Jun 302015
 

Today I am at the Connect More with Jisc in England (Leeds) event being held at Shine, a social enterprise in a big old school building – a lovely venue but very warm! Unfortunately it is also a bit patchy for wifi, hence this live blog being a wee bit late in the day.

Introduction from head of region – Will Allen, head of Jisc North

Thanks for coming to Leeds on this sunny day. This is the third Jisc Connect More event – there have been two, one in Scotland, one in NI. And there will be three more – one each in Bristol, London and Cardiff.

There are various parallel sessions today, do go along to those.


Feedback is central to Jisc North, we want your comments, engage with me, engage with my colleagues… I trust that you all share in Jisc’s vision “to make the uk the most digitally advanced education and research nation in the world” – I suspect if you don’t share that vision you are in the wrong place!

I believe that Jisc makes a considerable difference to the education difference, but what matters is that we strive to make the best difference we can. But we have to do that in a way that is realistic in the current climate. And we want to engage with all of you. And I’d like all of you to think about what might your institution’s provision look like in 2020. I’ve done a lot of work in scenario planning and found that looking to the future, disrupts the present, so I urge you to look to the future!

Changing tack… What links these words? Goat; strut; kit; nurse; palm; north… They are part of a lexical set which allows socio-linguists to understand what part of England you are from…Try those out with the person next to you… I’m sure we have a real range in the room! But there is some method to this madness… I was a researcher and I worked in linguistics and language… I was an undergrad in York, a post grad in Newcastle University… And I did a lot of talking with 7-13 year olds just as they formed their identity… And that connection between language and society, language and identity, that work was underpinned by technology. In those days we had to store our sound recordings on DAT tape as we didn’t have the space to store them on servers.

And I then worked on a project using the Tyneside Linguistic Survey – a transformative and massively complicated transcription system. They used technology to try to analyse these – tying the transcription to a code for a punchcard computer. I was part of a project that digitised the old reel-to-reel tapes and made them available for the research community to use in their work… Today where socio-linguistics is, is all about corpora – massive datasets of recorded languages that can be processed with various tools and technologies, using massive machines, massive corpuses etc. There are lots of examples… But I wanted to mention one that isn’t quite linguistics, but is about bird songs, called Xenocanto, which is crowdsourcing those bird songs, then analysing them with computers.

Just to finish off on my story… The thing that stopped me being a researcher was that I had this passion for research, and society and technology… But it wasn’t all connected up. I didn’t want to be  a lonely researcher, I wanted to connect. And making connections is what today is all about. I truly thing we live in a networked era, and traditional organisations is being changed by the network effect. A guy called Harold Jardi is the person to look up about that, about the power of people and networks…

So, quickly, I just want to say more about what Jisc does… We have Network and Technology – years before broadband we had an undisputed high speed network. Through Digital Resources, Through Advice and Engagement, and through Research and Development. And we shape around your priorities. We are a more joined up organisation. I hope that we are trusted to give impartial advice… And we aim to work with you to be as effective as we can.

So here you can see the regions here. I am head of Jisc North, one of six regional teams. Across those teams you now have a number of account managers and various engagement officers. You now have one customer contact point, we are much more joined up…

So, Jisc North, we are about championing th voice of the customer, to deliver a fully managed relationship with Jisc. We have account managers, and we have a regional awareness, to understand the North of England and reflect that back to Jisc. And to be part of Community engagement.

I just want to touch on community engagement. Angela Harvey is our community engagement manager and she sis leading that work through events, networks, etc.

Here are the various account managers in the North – all competing in their image for the biggest smile! You’ll meet them today so do say hello.

Our venue today, Shine (a social enterprise) used to be a middle school, which means we have some interesting room names, like the headmasters room!

So, we have our first parallel sessions starting now…

Session two: connectivity: New digital learning content for the skills sector – Presenters: Ruth Hansford (Jisc), Roger Clegg (Oldham College), Belinda Turner (Stubbing Court Training) and Emily Armstrong (Hull College)

We will talk about some of the cross cutting employability themes across these projects.

So, a bit about the project, which was Jisc Interactive Learning Resources for Skills project (#ilrforskills), which was a project commissioning 22 training providers to create open educational resources for a range of vocational areas. This was partly about transferring experience from FE to Skills. Partly issues around books – not a big feature of Skills sector – and also Shibboleth access not really used there so not resources requiring that. And we asked the sector, who were keen to focus on resources that they create within the skills sector and the sharing of those.

So we commissioned these 22 projects, and these finished around the end of April. You can find all of the content that was commissioned, via https://ilrs.jiscinvolve.org/wp/, or in Jorum, the national repository for open education resources, which is being pensioned off about this time next year – but the content, or the good content, will be ported over to whatever platform that replaces Jorum, which they are working hard to put in place at the moment. So, if you do want to create content, inspired by this work, you can put it in Jorum – this massive bit of free storage!

Of those 22 projects a disproportionate quantity were in the North of England – there were none in Scotland or Wales, one in London, and a few in south east, but many in the north.

Belinda: I will be talking about horse training, but first… How many of you already do online learning? (about 1/3rd room), How many want to have online learning? (about 2/3rds). How many of you have to have online learning soon? (a few)

We wanted to create world class training available anywhere, anytime… We developed the online diploma, but we didn’t have anything for english, maths or grooming  and realised the costs of getting that online were high, but then the Jisc project came along. We knew we needed everything to be easy, usable, 3 clicks or fewer, all clearly tied to Diploma practice test, and to the portfolio.

Watching an introductory video on mathematics and horses – a rider talking about heights of jumps etc.

So, if you are an apprentice with us, or an employer, these are all world class people who have done apprenticeships with us.

What we learned in this process was planning. Making sure we had the top people who were engaging and would appeal to your students, and be authoritative. And it needs to engaging to teach. Always takes longer than it should…. Everything has to be quality assured, checked, proof read… We also did some filming in Spain, because it is sunny and attractive, and world class standard – as filmed at top level show. Rather than filming in Janary, in the rain!

Ruth: Because there were so many projects commissioned, we had several mentors – Elizabetta, David Roe, Juliette Green, and Juliet MacKenzie – who travelled the countries far and wide. We also had experts in intellectual property from Jisc Legal, and also a techie team to support the filming etc. That was part of the project set up…. But I think the projects

Julie: My project was on bricklaying in Oldham in about three foot of snow – looks a bit different! Our content is quite yellow… with background of their own workshops. They asked for that. That’s what they wanted. And bear in mind we work with Level 1 learners. We had them along at 9.30 in the morning to watch what was going on… We got the media studies students in to film… But planning was rather out of the window as various tutors moved job, were off sick… It was a bit like an action research for us – we hadn’t created content outside of Moodle before.

We used Articulate story here, which was a steep learning curve but we got there… We delivered the content on time, had feedback from students… Unlike powerpoints, which they usually get, these are interactive. Not all of our apprentices are full time, many are in only part time. And we also had common areas here with other projects – maths, employability skills. We originally aimed to do a few, but we expanded it on the request of the tutors…

The content is assessed as you go through it… We tend to use Moodle as repository of materials… But we are moving to more of this sort of content. The college is keen to do more of this – converting work books etc. And we also had to put lots of links in to health and safety, to government websites, etc. for when they are working online.

Ruth: That project cost £5k, no idea what cost would be on the open market. For Belinda we gave £30k, but they also subsidised by half as much again… Do not underestimate the costs of creating this stuff.

Ruth: Emily will talk about Hull projects, they had two – one was construction – we had a lot of construction applications for the projects – and one for hairdressing.

Emily, Hull – Our construction one is an app which I have here… For hairdressing we did apps and web materials. We used something calls app ski which made developing apps easy, we also used a tool for creating video from text.

So, an example here… We have content on The Colour Wheel, for hairdressers but also beauticians, and we hope this will be helpful for art and design… And we have lots of quizes, drag and drop… Keeping text to a minimum… We have used copyright cleared videos from YouTube as well…

Ruth: All of these resources have a “In partnership with Jisc” marking, but all will be creative commons licensed…

Emily: Looking at rights clearances was a big deal for us… A colleague got very excited about Google Sketch Up but he had to make some changes to ensure images were copyright cleared… We haven’t really built anything to go in the public domain before, so that was big. And workig with a subject specialist was also very important for us…

Ruth: We wanted to help trigger the creation of content, but we only had £400k to spend so it was only ever going to be a certain amount of content. But we also did it to learn… What came up were rights, issues around IPR clearance before you can make content Creative Commons licensed. The other thing was around metadata and discoverability… When the content that stays in your institution you can find it, but putting it on the web means explaining the content in ways others can understand… Newcastle did a food enterprise project… and after the final project meeting someone who had done a lot of work there to make that content available, found their content on the open web.

The other thing was about planning, and not underestimating what is involved. The other thing was the difference between elearning and learning.. having the technology doesn’t mean you are doing elearning yet.

There was also something interesting there about what is ok in house but may not be to others… for instance very strong regional accents were fine of course, but made the content slightly less reusable to others on the web.

We also found that breaking content into smaller chunks means you can remix that content, it can be reused in other places more easily.

You’ve heard already about some of the themes that are available… Can you all say that you think stand alone for employability…

Emily: One of our painting and decorating items is about how to calculate area – the context is an area, but applies to any area…

Julie: Also ratios to buckets, spades etc…

Ruth: Also some nice horticultural examples around area and volume of a circular bed, to calculate top spoil.

Belinda: Really good horses have treadmills, with a platform… that you can turn into a hill… So you can work out the mathematics of that angle, and how much work the horse is doing when they use that!

Ruth: What about English…

Belinda: We had a sports presenter explaining the importance of communication…

Ruth: Yours also had some negotiation… Also some on problem solving…

Belinda: We had the Olympic team coaches talking about problem solving…

Ruth: Another brick laying and construction course had Kevin, someone self employed, doing a role play over costs and issues with a difficult customer – real life stuff. And health and safety… Loads on PPE (Personal Protective Equipment), hazadous substances, insurance… And also some of the enterprise requirements – e.g. for a new food business. That one was interesting as well because almost everyone in the college had gotten involved in production!

We are always concerned that more than those who are funded benefit… So we have the website there, which lists all of the projects. We will soup this up a bit but you will find them all there… Manchester college were interesting – their material was from the offender learning programme. They spent a great deal more than we gave them… They did four areas – horticultural, catering, brick laying and english language. Their stuff is available on their Moodle platform, but they will also be going into their campus in prison.

Each of the projects has their own page/site that you can look at. For instance Accrington and Rossendale College have an open Google site… Not all of the sites look glamorous but they have great content in there…

The other way to find this content, and you want to use/reuse/remix this content, much of which is in SCORM format… So you can go into Jorum and download the content… Now this search results screen will look better than this in the future, but it is all there…

There are also QA and publishing checklists on that site, a metadata checklist, model release forms for students under 18 who might be in a video etc.  We also created an accessibility checklist – actually a hard one to crack, as some requirements would be hard to actually achieve, so we had an element of pragmatism.

Q&A

Q) Would you go with making things open in the future?

A – Emily) We will continue doing this openly, because we want them to be open for reuse in our own college and by other colleges.

A – Belinda) It’s hard… For some things, where you have contacts you only have to pay a certain amount (e.g. the Olympic coaches)

A – Julie) I would absolutely. We all deliver similar curriculums so should be sharing… Wouldn’t necessarily use the same technology though, might use Moodle…

Comment – Ruth) I was told people wouldn’t share in Skills sector, but that just wasn’t true… I think that they know that time isn’t on their side… And if you trust each other, you’d be mad not to share it and use it really…

Q) Will there be a block on uploading to Jorum?

A – Ruth) Not for now, as Jorum being pensioned off… So upload as normal, and that info will follow for the new platform.

Q) How many learning objects or hours are there from that resource?

A – Ruth) There are 163 resources in Jorum… But some of those contents are one item that is a whole site being linked to… Others have maybe 40 items but they are smaller chunks… The average was about 5 or 6 items… How many is not that relevant. In terms of learning hours, there is a lot!

Q) Do you have learning technologists, elearning experts etc. in house?

A – Emily) We paired tutors with learning technologists.

A – Belinda) We brought in various experts to inform our work.

A – Julie) I was main learning technologist on this work, but pulled in experts and students from specialist courses etc.

Session one: capabilities: Meeting the FELTAG challenge 12 months on… one college’s journey – Presenter: David Scott (Kirklees College)

Why did Kirkless adopt 10% of all FT courses as blended learning by the start of or during academic year 2014/15? Well we wanted our students to develop the skills they need for university, for the workplace etc. And the sector is being squeezed… Although actually in the first year it was not less expensive, but there are efficiencies we may see in the future. We followed the Worcester (who did save 250k through online delivery recently) model – an hour lecture online, timetabled into the learning resource centre. And we did this via SOLA packs via the VLE.

We timetabled that into the learning resource centre – so all students had a focus on participating and a place to do that, but over the year learners gradually chose to participate from home, not always in the LRC.

We did this with 10% of all level 2 and 3 full time long courses. And that was a huge undertaking as we are a very large college, so that is about doing this for a lot of learners. To do this we undertook substantial planning… We ensured we added 140 PCs in the LRC, that staff there were trained in using these tools, and with “what if?” scenarios. We timetabled students – 170 groups in total per week – additional to what had come in previously. And we knew there would be many more people using the LRC than before, which meant we also did recruitment and timetabling of LRC staff to facilitate the blended learning, across our six centres. The principal mandated that English and Maths would be scheduled first, then blended learning, then everything else.

One of the biggest tasks was training 5000 tutors about what blended learning is…

Neil: Our VLE was kind of a filing cabinet before. Some staff were very keen, some really had a lot to learn… So we developed SOLA packs for self study on key features of the VLE such as assessment and monitoring usage – practising what we preach! We also created a training programme and rolled out to all staff over a 4 month period. And the ILT development unit developed and rolled specific training to over 30 SOLA coordinators – enthustiastic people. But it was a huge undertaking… We had people signing up but not attending… Eventually named and shamed to heads of departments to ensrure all were trined.

We also created SOLA Quality audits, although not all staff filled this out properly – left in defaults! But this documentation let SOLA coordinators carry out the audit termly and identify any further support or training requirements – they used the audit forms to identify fine, at risk, or problematic courses based on how ready and appropriately set up they were.

We decided to use the open badge system for these courses, already built into MOODLE, and you can set criteria to automatically reward badges. That’s allows us to pull out a report of which students have done what work – for reporting to funders etc. It has been quite effective and encouragingg for students… We were quite late issuing badges, so as staff built up SOLA packs throughout the year, we had less time to implement them. But if they are set up late, they will issue retrospective badges based on criteria achieved.

David: There are clearly other ways to undertake elearning and satisfy FELTAG requirements. But this worked well. Worcester have don this for two or three years, we have done it for a year at scale… If you are looking to get started, why reinvent the wheel? We support colleges in our area, and have been able to share back and forth with them. This isn’t the deficit way to do things, but it does work well…

So, what worked well in the first year?

Well, t was a whole cross-college approach to delivery – pretty much the whole college were part of this. And it was planned to perfection, so in September 2014 the infrastructure was in place, ILT/IT support was in place, timetabling was done, LRC staff had been recruited, trained and timetabled SOLA training had been rolled out across all curriculum areas. SOLA packs were prepared – but not all ready at the start of the year, some only came on board for January. Students arrived 1st September.

But there were challenges too. Staff time to develop the SOLA packs. Worcester have 12 staff on the ILT team – the model there is tutors prepare content, but ILT put it in place… Our model was different. We say preparation of content as part of tutor lesson planning, as part of tutor workload. But this was an issue of staff skill sets – we recruit many tutors from industry but they don’t necessarily have those sorts of skills, but we are feeding that into recruitment process. Staff also realise that the efficiencies of blended learning can cause tension with staff, with their engagement. So making it clear that this opens up staff time for new, innovative classes, european projects etc. We did take 5200 hours out of course curriculum so you do need to sell the benefits of that.

Student engagement wise we will have an induction programme, including a video about what blended learning is, so that they are prepared for what they see in the LRC – not all tutors shared the same amount of information this year. We also will have self-enrolment and enrolment keys…

Elona: For me I had 10% of teaching time ripped from my staff… We were not happy… But we had a lightbulb moment that we could make it work for us. So we had 4 months to train, and had 2 months to build everything. We grabbed all we good, and added in interactive elements, and borrowed some text from Health and Safety Act… (This is a health and safety section from a hair and beauty course). And we assess the knowledge and understanding through multiple choice questions, across week by week activities… Which means no marking! All my team do not mark… But that means that 10% time gives us time to do new innovative ideas… There was nothing out there for health and beauty really – because we had to make this in a panic… So we made content for one unit only, and did make use of a powerpoint we had used before. We’ve got a powerpoint that is already there, then a document from industry, a web link, and a quiz… So in that first task we tell them what we want them to do, what to engage with, and that they should then do the quiz.

So, for that video for instance we created our own content – avoiding Americanisms, licensing issues etc. My friend charlotte had a massage that we videoed as a demo for students. We will be videoing demonstrations from tutors in September. Students really engage with this demonstration video, in a way they don’t always do in person.

So, we structure content week by week along similar lines. And when students finish a unit, they get an badge. When learners have done the massage mock revision… When they are prepared with this, they go on and find the exam really easy.

And that free time means that I now have time to think about new ideas,,, And we find some of our adult learners were working ahead… So I now have an enrichment programme for those learners, which they will then be able to move onto in that LRC time. For instance on the Gender Pay Gap – which is really interesting in hair and beauty. With this growth… !

David: This is really embedded in what we do in Kirkless – so Careers are doing this too, our learning and resource staff have a resources page, its reaching every single department now… Everyone is becoming aware of what SOLA is and how it can be used.

Elona: I now have a progress bar in place to see how our students are progressing. There are a lot of quizzes in these SOLA packages and I can use that SOLA bar to see what they have/have not done, track progress, what time they are learning etc. Some are on at half eleven at night!

I also have an overall progress bar, that allows me to see how each tutor’s students are progressing – and they can also look in and check progress.

Because of all this content is there, I can ask students can study particular materials ahead of class, to prepare them for particular sessions etc.

But there are hiccoughs here… If students log in on their phone, they can do the test, get answers wrong… and then retake in the web version… But we are wise to that now… So we now do direct questioning in class to be sure they have understood that learning properly…

IT skills wise we are health and beauty, we aren’t huge fans of computers. We have found support from ILT necessary…

In that homepage for the course, there is also a link to our (VTCT) eportfolios – where badges appear!

I’m really proud of it, but getting staff on board was the challenge. We have exceeded the 10% now, with 30% online. If the government wanted 50% that might be challenging though – hair dressers do need to be able to cut hair!

David: When we started many of the SOLA stuff was in list form, but Elona and her team have created something more visually appealing here… I feel like we are light years ahead. The more colleges get involved, the more resources we have to share, the more our skills develop.

Elona: My team’s motivation has improved because they are no longer spending all of their time marking! And you see

Q&A

Q) What version of Moodle?

A – Neil) 2.6 but moving to 2.8

Q) How big is college support team?

A – Neil) It’s about 5 people, two and a bit in terms of time etc. are supporting this.

A – David) We also have two teaching qualified LRC team members. You should go back to your principal and be clear that if you go this way, you have to be all in and support it…

Q) Sharing resources?

A – Elona) Sharing them on the system

A – David) All are available on Moodle

Q) How did you get staff on board?

A – David) I think it helped a lot that principal has strong supported and driven this.

Q) Any copyright issues?

A – Elona) We worked with LRC staff to help us, and then made some stuff ourselves

A – David) Use those expert staff… But second year of running is about quality. Good open stuff is out there, so do use it.

Q) How many students come in at a time? How does that work in the LRC?

A – David) We have a room in LRC with 70 machines, and a block of 50 tend to be working at a time, LRC support that…

Q) What happens with block bookings if students aren’t coming in in person – as you say happens

A – David) Software kicks user off if not logged in after 15 mins – so PC becomes available…

Q) How long does it take to develop an hour of teaching

A – Elona) Varies, but we have fully refreshed our content here.

Q) How about entry level courses and part time courses?

A – David) We are letting people explore. Level 1 come on board next year but in class. We are looking at access to HE courses moving this way at the moment…

Q) We have some enthusiasts, but some are resistant. How have you managed that sort of issue?

A – Elona) For me, I found that selling the lack of marking as a carrot here, to get them to move content online.

A – Neil) I think t’s just a case of supporting them whenever possible. Some people are quite scared of computers, but our IT team are approachable, and show them one step at a time an whenever possible.

Q) So you are there to support teaching staff, you aren’t doing the content?

A – Neil) No, we are not a big enough team to do that – Worcester does that though.

David: We do work with other colleges… Neil, myself and Elona are happy to come out and speak to your senior leadership team… Grab us at any time during today.

Session one: capabilities: Digital capabilities and leadership – Presenter: Lawrie Phipps (Jisc)

By show of hands the room is a mix of HE, Colleges and skills.

I will be talking about Digital capabilities and leadership. I’m from Jisc Futures – we do the research and development, and my area is specifically the student experience. But the work I’m doing at the moment is all about leadership.

I will talk about what we are doing, some examples, and then also I will talk about the jisc digital capabilities and leadership project. Everyone is aware of our digital literacy work? We have been doing this since 2010, identifying seven areas of digital literacy. We have managed to embed this into the curriculum, focusing on it being a student focused programme, without really meaning to. As this started to create outputs, I began working on a project called the Changing the Learning Landscape project, working with ALT, HEA, NUS, and the Leadership Foundation… We spoke to staff at universities from senior managers through to cleaners.

Through this work, across interviews at 58 universities, we identified massive variation in technology enhanced learning, across various thematic areas.

In terms of Strategy and Leadership… Many places were using a VLE, but often as a repository… And many places had these tools, and felt they should increase the scale of TEL. All identified mobile as something they should be aware of, and doing something about. But we couldn’t get people to identify what they wanted to do with mobile… When you asked they said “well students have phones” – that was as far as it went for some of them.

We also saw Open and Distance learning coming up as an issue, we didn’t hear much about efficiency from leaders. But students talked about a huge lack of consistency in their experience… at all levels of that experience. We did see more and more of students as partners in FE and HE. But we also see students wanting to leverage value from their learning. Students wanted to understand practical and efficiency benefits of why they should use a tool – they were always looking for a reason.

Talking to lecturers we saw huge amounts of varietyn again. Some were very honest about what they did… Some just put slides in, some had a discussion board… Most used it for repository of sides. And majority had the essential descriptions and timetabling, that was their main use. There were a range of barriers to use… Last week I worked with Reading College – they switched off Moodle in their institution and no-one noticed!

Anyway… Whilst we hear about digital literacies, many didn’t see how they could embed them in their programmes. They didn’t always see themselves as digitally literate.

And looking ahead we saw various things coming… questions about Maker cultures… More and more students coming through with coding skills. And early questions about Internet of Things… Also seeing open learning, open code, open publishing, becoming prominent. And seeing students co-creating their learning, especially in FE actually. And funding changes and organisational changes – e.g. funding announcements on FE next week. And we see the rise of KPIs, globalisation etc.

So, talking to the sector – HE, FE and Skills – showed that we really need to build the digital capabilities of our staff. So that is our priority, in my team, to develop that in the next 12 months, with the first stuff coming in over the next 3 months…

So we have this idea of Digital identity and wellbeing as a surrounding concept, with ICT proficiency at the centre, supported by Information, data and media literacies; digital creation, innovation and scholarship; communication, collaboration and participation; digital learning and self development.

  • ICT proficiency is core skills, from use of style sheets, to how to get onto Eduroam.
  • Information, Media and data literacy is about critical use of content
  • Cretion, scholarship and innovation – is about creative production in all areas of our work
  • COmmunication, collaboration and participation
  • Learning and self-development
  • Idetity and well-being – and safety online, and the safety of staff identity.

And we have developed a model for an envisioned #digitalcapability service. There will be a digital capability online course, and materials for digital leadership. And this resource will be aimed at staff at all levels. So, IT managers tend to implement systems without consulting staff on what is needed… e.g. on the choice of VLE or ePortfolios.. They tend to talk to vendors, rather than staff…

This modelis a pyramid of leadership development, online courses, digital capability framework, and diagnostic tools.

The leadership development will be a course, starting in October. It is aimed at leaders at any level, or those who aspire to leadership. So if you run a project for instance…

So we’ve mapped the digital capability framework to digital leadership. And this course will work across two priority areas:

Being an effective digital leader/manager (personal/professional development)

Leading/managing an effective digital organisation or part of an organisation (organisational development).

We will run this as a two day course, then webinar, then another two day course. That will be free for the first pilot and that first pilot will run once for HE and once for FE.

The core skills around ICT proficiencies around being an effective digital leader/manager would include adopt and adapt digital devices, services and applications to meet your professional needs, Use digital applications/services to manage time and tasks. Stay up to date with organisational systems. Know how to find work-arounds, switch devices/services/applications and recover from technical failures; model confident use of digital technologies to others.

In terms of the second leading etc. section: develop and communicate a strategy for digital technologies, policy, etc.

Again there are core aspects around information, media and data literacy; and around creation, scholarship and innovation. On that area of creative production we had many asking about making a risk tolerant innovative environment – particularly a concern at FE. We have traditionally been risk averse in some of these contexts…

I’m guessing most of this room are digitally literate but the communication, collaboration and participation aspect will be the idea of how we lead, influence and participate in online communities of practice related to your role, building personal networks, and having an authentic voice in this space.

In terms of learning and self-development thinking about, for instance, using online courses for staff development.

Digital identity and wellbeing… So for instance who has a Twitter account… who has two? I wonder why people do that, if they are splitting personal and professional presences… But we will look at that, to ensure people make choices in an informed way. And we talk about brand, but that’s also about having an authentic voice. When it comes to online staff capabilities work we are doing, there will be case studies for different roles, practice mapping that against professional association for CILIP, SEDA, HEA, and FELTAG. All of this is coming online, first course runs in October…

Let me just go back to staff capabilities – do these map to your expectations?

Comment: I am tremendously excited about this, much better than 7 elements that were there before…

Are there any gaps here?  This is still draft until this year.

Comment: Where does mobility factor here – learning away from physical learning space?

I would put mobile in collaboration perhaps, but also creation, collaboration and participation… But we will write examples of practice in colleges and universities, and then map where those might sit for professional development. And we are desperate to speak to people who have recently made changes that we can speak to.

And we welcome your comments and input on the blog: www.digitalcapability.jiscinvolve.org/ or email me: lawrie.phipps@jisc.ac.uk or on Twitter @Lawrie.

Q&A

Q: What is the intention for the long term for this?

A: Right now the intention is for the online content to be available in chunks for you to download and use. The course will run once, be developed and rerun in Spring. Then, if successful, it will be handed over to the Jisc Customer Services team for them to look at options to role out.

Q: A few years ago you did work on digital literacies for schools. Our staff have gaps… But I don’t know the current status of students. Our staff report both very digitally literate, and other say not…

A: Are any of you aware of Dave ? Resident/Visitor thing, and Don, a US researcher has turned that into a tool to map digital literacies. And we are working with her to see how we can map that so that staff can map digital literacies of students, to capabilities and expectations of the students. To make sure that that maps to institutional strategy. So, for instance, you get answers about how students use content… download stuff in VLE, upload to Facebook and discuss, then upload to VLE… But in that institution they had mandated slides and discussion forum be used.. that was artificial to the set up… So we said you will save staff time and efficiency by changing environment. So Don’s tool will be available in October.

Parallel session: capabilities: “How to use social media effectively for student engagement – Presenter: Nicola Osborne” (EDINA)

That’s my session so you’ll be seeing no update here from me for this one!

Closing session: FELTAG – so what? – Presenter: Bob Harrison

In introducing the final session Will Allen is thanking us for surviving the sauna like conditions today! And he is also taking the opportunity to thank the Jisc North team, Jisc Events team and particularly to Gemma who has been organising this event. And now to Bob…

My good friend Martin is Periscoping this… So I will try not to be too offensive about Yorkshire, as a Lancastrian!

I was working in FE, but I decided to quit and go to work for Toshiba, with head teachers in the National College of School Leadership. And then I got a call in 2002 from the new head of the DFES standards invoices who had been asked to look at elearning… So for the next two years I worked with them – they paid on time but didn’t listen!

So FELTAG… Most of you know that this started with a tweet from MatthewHancockMP saying “Been following your tweets, read your articles – I agree with you. What can we do? There’s no money. Please come and see me ASAP.” He really got FE and Skills and when the civil service said they would set up a working party in six months, he said no. We should just get on with it…

His first meeting he said “we agree with all you’ve said” – and I’d been writing posts criticising the government, Jisc, BECTA, BIS, etc… He wanted to know what the problem is… The underlying problem isn’t money, it’s that our sector was built post industrial revolution, and based on a very factory, QA, put out there sort of process which is not fit for the digital world. You and I know that but unfortunately the ministers, the civil servants, the SFA, etc. their mindset is still in that industrial mindset. So, the key words about FELTAG here is… Agile and Evolution.

If we don’t evolve we die… But our ability to evolve to the changing environment. But we have been held back by OFQUAL and OFSTEAD etc… OFSTED reports for the College I chair talks about “Tutors making exceptionally good use of…interactive learning technologies and social media to help students learn…” And the key word there is Tutor.

So, that’s the past, so to the future… How many of you have watched Kes? I was a PE teacher in Barnsley… This is my Ken Loach bit… One of my grandkids comes home from school excited beyond belief at her first night away… She has a list of things she can take… Torch, ruck sack, toilet bag, sleeping bag… And if she wants to take pictures she can take one disposable camera…. And so Bob has us trying to explain a disposable camera to a kid… It’s hilarious but also serious here… Has pedagogy kept up with the potential of the technology? I would say not.

When I was a teacher two rooms of BBC micros had less computing power than the phone our kids carries around with her every day… Looking at a school room from a Victorian school, and one from last year… They are set up the same… There may be computers in the latter but they are the same – that classroom designer wants shooting!

We have to challenge decision makers to see the different paradigm… I’m not sure the new minister does sees that but Matthew Hancock did… We can look at the Sigmoid Curve (a biological concept) here… of Start Up, Growth, Maturity, and Decline… At the point of most success… at this point you need people who are paradigm pioneers to change the way currently being thought about, to do things better, more effectively, by using technology… Cue some silliness to ensure we are thinking about paradigm shift…

Now I’ve used a silly image here… To illustrate the fact that I think Digital Natives as an idea is bollocks… Marc Prensky wrote a nice article but children need teaching too… So here is an image of my grandson and my mum… who is teaching who? Well, they are both teaching each other!

Anyway… FELTAG themes are there. The most retweeted tweet I’ve ever had was that those FE providers that really embrace FELTAG will not only survive but thrive! Not to 10% or 20% but really embrace it, and don’t wait for targets and requirements.

In any of you think, like me, there is something wrong with the House of Lords – Digital Skills report… well have a read.

Two things have happened since Digifest read Alison Wolf’s Heading for the precipice, highlighting the need to refocus on resources that are and have been going to HE, to FE and Skills. The second thing is to see Skills minister Nick Boles AELP Annual Conference – if you want a laugh take a look at that. I went to to a school set up by contributions by miners to educate their kids, and them. I worked for a college in Nottingham erected by voluntary contributions to educate the working class forever… Forever… So no minister has any right to talk about a movement that has been going for hundreds of years, about self improvement, saying we need to reexamine the model…

So, folks… What is the opportunity cost of not embracing FELTAG and all it’s recommendations… If my grandkids leave school in 10-20 years they will be leaving schools used to gesture based computing, voice to text recognition, anytime and anywhere learning… And if you are wise you will pick the brains of these folks at Jisc to ensure that your FE provider is still there when they leave school!

And with that, back to Will with further thanks.

 

 June 30, 2015  Posted by at 2:43 pm Events Attended, LiveBlogs Tagged with: , , , ,  No Responses »
Jun 042015
 

Today I am at the Connect More with Jisc in Scotland, at Napier University, where I’ll be liveblogging but also presenting so this will be a partial capture of the day. As usual any comments or corrections are welcomed.

Introduction – Jason Miles Campbell, Head of Jisc Scotland and Jisc Northern Ireland

I am the head of Jisc Scotland. We have moved to a new model for support recently, but we’ll be saying more about that during the day.

During the day there will be a range of parallel sessions taking place across three strands of Capabilities, Connectivity, and Student experience. We hope you will come and speak to us and ask us questions. We have also had the announcement of the Herald Higher Education Innovation Technology Excellence Award shortlist today, with four Scottish institutions represented there which shows the quality of innovative technology work in Scotland.

I’ve got to remind you of why we are here as Jisc today. Our vision is “To make the UK (and today, Scotland) the most digitally advance education and research nation in the world”, and for that to also reach out beyond the UK. And in Scotland we have the highest number of top 100 research institutions per head of population in the world, and that is something that we don’t shout enough about.

Our Mission is “To enable people in higher education and further education to perform at the forefront of international practice by exploiting fully the possibilities of modern digital empowerment, content and connectivity”. But technology doesn’t do anything by itself, it’s about the people using and supporting it. And hopefully today’s sessions will help you think about things you may want to do in the days, weeks and months ahead.

I really enjoy my job and this is partly because when I was at University technology really wasn’t up to much. I’m a lawyer by training originally… I had the fun of using the early version of Lexus, which required a dial phone, and a physical key for security. But using that technology gave me a real advantage – I won a case by being able to cite a judgement made the day before a case using that technology! But over the last 10 years I have been the head of Jisc Legal. We have seen huge change in that time but we still have more to do to ensure that every student, every staff member, across the board makes the best very deal from technology. I want to do that and to help you to do that to. And it is also about making the best difference.. We have limited resources so we have to concentrate on those things that will truly make the biggest difference to teaching, learning and research. We also have limited time, so we have to best focus what we have to make the best possible. But we also have to also be realistic about the time and resources that you have available.

We are prioritising engagement. We need to work with you. There is no point Jisc deciding what you need, we are here to serve you, we are owned by you, so we need to work based on your priorities.

And we also want you to think about what your institutions provision will look like in 2020. What will the physical space look like, will degree programmes still be there… What will that provision be like?

Historically Jisc was operating lots of sub contractors. We have moved on from that with a much more coherant structure as one organisation with one purpose: to support you. We provide trusted advice for your benefit, scales to meet your needs, working in partnership with you, and hopefully efficiently. We also want to save a lot of money for institutions through economies of scale, and we save you around £200 million per year.

Jisc does essentially four things: Network & Technology – including Janey and security and technical support. That network is only for education and uncontended; Digital Resources – some we negotiate, some we broker, some we buy and some we advise on – all on your behalf; Advice & Engagement – as well as having those resources we need to understand the pedagogies behind their use and we are grateful to our speakers today from the community; Research & Development – we aim to take risks and innovate, and to do that on your behalf.

So what does Jisc Scotland do? We used to have a Regional Support Centre, but rather than being advisors we are now your interface to Jisc, to a whole lot of advice. Jisc is an organisation with a whole lot of things in it to benefit you. Jisc had a lot available but you had to seek them out, but now we will be that conduit for you, find the websites, projects, services for you. And every University and College will have an account manager to do that for you. And also to feed your views into Jisc about what you will need in the future. Well we are about championing the customer, it is about a fully managed relationship with Jisc. We handle account management – we have 3 account managers. We also have Scottish subject specialists, but beyond that there are 20-odd subject specialists also serving Scotland, as well as the rest of the UK, and further expertise to tap into.

I want to say a bit about Community Engagement. We have a range of physical and online opportunities to have shared conversations with one-another and Jisc on issues that matter, focusing on: Network and IT services; Digital resources; Student experience (including learning, teaching and assessment). We will continue to engage in local partnerships seeking to collaborate with key stakeholders for the benefit of the sectors as a whole. We have to focus on where that really makes a difference though, what has an impact. Jisc has less funding than it did so we really want to make a difference and focus on what has real impact.

Some of your questions:

– Where did the RSC go?

Well it is now part of a better structure, and a model that recognises your priorities and meets those. Regional support is still there, Support is still there.

– How can we bid for Jisc funds?

Well Jisc used to put out invitations to tender. Some organisations were good at bidding. Some projects did not have a good impact across the sector, sometimes for the organisation that had the funds. So instead we are moving to a model of co-design, that should much better benefit the sector.

– Can we get someone from Jisc to visit us?

Your account manager is there for you, and there will be events as well. It would be great if we could all visit you across the year, but that isn’t possible. But that direct engagement is still there.

– How do I contact Jisc now?

Well there are a number of ways – lots of information on that available here. Before there used to be a plethora of helpdesks and they were each good but didn’t join up all the expertise of Jisc, so now it is for us to connect you to that expertise so you only have to go to one place.

So now… To today’s first parallel sessions.

Parallel Sessions 1

I am presenting on Jisc MediaHub as part of a joint session with my colleague Anne Robertson, who is talking about Digimap for Colleges. So light blog post updating likely in this session!

Digimap for Colleges – Anne Robertson

I will be talking about Digimap for Colleges today, but also touching on other Digimap services as well. Digimap for Colleges is a new service so this is a chance to get an overview of this.

You may well have heard of Digimap, it’s been around for 15 years and has been available to HE and Colleges in that time. It is a functionally rich service which allows you to access mapping tools online, but also download that data for use in desktop GIS. There are Ordnance Survey, historic, geology and marine data sets from a range of data providers. More recently we created Digimap for Schools, which includes Ordnance Survey and historic online mapping for schools with Key Stage 1-4 and Curriculum for Excellence curriculum materials. But in launching that service we became aware that there was a gap for colleges, for more vocational courses. And that is why we created Digimap for Colleges. It is a simpler service to use, along the Digimap for Schools model. And it provides OS online mapping for colleges for GCSE and A level curriculum and vocational course support. It does not included data download but as a college you can have both Digimap and Digimap for Colleges if you would like.

The mapping available in Digimap for Colleges is Ordnance Survey including digital map projects for all of Great Britain, and includes MasterMap which has fantastic details, which is superb and is one of the reasons this mapping offers so much more than what is available through Google Maps. You can annotate maps with text, markers, areas, photos, graphs to the maps. You can also undertake quite sophisticated map analysis techniques, such as measuring distance, areas, buffer points and lines, but all in an easy to use interface. You can save annotations, and you can also create maps as pdf and jpg for printing and linking.

This is not a service just for geographers, it is useful across the curriculum, a great starting point for presentation of many types of information and use of ICT in learning. And it is all browser based so there is no software installations to do, no data management. It works with all up to date browsers: Chrome, IE, Safari, FireFox. We have curriculum materials. We also have both written and video help and support resources. The videos are much easier to use than verbose instructions so we offer a wide range of these. The interface has a simple start button to begin with, the annotation tool is straightforward and easy to use, and you can see that the annotations you can make allow you to look at landuse, route planning, etc. And you can click a selected area to measure the size, which allows you to think about population density etc. Using the buffer tool you can select but also set up concentric circles around areas of interest – simple but very useful. And you can upload images, and information.

And you can use Digimap for Colleges for College use too – when hosting an event, sharing information etc. The licence allows you to create your own maps and publish these too.

We have some very happy users already, showing that once you have raised awareness, students and staff find it simple to use. But I did also want to talk about a specific example as, at Jisc Digifest earlier this year I was presenting with David Scott of Kirklees College, and he talked about how it had been useful for construction students to look at the orientation of buildings relative to North South facing. And there is a reasonably high drop out rate for these courses, but Digimap for Colleges really engaged them. At Kirklees they used Digimap for Colleges quite strategically, they focused on where it would be most useful and identified construction as important, though they also hope to roll it out to other courses. It also helps contribute to FELTAG.

For your students coming through colleges and university understanding spatial information, how to present data and information on the map, is hugely important across many different industries including transport, planning, industry, renewables, etc. It is not just about geography, and these spatial skills are increasingly important across the workforce.

It is easy to get set up for Digimap for Colleges. There is a simple subscription process for instance campus access. You subscribe via the Jisc Collections Catalogue. You’ll receive email from EDINA helpdesk once set up. And you can always add Digimap later as you start to want some of those additional richer features. And we already have 189 subscribed colleges, including 11 in Scotland.

And next was my presentation. I’ll share a link to the slides for that very shortly.

Parallel Sessions 2: 2015 – A year to remember in TEL – Suzanne Scott, Borders College

Mark Owen, Jisc Scotland Account Manager, is introducing this presentation on the lessons learned from embedding the TEL team at Borders College. For the last three years Suzanne has been embedding TEL at Borders College.

Suzanne opens with a slide asking us the connection between Alice in Wonderland, fish fingers, Elvis, mobile phones… Well they are all celebrating anniversaries this year… But all of these things got me thinking about what we have been doing at Borders College, as it has been a momentous year for us. I’m going to talk about what I have been doing, and what our future plans are.

We have come a huge way since our first elearning project at Borders College in 2011, which was called Transform. That was about working with local SMEs to identify training needs and consider an online solution. It started us thinking more deeply about what we were doing within the college. It was quite an externally facing project but it got us reflecting on what we did internally, and how we could support our staff and students.

We then moved to BOLT, a Jisc funded project to create a toolkit to enable the college and other organisations to embed e-learning as core. We received £113k for this work and for a college that is a huge amount enabling a major and ambitious project. Initially it was about a better online provision. We’d had Moodle since 2009 but how could we make it more than just a repository of teaching documents? That was about changing the culture. We grew the team supporting the system, so now 6 (and soon 7) staff members bringing together technology enhance learning specialist, audio video production staff – enabling us to create our own materials rather than having to deal with copyright issues, developer roles, etc. There were so many tools and options… so we went through the pain of finding out what was needed. In FE we felt like it was useful for us to answer those questions and producing a toolkit to support that to benefit the wider sector. As a result of that we established the new Technology Enhanced Learning Unit, just at the end of the project.

Now that we are embedded we have had a lot of things to work out. We have had to identify our own remit. We have had to work out our relationships with others – for instance we didn’t expect to be working with Marketing but we do. We had to restructure some job descriptions. The way we are funded is that the college funds half our salary, and the other half has to come in through commercial activities. That is a huge pressure but what we actually do is 100% curriculum, and 75% commercial activities. A lot of my role is sourcing funding, looking for new projects… but that also means being part of projects we might never have been involved in. So for instance we worked with a partner who wanted to set up a media training unit – we set up a mobile bus set up as a library/archive and with training provided etc.

We have also been really involved in FELTAG. In England and Wales FELTAG is the be all and end all. That report requires 10% of content to be delivered online. That’s huge. And it means there is a lot of up-skilling to do, and funding to do that. And as a result a MOOC has been set up on FutureLearn with a consortium of colleges involved. The aim is for it to reach the staff, it’s a great opportunity and we are designing the curriculum for it. That’s an opportunity that arose from BOLT. We are constantly involved in being out and about, working with others, looking for the new big opportunity.

But we have also had real challenges in terms of technologies. As a team we have been making requirements for internet connections, wifi, softwares. And just last week there has been an announcement of restructuring that will see closer links between the library and ICT and that further highlights the role of TEL as core to the college.

And we are also now working on open badges, and the first video resources around that will be live soon.

This year we have seen a real growth in resources, with a graphic designer and instructional designer as well as in-classroom technology support office joining us. We have our own digital asset management system – to manage

And I’ve just established the Scottish Learning Technology Network, with representation from most colleges and some of the universities, to identify common concerns, share best practice, etc. So Open Badges for instance is an area we have been looking to collectively raise awareness, standardise our approach. And basically getting a lot done through short intense workshops to achieve a new solution etc.

And we have become part of the Fujitsu Ambassador programme, which is about the classroom of the future. And we want to deal with the skills gap around technology enhanced learning, but also to properly rethink what the classroom should look like, to query why we teach in such traditional spaces, with students in rows… etc.

We are always pushing boundaries, and looking at new opportunities. We are also thinking about ambitious ideas around having a day of remote learning next year [more details to follow as this is still being confirmed, I’m not scooping Suzanne!] to act as a focal point for staff skills and teaching materials being ready. To support that we are introducing a Digipals scheme to encourage students to come in and support staff with implementation of mobile learning. We have a huge amount to learn from our students.

We are also considering areas such as adaptive learning system development and increased use of learning analytics, to identify struggling students etc. And we are talking to Jisc about this and whether it could be a college wide system. We are also working with SQA to look at a Mahara template project. We are looking at open badges across the curriculum. And also thinking about Modern Apprenticeships in Learning Technologies. I think there need to be a clearer idea of the role, of what it could be, and a clear progression path. And that obviously feeds into the FE MOOC work as well.

We were a small college but anyone can do this stuff. We are all short on funding and time and face challenges around culture and infrastructure, but these can be overcome.

In terms of lessons learned one of the most important is that you have to have senior management buy in to drive things forward. You need to identify small and easy wins. You need to work with champions to share good practice and raise profile. And you have to engage students. But you can also never underestimate the importance of good ICT infrastructure.

You have to work smarter not harder with the funding that you have. You have to be clever about things. For us that commercial income requirement is really useful in giving us flexibility, new opportunities, and then chances to reinvest in the team. In terms of resourcing secondment opportunities can be hugely beneficial, as can shared services. In terms of time you have to get TEL on the timetables, which means that you have to secure CPD time and attention. Culturally you have to identify influencers, recruitment and key skills are crucial, and we also have to incentivise good practice. One of my concerns about the MOOC is about availability of time, so that learning technologists can actually participate and learn.

Internally it is important to have a strong TEL team with clear roles and responsibilities. On a recent away day we came up with our own team rules. There needs to be continuous CPD. The team is core.

More importantly, why do we do this? Well because we owe it to ourselves and to our students. Our students need to have a digital experience that is worthy of what they deserve, so that when they go into the workplace they are digitally literate, they deserve that.

One thing to do today… Some ideas to take away:

  • Ensure the TEL team has a clear remit – produce a service offering
  • Establish a process for new TEL related projects – links to policies and procedures are important
  • Create opportunities for staff engagement – with multiple channels of communication to keep them abreast of TEL work
  • And do join us in the Scottish Learning Development Network

And as we look further into the future we have to thinking about evangelising, collaborating and being more joined up across education at all levels, we also need to future proof what we do – keep up to date but be critical too. And we need to keep trying with an ongoing programme of improvements.

Q&A

Q1) Thinking about your day of virtual learning, will all the students be equipped with the right technologies to take part?

A1) Many will but the university would be open to enable them to use central resources as needed.

Q2) Its a shame that it is hard to recruit learning technologists but there is also the issue of what the skills to be a learning technologist is – since there are social, technical, and all sorts of other skills required including being personable and persuasive. I am also interested in the Digipals scheme…

A2) We are excited about our Digipals scheme, and also thinking that they may eventually become our learning technologies modern apprentices in time. But the curriculum for that programme will have to cover a huge range of materials. At the moment it is so much about technologies but it also needs to be about negotiating, managing relationships, and all of that stuff beyond the technologies.

Q2) If the technologists are looking at pedagogies, people and technologies… what role does the academic hold?

A2) I would love to see more academics being learning technologists but it can too often be seen as a backwards step and we need to change that. But they have to understand the why of doing this, of using technologies.

Q3) That last comment is so important. I’m an academic working with academics and they are trained to query, and to be critical. And saying this is 21st century teaching, that our students are demanding it, those aren’t enough… So I wondered if you had any ideas about the why? and how to answer that.

A3) It is really difficult to do. Champions are great but you need to move the masses forward. I don’t like force from above for “you must” but sometimes with learning technology that’s the only way to do it – and that’s the idea of something like our Virtual Day, which states the importance and vision of the College. But the student voice is really powerful.

Q3) Maybe the classroom of the future work is part of the way to do that as well…

A3) It is exciting… but also scary. Taking chairs and PCs out of the classroom is challenging. Aberdeen have set up 2 very different rooms. Some staff love it, but others are confused by it. But you have to keep trying.

Comment) I think it’s really interesting what you say about the voice of the institution… For those of us who do want to teach with digital technology, there can be a disconnect about what we want to do and what we can do with the available technologies, feeling held back by the idea that we aren’t all there yet.

A) I think we also have to properly recognise where good things happen. “Champions” are a great thing but… I tried to set up a scheme where students would award a badge to staff to recognise effective use of learning technology. That proved very controversial. But you see academics doing great projects doing action research, but they are not that different from their learning technologist colleagues.

And we close this session with a reminder that the new Borders railway opens soon – so there’ll be a scenic route to visit Borders College direct from Edinburgh!

Parallel Sessions 3

I am presenting on Social Media and Managing your digital footprints, so again no blog post updating.

Parallel Sessions 4: Starting App: literacy development from iPhone to Youtube – Willie McGuire, University of Glasgow

I teach at the University of Glasgow and I want to talk to you a bit about a company who develop apps which we had specifically asked to look at literacy teaching. I’ve been thinking that digital technology is something that we need to look at in a lot more detail.

The recently appointed Scottish Minister for education, Angela Constance, described the literacy results of the Scottish Survey of Literacy and Numberacy as “not as good as they should be”. Looking back further there are regularly written SQA Principal Assessor reports on national examinations, and I did some work looking over the last decade to identify recurring issues. These included technical errors around Grammar(ghhhhh!). I call it that because they really are perennial issues, I’m going to test you in a minute but when I’ve done this with post graduates and even examiners most get some of these grammatical issues wrong. Now issues like muddling I/me, We/were/There/their/Gone/went/Who/whom and so on… They don’t matter individually but when these are recurrent issues having over and over again, that is an issue. These are long running issues and difficult to solve.

I had been looking at these issues for a very long time. And a few years back we decided to make an app (back when fewer than half a million apps in the App Store). And we wanted to create literacy apps for secondary students that tackle the perennial issues. In the state schools though there is a huge resistance to paying for this stuff, and they are not free to make. You see a different attitude in the private sector but in state schools it’s almost in the blood that you shouldn’t pay for these sorts of schools. So there were some challenges here… Technically it is challenging, not only the coding but how to make this grammar stuff small, simple, workable on a phone.

Producing the apps (Appscool) was bloody murder: costly, difficult… So we thought lets ask the students about this, to look at other available tools and technologies… And we wanted a simple retro look… because something all complex and shiny isn’t what seems to be needed… So we will work through some examples here… And we use a sort of binary system: everything is right or wrong. These are horrifically complex grammatical issues… So our first example “It’s between John and me” – should that be “I” and “Me”… Actually to know why it is correct goes back to the Latin and nominative and accusative case. But we handle these in a very simple binary way.

Let me know you one other thing here… When you give explanations you can’t make reference to extraneous grammatical point, you have to explain through examples and simple explanations. And it has to be clear on this small screen.

Let me show you another app here… This is about “tricky words”.  And in this case It’s or Its… The uncertainty in this room also happens when you try this with postgrads too…  But actually asking the question means you start to see students figure out the rules and work this stuff out…

So, things that we learnt… Creating an app when you’re over 50 isn’t easy! It was really time consuming to do. We were kind of playing tricks using that binary approach… grammatical explanations are very complex and only cover one grammatical point, and overcomplicates itself all the time. But this approach hits the key issues, the common recurrent problems.

And why did we do that? It was partly to see if we could and because we thought it was important. We wanted to stimulate interest from younger audiences, and to try engaging those audiences. Trying to get into those minds and focus in a kind of fun way on grammar matters. The thing about grammar in the past is that it is painful and public… But actually an app is actually very private, that is something the students have picked up so student teachers understand to present the app in that way, to meet those concerns of students who don’t want to expose their errors. We also wanted to encourage the students to be creative when dealing with this difficult topic…

But we also wanted to think about how we could repurpose the app content in a different way, so we wanted to create videos for YouTube. They can’t use YouTube in the classroom but they can at home – like homework but not nearly as offputting! It’s a really well known format, accessible, “young” and it obliges the creators to think in terms of simple solutions to complex problems. It is about making difficult concepts accessible. See the PGDE English Glasgow channel on YouTube. For example, a video on lonely verbs… And another on using venn diagrams to understand analogy.

Q&A

Q1) Is there a game mechanic in the app, or do you just move through.

A1) We thought about it. The quick answer is no. Partly it is tricky to code… but it is also distracting… the music on that video can distract you away from the focus. This is kind of a prototype of a game… It’s very old fashioned and I appreciate that… But you can’t move too far away from written script when you do this sort of thing… But then it looks traditional.

Q2) I like it like that… There are so many apps for primary schools now… all bright and shiny

A2) These days you’ll find thousands of primary school apps if you search for literacy apps… But so little for secondary. Difficult to prevent and manage those issues. It is quite a hard grammatical function, and they have to focus on that.

Q3) Are they available for Android?

A3) For iPhone, iPad and iPod only. Not Android. But you can go and buy

Q4) Have you trialled these with the students they are aimed at – you mentioned trainee teachers – and I was particularly wondering about the equality of access associated with internet access at home, and access to mobile devices.

A4) This was really a proof of concept thing… We were trying it out… It is difficult to do because of costs and timing. So probably funding up front and then making available free would be OK. But Glasgow City Council will not fund you to do that, say, because the App Store sells all over the place, it’s not just for their authority. The platform is tricky… And we also had a communication from Apple at one point requiring a fax. A fax! That issue of equality of access is always an issue… I am well aware of the digitally dispossessed… All you can do is try to make it available to students to try. My own background means I’m very aware of that…

Closing Session – Jason Miles Campbell, Jisc

I’ll be quick here and have brought out the voting gadgets to liven it up!

So I want to talk a bit about what we are working on at the moment. We are connecting with you and your institution – we have, as account manager, been reading your institutions corporate plans, strategies, etc. to ensure we are appropriately placed to help you meet those aims. We are also making sure that you’re getting the most of Jisc to meet your priorities – indeed also identifying free or already paid for resources where you may not yet be taking best advantage. We also want to identify those making great use so we can show you examples of best practice.

We are also translating our activity for the Scottish context. So you will have seen the FELTAG recommendations and how we ensure we meet that can be translated elsewhere, and in Scotland. We will also be delivering an online community of practice on young workforce development, and if you have anyone in your organisation working on that area we will be holding a webinar on that, and possibly other events too. We are also looking at other UK-wide subjects. We are ensuring we’re working best with other agencies, we have our offices (or at least hot desk) in Stirling, including the Scottish Funding Council.

So, some questions for you now…

Have you found at least one thing to implement in your institution out of today? (voting pads at the ready!). 85% say “yes”, 15% say they are “unsure” (or very polite). 0% say “no”. I would recommend that you schedule an email to yourself for the future with some of those good ideas!

What is your main barrier to realising digital opportunities at your organisation? 58% say “time”, 25% say “buy-in”, 17% say “other” (and no-one says “no barriers).

How would you describe your own (personal) engagement with Jisc up until now? 30% each say “occasional/sporadic” or “rare”, 10% each say “useful but could do more” or “fully engaged”, 20% say “none”.

Where do you think Jisc could have most future impact in your institution? 55% say “enhancement of teaching and learning”, 27% say “digital resources and content” and 18% say “network and infrastructure”.

To wrap up… Do keep in touch. You can reach us via Twitter, Jisc Scotland Jiscmail lists (we are reviewing the right cross section of those so that we don’t have too many), our website, email, telephone etc.

Finally, huge thanks who have been contributing and organising for today. And a huge thank you to all of you for attending – there have been some great conversations!

 June 4, 2015  Posted by at 11:00 am Events Attended, Jisc MediaHub, LiveBlogs Tagged with: ,  No Responses »