Apr 102014

Welcome – Jeff Hayward

Jeff is noting how this is the twelfth annual elearning@ed event, and that’s a really notable length of time for an internal event like this.

There’s a real buzz about technology enhanced learning, eLearning, or whatever you want to call it. There seems to be a stepping up a gear and a real sense of fun and creativity here. Lots of rethinking of pedagogies, and of teaching and learning and the use of technology in this. And I think we’ve tended to do it that way around, and kept a solid idea of skills that students need as they go out into the world.

I also want to thank all of you working on MOOCs. And I wanted to thank all of you who are involved in the online masters programmes. I think we are quite unusual to have so many of these, so fully across the university. As the first phase of the DEI programme comes to an end we are well on our way to the 10,000 student target. Now that’s the good bit. But I know our students would like greater consistency in our use of technology, and technology a cross the programme.

Part of the stepping up a gear has been the advertising of senior posts in online learning. We include online learning in the job descriptions of senior staff in schools, of senior management, and that’s really significant. We are seeing schools who haven’t been involved in DEI yet, are coming forward now. We have ambitious plans for investment in digital education. And we have recently formed a new division, headed by Melissa Highton, within Information services to take this forward. And MVM teaching and learning technology team are joining IS so we will have a big experienced team taking this forward. So a lot of excitement and fun looking forward!

Keynote: Cargo cult teaching- the importance of authentic practice – Ross Galloway

Thinking about what authenticity might look like I felt there were three key areas to authenticity: authentic practice by instructors; authentic practice by students – particularly thinking about what students will go forward with in their careers; authentic practice in educational research.

I want to start with the notion of authentic practice by instructors. Here we have our classic 12th C picture of a lecture… And that’s pretty much looks like lectures now…. Very passive audience…

But there are alternatives as well. But there are movements around active learning, group learning. Problem based learning where students are more active, more engaged. So another picture of a lecture theatre here shows students working in groups, directing their attention across the row, not to the front.

Why should we care about how we teach? Here’s some compelling data from physics (hake, am. J. Phys. 1998) which shows evaluation of a number of introductory physics courses. It shows “gain” – the difference between pre and post testing, showing any improvement. Normalised gain of 0 means people have learned nothing. Normalised gain of 1 means they have learnt everything. Passive learning doesn’t show much over 0.3 gain. Active engagement varies but sits much higher in the 0.5 the 0.6 and above. So I will be bold and say that active learning is what works. The evidence is there. Surely we should be in a golden age for active learning then?

Surveys in the US did show 87% awareness of evidence based reformed approach. And almost half used them. Slightly lower in the UK… But still good… Except there is a catch….

For physics in the US more than a third of instructors who try these new approaches, subsequently discontinue (Henderson etc al 2012). In biology instructors report that they don’t see better results? What happens? Well we hear instructors saying “I tried it, it didn’t work!”.

So I want to talk a bit about Cargo Cults. During the war cargo planes were dropping materials and supplies. Locals also benefitted. But the war ended and the planes stopped. So locals missed that, they knew you needed watchtowers, then planes would come… But they didn’t. And this is a real phenomenon….

And that’s a bit like what has been happening with these new teaching approaches. So in physics 1/4 to 1/2 of instructors deviate significantly from established design of evidence-based teaching approaches (Henderson and dancy 2009). And a wide variation in actual classroom practices for the “same” approach (Taylor and finkelstein?). It’s like those wooden control towers… It looks like they’ve done the right thing but it’s not going to work the same way…

So an example. Peer instruction… You might pose a question. Let students think and vote, let students discuss amongst themselves, students revote, whole class discussion, confirm and summarise. That’s the evidence based approach.

But what happens in reality in some classes is people miss out the “students think and vote” so you never get that marker in the sand. Asking the question first means you have thought and committed. So you have to confront why there is disagreement. You want to engage and resolve conflict, reform existing conceptions. Skipping it means students votes come from a very different place. How many of those skipping that stage don’t even know why that step is there?

The other part which Is often missed out is the confirm and summarise stage. Students can get partway through learning, be developing ideas. But that confirmation and summarising is really important,it firms up what the correct approach is and why, is confirms what has been learned.

So, what to do? Well don’t blame the instructor! “Us versus them is not constructive” (dancy and Henderson 2010). Instructors are often not hugely aware of learning theory but that doesn’t mean they are unbelievers, that they aren’t open to change even if they do use traditional methods.

Avid don’t tell instructors what to do – an informed partnership works better (Henderson and dancy 2007). We are instructors because we are experts, we know what we are talking about. And there are key pragmatic reasons that some practices are hard to do – room layout can make a huge difference for instance.

So what do We do?

Classroom approach needs to correspond to the authentic practices of the educational reform. Implementation needs to be supported.

So that’s the polemic, now some examples. And starting with a failed experiment in reformed approaches. I can talk about this failure because it is mine!

So for undergraduate physics we have an assignment marking rubric. It works well, it’s supported by research. We look for techniques that experts use. For instance for mathematical execution and final answers we explicitly include “evidence of meaningful evaluation of answers”. So we want students to check over, assess, confirm things are correct. So, it makes sense. Super. Expert like.

What happens in practice? Students do this for equations like e=mc2. Where there is no point of doing that! Or they fail to do something in the equation and note a discrepancy. But don’t go back and recheck it. So they evaluated it but did not actually used it as a tool. They got so very close!

What’s the problem? From an expert perspective you do this stuff automatically… You work and correct as you go. But students see it as a hoop to leap through. It’s not useful or effective.

It’s not enough to encourage students to do what we do. The practice must be authentic within the context of the students activity – right there at that moment. It must be real. If it’s not it’s just that hoop to jump to. So I will take these things out of the play context, focus them in actual useful practices.

And that last section. Authentic practice in educational research. A happy successful example. Let’s go back to that peer instruction process. Wouldn’t it be nice to close the loop, to feed results into how we write questions. Why do this? Well voting responses highlight some concepts that are easily shifted – big gain. But sometimes we see something where the gain is very small pre and post discussion etc. how do we find out what happens here? Well we use smart pens. They give real insight into what is going on. These pens digitise and include microphones, captures pen strokes and audio recording in sync. I don’t listen in, that’s not fair… But I get to see process data. So this technology told us what went wrong in this question with terrible gain…

Firstly it was a negative question so confusing doubles. And there were lots of confusions about the symbols using in the question – which isn’t important. The concepts are the key focus or should be. And the question saw students focusing on irrelevant features. And symbols activate formula-based approach. These are superficial but divert students from talking about the core concept. I learned a lot here. I do walk the rom but students can feel inhibited so this technology really helps.

So we rewrote the question. We added an image to set up the idea of what was taking place. It’s no longer negative. And we took out symbols. But numbers still had to be here. And we retested this approach. And we went from gain of 0.09 to 0.51. That’s a great result. We did this for a number of other questions, revising question based on insights. Some saw modest improvements, some substantial improvements.

The smart pen technology is highlY effective for observing student process. It was embedded in a really authentic experience, the real classroom setting, real problems students were solving. A really authentic experience.

So, authenticity. Are we being authentic as instructors? Are students playing at being students or can we make their experience authentic and real and relevant to them. And how can we ensure when we look at educational research it’s relevant and authentic to us, to our teaching context.


Q: thank you so much Ross. I was thinking about what you said about failure. You admitted something didn’t work. You talked about constraints for instructors… How can I encourage instructors to try something that might not actually work, that might be a failure, to engage and enjoy that experience regardless
A: I think there is no easy answer to that. But, welts all relative. Even when reformed practices don’t work well they are usually better than what went before. Didactic passive lectures work alarmingly poorly. Students often learn from books, from friends, from the libraries but take little from the classroom in that form. My practice could certainly be better but it’s an iterative approach. Even if you try it only once or twice a semester, to learn from something appropriate and authentic to their context. Incorporate small pieces and build from three,

Q: what data do you get from the smart pens?
A: you can see an animated PDF of line moving and audio effectively, it’s a proprietary format. Students transcribed, or looked for keywords, coded independently to make sure similar. That’s tricky actually. That takes some time to do but if I see two thirds hung up on symbols, that’s probably significant.

Q: I like to throw the messiness at my students, all the ambiguities. So if you clean up that question are you removing those?
A: I do like those ambiguities but I include those a bit differently. I have my students read ahead. We focus on fundamental concepts as most peoples fundamental concept of the universe is actually different from physics and deceptively difficult to shift. We do embrace ambiguity but not in lectures, in workshops where we have four or six tutors around and we ask big real world ambiguous questions. So questions like “how many street lights are there in edinburgh” – a question to think about what they can see, what they can estimate… The technically gifted students hate this. At school they are rewarded for the right answers. Physicists get employed because they have the skills to think “well I can see 12 lights from here so if I think about how many there might be across the city based on that…” to think around the question, not to have a single right answer.

Q: I am trying to take the same approach online. But we are having difficulty with students response to this approach. These are a mixed mature student group from ten different countries and significant portion ask “where is the lecture?!” Have you had this?
A: we have had some responses like that. We ask students in teed back surveys about these formats versus other classes, about what works and what doesn’t. Overwhelmingly they embrace it and write very nuanced responses. 85-90% like it! a few are neutral! and a tiny but very civically core don’t like it. For them though it’s about explaining why, the evidence base for this approach. I don’t see it much in my class but in the literature there are reports that students think it’s instructors being lazy. Not true of course, it is more work and you absolutely have to be on top of your game. But we do have the issue of students being very conservative. Every year we have a few students who only want to study like school. Don’t want to do coursework, workshops etc. exceedingly risky for them. So you have to convince the students to engage here. One thing I do in lectures is ask students to speak to someone who doesn’t agree with them – little happens, then I say “and if you can’t find anyone I will talk to you” – and that does the trick!

ePortfolios, ACJ and reflections – David Pier CMVM

Our programme, ChM are surgical programmes devolved with the royal college of surgeons. So we will be talking about process we use at the milestone between specialist training and practice. W try to get our surgical trainees, who have been in raining for many years, to go from “how could you treat this condition” and instead to weigh up evidence based approach to “how will you treat this patient?”. These guys have a lot of core knowledge, but we are looking at the application of this knowledge.

And these guys have lots of surgical retaining but they may not have had any research training, to assess that evidence. They will have some skills but we have this academic skills module looking at evidence based practice in surgery, finding the evidence, assessing ones own practice and implementing change, critical appraisal, non-technical skills. We really want them to think how they as a leader can impact how things happens. We teach some of these skills through information, particularly through discussion boards but we also wanted to ensure there was assessment. And that assessment had to be e,needed in their day to day work, be real vent, and be based on wreak every day cases. So we came to the conclusion that we wanted to use a reflective eportfolio – which would be very well aligned to the types of portfolios used professionally. So these could see something in theatre, reflect upon it. We wanted to be as reflective as possible. Students can upload thoughts to VLE into a private area. We had some requirements but the main thing was to get thoughts down as they happen, to put as much in as possible.

What we hoped was that they would capture lots of events. They witness a huge number of events, they are in surgery every day. And they may see a different or new technique or practice or experience. Then we wanted to reflect on this event they had recorded. Then to look for the evidence, see how that relates. And hopefully that will lead to a set of objectives… Which may just be about doing more reading in the area…. And then there may be some follow up, some reflection back to those objectives. This is a two or three semester assessment. And we hoped that actually this could go further… There might be a gap in the evidence… Perhaps you design your own scientific study for instance… Could potentially use this inn the research project at the end of the programme. It has happened to some extent but not quite all the way through.

So for the reflective eportfolio we wanted to make it organic but there had to be some sort of structure. So we gave five categories to use – can be swapped around – but gives structure. These are: quality improvement and patient care, research and experimental design, teaching skills, self-learning, and ?)

So we asked students to go and do this. Some took it up but some were very skeptical. The personal tutor system has helped a lot here. When you tell them that you are already doing all of these processes – this is just a structure to use – that does click with most of them.

We obviously have to mark this, and we have six marking categories and they don’t match one to one. Self disclosure, critical analysis, evidence based analysis, learning objectives, teaching and learning, research principles. These are based on gmc guidance, experience from Undergraduate portfolios, form the evidence. We mark across all of these.

So, in the first hear that we did this we had some initial confusion. This was around the time the Adaptive Comparative Judgement (ACJ) tool appeared – a tool for comparing a pair of pieces of work (and selecting which is better). and we thought this would be brilliant for peer assessment, to leave comments, to find how their work fits with others, to understand the best one. The rank order is the only measure that comes out of the system. There was as slight hiccough. We wanted to students to mark all the examples. And we wanted tutors to mark them all as well to compare. But it didn’t quite work – both sets of marks were combined together. But this did help students look at lots of examples without having to deal with marking criteria. Students mostly found it useful (ranked it ok to very useful). About 70% of students tried it out. Those students did seem to do better in summative assessment. Now they are self selecting so that might be a bit biased, but it does seem to help.

The second time around we made some changes, we used exemplars from the first year, we did some peer assessment and asked students to assign a grade, and let them know our grade. And where a notable gap – where students don’t quite get it – between those we have been able to offer extra support. In the past we have had students concerned or not understanding where their marks sit. But that peer assessment has helped a lot so they can see how they sit against others. Students have questioned marks to tutors also mark and often that is very similar, meaning students are more accepting of the peer marks. We did reduce the narratives required… Students hadn’t quite understood that. And gave a word count. Posts got wordy… So having to reedit strange themed the writing and kept posts concise.

Largely students enjoy this. Even those that don’t love it accept that they need to do this as a consultant and do find it valuable. And many are now using in their own clinical practice building on this experience.

And just to end some acknowledgements and thanks to Paula Smith, helen Cameron, Ewan Harrison.


Q: how do you manage to keep it authentic from students point of view. Student reflections from students point of view, and personal take. Does looking at each other’s work mean mastering the art of producing outcomes that perform well but are not authentic.
A: interesting question. But there is a right way to do this. We want students to take this and becomes. Better student. Maybe they do a presentation, and see audience not engaging, so want to make it better. Students commenting May question the evidence, suggest ways to do that… All of the experiences they have are relevant. You just try to focus them on particular key issues and find places for improvement. The experiences a re what they are finding day to day. Very authentic in that sense. But there is a system to help them go through, to see progression.

Digital vs “real” – Lindy Richardson, ECA
I am from edinburgh college art so we’re are teaching students about design. I wanted to talk about the difference between learning about design from real experience, or learning through a screen. My students would love to do everything through the screen!

I want to give you three examples we have given to our students to balance the experience of real design and the virtual elements of design,

So the first project was called THE CAST. We wanted to make sure that students engaged with real materials. They could bring smart phones, cameras, but also sketchbooks and materials to record the experience. So we went on a bus trip to a derelict modernist building. Full of beautiful tactile experiences. One of the problems with technology is that we don’t have that haptic technology yet!

So this building is concrete, it has burnt wood, it has graffiti, it has moss growing in it. It’s fantastic. And we asked them to record the experience, and not just with their camera – so taking sketches, rubbing, touching things, smelling things, noting what they might do with materials back in the studio. And then we mixed students up – different courses and differnt disciplines, all I’m workshops… This confused them a bit! They are printing in the fabric studio, they are making fabric formed concrete, working with hot glass, and engaging with and touching and examining these experiments. Sharing all this stuff too – they all want to prove they did this so they update Facebook or twitter. But they were physically together and talking and collaborating. It was so exciting. And it was wonderful for the staff – to have people in our department who had no idea what then are doing but up for experimenting. So they made 3d bags out of concrete. The materials were informing the design. The materials led here, and non soecialists pushing innovation through challenging preconceived expectations. Can dividing the tasks to experts inhibit what takes place?

So we have images here… Glass burning into the textile. Playful experiments scarring the concrete. And that’s brilliant. The expert wouldn’t have thought of that!

But let’s bring this back… Students have to be ready for the real world. So we get them in the studio designing repeating wallpaper… Create handrawn motifs, full scale designs in repeat manually using photocopies and drawing. Then photoshop workshops in repeats. Then work on colour separation.

What did students learn here? They learned how to create a half drop by hand which really helped me to understand the process before learning how to do it in photoshop – where the repeats can get very square.

Another learned how to make a half drop repeat by hand and it was less manageable than by digital means… Their finished wallpaper may not have looked as strong but the evidence was very strong…

And another found both new and found both helpful – and evidenced it well.

The thing here is that we have all these students with different learning styles. And it’s so important to understand the colour separation process, and what can go wrong. Ding that be hand makes a huge difference.

So we get students to manually and digitally create prints. Photoshop can really lack fluidity, but with experience of the manual process the digital pieces can end up more fluid…

Our students are amazing with their thumbs! They are skilled in some ways to we are loosing traditional skills as well. I am very conscious that I go to teach a technique. They will youtube it, try it once, and then never again. We don’t perfect, or get the nuances. W miss out because of that screen.

So… The 45 bus route project. Students had to travel the whole route and to work as a group… We’ve had a chat about group work already. It can cause a lot of friction… Students try to get out of it with Facebook, Instagram. Snapchat, email, blogging, phoning… But face to face interaction championed in the end. One made bread, one made jam. They met to make and do and prepare presentation. The blog is brilliant, I’ll make sure that’s shared with Wilma to pass on!

Now we’ve all been sitting paying attention to the front… I want a little hands on authentic experience, to chat with each other as they do this…. Hopefully you can chat to your neighbours. So I will teach you all to finger knit! My attic is full of fabric and wool and things! So I have wound up a ball of wool for each of you. Take one and we’ll all try it….

E is for experience – rob thomas

I think I am the case study here! I am relatively new to the full time academic world… When I first came to the university is was introduced to this term “eLearning” and I’m not entirely sure I understand what eLearning actually means yet. E, I think, is for experience. Everything else I think adds values to that experience, and adds value to that experience. In my trying and career I never went to unversity. I did my first degree with the open university in a pre digital age, everything was handwritten including the feedback. Very positive. But the highlight for me was the week long summer school where you had an opportunity to reconnect with reality, with yourself… And got a chance to play with things. It was an incredibly important moment. And I think it’s something that could be missed in eLearning, a critical element that cannot take place electronically. (Rob notes that he’s still attached to his finger knitting. It’s adding some swagger to his style though! )

So… Looking at a milk carton that has beef cows on it… It wasn’t authentic… It hadn’t been checked. There was an issue of credibility here… And looking at the notorious “bingo!” Poster after the budget there was a significant error of judgement there. A real issue of authenticity…

From my experience outside of academia much or learning, training and assessing is a person mediated process. We don’t learn from digital materials.

Whether organisational learning, individual in structure or evaluation, the central mode is the direct experience of those involved. Organisational learning can be a process… But organisations often don’t learn, they end up repeating mistakes in a loop.

Digital tools aid communication and information, to most learning is through doing. They are means to process and manage information. The learning is about the physical or the behavioural doing.

Life is authenticated by the self. Experience is self authenticating. If wea re caught up in rights and wrongs and assessment, we continue to believe in what someone tells us. There is a disconnect… When that person leaves academia that person needs to be able to understand their own authentic experience. It’s a very sensitive idea… Authenticity is spatial and temporal here. Things change.

I mostly teach online… We try to make it organic, to make them think of the content to an extent. Ideally when a course has been taught, the materials would self destruct. Don’t keep the traces (other than for the external examiner). We should be forced to rethink all over again. Just because we think we have authenticated something once, doesn’t mean it’s still useful one year on…. Can be so far from meaningfulness and relevant. Bit of a hangover from powerpoints and lecture notes. Should be forced to start again.

Out in the real world there is work experience. Some universities and colleges do sandwich courses (just 9.5% in 2002-3, 7.2% in 2009-10 of full time cohorts did this) And the Wilson Review found there were huge advantages. But it’s hard work to provide that experience, for industry, for employers. So it’s hard to do but gang disconnect is really important. So we have to to think about how we can better prepare students in vocational courses to be empowered to understand the workplace, the subject, and to learn about organisations. And those soft bits, how to work with people. Group work for an hour is fine but working with a diverse group for a year is a very different beast in terms of what you learn, how you relate content and how you project yourself in a team environment.

I think the general approach that didactic lectures is dead. Like online material can just kill it. And there is also an opportunity for students to step up and express an opinion, and encourage students to do this. In the real world that is how people learn. This is the medium by which information is shared, or dissected, or understood. The flipped classroom is effectively the way we learn in industry. Here we are implying this is a new concept, been going on for centuries in the outside world…

So individuals learn from colleagues, from mistakes. I think we need to allow people to make mistakes. To move away from grading and negative impacts of mistakes. To include training. To experience the outcomes of organisational learning. Organisations learn from consequences…

However lessons learned belong to the organisation but are held by the individual… And individuals leave… Which is why organisations end up repeating mistakes…

Blended learning tends to be the model for industry. Grown organically. Organisations have employed blended learning for some significant time.

The traditional project management cycle are: problem, design, implement, monitor, evaluate, adjust and go back to the problem. A cycle. But you can add in “innovate” between monitor and evaluate. That can feed up to a “new problem”, and some “abandon” at the point of evaluation – a cycle within the cycle essentially. Industry tends to abandon unproductive activity. And abandon unuseful problems or ideas when no longer valued. A speedy way to work.

A couple of examples… Logical framework (log frame): projects have objectives, they have means of verification, imdicators, assumptions, outputs and lessons. Those assumptions could be things we. Know but students don’t. Or assumptions students make that need to be addressed. And the important part here is how we learn from those lessons. So many discoveries that can be used.

When I joined the university last year the were performance and development reviews… A system that evaluates and makes you accountable… This seemed the norm for me so I didn’t understand some colleagues reticence. This is a key human resource management tool, it’s for your benefit to exploit…

So I will leave you with a T.S. Elliot quote “where is the wisdom we have lost in knowledge? Where is the knowledge we have lost in information”.


Q: why is abandonment different from adjustment
A: adjustment is you still working towards the same goal. Abandonment means a whole new goal is persued!

Networked Scholars and Authentic Influence? – Bonnie Stewart, University of Prince Edward Island
It is a big honour to be at the university of edinburgh, particularly because the university’s reputation for digital education is well known in my field. But also because my name is Stewart so it’s lovely to be in Scotland!

Now there is a question mark in my title to raise this as a question. How many in the room use twitter? (Quite a lot of us do). Now ther at cliches that circulate. But there are ways to use twitter beyond celebrity. My work looks at twitter and scholars. And I think twitter is a space for networked scholarship for us as scholars. With pedagogies… But what does it mean to be authentic in these networks, particularly in the scholarly ways.

The question of influence is a complex equation. Traditionally in institutional worlds is that teeny group that understands your work in that instiution, and we have outsiders, external markers, or the journal you publish in… Where you went to school, the last grant you had… And all of a sudden things like twitter come into that mix. Both concepts centre around reputation, albeit in very different ways. When you are present and active in spaces like twitter you are creating an identity position.

Willinsky 2010 says that in an academic world scholars are taught to understand reputation with some subtlty and depth.

Now, what am I doing here? In another country? Well I’m a graduate student. I have twenty years experience as an educator, early experience with MOOCs. But my twitter profile is probably a major reason I am here. This is a parallel identity really…

So I want to talk about authenticity in networked scholarship and how you perceive it in the world you live in. These people on screen are people I work with, whose books I read, who read my blog… They are the public sphere in which I speak and build my reputation, and I am part of how they build theirs.

Online networks enable different forms of identity legitimacy, and authenticity. There is the scholarly world, and the what people ate for lunch on twitter world. I study the overlap, the place where higher education is changing.

The fire hydrant is a great metaphor for information. There is abundance. We have moved from paper texts to a world of persistent, replicatable, abundance of information. How many of you teach? (Many of us), how many of you let students have devices out in class? (A lot of us). That’s happily higher than I sometimes expect. Our students can have Wikipedia at hand with more information than we could ever have.

And we have a real changing educational culture. Public and institutional values have been changing. Public values have moved to a more market value or vision of the university. It’s a messy mix and intersection of open and closed systems, of knowledge security and knowledge abundance…
And there is increasing pressure to go online – to engage with the terrible MOOC monster!

Within this networks are one way in which the channels of abundance can be managed. It is hard to try to take everything in from the fire hydrant of information. If we don’t have ways to structure and understand that information we will quickly be overwhelmed. Traditionally we had gatekeepers to knowledge based around institutions. They remain useful but many are not within those spaces, many are not allowed to speak in those spaces. So many use these open online channels.

Networks are not just online or offline. Not binaries here. If you have families you will have complex and different relationships with each individuals. Networks operate in the same way. We already have networks and literalise for dealing with them. T our institutions do not have ore existing literalise to deal with them. See yesterday’s LSE blog headline for instance – about the lack of reward structures within the institutions for public engagement. And my work looks at this as a matter of literacies.

So if we. See the marketoonist.com social network adoption cartoon for something on this,networks require time to understand what counts, what’s useful. In order to succeed in networks the price of admission is that you have to create a public identity. If you don’t have that centre to connect to, people cannot connect. That public identity can be confusing. It’s not about the tech or getting stuff online, its about building a different identity, creating those ways of being and of building relationships. Networked identities are multiplicitous and faceted.

I’m conducting a small ethnography right now. I have fourteen participants and eight exemplars who have agreed to let Bonnie show their profile to others to ask questions. And I did three months of participant observation on twitter and blogs and ten interviews about how they make sense of their networked participation.

The classic media story is about people reading more of your stuff – see pat thompson and Inger from Thesis whisperer’s recent paper – but it’s not just about dissemination.

I have three junior scholars or ohd students here, they don’t have big voices in their institution. They have used blogs and twitter to establish a presence, to share career and academic challenges.

If you see someone on twitter and they are quite formal and only talking about their work, and they are probably quite new. That’s not how we chat. We talk about other stuff – sushi and cake, and aren’t those nice boots. Ambient relationality between people. And twitter allows people to speak back to academia and to speak from the margins of academia. Whilst our academic policies are changing you can still be the only disabled person in your department , or the only queer person, or the only person of colour… An connecting to peers elsewhere has real value there…

Thomas Friedman wrote in the New York Times lamenting the lack off public scholars. He often does. People spoke back on twitter to point out that they are there, they just may not be of the lofty stature to get from attention… And twitter gives you a voice out, and from further afield…


The is real concern that institutions will try to control and contain these activity. The university of Kansas put in a policy to contain what they say on twitter, regardless of academic freedom, regardless of tenure.

And Alice tiara, a peer of danah boyd, feels that the more quoted or well known she is, the less candid she can be…

And there is a big signal to noise filters. I get ten or fifteen articles each week that look amazing on twitter. But if I expand them all I could never finish my research!

And positioning fatigue can be time consuming, complex, and really problematic. And sometimes identity can seem to get in the way of each other…

And sometimes immersion can be required. Tweets from a conference talking about how it’s hard to “get” twitter without full immersion in the space, in those relationships.

In terms of social media being a signal that is fully immersed… Well it’s not happening and might not ever. And I’m trying to see how to signals can come in, so I’m looking at literacies for understanding academic networked publics. Institutions tend to be product focused, about mastery, bounded by time/space, hierarchical ties, plagiarism, authority in role – and everyone knows what that role signifies. In the public sphere of networks the individuals actual works factors much more than your role. For the institution the audience is the institution and the academy. In the public social sphere the audience can be the world…

So, authenticity. There is a lot that circulates in public networks around influence there is snake oil. We have yo be wary. And the word “authentic” can be dangerous in digital contexts. For many people authentic means real, and not on the computer. And even for those of us looking at what it means to do authentic digital world, the word authentic suggests a binary. So what is synthetic work online? What does it mean to do synthetic education? We all encounter the cultural narratives where teaching online is perceived as synthetic in and of itself. Keeping those naming a and binaries open is important.

One of the keys of being authentic online for me, is showing your work. Showing the logic of where you got, and how you got there, and citing as you go, and credits ideas, then you are more likely to be taken up as authentic. Even if you are blogging you may want traditional citations. You should, credit a conversation on twitter that triggered the thought. In networks we also need something to fasten onto. Transparency is key.

Metrics. The numbers that track your performance and participation. Tweets, followers, etc…. They are not meaningful. You can buy followers. Not common in education… I used to circulate in the blogging world and I’d meet bloggers who started six months previously with 60k followers… Signalled that’s what they were into.

Now I will show some exemplars. David White (@daveowhite) people looked at his profile and thought maybe it didn’t look exciting, but saw he was at Oxford, so they thought maybe they should follow him. But he tries to show more in his profile. He signals a joke in his bio – “the “o” is hitchcockian” (a North by northwest reference). This is playful. He’s doing visible identity work. As individuals we are really not used to doing visible identity work beyond the age of 24 really. You have to in networks. It takes courage to do that.

Looking at Audrey Watters profile! she does lots of identity work. She has a playful picture obscuring her face a bit. She links to her site, she calls herself an author – traditional credibility. And the big thing people note is her 21k followers. What that means, particularly when she follows fewer people… And note she follows almost 2000 people, she’s not broadcasting and following no one, she is networking. And she tweets a lot. About 21k tweets. She’s contributing. She has credibility… Now the numbers don’t tell us if she is entertaining or if it’s the quality of her work. I would guess both. But those number lend credibility.

Now Valerie Lopes at university of Toronto has a simple profile and bio, no background picture. Not massive follower count, fairly equal number of followers and people she follows. Her focus seems to be on her main role to she tweets a lot and has credible. Audrey doesn’t have an institution, she’s a freelance journalist. And dave uses twitter as a parallel research space to his institutional space.

If you see someone following a lot of people, tweeting a lot, pushing out stuff about products or projects…

At NLC 2014 Terry-Lynn talked about “technologies alone are not going to create mobile practices. Fluencies of navigating scale, negotiating openness, way finding, and curation”. The more you leave traces of your work and connections, the more you make sense of it and show credibility. Curation also matters. If you get overwhelmed by twitter, shut it down for a bit, come back to it and them manage it.

Maha Bali just published Bonds of difference: illusions of inclusion – hybrid pedagogy. She is in Egypt and I met her in a MOOC, a group that came together really in Facebook. It feels likea. Global conversation. T in this article she and an author from, I think, India say that yes, this is global and super but we really still need to think about the power relations here. Networks open up the power relations of the institutions. Hunt networks can continue power relations of sexism, racism, ableism. We always have to think about the power relations and who has a voice in networks.

I won’t make you use networks but we need to learn and keep learning to read networks, institutions need to keep learning, to understand what is authentic contribution, and what may not be.


Q: I was interested in your slide with a sort of binary between the institution and the individual. And I’m thinking about staff having issues with negotiating that space, navigating having a public role in the networked sphere. And the balancing act for supporting students to balance that sphere. Do you have questions from your research to negotiate an area where we ourselves may lack expertise?
A: those institutional and network literacies are binaries in a way but they already interact. I think we still need institutional literacies, that’s really a space where we need reflection. A way to see what we already do and not leave those behind, but to learn new literacies as well. And in power terms institutions have a crucial role in keeping vibrant spaces for education. But we have to recognise that institutions adna be hide bound…. I’d like to think of ourselves as almost code switching – knowing when to call on the reserves and power of the institutions, and when to look out to the public sphere for what it does well. I would be concerned to see us only on one side of that screen. For my teaching – bachelors of ed students online, and offline but mostly blended. Sometimes my students are very institutionalised and concerned with moving beyond the social contract. Sometimes they need me to be fully literate in what the institution can provide to support. Sometimes they need me to be literate in networks and what that can offer them professionally. Depends so much on I divas students or groups of students and how they see their role.

Q: I’m sure many of us are guilty of saying what we do on our twitter profiles where we say what we do then adding “views are my own” for a mixed personal and professional account…
A: it can be difficult to have multiple accounts. Depends partly on an individuals role and status within the institution is. Avid what can be shared. I do not have my institutional role on my twitter profile. When I started on twitter I was on maternity leave. I have changed images but not text (much). I basically trade that freedom for the lack of credibility or affiliation. I’m ok with that trade off. Most do have their institution on their profile. If you do that… If you know you want to say things that are possibly unregularly and your institution may not want to hear… You might want to take it off. If you are having general conversations about eLearning that’s probably fine. If you want a presence to speak truth to power from a vulnerable position you have to remember that is persistent, that is replicatable that is public, you have to put your paycheck behind it. But this is why Kansas is so concerning, this idea of full overview of all accounts. If there is viewing of everything that public sphere becomes constrained. And we may see more pseudonymous accounts. And those aren’t anonymous, they are trustworthy and trusted identities… So you could be that person and build relationships without knowing your real name, recognising what you have to say may require protection.

Q: does @bonstewart resemble Bonnie Stewart and how does that work/change?
A: I think @bonstewart may be a better representation of me. In class my students don’t see a full rounded picture of me as a person, we are pushed for time. Following someone on twitter you can get bigger broader ideas of the person. For me what you see if what you get, especially online.

The student experience – Alex munyard

This year I have convened a short arts group or look at how we can maximise the open online resources online, within the university and also in a sort of global academic community. There are also questions about who will use this, just academics and students or more diverse audiences. So there is a real opportunity to become an open access leader.

So what is opening up lectures live? How does the open educational resources work? It means opening up lectures, slides, syllabi, the materials we share with students. Somewhat along the MIT open courseware model but more slickly, and justified on pedagogical grounds. There are good reasons to open up materials across the university – for revision, for learning, for developing ideas. If the university of edinburgh strives to be a global university they have to make moves to prove that. The idea that universities are global public goods, and I think this is something OER can be A hugely important pat of this. Students can record their own lectures but doing this across the university will assist those with students for whom English is a second language, to maintain quality. And the idea that you wouldn’t go to class if the video were available is just wrong, the evidence shows that students do go to class. But we need to use tech to stretch learning, not just using tech for its own sake. Talking out to a room of students isn’t pedagogically justified, just what we’ve done for centuries.

In terms of lecture recording… ELearning represents a real opportunity to make education more accessible, particularly for those with disability. Offer greater efficacy for tapping into students with diverse needs or interests. And a real benefit for international students. When more staff online and more resources available, there is a greater onus on staff to think about how they put material together. I guess to reiterate my core premise, technology should only be researched, invested in, when proven, and when there is pedagogic rationale. To it should in no way limit playfulness or creativity or risk taking.

So to conclude let’s innovate and embrace change. Predominant age old teaching methods need to change, we need to overcome traditional views of that.


Q: at the risk of being slightly unfair… If we go down the oath of not only recording lectures, but also massively open course ware… Where is the value in paying your fees, coming to edinburgh, finding a flat… What’s the authentic experience there
A: I think the benefits of OER are multiple faceted. Firstly they would benefit in person students preparing to attend, selecting their course, and engaging in interdisciplinary work. And the wider audiences won’t become students here. MOOC takers are using resources not students at a edinburgh university. So that model can accommodate that idea.

Q: interesting initiative. Do you think full time students will be able to take advantage of having resources from other courses. They are time pressed so will they actually devote their time to that?
A: I think different students will have different focuses. A physics student might use mathematics resources to support that. Science students passionate about the arts may want to engage. But some will not want to engage in other subjects, but I think seeing and engaging with different theories of pedagogies could be very beneficial.

Q: my concern would be huge materials available without support… How would that work? Particularly if they felt they had expertise from doing or engaging with that material without support.
A: well I think not everyone in the University will take that course. It would need to be presented appropriately. But I think if we went down this route there would need to be massive support for staff to make this martial available. I don’t think that students would be graduating from every subject. But something that let’s students have a more rounded and holistic experience. If we make degrees better for employability… A holistic degree should equip students for the world. I’m not claiming that this agenda will make students in every subject… But that space for exploration can only enhance opportunity.

And now we have two videos from students from the MSc in a digital education

Authentic online learning – Ed Guzman and Anna Wood

Ed’s video:

Anna’s video:

Technologies and collaborative learning – rubie rennie and students

Technology offers lots of opportunities for scaffolding (gibbons) for students in the zone of proximal development (vygotsky 1978). So for instance collaborative opportunities include teaching language and vocabulary around animals by engaging with authentic virtual animals in second life.

And technologies, particularly web 2 (mak and coniam 2008) enable comment, feedback, peer support, and feedback that is rapid and regular, not just from the tutor and not just at the end of the course. For instance through reflective blogs.

And technologies promote collaborative learning by creating environments wher learners can change the social context cues (Ortega 1997) that may be problematic or inhibit the,. They can play with gender, even present themselves as animals.

Technology offers many opportunities for collaborative learning and when I become an English teacher in china I plan to make use of them!

I have already been doing some online teaching in china? There are two ways this tends to be done. One is video recording lectures, replicating the lecture experience, not really eLearning really. The other way is using chat software or teaching software to teach students, whether commercial software or sns and chatting software. A word about the commercial software… There is potential value here for us to do this. There are huge quantities of people online and using online courses. But there are softwares we are already using… QQ, YY chat, wei Bo, sian UCAS, Wei chat, Skype. But there are disadvantages… Of seeing each other, not very secure… But these are very commonly used, very flexible, vary familiar, and in Chinese context we could easily use these software.

I want to talk about the main problems in my teaching process… The infrastructure needs to be considered. And we have to understand the students use of the internet. And the use of the technology should consider the context. Students used to technology can easily use it to achieve their gaols. For those less familiar with technology the class can be a much bigger challenge. Also worth noting that in china it is not usual to use email or blackboard to access information, and there is room to develop here. But we have some restrictions. We can’t use youtube or twitter or Facebook in China. Can’t share that. Can’t share experience of using them. Here we could share that experience and those learning materials with classmates, tutors, supervisors etc. so we need to think about that context carefully when we think about our students. Infrastructure is part of that too. There aren’t computers or internet access everywhere, sometimes videos could be downloaded and shared with a class, say.


I’m going to talk about my online learning experience in china, at high school . But in china we cannot use computers or mobile devices in school. But one teacher did set up a course on non Kent Chinese literature via blogs, for us to access after school from home. We hadn’t studied this topic before and was really exciting. And it could help students to create their identities. School life can be very sessful and very separate from daily lives. But online courses can let us reshape our knowledge and identities through learning online.

After we entered university we had more opportunity to access online courses. But these courses are videos. Students can only watch the videos and not directly contact the tutors… And there are some people who came up with the idea of a video chatting course using taobao.com, the biggest shopping network online in china. So teachers sell courses in their taobao shop, and students can talk to teachers via Skype, FaceTime, or QQ. Helpful as some students in remote areas of china don’t have access to many learning resources. And moreover these courses are very flexible, students can negotiate with teachers. And it’s closest to face to face interactions.


I became a student when I was 6 years old, and I have been exposed to traditional Chinese pedagogic models for 17 years. So Herrington 2006 really struck a chord. We need something exciting and interesting and new to engage us. So I chose online learning as an additional course.

When I was an undergraduate student of English we did have an online learning space… It did have lots of functionality but we barely used it. So when I first got here I struggled with the ideal of communicating with staff via emails, how to use learn/blackboard. I think that online students are more likely to be a let To access good authentic materials to explore as language learning.

With online technologies tasks can be set to be authentic experience. Learning in second life enables students across the world to share in a learning event. It provides authentic opportunity for English learners to meet and learn. The authenticity it provides is bette than any other computer mediated communication tools. In techno life seminars, interviews, presentations can be simulated. Presenting in techno life is pretty similar to doing that in real life. And second life is in china, as are other technologies like this, but many teachers are not realising the benefits yet so when I go back to teach I hope to do that!


Q: when you showed the screen of the learning environment I had a sudden shift in perspective about what our VLEs look like for our Chinese students. I can’t read the symbols at all and obviously my students do know the language. But it was a real shift in perspective was really interesting. Do you think the challenges can be overcome?
A: I think it’s good to explore tools like second life etc. but for learners especially at younger ages, we have to provide support and explain these environments to the students so that they can cope….

Q: do you think checking all the blogs that students might come up with will take more time for the tutor?
A: I think making a blog is a new experience for a student. There are disadvantages to using blogs but lots of advantages too. And I think that for me everyday I use ten or twenty minutes for a app that could be spent on a blog. It’s just a way to learn and I think we just compare disadvantages and advantages.

A: it is true that at the beginning of using something you haven’t used before it can take some time. When ruby first introduced us to second life I found it hard to find where our meeting was… So I asked coursemates. I thought this is a waste of time but as. Got more used to it it becomes more useful and valuable.

Making it real: authentic teachers online Daphne Loads, IAD
I wanted to talk about authentic teachers…. We have talked about authentic tasks, authentic assessment…not sure we’ve heard authentic teacher yet…

So let’s talk about what an authentic teacher may be, particularly online? Snuggest ions here include a catalyst for learning, someone who brings their own perspective and personality to learning, and someone who continues to learn.

So here’s my thinking… I’ve been a teacher for a long long time… Ie tried to be an authentic teacher for a long time, now trying to learn what it is to be an authentic teacher online… I’d like to take you through my thinking about being an authentic teacher…. About artefact… Some think a crown or jewels, something precious, something old, something that shouldn’t be there that is produced in the profile, hammers and spanners and tools.

Well often people talk about something made by a human hands, or art. (Seeing image of the tenth muse/Sappho, a relatively modern sculpture in Jupiter art land. Something invested with human meaning and that sets up human exchanges. And might be something historical, telling us something about the humans that created it.

Or it tends to be some sort of evidence of something… Something that reminds us of human error or weakness – for instance an X-ray with a. Shadow that is actually created by a braid of hair…

And the other response is just “a thing”!

So saying that an artefact is something made by human beings that tells us about being human, an object.

Teaching is an artefact. There was a time when saying teaching was almost a dirty word, needed to talk about learners and learning. So teaching is an artefact, something made by someone human, their creativity and perspective but also errors and issues from being created by a human.

I think as a teachers learning and teaching online I try to be genuine. But it comes and goes. Maybe I want to reach out to you. But sometimes I just want to run away home. But most of the time I am trying to be genuine, to share myself. Sometimes sharing my humanity brings something valuable to my teaching.

If you want an example see prof al Phil rice of Philadelphia university, his MOOC on modern American poetry. It was a series of interactive, engaged conversations with (graduate) students that gave me a real sense of what it was to engage with American poetry… Tackling difficult stuff, Gertrude stein, because of his authentic engagement. I got a bit of an unlikely crush on him because of his humanness… Carl Rogers said that one of the things that happens is that if we use our humanity we have an authentic feeling that we can use. And my being authentic tic can draw out the humanity and authenticity of students.

Parker Palmer talks about there being something important about being human and making a mistake… Look at what happens in the room… If students are ok calling it out, and the teacher acknowledges and discusses that then real learning is taking place, it’s subject centred learning…

Some yes sharing my humanity or our humanity can get in the way of teaching…

For instance I was learning to use illuminate live… The instructor I could see him, he couldn’t see me. I had to press happy or confused… I could press either… (Ace this wasn’t at this institution) and that was my choice as a learner…. There was no “shut up and let me do something button”. Or humanity is not always the nice bits, the warmth, the inclusion… Sometimes it’s the wanting to just tell you everything you know… He’d given me this unhelpful little piece of autonomy. Not good.

Another example, more complicated. A friend in another institution teaches on the sociology of pain… She was teaching online… Had built up good rapport with students… And she wanted to talk about her experience of childbirth… Something strange happened… Students stopped calling her “doctor” and started to call her “mrs”. A shift in the relationship… They had the ridiculous idea that someone who had had children could not be an academic expert. Now I think my friend should have come back at that with the sociology of power but I think she was too taken aback by the reponse…

And then we have the issue of not accommodating the context. When I first started teaching large groups it was after teaching small groups. I wanted to make eye contact… And I found myself running around the room like a demented chat show host! So I had to adapt… Getting them to talk to each other, to write notes to each other, things like that…

Recently I did a talk on collaborate and couldn’t see the students… And I found the silence really disconcerting… A colleague said “well that’s easy, get them to vote every two minutes”! Not being aware of the context, that got in the way of learning a little bit for me…

So I think authentic teachers online are not people who tell you absolutely everything, or disclosing everything…. But about making careful judgement about when that precious artefact of their humanity. So I think authentic teachers online… Are aware of their humanity and making careful judgements about how much of their humanity me to share. And those themes came out of others talks for me today!

Authentic Information – what can analytics tell us? Anne-Marie Scott, Information Services TELS
I wanted to share with you today some reflections looking at some of the analytics we can get from our technology enhanced learning contexts. I can’t thank daphne enough for setting me up well for this. My background, like Daphne’s, is in literature and Scottish literature… Thinking about moral fables like the cock and the jasp, a chicken who finds a jewel and throws it away… But it is symbolic of knowledge and and nature and of not valuing this precious thing… And I think that can be a lens for analytics…

I’ve been digging through some of our data… Kind of two facets… Learning analytics (personal use of data) and educational analytics (institutional data) and a lot of that work so far has been about figuring out what the heck this stuff is!

So an example from one of the medical VLEs (heat map of activity). This is based on some excellent work our team in MVM have been doing on analytics and student engagement… This is data on how and when students engage. One works mainly towards the end of the evening, the other works intensely early in the morning… But no value to bring to this without understanding the student, the stuff that is not in the analytics. This is a real fast and frugal sort of measure!

The next piece is data from inside our VLEs… Which tools two schools within the same college use… And here we have school A and school B… It looks really very different… Both schools about 70% of courses use learn, pretty high level. So how would this compare with obligatory online medical msc vle usage. Would logins be a good proxy for engagement Less pretty patterns here… Logins turn out not that useful…

So I did the same pattern checking for the school with all the use of social tools… Same patterns… But actually it turns out they don’t use these tools… Discussion boards are in the default template so every course has it, but they are not being used…. But it’s no proxy for understanding what is happening… There is useful stuff here but context and interpretation is everything… The machine can’t do this for us…

Great article – learning analytics: the new black (booth 2012) talks about learning analytics risking becoming reductionist approach for measuring “a bunch mod stuff that doesn’t matter”.

And I’m just beginning this work… We have some work this year and next year… So this year we are looking at what so of analytics might be useful in the VLE, gathering requirements… Maybe trialling MVM approach in moodle. Bet also how to find bette management information, quantifying the data available, seeking feedback. Sense making activity. Next year we have some funded resource available to make some of this happen… Developing tools to better expose data within the VLEs. Developing reporting on our use of central eLearning services. We want to particularly highlight to schools what is happening in their local context and to continue this work Ina. More engaging and inclusive way…

So, what can analytics tell us? Wella. Glib answer (a) quite a lot AND (b) absolutely nothing at all. Humans make these decisions, won’t be machines or business information systems that will make the difference here, context is everything.

Summary and close of formal presentations – Paul McLaughlin, eLearning@ed Forum Committee, School of Biological Sciences
I started this conference but it wasn’t my idea… We were trying to illustrate a concept to Ruby.. And came up with “authenticity”. But it was accidentally no great idea. Land I think it’s gone pretty well! I took note of some key themes I saw coming out today…

The idea of authenticity and messiness… Going against each other to an extent… Came up in Daphne and Ross and Lindys talk. And also we had the idea that our systems or structures can get in the way – in Inger and the business schools talk about cultures that exist… Also institutional failures – Bonnie highlighted failures to reward public scholarship and public engagement. And we haven’t come to terms with students making mistakes (as in robs talk) or teachers making mistakes in front of students (Daphne’s talk). Bonnie kind of talked about the dichotomy with real life. I think none of us will forget the highlight of the day, Lindy’s knitting stuff…. That physical learning matters. And then we saw David peer talking about authenticity and engagement in the portfolios. And I was amused by Micheal begs and the idea of prescribing under stress… The exam being stressful is probably authentic… But you could make it really authentic with switching between tasks – a plate spinning task! And I was impressed by the TESOL students form a moray house and their experiences of learning…

So we took an abstract idea and had everything from finger knitting to load balancing in the cloud! And we can reflect how lucky we are to have such diversity in the university!

Finally a note of thanks to all those who have organised today: Jessie Patterson, Jo Spillar, Marshall Dozier, Ruby Rennie, Sharon Boyd, and anyone else I may have missed!

And with that the talks are finished and we are off for refreshments and the poster sessions.

 April 10, 2014  Posted by at 9:55 am Events Attended, LiveBlogs Tagged with:  Add comments

  One Response to “Elearning@ed 2014 LiveBlog”

  1. I am blown away to see my own short section written down better than the notes I had when giving it. Is this done via your superior touch typing and note-taking skills, or was there some assistive technology involved. If the latter, I want it; the former I can’t do!


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