduates have family commitments too and blended learning has reach on campus as well as for distance students.

Lecture capture and pre‐recorded lectures in the School of Law – case study by James Chalmers, School of Law
I want to talk about three things we do in the school:

  1. Regular lecture capture (used routinely wherever available)
  2. Restructuring a course through pre-recorded lectures (Property Law 1)
  3. Ad hoc use of pre-recorded lectures

These are all first and second year courses as later and postgraduate teaching isn’t really delivered in lectures in this way. There is more on this work on the web.

Most of the first and second year courses are fixed but some take a more novel combination of subjects, have to retake classes etc. We are much better able to accommodate students with lecture capture (though we try to ensure they can attend lecturers in general). So, first of all some statistics of use of lecture captures. The lecture captures pushes an RSS to our website – it’s integrated into the law school website. Most is widely available, some requires EASE authentication. We were worried that captured lectures might lead to students not attending – and only catching up online instead. But actually viewing is fairly stable. We have numbers equating to 130 hits/student/year. There is a fairly regular pattern of viewing, dropping for Christmas, rising around exams. Two total drops in the stats are due to server downtime. What we don’t know if this is a small core of students that are using these in the “wrong” way but most students seem to come to lectures and use the lectures that have been captured to view again or fill gaps.

Why do this? Partly because of pattern of student workload on this particular course – Property Law 1 – 12 lectures a week, three tutorials and 9 assessments over a semester. There was concern about uneven student workload. Slightly easier spells are fine but the tutorial programme started early and the students might not get the best value out of tutorials – may be little delivered content before first tutorial. What the court organiser for Property Law 1 wanted was to record 7 of the 22 lectures for the course and require students to see videos before the relevant tutorials. This is not someone who was super technologically excited before by the way – Ken Reid who runs this course is open to technology but this was a solution to a particular problem. Students used videos for tutorials – and this allows the lecture programme now finishes in week 9 not week 11 giving extra time for revision and exams.

All the lectures are available either totally open or open to all at UoE, only closed materials are readings etc. under copyright.

So the lectures are designed to be viewed online or can be downloaded to ipod/ipad etc. You can download slides and notes etc. Some people would be terrified that these might go to YouTube, others fine with that.

The course ran this way for a first time in 2008/9. Alongside there were some examples of ad hoc use of lecture capture:

– criminal law 1 – there was a day when the lecturer had to be at the parliament, neither lecture nor meeting could be changed. So recorded a lecture in place of the slot, delivered online only. And repeated for revision.

– EU Law 1 – this was one lecture delivered online only due to staff absence. This was played to the class on DVD. Doubt attendance was good. Some students did say that they valued having it played in class too though.

The student responses were mainly positive. And a significant chunk commented that they asked for more use of podcasts. Most students said they were too lazy to keep up with podcasts and preferred having to be there. One student did object to paying lots of fees for this experience – felt short changed. Some students concerned about it going to far – didn’t want it entirely online. Students were keen on both in-person lectures and an online capture for revision purposes. Not keen on online only though. Also keen to be seeing the version online that they saw online.

Student use in 2008/9 show bumps in activity. A peak in January because the Property Law 1 course ties to Property Law 2 so they rewatched to refresh. Earlier peak when doing early views for tutorials. Usage basically looks sensible paced.

What we have done with the Criminal Law lectures is that we have left them there – little important change to the law – so they can be used for revision etc. Lots of traffic going to the site.

Some challenges – requires set up costs in terms of staff time. Advance planning definitely required. Some staff are very reticent about their lectures being available to the world at large. Staff have been open to lecture capture though as they haven’t seen drop off in attendance. Placing videos on website lets everyone see the videos and some people are not happy – so the links are behind an EASE password at their request. There is certainly no enthusiasm for replacing lectures with podcasts just for the sake of it. But one-off usage did not give rise to student complaints. Students may be skeptical but extensive use of online lectures in Property Law 1 did not give rise to significant complaints.


Q1) Approach to IPR issues to materials in the lectures?

A) Surprisingly for a school full of lawyers we don’t care too much. Most of what we put online is pretty freely accessible. Most happy for the idea that people read or view their materials. It’s never really been a concern. In terms of third party materials in lectures – tends not to arise. There is little use of powerpoint in the school. I excise any copyrighted images in my slides but not widely used.

Q2) You spoke about colleagues in Property Law 1 freeing up student time and giving time to prepare. That could also be used to free up staff time. Was there thought of using time for extra tutorials or face to face work.

A) Not really. You don’t free up much staff time here. What you could do is free up time for marking – staff struggle to combine teaching and marking.

Creating questions using PeerWise – case study by Karon McBride, Physics Education Research

Karon says please excuse the suit – she’s having a crazy day. She is a learning designer in the school of Physics and Astronomy. This is about creatively enabling questions, but this has implications beyond this specific tool. I know many of you have come to our workshops on PeerWise before. I will fill in a little bit. Let me know at the end if you are interested in a workshop at Appleton Tower.

PeerWise is a tool developed by a developer in New Zealand who runs it for free (we don’t know why but that’s great). It is a tool that lets you write your own multiple choice questions. You can put in images, videos, etc. Other students come in, do those questions, rate them, comment on them, you can follow good authors and so forth. We were looking for a tool. We wanted to develop deep learning in our students. By using tools to enable students to externalise learning to other students, they would develop deeper learning.

PeerWise seemed to fit the bill as it is collaborative, it’s social, some literature to support that it would benefit deeper learner. It seemed to show that it benefitted top and bottom quartiles particularly. Not so much the middle – we were intrigued by that and wondered about scaffolding the middle.

We introduced this to Physics 1A in a workshop in Week5 as part of structured example task on writing good questions. Did this in one of our standard workshops – groups of 6 students at a computer in teaching studios. Combined team work with additional personal content. Some of our students got addicted! Students did crazy amounts of work as they really enjoyed getting the peer feedback. There is a scoring system – there are now badges too. This term we are running it again, and students going crazy with it again. When we have these workshops we give students tea breaks – they used to play with YouTube, now they play with PeerWise – they do extra Physics in their breaks!

So this work counts towards their coursework (between 2 and 3% of grade). There is a highly focused period of activity pre-assessment then it all goes quiet. An awful lot of work went in.

So, what did students think? Mostly liked it but some hated it. Saw good interactions in the workshop when we introduced the tool to the group. We did see some who did not achieve the minimum they had to – and yet all of them logged in. So follow up with those that didn’t like the tool said they weren’t really creative, they were intimidated by the good ideas that came out from others. And there were really inventive questions. On the whole it went down well. We tried to see if engagement effected exam mark… No firm conclusions here, but some interesting results. We also wanted to see if some abilities benefitted more than others. So looked at New Zealand research and split our students into quartiles – there is a test on basic mechanics that most students did at entry to university allowed us to do that. In addition to the quartiles we considered those that did not take the FCI to see if anything particular there. To some extent these undergrads are right at the beginning of their Physics career and they don’t have their funk on – and this excercise can get them triggered into WebCT and lecture participation.

Now however this is cut it looks statistically significant but it is a very small group – on the homeopathic end of the scale. So on this graph blue bars are less active in PeerWise, Pink bars are more active. I have to qualify this – there are other courses of course. There seems to be a third of the gain for those actively using PeerWise as opposed to those that don’t BUT I have issue with the methodology used in New Zealand – we can hopefully do better with our data.

The Q1 do well either way. Q4 also seem to benefit. Q2 and Q3 don’t seem to be helped or harmed by PeerWise. Doing a comparison with Denny et al (2008) looking at the number of the questions created – some v. significant P values there. It seems that creating the questions – the writing of the questions – that makes the difference in this case. It’s not the “doing” of the questions so much. When we introduced this into the workshops we were still writing the instructions. The students were engaged and noisy and were able to get into the problem space so much more easily. In addition to letting them show their creative sides (may be the first time since they were 16 that they’ve done this for years) they really did get something from doing this activity than they would from anything else. They also got a sense of why it is so hard to get into the problems that we set. You watch a group of 6 working on a question and saying nothing sometimes. Even the disengaged students really went for this exercise. From that point of view it was a success. It was a direct route into that problem space. And they got the sense of why their tutors set their questions in such a boring way. Boxes, dots etc… The famous one is a sperical chickens in a vaccuum. So they start with rich creative context and when they try to do the physics they couldn’t manage it so had to simplify but they got a much better understanding of how tutoring works.


Q1) What was James Bond question?

A) He was falling from a roof with a villain in a momentum type question. Ended up with circle and arrow labelled MG. It was just fun.

Introducing a manifesto for teaching online – presentation by Jen Ross, Sian Bayne, Hamish Macleod and Clara O’Shea, School of Education

Jen: Maybe a manifesto, maybe a “modest proposal”. Our colleague Hamish Macleod has been working on a student writing project that ran 2009-2011 funded by the Principal’s fund to reflect on teaching practice on the MSc on eLEarning. We have brilliant students and a great retention rate and we wanted to look at this. So one of the outcomes will be a summar of what wece learnt from the research and experiences as academics in e-learning. To provoke discussion, argue for a position that we see as neither mainstream nor widely put into practice – although we are so impressed by what we are proposing aligns to experience presented today.

For me the overaching aspect of this work is to think that distance can be a positive principle not a deficit. “We have to keep reminding ourselves that we are oing something new here… we are providing students with valuable expereinces they couldn’t otherwise have” – Principal Tim O’Shea this morning!

Online can be the privilige mode. Connection can be redefined. We can make new kinds of community practices not only on programmes but beyond. And writing, assessment and feedack can be reconfigured and opened wide. Texts online are not closed, they have life after assessment!

Sometimes we talk about elarning as something different than what it is… “can we do an online version of that course?” – it implies a different idea about online learning. betrays the sense that offline is priviledged. Not the worse question, but not the best version. We don’t want to make creepy twins of offline courses.

Sinclair 2009 observed that on and offline courses mean very different things even when it looks or seems similar in some aspects.

For us the starting point in thinking about elearning and what it is about is that it is born digital – digital information originally created in electronic form and designed for online spaces.

Over to Clara…

Clara: Feedback is about being digested, worked with, created from. In the absence of this is is just response. What does pay attention mean? They need purpose, time, space, support to engage. Cue image of mechanical duck – a fake! And the other is a Venus Flytrap digesting it’s pray – digestion and engagement take time, you have to absorb the nutrition of feedback. When I take here I can see your faces, we can talk afterwards. We create a shared meaning. We have to close the gap between what they know, and what they should know. It’s a dialogic process. It is a process we can open up (and we means tutors and students). We can share creation process, we can think about feeding back to themselves, peer feedback. Online feedback might be blogs, wikis, feedback, PeerWise. But other ways too. Some assignments we return feedback before grades – you have to engage before you get your grade.

Feedback disciplines and shapes students vision. This might seem obvious in some ways. When students engage deeply they can see the world from the point of view of the experts – what Dai Hounsell calls this connorseirship, or ? refers to as Self-regulation. To understand what is true, what is knowledge in their discipline. It’s a bit like joining a cult: we are enculturated and become part of the group (Foucoult quote – understanding a subject you become part of that subject).

Assessment is a creative crisis – maybe old hat for our art school colleagues – we produce assessed work that is non traditional, that is widely different. So students create haikus, poems (“Grandma was Cyborg”), we have an example of someone trying to cope with her first group chat on Skype – visual, drawing objects. This is quality thinking but how do I accomodate, record, and understand assessment and feedback appropriately. Online assessment and feedback can be challenging but this crisis is a rewarding one!

Over to Sian…

Sian: And finally we wanted to address course design. Every course design is philosophy and belief in action. It sounds obvious but it is important. We tap into Eiser 1994 The Educational Imagination – the idea of values that may be embedded in a course or organisation. The philosophy may be articulated but more often tacit. There’s a terrific chapter in Toohey’s 1999 book on designing courses for higher education – she defines five ways in which she articulates the areas of course design – really interesting in an online course design context. When I look at a particular course I think about how does this piece of teaching map to these approaches.

Traditional or discipline based teaching – can be knocked but actually following the structure of knowledge in the discipline is important.

Performance of systems-based approach – the idea of an instructional systems approach – “teacher proof” if tight objectives, tightly assessed – it’s a fantasy but still talked of a lot especially in training online.

Cognitive – learning to learn – active contructiion of knwoledge, collaboration and dailogue – we use this a lot.

Esperiantial – learning around personal releavnace, intensive, student centred – but how does it scale

Sociall critical – developing a critical conciousness in students

So, this is the first time we have aired the points in the manifesto. We will launch it in th enext few months adn an online event to which everyone here will be invited.

Q&A or Comments?

Comment from student – course is recommended. Super experience!

Q1) Do you think the manifesto is consistent with experiences of the course?

A – from commenter) Coming from a Secondary Teaching background in mainstream school this course is so flexible and adaptive. There are so many new technologies and the MSc really embraces these technologies.

A – from second student/commenter) Lets you try things out before your students do.

Q2) If  we had more time I would want to discuss more about why “can we put this course online” isn’t a good one?

A – Jen) It is a potentially contentious point to make. That partly comes from the sense that those of us who know about technology are scared of frightening those who do not know about technology. We don’t think that’s a helpful way to think about creating online courses though

A – Clara) connects to the idea of new academic discourse. It expands and constrains in different ways – these sapces create and do things differently.

Q2) Quite a lot of current debate is about making assessment central in learning. This of course includes online environment. Is it true that assessment aspect is placed quite centrally in the manifesto?

A – Jen) Yes, partly because of the genesis of the project in looking at assessment and feedback. But assessment is at the heart of what the project is about, we need to make that as interesting and engaging as it can be.

A – Clara) an addition – assessment isn’t strictly about I have handed something in and gotten feedbacl. Assessement is a much longer process – blogs and wikis are about iteratively revisit our understanding and that is a form of assessment as well.

Q3) How would you give a value on the course you give

A – Clara) All are Level Awesome!

A – Sian) It’s a Level 11 programme in terms of Credit Accreditation Framework but is that what you mean?

Q3 again) How do you assess value compared to what others do?

A – Sian) There are social and cultural aspects aren’t well represented in the field yet – often focus is technology. Still a maturing area. We ride the area of elearning as a field of research generally.

Erin: Please note all notes and videos will be on the eLPP wiki very soon. It’s also just had a lovely makeover so do go have a look.

And finally....

Since eLearning@Ed 2011 took place on 1st April here are some of the best social media April Fools:

  3 Responses to “eLearning@Ed 2011 – Liveblog”

  1. This is great Nicola – great reading. Must say though I approved of the April Fools Joke though – made me laugh a lot! Especially since *I* was in the back row 😉

  2. Hi, I realise I may have been somewhat disengenuous earlier when I said ipadio is free to use. The service iteslf is free, but the phone calls are charged at a national rate. Also, SpinVox only transcribes the first sixty seconds of a call to a free account. While this is fine for my purposes to work on the quality of students’ speech at word and sentence level, interested parties might wish to contact James O’Malley (james.omalley@ipadio.com) to discuss educational rates for paid accounts. HTH.

  3. Justin, huge thanks for the clarification – I’ll add a reference to it in the main blog posts when I make a few more bits of tidying up etc. later this week.

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