Jul 072016
 

On 27th June I attended a lunchtime seminar, hosted by the University of Edinburgh Centre for Research in Digital Education with Professor Catherine Hasse of Aarhus University

Catherine is opening with a still from Ex-machina (2015, dir. Alex Garland). The title of my talk is the difference between human and posthuman learning, I’ll talk for a while but I’ve moved a bit from my title… My studies in posthuman learning has moved me to more of a posthumanistic learning… Today human beings are capable of many things – we can transform ourselves, and ourselves in our environment. We have to think about that and discuss that, to take account of that in learning.

I come from the centre for Future Technology, Culture and Learning, Aarhus University, Denmark. We are hugely interdisciplinary as a team. We discuss and research what is learning under these new conditions, and to consider the implications for education. I’ll talk less about education today, more about the type of learning taking place and the ways we can address that.

My own background is in anthropology of education in Denmark, specifically looking at physicists.In 2015 we got a big grant to work on “The Technucation Project” and we looked at the anthropology of education in Denmark in nurses and teachers – and the types of technological literacy they require for their work. My work (in English) has been about “Mattering” – the learning changes that matter to you. The learning theories I am interested in acknowledge cultural differences in learning, something we have to take account of. What it is to be human is already transformed. Posthumanistics learning is a new conceptualisations and material conditions that change what it was to be human. It was and it ultra human to be learners.

So… I have become interested in robots.. They are coming into our lives. They are not just tools. Human beings encounter tools that they haven’t asked for. You will be aware of predictions that over a third of jobs in the US may be taken over by automated processes and robots in the next 20 years. That comes at the same time as there is pressure on the human body to become different, at the point at which our material conditions are changing very rapidly. A lot of theorists are picking up on this moment of change, and engaging with the idea of what it is to be human – including those in Science and Technology Studies, and feminist critique. Some anthropologist suggest that it is not geography but humans that should shape our conceptions of the world (Anthrpos- Anthropocene), others differ and conceive of the capitalocene. When we talk about the posthuman a lot of the theories acknowledge that we can’t talk about the fact that we can’t think of the human in the same way anymore. Kirksey & Helmreich (2010) talk of “natural-cultural hybrids”, and we see everything from heart valves to sensors, to iris scanning… We are seeing robots, cybords, amalgamations, including how our thinking feeds into systems – like the stockmarkets (especially today!). The human is de-centered in this amalgamation but is still there. And we may yet get to this creature from Ex-machina, the complex sentient robot/cyborg.

We see posthuman learning in uncanny valley… gradually we will move from robots that feel far away, to those with human tissues, with something more human and blended. The new materialism and robotics together challenge the conception of the human. When we talk of learning we talk about how humans learn, not what follows when bodies are transformed by other (machine) bodies. And here we have to be aware that in feminism that people like Rosa Predosi(?) have been happy with the discarding of the human: for them it was always a narrative, it was never really there. The feminist critique is that the “human” was really retruvian man.. But they also critique the idea that Posthu-man is a continuation of individual goal-directed and rational self-enhancing (white male) humans. And that questions the post human…

There are actually two ways to think of the post human. One way is the posthuman learning as something that does away with useless, biological bodies (Kurzweil 2005) and we see transhumanists, Verner Vinge, Hans Moravec, Natasha Vita-More in this space that sees us heading towards the singularity. But the alternative is a posthumanistic approach, which is about cultural transformations of boundaries in human-material assemblages, referencing that we have never been isolated human beings, we’ve always been part of our surroundings. That is another way to see the posthuman. This is a case that I make in an article (Hayles 1999) that we have always been posthuman. We also see have, on the other hand, Spinozists approach which is about how are we, if we understand ourselves as de-centered, able to see ourselves as agents. In other words we are not separate from the culture, we are all Nature-cultural…Not of nature, not of culture but naturacultural (Hayles; Haraway).

But at the same time if it is true that human beings can literally shape the crust of the earth, we are now witnessing anthropomorphism on steroids (Latour, 2011 – Waiting for Gaia [PDF]). The Anthropocene perspective is that, if human impact on Earth can be translated into human responsibility fr the earth, the concept may help stimulate appropriate societal responses and/or invoke appropriate planetary stewardship (Head 2014); the capitalocene (see Jason Moore) talks about moving away from cartesian dualism in global environmental change, the alternative implies a shift from humanity and nature to humanity in nature, we have to counter capitalism in nature.

So from the human to the posthuman, I have argue that this is a way we can go with our theories… There are two ways to understand that, the singularist posthumanism or spinozist posthumanism. And I think we need to take a posthumanistic stance with learning – taking account of learning in technological naturecultures.

My own take here… We talk about intra-species differentiations. This nature is not nature as resource but rather nature as matrices – a nature that operates not only outside and inside our bodies (from global climate to the microbiome) but also through our bodies, including embodied minds. We do create intra-species differentiation, where learning changes what maters to you and others, and what matters changes learning. To create an ecological responsible ultra-sociality we need to see ourselves as a species of normative learners in cultural organisations.

So, my own experience, after studying physicists as an anthropologists I no longer saw the night sky the same way – they were stars and star constellations. After that work I saw them as thousands of potetial suns – and perhaps planets – and that wasn’t a wider discussion at that time.

I see it as a human thing to be learners. And we are ultra social learning. And that is a characteristic of being human. Collective learning is essentially what has made us culturally diverse. We have learning theories that are relavent for cultural diversity. We have to think of learning in a cultural way. Mediational approachs in collective activity. Vygotsky takes the idea of learners as social learners before we become personal learners and that is about the mediation – not natureculture but cultureculture (Moll 2000). That’s my take on it. So, we can re-centre human beings… Humans are not the centre of the universe, or of the environment. But we can be at the centre and think about what we want to be, what we want to become.

I was thinking of coming in with a critique of MOOCs, particularly as those being a capitolocene position. But I think we need to think of social learning before we look at individual learning (Vygotsky 1981). And we are always materially based. So, how do we learn to be engaged collectively? What does it matter – for MOOCs for instance – if we each take part from very different environments and contexts, when that environment has a significant impact. We can talk about those environments and what impact they have.

You can buy robots now that can be programmed – essentially sex robots like “Roxxxy” – and are programmed by reactions to our actions, emotions etc. If we learn from those actions and emotions, we may relearn and be changed in our own actions and emptions. We are seeing a separation of tool-creation from user-demand in Capitalocene. The introduction of robots in work places are often not replacing the work that workers actually want support with. The seal robots to calm dementia patients down cover a role that many carers actually enjoyed in their work, the human contact and suport. But those introducing them spoke of efficiency, the idea being to make employees superfluous but described as “simply an attempt to remove some of the most demeaning hard task from the work with old people so the wor time ca be used for care and attention” (Hasse 2013).

These alternative relations with machines are things we always react too, humans always stretch themselves to meet the challenge or engagement at hand. An inferentialist approach (Derry 2013) acknowledges many roads to knowledge but materiality of thinking reflects that we live in a world of not just case but reason. We don’t live in just a representationalism (Bakker and Derry 2011) paradigm, it is much more complex. Material wealth will teach us new things.. But maybe these machines will encourage us to think we should learn more in a representative than an inferentialist way. We have to challenge robotic space of reasons. I would recommend Jan Derry’s work on Vygotsky in this area.

For me robot representationalism has the capacity to make convincing representations… You can give and take answers but you can’t argue space and reasons… They cannot reason from this representation. Representational content is not articulated by determinate negation and complex concept formation. Algorithmic learning has potential and limitations, and is based on representationalism. Not concept formation. I think we have to take a position on posthumanistic learning, with collectivity as a normative space of reasons; acknowledge mattering matter in concept formation; acknowledge human inferentialism; acknowledge transformation in environment…

Discussion/Q&A

Q1) Can I ask about causes and reasons… My background is psychology and I could argue that we are more automated than we think we are, that reasons come later…

A1) Inferentialism is challenging  the idea of giving and taking reasons as part of normative space. It’s not anything goes… It’s sort of narrowing it down, that humans come into being in terms of learning and thinking in a normative space that is already there. Wilfred Sellers says there is no “bare given” – we are in a normative space, it’s not nature doing this… I have some problems with the term dialectical… But it is a kind of dialective process. If you give an dtake reasons, its not anything goes. I think Jen Derry has a better phrasing for this. But that is the basic sense. And it comes for me from analytical philosophy – which I’m not a huge fan of – but they are asking important questions on what it is to be human, and what it is to learn.

Q2) Interesting to hear you talk about Jan Derry. She talks about technology perhaps obscuring some of the reasoning process and I was wondering how representational things fitted in?

A2) Not in the book I mentioned but she has been working on this type of area at University of London. It is part of the idea of not needing to learn representational knowledge, which is built into technological systems, but for inferentialism we need really good teachers. She has examples about learning about the bible, she followed a school class… Who look at the bible, understand the 10 commandments, and then ask them to write their own bible 10 commandments on whatever topic… That’s a very narrow reasoning… It is engaging but it is limited.

Q3) An ethics issue… If we could devise robots or machines, AI, that could think inferentially, should we?

A3) A challenge for me – we don’t have enough technical people. My understanding is that it’s virtually impossible to do that. You have claims but the capacities of AI systems so far are so limited in terms of function. I think that “theory of mind” is so problematic. They deteriorise what it means to be human, and narrow what it means to be our species. I think algorithmic learning is representational… I may be wrong though… If we can… There are poiltical issues. Why make machines that are one to one to human beings… Maybe to be slaves, to do dirty work. If they can think inferentiality, should they not have ethical rights. In spinostas we have a responsibility to think about those ethical issues.

Q4) You use the word robot, that term is being used to be something very embodies and physical.. But algorithmic agency, much less embodied and much less visible – you mentioned the stock market – and how that fits in.

A4) In a way robots are a novelty, a way to demonstrate that. A chatbot is also a robot. Robot covers a lot of automated processes. One of the things that came out of AI at one point was that AI couldn’t learn without bodies.. That for deep learning there needs to be some sort of bodily engagement to make bodily mistakes. But then encounters like Roxy and others is that they become very much better… As humans we stretch to engage with these robots… We take an answer for an answer, not just an algorithm, and that might change how we learn.

Q4) So the robot is a point of engaging for machine learning… A provocation.

A4) I think roboticists see this as being an easy way to make this happen. But everything happens so quickly… Chips in bodies etc. But can also have robots moving in space, engaging with chips.

Q5) Is there something here about artifical life, rather than artifical intelligence – that the robot provokes that…

A5) That is what a lot of roboticists work at, is trying to create artificial life… There is a lot of work we haven’t seen yet. Working on learning algorithms in computer programming now, that evolves with the process, a form of artifical life. They hope to create robots and if they malfunction, they can self-repair so that the next generation is better. We asked at a conference in Prague recently, with roboticists, was “what do you mean by better?” and they simply couldn’t answer that, which was really interesting… I do think they are working on artifical life as well. And maybe there are two little connections between those of us in education, and those that create these things.

Q6) I was approached by robotics folks about teaching robots to learn drawing with charcoal, largely because the robotic hand had enough sensitivity to do something quite complex – to teach charcoal drawing and representation… The teacher gesticulates, uses metaphor, describes things… I teach drawing and representational drawing… There is no right answer there, which is tough for robototics… What is the equivelent cyborg/dual space in learning? Drawing toolsa re cyborg-esque in terms of digital and drawing tools… BUt also that diea of culture… You can manipulate tools, awareness of function and then the hack, and complexity of that hack… I suppose lots of things were ringing true but I couldn’t quite stick them in to what I’m trying to get at…

A6) Some of this is maybe tied to Schuman Enhancement Theory – the idea of a perfect cyborg drawing?

Q6) No, they were interested in improving computer learning, and language, but for me… The idea of human creativity and hacking… You could pack a robot with the history of art, and representation, so much information… Could do a lot… But is that better art? Or better design? A conversation we have to have!

A6) I tend to look at the dark side of the coin in a way… Not because I am techno-determinist… I do love gadgets, technology enhances our life, we can be playful… BUt in the capitalocene… There is much more focus on this. The creative side of technology is what many people are working on… Fantastic things are coming up, crossovers in art… New things can be created… What I see in nursing and teaching learning contexts is how to avoid engaging… So lifting robots are here, but nursing staff aren’t trained properly and they avoid them… Creativity goes many ways… I’m seeing from quite a particular position, and that is partly a position of warning. These technologies may be creative and they may then make us less and less creative… That’s a question we have to ask. For physicists, who have to be creative, are always so tied to the materiality, the machines and technologies in their working environments. I’ve also seen some of these drawing programmes…. It is amazing what you can draw with these tools… But you need purpose, awareness of what those changes mean… Tools are never innocent. We have to analyse what tools are doing to us

Jun 152016
 

Today I’m at the University of Edinburgh Principal’s Teaching Award Scheme Forum 2016: Rethinking Learning and Teaching Together, an event that brings together teaching staff, learning technologists and education researchers to share experience and be inspired to try new things and to embed best practice in their teaching activities.

I’m here partly as my colleague Louise Connelly (Vet School, formerly of IAD) will be presenting our PTAS-funded Managing Your Digital Footprint project this afternoon. We’ll be reporting back on the research, on the campaign, and on upcoming Digital Foorprints work including our forthcoming Digital Footprint MOOC (more information to follow) and our recently funded (again by PTAS) project: “A Live Pulse: YikYak for Understanding Teaching, Learning and Assessment at Edinburgh.

As usual, this is a liveblog so corrections, comments, etc. welcome. 

Velda McCune, Deputy Director of the IAD who heads up the learning and teaching team, is introducing today:

Welcome, it’s great to see you all here today. Many of you will already know about the Principal’s Teaching Award Scheme. We have funding of around £100k from the Development fund every year, since 2007, in order to look at teaching and learning – changing behaviours, understanding how students learn, investigating new education tools and technologies. We are very lucky to have this funding available. We have had over 300 members of staff involved and, increasingly, we have students as partners in PTAS projects. If you haven’t already put a bid in we have rounds coming up in September and March. And we try to encourage people, and will give you feedback and support and you can resubmit after that too. We also have small PTAS grants as well for those who haven’t applied before and want to try it out.

I am very excited to welcome our opening keynote, Paul Ashwin of Lancaster University, to kick off what I think will be a really interesting day!

Why would going to university change anyone? The challenges of capturing the transformative power of undergraduate degrees in comparisons of quality  – Professor Paul Ashwin

What I’m going to talk about is this idea of undergraduate degrees being transformative, and how as we move towards greater analytics, how we might measure that. And whilst metrics are flawed, we can’t just ignore these. This presentation is heavily informed by Lee Schumers work on Pedagogical Content Knowledge, which always sees teaching in context, and in the context of particular students and settings.

People often talk about the transformative nature of what their students experience. David Watson was, for a long time, the President for the Society of Higher Education (?) and in his presidential lectures he would talk about the need to be as hard on ourselves as we would be on others, on policy makers, on decision makers… He said that if we are talking about education as educational, we have to ask ourselves how and why this transformation takes place; whether it is a planned transformation; whether higher education is a nesseccary and/or sufficient condition for such transformations; whether all forms of higher education result in this transformation. We all think of transformation as important… But I haven’t really evidenced that view…

The Yerevan Communique: May 2015 talks about wanting to achieve, by 2020, a European Higher Education area where there are common goals, where there is automatic recognition of qualifictions and students and graduates can move easily through – what I would characterise is where Bologna begins. The Communique talks about higher education contributing effectively to build inclusive societies, found on democratic values and human rights where educational opportunities are part of European Citizenship. And ending in a statement that should be a “wow!” moment, valuing teaching and learning. But for me there is a tension: the comparability of undergraduate degrees is in conflict with the idea of transformational potential of undergraduate degrees…

Now, critique is too easy, we have to suggest alternative ways to approach these things. We need to suggest alternatives, to explain the importance of transformation – if that’s what we value – and I’ll be talking a bit about what I think is important.

Working with colleagues at Bath and Nottingham I have been working on a project, the Pedagogic Quality and Inequality Project, looking at Sociology students and the idea of transformation at 2 top ranked (for sociology) and 2 bottom ranked (for sociology) universities and gathered data and information on the students experience and change. We found that league tables told you nothing about the actual quality of experience. We found that the transformational nature of undergraduate degrees lies in changes in students sense of self through their engagement with discplinary knowledge. Students relating their personal projects to their disciplines and the world and seeing themselves implicated in knowledge. But it doesn’t always happen – it requires students to be intellectually engaged with their courses to be transformed by it.

To quote a student: “There is no destination with this discipline… There is always something further and there is no point where you can stop and say “I understaood, I am a sociologist”… The thing is sociology makes you aware of every decision you make: how that would impact on my life and everything else…” And we found the students all reflecting that this idea of transformation was complex – there were gains but also losses. Now you could say that this is just the nature of sociology…

We looked at a range of disciplines, studies of them, and also how we would define that in several ways: the least inclusive account; the “watershed” account – the institutional type of view; and the most inclusive account. Mathematics has the most rich studies in this area (Wood et al 2012) where the least inclusive account is “Numbers”, watershed is “Models”, most inclusive is “approach to life”. Similarly Accountancy moves from routine work to moral work; Law from content to extension of self; Music from instrument to communicating; Geograpy is from general world to interactions; Geoscience is from composition of earth – the earth, to relations earth and society. Clearly these are not all the same direction, but they are accents and flavours of the same time. We are going to do a comparison next year on chemistry and chemical engineering, in the UK and South Africa, and actually this work points at what is particular to Higher Education being about engaging with a system of knowledge. Now, my colleague Monica McLean would ask why that’s limited to Higher Education, couldn’t it apply to all education? And that’s valid but I’m going to ignore it just for now!

Another students comments on transformation of all types, for example from wearing a tracksuit to lectures, to not beginning to present themselves this way. Now that has nothing to do with the curriculum, this is about other areas of life. This student almost dropped out but the Afro Carribean society supported and enabled her to continue and progress through her degree. I have worked in HE and FE and the way students talk about that transformation is pretty similar.

So, why would going to university change anyone? It’s about exposure to a system of knowledge changing your view of self, and of the world. Many years ago an academic asked what the point of going to university was, given that much information they learn will be out of date. And the counter argument there is that engagement with seeing different perspectives, to see the world as a sociologist, to see the world as a geographer, etc.

So, to come back to this tension around the comparability of undergraduate degrees, and the transformational potential of undergraduate degrees. If we are about transformation, how do we measure it? What are the metrics for this? I’m not suggesting those will particularly be helpful… But we can’t leave metrics to what is easy to gather, we have to also look at what is important.

So if we think of the first area of compatibility we tend to use rankings. National and international higher education rankings are a dominant way of comparing institutions’ contributions to student success. All universities have a set of figures that do them well. They have huge power as they travel across a number of contexts and audiences – vice chancellors, students, departmental staff. It moves context, it’s portable and durable. It’s nonsense but the strength of these metrics is hard to combat. They tend to involved unrelated and incomparable measures. Their stability reinforces privilege – higher status institutions tend to enrol a much greated proportion of privileged students. You can have some unexpected outcomes but you have to have Oxford, Cambridge, Edinburgh, UCL, Imperial all near the top then your league table is rubbish… Because we already know they are the good universities… Or at least those rankings reinforce the privilege that already exists, the expectations that are set. They tell us nothing about transformation of students. But are skillful performances shaped by generic skills or students understanding of a particular task and their interactions with other people and things?

Now the OECD has put together a ranking concept on graduate outcomes, the AHELO, which uses tests for e.g. physics and engineering – not surprising choices as they have quite international consistency, they are measurable. And they then look at generic tests – e.g a deformed fish is found in a lake, using various press releases and science reports write a memo for policy makers. Is that generic? In what way? Students doing these tests are volunteers, which may not be at all representative. Are the skills generic? Education is about applying a way of thinking in an unstructured space, in a space without context. Now, the students are given context in these texts so it’s not a generic test. But we must be careful about what we measure as what we measure can become an index of quality or success, whether or not that is actually what we’d want to mark up as success. We have strategic students who want to know what counts… And that’s ok as long as the assessment is appropriately designed and set up… The same is true of measures of success and metrics of quality and teaching and learning. That is why I am concerned by AHELO but it keeps coming back again…

Now, I have no issue with the legitimate need for comparison, but I also have a need to understand what comparisons represent, how they distort. Are there ways to take account of students’ transformation in higher education?

I’ve been working, with Rachel Sweetman at University of Oslo, on some key characteristics of valid metrics of teaching quality. For us reliability is much much more important than availability. So, we need ways to assess teaching quality that:

  • are measures of the quality of teaching offered by institutions rather than measures of institutional prestige (e.g. entry grades)
  • require improvements in teaching practices in order to improve performance on the measures
  • as a whole form a coherent set of metrics rather than a set of disparate measures
  • are based on established research evidence about high quality teaching and learning in higher education
  • reflect the purposes of higher education.

We have to be very aware of Goodhearts’ rule that we must be wary of any measure that becomes a performance indicator.

I am not someone with a big issue with the National Student Survey – it is grounded in the right things but the issue is that it is run each year, and the data is used in unhelpful distorted ways – rather than acknowledging and working on feedback it is distorting. Universities feel the need to label engagement as “feedback moments” as they assume a less good score means students just don’t understand when they have that feedback moment.

Now, in England we have the prospect of the Teaching Excellence Framework English White Paper and Technical Consultation. I don’t think it’s that bad as a prospect. It will include students views of teaching, assessment and academic support from the National Student Survey, non completion rates, measures over three years etc. It’s not bad. Some of these measures are about quality, and there is some coherence. But this work is not based on established research evidence… There was great work here at Edinburgh on students learning experiences in UK HE, none of that work is reflected in TEF. If you were being cynical you could think they have looked at available evidence and just selected the more robust metrics.

My big issue with Year 2 TEF metrics are how and why these metrics have been selected. You need a proper consultation on measures, rather than using the White Paper and Technical Consultation to do that. The Office for National Statistics looked at measures and found them robust but noted that the differences between institutions scores on the selected metrics tend to be small and not significant. Not robust enough to inform future work according to the ONS. It seems likely that peer review will end up being how we differentiate between institution.

And there are real issues with TEF Future Metrics… This comes from a place of technical optimism that if you just had the right measures you’d know… This measure ties learner information to tax records for “Longitudinal Education Outcomes data set” and “teaching intensity”. Teaching intensity is essentially contact hours… that’s game-able… And how on earth is that about transformation, it’s not a useful measure of that. Unused office hours aren’t useful, optional seminars aren’t useful…  Keith Chigwell told me about a lecturer he knew who lectured a subject, each week fewer and fewer students came along. The last three lectures had no students there… He still gave them… That’s contact hours that count on paper but isn’t useful. That sort of measure seems to come more from ministerial dinner parties than from evidence.

But there are things that do matter… There is no mechanism outlines for a sector-wide discussion of the development of future metrics. What about expert teaching? What about students relations to knowledge? What about the first year experience – we know that that is crucial for student outcomes? Now the measures may not be easy, but they matter. And what we also see is the Learning Gains project, but they decided to work generically, but that also means you don’t understand students particular engagement with knowledge and engagement. In generic tests the description of what you can do ends up more important than what you actually do. You are asking for claims for what they can do, rather than performing those things. You can see why it is attractive, but it’s meaningless, it’s not a good measure of what Higher Education can do.

So, to finish, I’ve tried to put teaching at the centre of what we do. Teaching is a local achievement – it always shifts according to who the students are , what the setting is, and what the knowledge is. But that also always makes it hard to capture and measure. So what you probably need is a lot of different imperfect measures that can be compared and understood as a whole. However, if we don’t try we allow distorting measures, which reinforce inequalities, to dominate. Sometimes the only thing worse than not being listened to by policy makers, is being listened to them. That’s when we see a Frankenstein’s Monster emerge, and that’s why we need to recognise the issues, to ensure we are part of the debate. If we don’t try to develop alternative measures we leave it open to others to define.

Q&A

Q1) I thought that was really interesting. In your discussion of transformation of undergraduate students I was wondering how that relates to less traditional students, particularly mature students, even those who’ve taken a year out, where those transitions into adulthood are going to be in a different place and perhaps where critical thinking etc. skills may be more developed/different.

A1) One of the studies I talked about was London Metropolitan University has a large percentage of mature students… And actually there the interactions with knowledge really did prove transformative… Often students lived at home with family whether young or mature students. That transformation was very high. And it was unrelated to achievements. So some came in who had quite profound challenges and they had transformation there. But you have to be really careful about not suggesting different measures for different students… That’s dangerous… But that transformation was there. There is lots of research that’s out there… But how do we transform that into something that has purchase… recognising there will be flaws and compromises, but ensuring that voice in the debate. That it isn’t politicians owning that debate, that transformations of students and the real meaning of education is part of that.

Q2) I found the idea of transformation that you started with really interesting. I work in African studies and we work a lot on decolonial issues, and of the need to transform academia to be more representative. And I was concerned about the idea of transformation as a decolonial type issue, of being like us, of dressing like that… As much as we want to challenge students we also need to take on and be aware of the biases inherent in our own ways of doing things as British or Global academics.

A2) I think that’s a really important question. My position is that students come into Higher Education for something. Students in South Africa – and I have several projects there – who have nowhere to live, have very little, who come into Higher Education to gain powerful knowledge. If we don’t have access to a body of knowledge, that we can help students gain access to and to gain further knowledge, then why are we there? Why would students waste time talking to me if I don’t have knowledge. The world exceeds our ability to know it, we have to simplify the world. What we offer undergraduates is powerful simplifications, to enable them to do things. That’s why they come to us and why they see value. They bring their own biographies, contexts, settings. The project I talked about is based in the work of Basil Bernstein who argues that the knowledge we produce in primary research… But when we design curriculum it isn’t that – we engage with colleagues, with peers, with industry… It is transformed, changed… And students also transform that knowledge, they relate it to their situation, to their own work. But we are only a valid part of that process if we have something to offer. And for us I would argue it’s the access to body of knowledge. I think if we only offer process, we are empty.

Q3) You talked about learning analytics, and the issues of AHELO, and the idea of if you see the analytics, you understand it all… And that concept not being true. But I would argue that when we look at teaching quality, and a focus on content and content giving, that positions us as gatekeepers and that is problematic.

A3) I don’t see knowledge as content. It is about ways of thinking… But it always has an object. One of the issues with the debate on teaching and learning in higher education is the loss of the idea of content and context. You don’t foreground the content, but you have to remember it is there, it is the vehicle through which students gain access to powerful ways of thinking.

Q4) I really enjoyed that and I think you may have answered my question.. But coming back to metrics you’ve very much stayed in the discipline-based silos and I just wondered how we can support students to move beyond those silos, how we measure that, and how to make that work.

A4) I’m more course than discipline focused. With the first year of TEF the idea of assessing quality across a whole institution is very problematic, it’s programme level we need to look at. inter-professional, interdisciplinary work is key… But one of the issues here is that it can be implied that that gives you more… I would argue that that gives you differently… It’s another new way of seeing things. But I am nervous of institutions, funders etc. who want to see interdisciplinary work as key. Sometimes it is the right approach, but it depends on the problem at hand. All approaches are limited and flawed, we need to find the one that works for a given context. So, I sort of agree but worry about the evangelical position that can be taken on interdisciplinary work which is often actually multidisciplinary in nature – working with others not genuinely working in an interdisciplinary way.

Q5) I think to date we focus on objective academic ideas of what is needed, without asking students what they need. You have also focused on the undergraduate sector, but how applicable to the post graduate sector?

A5) I would entirely agree with your comment. That’s why pedagogic content matters so much. You have to understand your students first, as well as then also understanding this body of knowledge. It isn’t about being student-centered but understanding students and context and that body of knowledge. In terms of your question I think there is a lot of applicability for PGT. For PhD students things are very different – you don’t have a body of knowledge to share in the same way, that is much more about process. Our department is all PhD only and there process is central. That process is quite different at that level… It’s about contributing in an original way to that body of knowledge as its core purpose. That doesn’t mean students at other levels can’t contribute, it just isn’t the core purpose in the same way.

Parallel Sessions from PTAS projects: Social Media – Enhancing Teaching & Building Community? – Sara Dorman, Gareth James, Luke March

Gareth: It was mentioned earlier that there is a difference between the smaller and larger projects funded under this scheme – and this was one of the smaller projects. Our project was looking at whether we could use social media to enhance teaching and community in our programmes but in wider areas. And we particularly wanted to look at the use of Twitter and Facebook, to engage them in course material but also to strengthen relationships. So we decided to compare the use of Facebook used by Luke March in Russian Politics courses, with the use of Twitter and Facebook  in African Politics courses that Sara and I run.

So, why were we interested in this project? Social media is becoming a normal area of life for students, in academic practice and increasingly in teaching (Blair 2013; Graham 2014). Twitter increasingly used, Facebook well established. It isn’t clear what the lasting impact of social media would be but Twitter especially is heavily used by politicians, celebrities, by influential people in our fields. 2014 data shows 90% of 18-24 year olds regularly using social media. For lecturers social media can be an easy way to share a link as Twitter is a normal part of academic practice (e.g. the @EdinburghPIR channel is well used), keeping staff and students informed of events, discussion points, etc. Students have also expressed interest in more community, more engagement with the subject area. The NSS also shows some overall student dissatisfaction, particularly within politics. So social media may be a way to build community, but also to engage with the wider subject. And students have expressed preference for social media – such as Facebook groups – compared to formal spaces like Blackboard Learn discussion boards. So, for instance, we have a hashtag #APTD – the name of one of our courses – which staff and students can use to share and explore content, including (when you search through) articles, documents etc. shared since 2013.

So, what questions did we ask? Well we wanted to know:

  • Does social media facilitate student learning and enhance the learning experience?
  • Does social media enable students to stay informaed?
  • Does it facilitate participation in debates?
  • Do they feel more included and valued as part of the suject area?
  • Is social media complementary to VLEs like Learn?
  • Which medium works best?
  • And what disadvantages might there be around using these tools? \

We collected data through a short questionnaire about awareness, usage, usefulness. We designed just a few questions that were part of student evaluation forms. Students had quite a lot to say on these different areas.

So, our findings… Students all said they were aware of these tools. There was slightly higher levels of awareness among Facebook users, e.g. Russian Politics for both UG and PG students. Overall 80% said they were aware to some extent. When we looked at usage – meaning access of this space rather than necessarily meaningful engagement – we felt that usage of course materials on Twitter and Facebook does not equal engagement. Other studies have found students lurking more than posting/engaging directly. But, at least amongst our students (n=69), 70% used resources at least once. Daily usage was higher amongst Facebook users, i.e. Russian Politics. Twitter more than twice as likely to have never been used.

We asked students how useful they found these spaces. Facebook was seen as more useful than Twitter. 60% found Facebook “very” or “somewhat useful”. Only a third described Twitter as “somewhat useful” and none said “very useful”. But there were clear differences between UG and PG students. UG students were generally more positive than PG students. They noted that it was useful and interesting to keep up with news and events, but not always easy to tie that back to the curriculum. Students claimed it “interesting” a lot – for instance comparing historical to current events. More mixed responses included that there was plenty of material on Learn, so didn’t use FB or Twitter. Another commented they wanted everything on Learn, in one place. One commented they don’t use Twitter so don’t want to follow the course there, would prefer Facebook or Learn. Some commented that too many posts were shared, information overload. Students thought some articles were random, couldn’t tell what was good and what was not.

A lot of these issues were also raised in focus group discussions. Students do appreciate sharing resources and staying informed, but don’t always see the connection to the course. They recognise potential for debate and discussion but often it doesn’t happen, but when it does they find it intimidating for that to be in a space with real academics and others, indeed they prefer discussion away from tutors and academics on the course too. Students found Facebook better for network building but also found social vs academic distinction difficult. Learn was seen as academic and safe, but also too clunky to navigate and engage in discussions. Students were concerned others might feel excluded. Some also commented that not liking or commenting could be hurtful to some. One student comments “it was kind of more like the icing than the cake” – which I think really sums it up.

Students commented that there was too much noise to pick through. And “I didn’t quite have the know-how to get something out of”. “I felt a bit intimidated and wasn’t sure if I should join in”. others commented only using social media for social purpose – that it would be inappropriate to engage with academics there.  Some saw Twitter as a professional, Facebook as social.

So, some conclusions…

It seems that Facebook is more popoular with students than Twitter, seen as better for building community. Some differences between UG and PG students, with UG more interested. Generally less enthusiasm than anticiapted. Students were interested in nd aware of benefits of joining in discussions but also wary of commenting too much in “public”. This suggests that we need to “build community” in order for the “community building” tools to really works.

There is also an issue of lack of integration between FB, Twitter and Learn. Many of our findings reflect others, for instance Matt Graham in Dundee – who saw potential for HE humanities students. Facebook was particularly popular for their students than Twitter. He looked more at engagement and saw some students engaging more deeply with the wider African knowledge. But one outcome was that student engagement did not occur or engage sustainably without some structure – particular tasks and small nudges, connected to Learning Outcomes, flagging clear benefits at beginning, and that students should take a lead in creating groups – which came out of our work too – also suggested.

There are challenges here: inappropriate use, friending between staff and students for instance. Alastair Blair notes in an article that the utility of Twitter, despite the challenge, cannot be ignored. For academics thinking about impact it is important, but also for students it is important for alignment with wider subject area that moves beyond the classroom.

Our findings suggest that there is no need to rush into social media. But at the same time Sara and I still see benefits for areas like African Studies which is fast moving and poorly covered in the mainstream media. But the idea of students wanting to be engaged in the real world was clearly not carried through. Maybe more support and encouragement is needed for students – and maybe for staff too. And it would be quite interesting to see if and how students experiences of different politics and events – #indyref, #euref, etc. differ. Colleagues are considering using social media in a course on the US presidential election, might work out differently as students may be more confident to discuss these. The department has also moved forward with more presences for staff and students, also alumni.

Closing words from Matt Graham that encouraging students to question and engage more broadly with their subject is a key skill.

Q&A

Q1) What sort of support was in place, or guidelines, around that personla/academic identity thing?

A1) Actually none. We didn’t really realise this would happen. We know students don’t always engage in Learn. We didn’t really fully appreciate how intimidating students really found this. I don’t think we felt the need to give guidelines…

A1 – SD) We kind of had those channels before the course… It was organic rather than pedagogic…

Q1) We spoke to students who wanted more guidance especially for use in teaching and learning.

A1 – SD) We did put Twitter on the Learn page… to follow up… Maybe as academics we are the worst people to understand what students would do… We thought they would engage…

Q1) Will you develop guidelines for other courses…

A1) And a clearer explanation might encourage students to engage a bit more… Could be utility in doing some of that. University/institution wise there is cautious adoption and you see guidance issued for staff on using these things… But wouldn’t want overbearing guidance there.

Q1) We have some guidance under CC licence that you can use, available from Digital Footprints space.

Q2) Could you have a safer filtered space for students to engage. We do writing courses with international PG students and thought that might be useful to have social media available there… But maybe it will confuse them.

A2) There was a preference for a closed “safer” environment, talking only to students in their own cohort and class. I think Facebook is more suited to that sort of thing, Twitter is an open space. You can create a private Facebook group… One problem with Russian Politics was that they have a closed group… But had previous cohorts and friends of staff…

A2 – SD) We were trying to include students in real academia… Real tensions there over purpose and what students get out of it… The sense of not knowing… Some students might have security concerns but think it was insecurity in academic knowledge. They didn’t see themselves as co-producers. That needs addressing…

A2) Students being reluctant to engage isn’t new, but we thought we might have more engagement in social media. Now this was the negative side but actually there was positive things here – that wider awareness, even if one directional.

Q3) I just wanted to ask more about the confidence to participate and those comments that suggested that was a bigger issue – not just in social media – for these students, similarly information seeking behaviour

A3) There is work taking place in SPS around study skills, approaching your studies. Might be some room to introduce this stuff earlier on in school wide or subject wide courses… Especially if we are to use these schools. I completely agree that by the end of these studies you should have these skills – how to write properly, how to look for information… The other thing that comes to mind having heard our keynote this morning is the issue of transformative process. It’s good to have high expectations of UG students, and they seem to rise to the occasion… But I think that we maybe need to understand the difference between UG and PG students… And in PG years they take that further more fully.

A3 – SD) UG are really big courses – which may be part of the issue. In PG they are much smaller… Some students are from Africa and may know more, some come in knowing very little… That may also play in…

Q4) On the UG/PG thing these spaces move quickly! Which tools you use will change quickly. And actually the type of thing you post really matters – sharing a news article is great, but how you discuss and create follow up afterwards – did you see that, the follow up, the creation, the response…

A4 – SD) Students did sometimes interact… But the people who would have done that with email/Learn were the same that used social media in that way.

A4) Facebook and Twitter are new technologies still… So perhaps students will be increasingly more engaged and informed and up for engaging in these space. I’m still getting to grips with the etiquette of Twitter. There was more discussion on Facebook Groups than on Twitter… But also can be very surface level learning… It complements what we are doing but there are challenges to overcoming them… And we have to think about whether that is worthwhile. Some real positives and real challenges.

Parallel Sessions from PTAS projects: Managing Your Digital Footprint (Research Strand) – Dr Louise Connelly 

This was one of the larger PTAS-funded projects. This is the “Research Strand” is because it ran in parallel to the campaign which was separately funded.

There is so much I could cover in this presentation so I’ve picked out some areas I think will be practical and applicable to your research. I’m going to start by explaining what we mean by “Digital Footprint” and then talk more about our approach and the impact of the work. Throughout the project and campaign we asked students for quotes and comments that we could share as part of the campaign – you’ll see these throughout the presentation but you can also use these yourself as they are all CC-BY.

The project wouldn’t have been possible without an amazing research team. I was PI for this project – based at IAD but I’m now at the Vet School. We also had Nicola Osborne (EDINA), Professor Sian Bayne (School of Education). We also had two research students – Phil Sheail in Semester 1 and Clare Sowton in Semester 2. But we also had a huge range of people across the Colleges and support services who were involved in the project.

So, I thought I’d show you a short video we made to introduce the project:

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The idea of the video was to explain what we meant by a digital foorprint. We clearly defined what we meant as we wanted to emphasis to students and staff – though students were the focus – was that your footprint is not just what you do but also what other people post about you, or leave behind about you. That can be quite scary to some so we wanted to address how you can have some control about that.

We ran a campaign with lots of resources and materials. You can find loads of materials on the website. That campaign is now a service based in the Institute for Academic Development. But I will be focusing on the research in this presentation. This all fitted together in a strategy. The campaig was to raise awareness and provide practical guidance, the research sought to gain an in-depth understanding of student’s usage and produce resources for schools. Then to feed into learning and teaching on an ongoing basis. Key to the resaerch was a survey we ran during the campaign, which was analysed by the research team..

In terms of the gap and scope of the campaign I’d like to take you back to the Number 8 bus… It was an idea that came out of myself and Nicola – and others – being asked regularly for advice and support. There was a real need here, but also a real digital skills gap. We also saw staff wanting to embed social media in the curriculum and needing support. The brainwave was that social media wasn’t the campaign that was needed, it was about digital footprint and the wider issues. We also wanted to connect to current research. boyd (2014) who works on networked teens talks about the benefits as well as the risks… as it is unclear how students are engaging with social/digital media and how they are curating their online profiles. We also wanted to look at the idea of eprofessionalism (Chester et al 2013), particularly in courses where students are treated as paraprofessionals – a student nurse, for instance, could be struck off before graduating because of social media behaviours so there is a very real need to support ad raise awareness amongst students.

Our overall research aim was to: work with students across current delivery modes (UG, PGT, ODL, PhD) in order to better understand how they 

In terms of our research objectives we wanted to: conduct research which generates a rich understanding; to develop a workshop template – and ran 35 workshops for over 1000 students in that one year; to critically analyse social media guidelines – it was quite interesting that a lot of it was about why students shouldn’t engage, little on the benefits; to work in partnership with EUSA – important to engage around e.g. campaign days; to contribute to the wider research agenda; and to effectively disseminate project findings – we engaged with support services, e.g. we worked with Careers about their LinkedIn workshops which weren’t well attended despite students wanting professional presence help and just rebranding the sessions was valuable. We asked students where they would seek support – many said the Advice Place rather than e.g. IS, so we spoke to them. We spoke to the Councelling service too about cyberbullying, revenge porn, sexting etc.

So we ran two surveys with a total of 1,457 responses. Nicola and I ran two lab-based focus groups. I interviewed 6 individuals over a range of interviews with ethnographic tracing. And we gathered documentary analysis of e.g. social media guidelines. We used mixed methods as we wanted this to be really robust.

Sian and Adam really informed our research methods but Nicola and I really led the publications around this work. We have had various publications and presentations including presentations at the European Conference on Social Media, for the Social Media for Higher Education Teaching and Learning conference. Also working on a Twitter paper. We have other papers coming. Workshops with staff and students have happened and are ongoing, and the Digital Ambassador award (Careers and IS) includes Digital Footprint as a strand. We also created a lot of CC-BY resources – e.g. guidelines and images. Those are available for UoE colleagues, but also for national and international community who have fed into and helped us develop those resources.

I’m going to focus on some of the findings…

The survey was on Bristol Online Survey. It was sent to around 1/3rd of all students, across all cohorts. The central surveys team did the ethics approval and issuing of surveys. Timing had to fit around other surveys – e.g. NSS etc. And we we had relatively similar cohorts in both surveys, the second had more responses but that was after the campaign had been running for a while.

So, two key messages from the surveys: (1) Ensure informed consent – crucial for students (also important for staff) – students need to understand the positive and negative implications of using these non traditional non university social media spaces. In terms of what that means – well guidance, some of the digital skills gap support etc. Also (2) Don’t assume what students are using and how they are using it. Our data showed age differences in what was used, cohort differences (UG, PGT, ODL, PhD), lack of awareness e.g. T&Cs, benefits – some lovely anecdotal evidence, e.g. UG informatics student approached by employers after sharing code on GitHub. Also the important of not making assumptions around personal/educational/professional environments – especially came out of interviews, and generally the implications of Digital Footprint. One student commented on being made to have a Twitter account for a course and not being happy about not having a choice in that (e.g. through embedding of tweets in Learn for instance).

Thinking about platforms…

Facebook is used by all cohorts but ODL less so (perhaps a geographic issue in part). Most were using it as a “personal space” and for study groups. Challenges included privacy management. Also issues of isolation if not all students were on Facebook.

Twitter is used mainly by PGT and PhD students, and most actively by 31-50 year olds. Lots of talk about how to use this effectively.

One of the surprises for us was that we thought most courses using social media would have guidelines in place for the use of social media in programme handbooks. But students reported them not being there, or not being aware of it. So we created example guidance which is on the website (CC-BY) and also an eprofessionalism guide (CC-BY) which you can also use in your own programme handbooks.

There were also tools we weren’t aware were in usage and that has led to a new YikYak research project which has just been funded by PTAS and will go ahead over the next year with Sian Bayne leading, myself, Nicola and Informatics. The ethnographic tracing and interviews gave us a much richer understanding of the survey data.

So, what next? We have been working with researchers in Ireland, Australia, New Zealand… EDINA has had some funding to develop an external facing consultancy service, providing training and support for NHS, schools, etc. We have the PTAS funded YikYak project. We have the Digital Footprint MOOC coming in August. The survey will be issued again in October. Lots going on, more to come!

We’ve done a lot and we’ve had loads of support and collaboration. We are really open to that collaboration and work in partnership. We will be continuing this project into the next year. I realise this is the tip of the iceberg but it should be food for thought.

Q&A 

Q1) We were interested in the staff capabilities

A1 – LC) We have run a lot of workshops for staff and research students, done a series at vet. Theres a digital skills issue, research, and learning and teaching, and personal strands here.

A1 – NO) There were sessions and training for staff before… And much of the research into social media and digital footprint has been very small cohorts in very specific areas,

Comment) I do sessions for academic staff in SPS, but I didn’t know about this project so I’ll certainly work that in.

A1 – LC) We did do a session for fourth year SPS students. I know business school are all over this as part of “Brand You”.

Q2) My background was in medicine and when working in a hospital and a scary colleague told junior doctors to delete their Facebook profiles! She was googling them. I saw an article in the Sun that badly misrepresented doctors – of doctors living the “high life” because there was something sunny.

A2 – LC) You need to be aware people may Google you… And be confident of your privacy and settings. And your professional body guidelines about what you have there. But there are grey areas there… We wanted to emphasise informed choice. You have the Right to be Forgotten law for instance. Many nursing students already knew restrictions but felt Facebook restrictions unfair… A recent article says there are 3.5 degrees of separation on Facebook – that can be risky… In teaching and learning this raises issues of who friends who, what you report… etc. The culture is we do use social media, and in many ways that’s positive.

A2 – NO) Medical bodies have very clear guidance… But just knowing that e.g. Profile pictures are always public on Facebook, you can control settings elsewhere… Knowing that means you can make informed decisions.

Q3) What is “Brand You”?

A3) Essentially it’s about thinking of yourself as a brand, how your presences are uses… And what is consistent, how you use your name, your profile images. And how you do that effectively if you do that. There is a book called “Brand You” which is about effective online presence.

Closing Keynote : Helen Walker, GreyBox Consulting and Bright Tribe Trust

I’m doing my Masters in Digital Education with University of Edinburgh, but my role is around edtech, and technology in schools, so I am going to share some of that work with you. So, to set the scene a wee video: Kids React to Technology: Old Computers:

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Watching the kids try to turn on the machine it is clear that many of us are old enough to remember how to work late 1970s/early 1980s computers and their less than intuitive user experience.

So the gaps are maybe not that wide anymore… But there are still gaps. The gaps for instance between what students experience at home, and what they can do at home – and that can be huge. There is also a real gap between EdTech promises and delivery – there are many practitioners who are enervated about new technologies, and have high expectations. We also have to be aware of the reality of skills – and be very cautious of Prensky’s (2001) idea of the “digital native” – and how intoxicating and inaccurate that can be.

There is also a real gap between industry and education. There is so much investment in technology, and promises of technology. Meanwhile we also see perspectives of some that computers do not benefit pupils. Worse, in September 2015 the OECD reported, and it was widely re-reported that computers do not improve pupil results, and may in fact disbenefit. That risks going back before technology, or technology being the icing on the cake… And then you read the report:

“Technology can amplify great teaching but great technology cannot replace poor teaching.”

Well of course. Technology has to be pedagogically justified. And that report also encourages students as co-creators. Now if you go to big education technology shows like BETT and SETT you see very big rich technology companies offering expensive technology solutions to quite poor schools.

That reflects Education Endowment Fund Report 2012 found that “it’s the pedagogy, not technology” and the technology is a catalyst for change. Glynis Cousins says that technology has to work dynamically with pedagogy.

Now, you have fabulous physical and digital resources here. There is the issue here of what schools have. Schools often have machines that are 9-10 years old, but students have much more sophisticated devices and equipment at home – even in poor homes. Their school experience of using old kit to type essays jars with that. And you do see schools trying to innovate with technology – iPads and such in particular… They brought them, they invest thousands.. But they don’t always use them because the boring crucial wifi and infrastructure isn’t there. It’s boring and expensive but it’s imperative. You need that all in order to use these shiny things…

And with that… Helen guides us to gogopp.com and the web app to ask us why a monkey with its hand in a jar with a coin… We all respond… The adage is that if you wanted to catch a monkey you had to put an orange or some nuts in a jar, and wouldn’t let go, so a hunter could just capture the monkey. I deal with a lot of monkeys… A lot of what I work towards is convincing them that letting go of that coin, or nut, or orange, or windows 7 to move on and change and learn.

Another question for us… What does a shot of baseball players in a field have to do with edtech… Well yes, “if you build it, they will come”. A lot of people believe this is how you deal with edtech… Now although a scheme funding technology for schools in England has come to an end, a lot of Free Schools now have this idea. That if you build something, magic will happen…

BTW this gogopp tool is a nice fun free tool – great for small groups…

So, I do a lot of “change management consultation” – it’s not a great phrase but a lot of what it’s about is pretty straightforward. Many schools don’t know what they’ve got – we audit the kit, the software, the skills. We work on a strategy, then a plan, then a budget. And then we look at changes that make sense… Small scale, pathfinder projects, student led work – with students in positions of responsibility, we have a lot of TeachMeet sessions – a forum of 45 mins or so and staff who’ve worked on pathfinder projects have 2 or max 5 mins can share their experience – a way to drop golden nuggets into the day (much more effective than inset days!), and I do a lot of work with departmental heads to ensure software and hardware aligns with needs.

When there is the right strategy and the right pedagogical approach, brilliant things can happen. For instance…

Abdul Chohan, now principal of Bolton Academy, transformed his school with iPads – giving them out and asking them what to do with them. He works with Apple now…

David Mitchell (no, not that one), Deputy Headteacher in the Northwest, started a project called QuadBlogging for his 6th year students (year 7 in Scotland) whereby there are four organisations involved – 2 schools and 2 other institutions, like MIT, like the Government – big organisations. Students get real life, real world feedback in writing. They saw significant increases in their writing quality. That is a great benefit of educational technology – your audience can be as big or small as you want. It’s a nice safe contained forum for children’s writing.

Simon Blower, had an idea called “Lend me your writing”, crowdfunded Pobble – a site where teachers can share examples of student work.

So those are three examples of pedagogically-driven technology projects and changes.

And now we are going to enter Kahoot.it…

The first question is about a free VLE – Edmodo… It’s free except for analytics which is a paid for option.

Next up… This is a free behaviour management tool. The “Class Story” fundtion has recently been added… That’s Class Dojo.

Next… A wealth of free online courses, primarily aimed at science, math and computing… Khan Academy. A really famous resource now. Came about as Salmon Khan who asked for maths homework help… Made YouTube videos… Very popular and now a global company with a real range of videos from teachers. No adverts. Again free…

And next… an adapting learning platform with origins in the “School of One” in NYC. That’s Knewton. School of One is an interesting school which has done away with traditional classroom one to many systems… They use Knewton, which suggests the next class, module, task, etc. This is an “Intelligent Tutoring System” which I am skeptical of but there is a lot of interest from publishers etc. All around personalised learning… But that is all data driven… I have issues with thinking of kids as data producing units.

Next question… Office 365 tool allows for the creation of individual and class digital notebooks – OneNote. It’s a killer app that Microsoft invest in a lot.

And Patrick is our Kahoot winner (I’m second!)! Now, I use Kahoot I training sessions… It’s fun once… Unless everyone uses it through the day. It’s important that students don’t just experience the same thing again and again, that you work as a learning community to make sure that you are using tools in a way that stays interesting, that varies, etc.

So, what’s happening now in schools?

  • Mobility: BYOD, contribution, cross-platform agility
  • Office365/Google/iCloud
  • VLE/LMS – PLE/PLN – for staff and students
  • Data and tracking

So with mobility we see a growth in Bring Your Own Device… That brings a whole range of issues around esafety, around infrastructure. It’s not just your own devices, but also increasingly a kind of hire-purchase scheme for students and parents. That’s a financial pressure – schools are financially pressured and this is just a practical issue. One issue that is repeatedly coming up is the issue of cross-platform agility – phones, tablets, laptops. And discussion of bringing in keyboards, mice, and traditional set ups… Keyboard skills are being seen as important again in the primary sector. The benefit of mobile devices is collaboration, the idea of the main screen allowing everyone to be part of the classroom… You don’t need expensive software, can use e.g. cheap Reflector mirroring software. Apps… Some are brilliant, some are dreadful… Management of apps and mobile device management has become a huge industry… Working with technicians to support getting apps onto devices… How you do volume purchasing? And a lot of apps… One of two hit propositions… You don’t want the same app every week for one task… You need the trade off of what is useful versus getting the app in place/stafftime. We also have the issue of the student journey. Tools like socrative and nearpod lets you push information to devices. But we are going to look at/try now Plickers… What that does is has one device – the teachers mobile app – and I can make up printed codes (we’ve all been given one today) that can be laminated, handed out at the beginning of the year… So we then hold up a card with the appropriate answer at the top… And the teacher’s device is walked around to scan the room for the answers – a nice job for a student to do… So you can then see the responses… And the answer… I can see who got it wrong, and who got it right. I can see the graph of that….

We have a few easy questions to test this: 2+2 = (pick your answer); and how did you get here today? (mostly on foot!).

The idea is it’s a way to get higher order questioning into a session, otherwise you just hear from the kids that put their hands up all the time. So that’s Plicker… Yes, they all have silly names. I used to live in Iceland where a committee meets to agree new names – the word for computer means “witchcraft machine”.

So, thinking about Office365/Google/iCloud… We are seeing a video about a school where pupils helps promote, manage, coding, supporting use of Office365 in the school. And how that’s a way to get people into technology. These are students at Wyndham High in Norfolk – all real students. That school has adopted Office365. Both Office365 and Google offer educational environments. One of the reasons that schools err towards Office365 is because of the five free copies that students get – which covers the several locations and machines they may use at home.

OneNote is great – you can drag and drop documents… you can annotate… I use it with readings, with feedback from tutors. Why it’s useful for students is the facility to create Class Notebooks where you add classes and add notebooks. You can set up a content library – that students can access and use. You can also view all of the students notebooks in real time. In schools I work in we no longer have planners, instead have a shared class notebook – then colleagues can see and understand planning.

Other new functionality is “Classroom” where you can assign classes, assignments… It’s a new thing that brings some VLE functionality but limited in terms of grades being 0-100. And you can set up forms as well – again in preview right now but coming. Feedback goes into a CSV file in excel.

The other thing that is new is Planner – a project planning tool to assign tasks, share documents, set up groups.

So, Office 365 is certainly the tool most secondary schools I work with use.

The other thing that is happening in schools right now is the increasing use of data dashboards and tracking tools – especially in secondary schools – and that is concerning as it’s fairly uncritical. There is a tool called Office Mix which lets you create tracked content in Powerpoint… Not sure if you have access here, but you can use it at home.

Other data in schools tools include Power BI… Schools are using these for e.g. attainment outcomes. There is a free schools version of this tool (used to be too expensive). My concern is that it is not looking at what has impact in terms of teaching and learning. It’s focused on the summative, not the actual teaching and learning, not on students reporting back to teachers on their own learning. Hattie and self-reported grades tells us that students set expectations, goals, and understand rubrics for self-assessment. There is rich and interesting work to be done on using data in rich and meaningful ways.

In terms of what’s coming… This was supposed to be by 2025, then 2020, maybe sooner… Education Technology Action Group suggest online learning is an entitlement, better measures of performance, new emerging teaching and learning, wearables, etc.

Emerging EdTech includes Augmented Reality. It’s a big thing I do… It’s easy but it excites students… It’s a digital overlay on reality… So my two year old goddaughter is colouring in book that is augmented reality – you can then see a 3D virtual dinosaur coloured as per your image. And she asked her dad to send me a picture of her with a dinosaur. Other fun stuff… But where is the learning outcome here? Well there is a tool called Aurasma… Another free tool… You create a new Aura trigger image – can be anything – and you can choose your overlay… So I said I wanted to change the words on th epaper converted into French. It’s dead easy! We get small kids into this and can put loads of hidden AR content around the classroom, you can do it on t-shirts – to show inner working of the body for instance. We’ve had Year 11’s bring Year 7 textbooks to life for them – learning at both ends of the spectrum.

Last thing I want to talk about is micro:bit. This is about coding. In England and Wales coding is compulsory part of English now. All students are being issued a micro:bit and students are now doing all sorts of creative things. Young Rewired State project runs every summer and come to London to have code assessed – the winners were 5 and 6 year olds. So they will come to you with knowledge of coding – but they aren’t digital natives no matter what anyone tells you!

Q&A

Q1 – Me) I wanted to ask about equality of access… How do you ensure students have the devices or internet access at home that they need to participate in these activities and tools – like the Office365 usage at home for instance. In the RSE Digital Participation Inquiry we found that the reality of internet connectivity in homes really didn’t match up to what students will self-report about their own access to technology or internet connections, there is such baggage associated with not having internet access to access to the latest technologies and tools… So I was wondering how you deal with that, or if you have any comments on that.

A1) With the contribution schemes that schools have for devices… Parents contribute what they can, school covers the rest… So that can be 50p or £1 per month, it doesn’t need to be a lot. Also pupil premium money can be used for this. But, yes, parental engagement is important… Many students have 3G access not fixed internet for instance and that has cost implications… some can use dongles supplied by schools but just supporting students like this can cost 15k/yr to support for a small to medium sized cohort. There is some interesting stuff taking place in new build schools though… So for instance Gaia in Wales are a technology company doing a lot of the new build hardware/software set up… In many of those schools there is community wifi access… a way around that issue of connectivity… But that’s a hard thing to solve.

Q1 – Me) There was a proposal some years ago from Gordon Brown’s government, for all school aged children to have government supported internet access at home but that has long since been dropped.

Q2) I fear with technologies is that if I learn it, it’s already out of date. And also learners who are not motivated to engage with these tools they haven’t used before… I enjoyed these tools, their natty…

A2) Those are my “sweet shop” tools… Actually Office365/Google or things like Moodle are the bread and butter tools. These are fun one-off apps… They are pick up and go stuff… but its getting big tools working well that matter. Ignore the sweets if you need or want… The big stuff matters.

And with that Velda is closing with great thanks to our speakers today, to colleagues in IAD, and to Daphne Loads and colleagues. Please do share your feedback and ideas, especially for the next forum!

Mar 252014
 

Today I am delighted to have been asked to liveblog another of the ARTIST ROOMS Research Partnership events, this time hosted in collaboration with Generation: 25 Years of Contemporary Art in Scotland, a forthcoming exhibition at the National Gallery of Scotland.  The seminar has been organised by ARTIST ROOMS and engage with funding from the National Lottery through Creative Scotland. Tweets can be followed on the wider #artistrooms hashtag.

The event, Gallery Education: Developing Digital Resources, is of particular interest to me as EDINA lead the development of a number of innovative digital resources, and I’m particularly interested to hear more about some of the challenges of digital resources around the arts because of our own work on the Jisc MediaHub service.

As usual this is a liveblog so I apologies in advance for any typos, omissions, etc. and welcome all comments and feedback on the post. And if you enjoy today’s post I would recommend looking back at the MOOCS in Cultural Heritage Education liveblog, which now has a number of additional resources and references added. 

Welcome – Sarah Yearsley, engage 

Sarah Yearsley, engage, the National Association for Gallery Education

Sarah Yearsley, engage, the National Association for Gallery Education.

Today is the second event that ARTIST ROOMS and engage have collaborated on looking at digital learning, and part of a series looking at best practice. We also are running the event in collaboration with GENERATION: 25 Years of Contemporary Art in Scotland, which is running events across the country. This is a busy year for ARTIST ROOMS. Engaging with young people is a common theme when we talk about engaging with young people in the context of both ARTIST ROOMS and GENERATION.

Welcome from Damien McGlynn, ARTIST ROOMS.

Damien McGlynn, ARTIST ROOMS.

Damien McGlynn, ARTIST ROOMS.

Damien is giving an outline of the day which will include two discussion groups and an opportunity to see the Louise Bourgeois exhibition, and to play with the Art Hunter app and my colleague Tessa, who produced that, is also here today.

We are running this event with several partner organisations: ARTIST ROOMS, GENERATION and the ARTIST ROOMS Research Partnership. Our colleague Professor Neil Cox from Edinburgh University is here today so do ask him any questions about the research partnership. Now over to Rosie who will chair the morning session.

Morning session: Mapping the terrain and producing content for your audiences.   Chair: Rosie Cardiff, Senior Producer, Tate Digital

Rosie Cardiff, Senior Producer, Tate Digital

Rosie is giving some background on her role, looking after much of the digital learning content on the Tate website. I also manage a small team that manage the Tate Kids and Tate Collective (resources for young people) part of our site, I just wanted to highlight these learning resources. One of these is Circuit, which is working with young people across the country, the website launched recently but will be showcasing digital content produced by young people over the next four years.

Another project which I thought might be of interest, done with Tate Collectives – a young peoples space around the galleries, where we did the 1840s GIF Party – GIFs based on the 1840s gallery. We provided training on how to make the animated GIFs. This was hugely popular. The girl in the grey dress has had over 77k reblogs, but we have also seen a huge spike in interest in the painting itself in the gallery as well.

So those were a couple of projects I wanted to highlight – but do talk to me during the day and ask me about the projects we have been up to recently at the Tate.

So now over to our first speaker, Jen Ross, who is director of the MSc in Digital Education, and also a tutor on the eLearning and Digital Cultures MOOC, which I have had the pleasure of doing and really enjoyed!

Content is just something to talk about: designing for active online learning’ – Jen Ross, Programme Director, MSc in Digital Education, University of Edinburgh

I’m not sure I need to do anything now that Rosie’s shown the work that Tate has done to engage people digitally in the collection… I will be talking about how we do that at the University of Edinburgh. Really the thing that I want to say, my contribution to this day, is “yes, content is amazing, but content is really just something to talk about” whether thats online or face to face in gallery or schools spaces. I will talk about what you can do in the online space, as sometimes its easy to think about what we might do in a gallery or a face to face space just because

“Conversation is king. Content is just something to talk about” – Cory Doctorrow

Jen Ross, Programme Director, MSc in Digital Education, University of Edinburgh

Active learning has been a huge movement in teaching and learning spaces. You see spaces where learning takes place around tables – like today – rather than lecture theatres. And digital spaces can be a way to encourage that active learning without needing to reconfigure the space. the barrier to creativity is lower when we talk about participating digitally. And you can really evidence that work you do with people – the Tumblr page that Rosie showed is an exceptional way to evidence the impact on young people they are trying to reach.

So as you think about these spaces today I want you to think about these spaces and how they can be connected, intimate, busy, creative, exploratory and inspiring. Its not just about putting content in the digital space.

So I wanted to show you some good examples of work that our students have done around digital creativity. We have a module “e-learning and Digital Cultures” which is part of the MSc in Digital Education. This was the starting point for the MOOC, it was also the first module we had run that was entirely openly shared – students had to be enrolled but what they produceed was all shared openly online. And we really asked students to make multimodal work, to express what they had engaged with in the course. So in 2013 we asked our small masters group to engage with the much huger MOOC course and how they had encountered that. So people made videos, they shared things on Pinterest, we had people creating visual people and making interpretations around the. And also using onlione resources that only exist online – for instance “ThingLink”. Some of our students are really digitally savvy, but even those who are not can use the big list of interesting resources to create engaging materials.

That process worked really well and so we set, as a final assignment on our 5 week free global #EDCMOOC course, we also asked for multimodal assignments. Not everyone commits to the course throughout but those who did were asked to create a digital artefact, which was peer assessed by others on the course. And we have gathered these publicly. So this padlet I’m showing represents only about 300 of those produced but it gives some sense of scale. But if you ask people to create things they really respond.

Image showing the padlet of #edcmooc artefacts

I also wanted to show you a trailer for a game which some of our students on our game based learning module did, “Tomorrow Calling Trailer”, this was so much more than was required for the credits for the course. If you give students the right content, and something to create with some relevance to them personally and/or professionally, than they really do respond.

This Open Badges and Open Accreditation open education resource is something that was produced for my module Digital Futures, and again this is so much more than you would expect in a postgraduate essay, and it’s lives on beyond the class.

Sometimes students go further still. And here we see a multimodal dissertation (multimodaldissertation.weebly.com). When you open these avenues up, then you really see unexpected things like this take place.

This is our Dissertation Festival, which takes place in Second Life. This is a space for collaborating and sharing experience with each other. These kinds of spaces and collaborations are another way to think about what you can do in an online space which are not about just creating new content or resources. A Digital resource can just be about making a space for interaction, a space for people to work together.

And this is a project that some students did, totally separate from their coursework, asking students learning online to reflect on the playlist that has inspired their work (www.elearnenmuzik.net). Again these are projects emerging from the context of the Digital Education programme, but come out of people engaging in digital spaces and being involved in things that they are interested in.

So what I want to leave you with… whatever you are thinking about or planning, do think about not only good content or resources but also how it can be a great active learning space for your learners, for your audiences.

‘Digital fear & beyond’ – Rohan Gunatillake, Co-producer, Sync

And now over to Rohan, co-producer at Sync a collective supporting technology and the arts, and he’s also been working in the Digital R&D fund for the arts:

What I’m going to do is talk about… well I don’t have a background in education but I have spent the last four or five years working with arts organisations and technology and digital. And talk about some of the issues either supporting or getting in the way of really interesting work in the arts. A lot of that for me is about recognising that working with digital technologies isn’t about technology, but about people.

Rohan Gunatillake, Co-producer, Sync

The story sort of begins… I moved to Scotland four years ago. Mainly for love, but also because I got a gig with the Edinburgh Festivals! I came to start a project with the Festivals called the Edinburgh Festivals Innovation Lab – Edinburgh Festivals is the group of both the very big festivals and the smaller and much more niche festivals. The question we have here was that, like you, these are great organisations and very busy and in the domain of innovation and digital practice they are doing what they think they should… but where are the other opportunities? What other possibilities are there? What have they missed? So I was looking across the 12 festivals to look at that. Some worked well, some worked less well but all were really useful for trying new ways of working.

One of the big core things we did with the festivals was that obviously the festivals are a rich resource… and Edinburgh University has generated a great technology and start up scene… but they didn’t talk to each other. So the thing Sync is best known for is for the Culture Hack Scotland 2011 which was this big event to bring these groups together. Scotland is not a big enough country for those sectors not to be talking to each other.

And then Creative Scotland liked that festivals work… and wanted us to do that across Scotland. So we had a two year project called Sync and again this was about creative relationships, not just transactional relationships. And we carried on running the Culture Hacks – these are 48 hour opportunities for technologists, producers, artists, arts organisations, all getting locked into a room to create stuff. Amazingly each year people come and about 30 projects get made. And we have supported that with the Geeks in Residence programme where we’ve taken developers to arts organisations from the Royal Opera through to arts organisations in Eigg. We wanted organisations to see what it would be like to have a technologist in your organisation, in your building coming up with ideas and projects specifically for you. And that’s been really interesting and challenging. We’ve also created this magazine, Sync Tank, highlighting this type of practice across the UK and across the world.

I have also been working on the Digital R&D Fund for the Arts – this runs in England and Wales, and on a smaller scale in Scotland – which funds experimental projects (about 60 each year) around galleries, often around education as well. I am a “learning partner” – I listen across all the projects and pick up the themes and the big stories, and tell the story of that to the wider sector. We do that through the website and also through a print magazine which will be printed in the summer.

Even summarising the insights from Sync takes a long time so I just wanted to highlight three things coming out of these three strands of work. And these are in the context of what makes the most

How we are arts organisatins can move past the commissioning mindset. The pastiche of how the arts work with technologists or digital agencies is that, I give you £5k, technologist goes back to studio in Leith. And when they come back everyone is unhappy. That’s been how we have commissioned in the past, often about websites. Often these projects are approached like physical builds – big plans, fundraising, and unexpected ongoing costs. That’s the pastiche. What Sync – and others – have tried to do is to break that. Sometimes that is the right approach – if you know what you want to achieve and have requirements to deliver again. But when we see the kind of experimental work Jen was explaining, the Tate Digital world… where do those ideas come from? How do you assure that those are strong enough ideas? Sometimes your team can do that, and that’s great, but often the best ideas come from conversations with others coming from another perspective, an outside point of view. We can easily think our audience want the same from our work as us. So arts organisations can feel that metadata is really interesting – really useful for them but is it what people want to do? Maybe a niche! So you need to try to establish what users really want. We’ve seen that where that really works, two things happen. Firstly the organisation lets the digital talent to bring their intelligence into the room in a really open way, not just give them things to do. So in our Geeks In Residence programmes I went and interviewed directors of the organisations wanting a Geek, they talked about collaboration, and when the Geek showed up they closed into a commissioning mindset. We used the mindset that if you have a photographer in residence you wouldn’t tell them what to take, what lens to use, what shutter speed… as they began to understand that metaphor, that you would never do that, then something more constructive could take place. So as long as you think about what you want to achieve, but not be too perscriptive, that goes well. And the other thing that works really well is co-creating with audiences, involving them in the design process. And we’ve seen Unlimited Theatre doing fantastic work here. That’s one big message.

The two cultures thing?. We like to tell the story of technology and the arts as being two cultrues… but what I notice in practice is that the clash of cultures is actually the “deliver the project” methodology that people are using. I said people approach digital like capital builds. there is a gantt chart or basecamp… that’s how they see digital project delivery. But there is another part to the process in start up and web culture around prototyping, iterating, testing in public, taking feedback to improve. That iterative model is very different approach. It’s like Prince2 versus Agile. What we have found is that some arts organisations really understand that… they are used to the culture of the rehearsal room, to creating that way. Others are cautious, if not terrified, of showing something half made in public. Because of how they normally present work. Agile and Lean are thrown about but if we want to successfully do that stuff, it can require a different mindset.

Digital Fear. Part of what Sync does is take people out to drinks. Once every three months we invite four or five people running arts organisations out for a drink, with an invite along the lines of “when it comes to this digital stuff, the common complaint is I don’t have time or don’t have money. Tell us what you really feel”. That invitation tries to create as a conversation… the Festivals work was around a big data project, technical challenges that were solvable, there were business issues which we solved, and then we still had the “I’m just not quite sure about it” factor – the emotional part. And thats the most significant and most under talked about part of digital innovation in the arts. We call it Digital Fear. What comes up in these conversations re things like “I’ve been an expert in my field for 20 years, now I’m not an expert”, “I speak to the web developer and I feel like I’m talking to  my children”. That’s real stuff. That’s messy emotional gut stuff that is much harder to solve than the business or technical challenges.

As a coda to my kind of “drunk uncle” speech/provocation here… we are a relatively small player, we’ve been invited by Creative Scotland to bid for another two years, and we are placing three things at the heart of our proposal is:

  • Practice – if whatever digital work you are doing isn’t about your core practice then you will never get senior buy-in. If it’s not about what’s on stage for you, then that’s not what you should be doing. How are digital tools changing your core practice?
  • People – it’s the people who actually make the work. You hear about amazing work but behind all great digital projects is a very tired and very brave digital person!
  • Process – we often talk about projects… but the risk is that if you just fund projects we just have lots of nice projects but no organisational or sector embedded learning. So how do we embed innovative learning and processes into our organisations. This is a much more sustainable way to build this stuff – the teach a man to fish idea.

So that’s Sync, and that’s us… thank you!

Discussion group one: Audiences and digital content

We are now moving to discussions in our groups (I’m on the Purple table) so notes here will be sparse as we get chatting but I’ll be capturing the reporting back to the room shortly.

Rosie is introducing our discussions here drawing the sheet on each asks us to consider:

  • Who is your target audience?
  • How will you measure the success of your digital learning project?
  • How will you produce content for your audience? Can you repurpose existing content?
  • How will you engage and interact with your audience? Where will that be?
  • What will the ongoing legacy of the project be once it is produced? How will it be maintained and sustained – not just technically but to keep things fresh.

So, we will be thinking about and discussion these for the next 50 minutes. And I’m sure anyone reading the blog today would be encouraged to do the same and to tweet any comments to the #artistrooms hashtag.

Discussion group sesstion

Some thoughts from our group:

We have been talking about our own contexts and backgrounds, and the kinds of projects we are working on. There is a fairly common focus on young people so we are just unpacking that a bit: thinking about how to make young people feel welcome in the space, using the right language for young people, the use of the right spaces (such as Tumblr, Twitter, Instragram, and custom websites) and a focus for young people as co-producers in these space – posting to the accounts for the night etc, and to some extent training young people in the skills and confidence to use these technologies, and the meaning of doing so on behalf of an organisation (professional skills). Ownership and active contribution are being flagged as the most effective way to create better digital projects, and to build ambassadors in those groups.

Some discussion of practical issues and kit: phones, ipads, that can be used, laptops within the office – but the logging on/take over of accounts takes place when they are in our spaces – we log them in. Discussion of a real sense of caution about how acceptable that stuff is, how much control the organisation can and should have, and what challenges some submissions can raise – do you show critical work? what is the impact of that? Can raise really thorny issues, so you need processes in place to deal with that. The more you involve your audiences, the more those issues are raised. When content is out of copyright, this stuff can be easy, but often you are much more restricted than that… that area of IPR is tricky. You cant let people use the artwork, maybe they have to be inspired by it instead… you have to think laterally. And then when you do ask for contributions you have to have clear guidance, clear terms, ways to ensure that any clear problem can be dealt with but there are lots of grey areas.

We are now discussing the types of projects we might have in mind… one of our participants talks about schools groups coming to a museum in the same building, but not tending to come to the gallery. And real challenges around creating materials for teachers during the time ever changing exhibitions are running. But a recommendation: Group for Education in Museums, part of the Scottish Museums group, which are the generic resources/activities called “Hands On” – a downloadable PDF. And Glow also offers potential – you can bring an archive to life, getting artists to talk about their work – almost creating little programmes, setting a series of challenges. Glow Meet works really well as it’s live and interactive and at the end there are resources to explore. An online platform to use… but it hooks in pupils but also teachers and parents now primed for involvement. But schools work is obviously working with the teachers, not necessarily the young people. But there are also new youth arts club ideas that take it out of formal spaces… that’s happening this year. There will be 12 hubs around Scotland, a different way to connect with young people. Also Code Club (for 9-11 year olds) learning online coding, also apps. We have kids using Scratch, and now HTML, and working with an online gaming company whose staff volunteer – as part of staff development. That company are now looking at accreditation. But code clubs are free to do, need to be volunteer run, there are free resources to use. And it seems effective and really creative – lots of ideas and collaboration taking place, a whole group to continue working with… skills based and bipassing and teachers’ own Digital Fear. And it gets interesting as the youngsters start encountering code used in industry.

And we are moving onto the idea of measuring success and how one might do that… depends on the aims, and how clear those are. And about what the audience thinks is working for them, what they would change, how they feel about it. Changing attitudes in an organisation can also be part of what you are measuring. Also discussion of Retweeting young people’s comments, using texts to reach people. Discussion of what counts for an organisation – just about the physical space or can organisations appreciate online engagement? How does that take place? How is that measured? Are likes etc. useful? How do you reflect richer interactions and what ways can you find to encourage that. Discussion of how to stay cool – Tumblr is engaging but niche, Instagram is big, Google+ Hangouts offer great opportunities for live Q&As.

Questions and Feedback

Red Table: we talked a lot about young people as our audience. We talked about finding platforms to use, in consultation with groups. We also talked about working with groups for longer periods of time, and leaving space for platforms to be changed or developed over time. Copyright came up in relation to the challenges of engaging with modern contemporary art.

Blue Table: we talked some of the projects taking place, particularly the GENERATION projects. The audiences often quite different as within gallery sector and artist educators. Talked about th eneed to provide something to different, not to replicate what you do, not to replicate what others are doing – e.g. why would we replicate MOMAs online courses. We talked about successes and moving away from the idea of numbers, and followers, and hits, but instead the quality of engagement. Hard to do, people don’t always comment or respond. It can look like you are failing – people can have a good experience without feeding directly back to you, so we talked about how you can understand that people enjoy what you do. And we also talked about organisational change and cultures. Also talked about the time and cost and challenges of suiting multiple platforms. And also social platforms – how we interact rather than push things out, and how that builds your organisations reputation. Also briefly talked about legacy – short term digital and social contractors result in expertise just leaving with the person.

Yellow Table: talked about sometimes the need to use digital is communicated, rather than the use of technology coming from the audience, and being about their experience. About focusing more on content than on technology delivering it. Some digital fear. Real feeling that many of the stats funders require are not actually that useful, that qualitative feedback is key and that there are better ways to capture that stuff. Then there was also the feeling that once digital content is out there you can find unexpected audiences…. seen to be a good thing but then do we respond to that… do we have more opportunity to learn from that inside of a  project – not just use in the next one. Lots of interest in Geek in Residence approach, the scariness of iteration too though and the organisational change required for that to work.

Green Table: We had a fairly wide ranging discussion. One thing that hasn’t come up yet… a kind of internal issue that we can be quite object focused, that the engagement with a particular object and the mediation of that encounter with the object. Lots of work already there but more to be done there. Talked about some local authority challenges – how things like ARTIST ROOMS or GENERATION can create opportunities for trying things out, to feed into other projects. Words like “risk”, “trust” and a fear about sharing a not fully formed project or website, that can be quite scary particularly in this economic climate. And we did mention the word copyright.

Purple Table: We spoke quite a bit about audiences. The majority of us were working with young people, schools or teachers. And the challenges of that. And talking about what success looks like – is it museum or gallery footfall? Or can you change organisational culture to count those engaging online, what does success look like there. And we also talked about some of the challenges of asking young people in to participate – and what happens if contributions are critical of your organisation or of your funders and how you deal with that. Also some concerns around very quick turnaround exhibitions,lots per year, and how one can generate content or resources to meet that schedule – and the possibilities of generic resources to help in those scenarios. Also talked about platforms… maybe drift from Facebook, where are young audiences going… and the potential of Google Hangouts – guiding people around a space at a distance. We had on our table some people who don’t have collections to work with, some fully formed apps, through to young peoples groups. Real diversity there so real opportunity for more sharing around these models.

And now more questions and discussion:

Q1) I wanted to ask about “bring your own devices” – I’ve heard schools talking about not investing in hardware but encouraging their students to bring their own devices…

A1) We allow students to bring their own devices, but have a device pool for accessing our app on site as well. It’s just launched so will be tested this summer.

Comment) Nick would just like to mention the Warhol MOOC with Glyn Davis, from the school of design. For those that want to try that technology.

And now we will move into the lunch part of the day…. so the blog will be quiet again for a wee bit!

Lunch – An ARTIST ROOMS exhibition Louise Bourgeois, A Woman Without Secrets will be on display in Modern One (Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art).  In-gallery ArtHunter app demonstration will also be available.

Image of Damien demonstrating how the app works on an iPad outside the New Acquisitions exhibition.

Damien demonstrates how the app works outside the New Acquisitions exhibition.

Image of a group Testing out Art Hunter at the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art

Testing out Art Hunter at the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art

Welcome back, Christopher Ganley, ARTIST ROOMS

So I just want to welcome everyone back with some thank yous. Thank you to Nicola for blogging today – we will circulate the link after the event. Thank you to Rosie, Rohan and Jen for this morning’s session. And above all a huge thank you to our funders for making this event possible.

Afternoon session: Marketing and evaluating digital resources – Chair: Tessa Quinn, Head of Digital, National Galleries of Scotland

I wanted to start off by talking a bit about what we do. We are quite lucky in having a digital team. We’ve been doing things including the Art Hunter app, and  the Titian and Diana iOS7 App for iPad, that latter was something our funders were really keen for. We are also creating a mobile version of the website, and that has included some changes and decision making around the website. I have also been developing a Digital Engagement Strategy and there are four key areas of that: Working collaboratively within and outwith the organisation – digital is no longer just for the geeks but about part of the mainstream; To Open up our collection; To grow our audiences; And to increase income.

Our strategy says we want to grow our audience by learning more about them. We did talk a bit about analytics, about what is or can be useful. And we want to know them to design for them, not for what we think they want. And with all this learning, we need to take some action. So you need room to look at your learning, look at your analytics, and look for possible change and improvement.

Tessa Quinn, Head of Digital, National Galleries of Scotland

Even though we have a digital team doesn’t mean that we don’t learn or make mistakes…. what we found useful was WeAreCulture24 Action research – they brought organisations together to talk about sharing analytics across 22 organisations. It allows you to see the differences and similarities across the sector, across the organisations. I highly recommend the report “Lets Get Real 2” – and we really started to learn how to learn. When we look at redesigning the homepage we learn from where people click. Every department wants a page there but that’s not how visitors actually use it… and that’s about coming up with a question, then seeing if the numbers will give us an answer.

One of the things that we are trying to learn is that for ten years we have been trying to build digital content, some great stuff… but we are terrible at telling people about these products, making sure they find them… its something we could be much better at. And with that in mind I want to introduce you to David Craik Director of engagement consultants Bright Signals, he’s also formerly head of marketing for S1.

‘Agile Marketing’ – David Craik, Director, Bright Signals

I’m going to talk today about Agile Marketing – a good marketing buzzword (because it is). I will tell you a wee bit more about what we do. We set up Bright Signals about four years ago. We really create content. We do digital marketing for Tennants lager, working for Channel 4 for the Commonwealth Games, working with Ambition Scotland, also the National Piping Centre.

Hopefully what I’ll get across today is that marketing is really changing. The days of pushing and cajoling are over. Marketing is about giving people what they want, content they want and enjoy. Either we all work in marketing, or – maybe a better way to think of it – none of us do!

So we are about lots of creativity, but there is also increasingly an expectation that we can measure everything. There are many more channels than we ever had in the past. The pace of change is very fast! So one approach here is Agile Marketing. So to explain what this is… a history lesson… way back before 2001 most IT projects were based around bamboozling Gantt chart. And as digital began to explode it became clear that this “waterfall” approach didn’t work for digital – they were delivered late, over budget, and worst of all they didn’t deliver what users wanted. So a bunch of techies in California came up with the Manifesto for Agile Software Development. This set out principles that highlight flexibility. Away from that idea of project management, structures, etc. towards this flexible stuff. Did it catch on? Yes, it really did. Google for instance is all about changing based on what the audience wants. Mark Zuckerberg talks about “moving fast and breaking things”.

So what does this have to do with marketing?

David Craik, Director, Bright Signals with one of his slides

David Craik, Director, Bright Signals with one of his slides.

Well traditionally marketing has been about “big bang” campaigns, TV stuff, etc. With marketing… John Wanamaker said “I know half my advertising is wasted, I just don’t know which half”. It was about knowing it wasn’t working, and not knowing how to measure that. And then we have the HIPPO – the most HIghly Paid PersOn’s decision. Often who drives decisions, but rarely represents users need.

So Agile marketing principles?

  • Less big band campaigns, more small scale experiments
  • Less subjective opinions, more evidence
  • Less talking, more doing

We work every week on content, we develop a “back-log” of relatively small scale targeted marketing activities – or break up the bigger stuff – each with defined performance measure. And we deliver in short fixed cycles of creative and content development, then we ship, prototype etc. And we re-prioritise all the time in response to those measures.

Does anyone use Google Ads? Well if we look at search results to hotels in Glasgow… you would bid on a click on that advert (e.g. £1 per click). Advertising is interesting here because of the side of the audience. There are 694,000 searches each second. And that audience is pretty close to the point of conversion, the point of buying. On facebook the ads might be distracting or annoying. If I’m searching Google I probably want to buy or book things. And all that makes ads a great way of getting insights. Not necessarily sales but insights into what audience wants.

So if I’m setting up a wine shop I can set up an A/B testing ads… I’m trying to work out “wine order” or “ordering wine”, and “deliver wine” or “wine home delivery”. I place two ads, I use the two different words. I find out which one people click on. I don’t even have to set up delivery to test what will work. So that’s an example of how this can work….

Thinking about that pipeline… we use a tool called Trello, like a virtual stickies board. So we have ideas in the right hand column. Loose notional thoughts. Then it moves into a development phase…. might not go anywhere, might go into development and cost checking. And if it goes into production we then usually commission others – techies etc… and then it goes to live. There are two live columns that we use – Live – proven, Live – measuring. It only moved to Proven when run several times and engagement checked – e.g. on facebook it would be likes, comments and sharing. Only when it hits a level, e.g. 1% it moves to proven. If it doesn’t work it shifts to ditched….

So, for example… Brooklyn Museum had an exhibition of Indian Paintings. They set up a thing online where you saw a painting for a few seconds each and asked users to rate their favourites.

Looking at stuff we do every day… we work with Hornsby’s Cider – asking poeple to identify a building; project for Channel 4 called 9point88 about the Oscars; and for Tenants Lager about fixtures etc. None of these are directly anything to do with the product…. it’s tangental… that Brooklen Museum is example is just about the product. You in galleries and museums are so lucky in that you have great products, people care about that. For many brands there isn’t always that sort of devotion to the content. People are passionate about your product…

David Craik, Director, Bright Signals showing examples of new, innovative museum experiences.

David Craik, Director, Bright Signals showing examples of new, innovative museum experiences.

So how do you bring content into the museum experience. I was lucky that I was able to attend South by South West last year – and learned a lot. I made a point of attending a talk by Leslie Walk on the future of digital content for museums and galleries. She said “museum attendance are in decline. and hat;s partly because there’s something missing from most visit experiences… Play”. Now we can argue that perhaps but the examples she went on to give, about play in a good way, was the Cleveland museum of art and something called the “Gallery One” project. Now this had a £20M benefactor. But one of these ideas was just asking participants to take a picture of themselves replicating a sculpture – using an Xbox basically so quite cheap, similarly making a face like a sculpture, and then a bit interactive wall to engage with the content in a different way. Now this latter screen was so costly and perhaps more obvious. But the cheaper fun stuff – those statue and sculpture exhibits – were so much more engaging because they are playful. And that’s the tone of the brilliant Art Hunter app we’ve been trying out as well…

We are seeing Google putting the gallery exhibition tour online through google maps. We have Google Glass on it’s way and, by all accounts, wearables will be a big sector. The hardware – the hard to do stuff – has been done. The opportunity potential is content relevant to the location of the person wearing them. A relatively easy way to add content to the user experience.

And there’s a project called Google Tango, which uses 3D sensors to measure the space around you… making it much easier to put a layer of interactive content around it. Would cost a fortune to develop but this will be shared by Google very soon…

I wanted to talk about conversion iteration – facebook does this all the time because tiny tweaks make such a difference. SkyScanner, for my money the most successful digital company to come out of Scotland, they also iterate. They also do a form of A/B testing. They have a button that gets you to book, and that generates income for them. They started with “book”, they decided to test out “continue”, “select”, “go”. Which do you think led to the biggest improvement. Most of us think the latter…. The actual results…. for “continue” they had +0.95% clicks; “select” had + 6.41% clicks; and “go” saw -1.80% clicks. Now any increase is massive for their income. But I would have guessed, like most of you did, that “go” would be huge. Now you can test this easily… and in some markets they saw a 30% increase for “select”. So testing is so crucial here. Now Skyscanner has a really clear focus on a clear metric. They develop hypotheses from task-based one-to-one user testing. They keep it simple – isolate on A/B at a time. Senior Management respect the data. And they test this stuff with Google Analytics – which is free. And this process makes a huge difference but is ongoing, it needs iterating over time…

So, to summarise… we have issues like HiPPos, we need to be flexible, AdWords are low risk and low cost, interactive experiences can bring digital into a physical space…. and to remember Skyscanner’s approach to A/B testing…

Q1) I suppose you had Google Glasses on there… there is a company bringing out better virtual reality hardware – the Occulus Rift – will that be better?

A1) Really it’s all about content, what’s useful to the user…. don’t overthink it about what’s new and spectacular or cutting edge. You have content. That’s what people are interested in. It’s about how you connect up that digital thing to that real thing. The planning for that Cleveland gallery and that huge interactive wall… they wanted to create interactive experiences in the gallery… but they pulled back to focus on enhancing the real pieces of art. It’s about what layer of content can you apply to enhance the real thing…

So we now have table discussions…

Discussion group two: Evolving and marketing your digital resource

Tessa is outlining our key points for discussion:

  • How will your target audience find out about your digital learning project?
  • Is there anything else that can be done to help people find it?
  • What analytics will you collect? Is there A/B testing you could do?
  • Is there any other information you would like about how your audience responds to your learning project? How might you collect it?
  • How will you use this information? When will you use it? This is the key one!

Again I am on the Purple table…

We are discussing the silos between marketing and other teams…. and also how low conversions may be between social media activity and website information about exhibitions, and then to the exhibitions themselves… but the possibilities of competitions etc. Marketing can have a lot of control over channels which can complicate things… and how to challenge silos… and how to provide guidance to staff…  talk of QR codes and iBeacons (largely used in retail), the idea of something that detects your location that can be used inside… And of the potential unattractiveness of QR codes and potential for crafted objects… and of Augmented Reality (e.g. Layar).

Thinking about A/B testing, analytics… and how people find our stuff. We find that things on EventBrite helps… getting the band out there… interesting stuff like engaging with other cultural events, sitting near other events… if we want a younger audience being grouped by which bands etc. have gigs can be really useful. Affiliating yourself with things that your target audience are interested in. Noting that Tumblr gives a good visualisation of key influencers in material going viral… really useful to see that visually. Also talking about the importance of having something physical in the space that points to the digital… Physical spaces and physical/print materials… and the importance of memorability. But then working out what works…  There are also challenges. We really market stuff we know will sell well sometimes, for complex reasons. And there is audience awareness beyond your control…

Old stuff has value too… especially unique stuff. Make stuff findable for a much longer life… make sitmaps, tag stuff, add sharing buttons, Wikipedia is great for that… connections from there generate lots of referrals. Use unique materials or expertise in your digital resources… that makes a big difference. Exploit what you have.

How do you go further than the obvious local channels? Building your mailing list and audience helps… how do you push beyond that? The App Store is another channel to promote stuff… there is no arts area – there is leisure, travel and education. Can seek reviews etc. and have your team be ambassadors… A lot of this goes right to the top… your programme will attract different audiences in the same way… and appeal to different demographics, keep them aware of other shows coming up… Programming does make a difference, and won’t always align with your target audiences/overarching strategy. Discussions also of deep engagement with the work… that being the goal not necessarily numbers. And how one measures the quality of engagement. Visitor books can help in person…. but so many people don’t fill them in… A way of surveying people or recording that visit. Just writing down good comments etc.  Sometimes this stuff is ad hoc. But you could potentially do that digitally.. people like to see how others respond to the work. I was at the Oceans exhibition at Fruitmarket Gallery – collecting water from the seas, collecting stories alongside. That’s got such huge potential!

Feedback from Groups

Red Table: Had a meandering discussion about what digital learning is. About analytics and Google Analytics. We talked about a project on a closed forum – not as obviously relevant to analytics. We talked about interpretation, and relating everything back to the collection (where you have one). This came out of the Brooklyn Museum aspect,the ideas of the collection as asset… an archive of learning objects, or images, looking at content again.

Blue Table: We mostly ignored the prompts and had a sort of impromptu Google Analytics training… talking about what was possible, what could be done… what could be got in terms of demographics etc. And understanding who is using what and how useful that data might be. And we talked about better targetting online and offline… things like making sure you do promote digital learning adn resources on your website, linking to relevant works, etc. Doing what Google does in offering the right things for what people search for. And also about making sure that things are prominent in the physical space – like use of the Art Hunter logo at exhibition entrances and gallery entrances. Also about A/B testing and Google Analytics… try changing labels perhaps to see if clicks change.

Green Table: We had an interesting conversation. All day we’ve had problems thinking about our audience, and whether we know enough about them. Similarly around analytics – what we collect, how best to do that. Had some really interesting discussions about digital, about the possibilitis of the second skin, if you like, on top of what is already exhibited in collections. Also about if we are using social media and trying to market things… do people who are very busy fail to open emails? Twitter feeds are on our websites… are our websites as effective as they could be… or do we just change one thing on the site to make things better – like the button tweaks. So really how to make exhibitions more personal, more interactive, how do we get their responses? Do we still rely on paper? Is that wrong? Is a piece of paper in the post effective? Should we be doing that if advertising digital learning or resources. David’s point about not making things too difficult… and really think about what your key message is, and your key measures… people said they had used measures but probably not regularly enough.

Purple Table: We had quite a wide ranging discussion as well… augmented reality… tracking locations in other ways too… also how you are set up organisationally… that marketing targets might be different to what you want to achieve, and how you can get around that… we also talked about the importance of the physical space and the linkages around physical and digital resources. For some audiences, particularly older audiences, print can still be important. Talked about digital resources potentially having a longer lifespan – through Google, through Wikipedia, etc. And really thinking about what the unique selling points of your organisation might be, if you have iconic items or key unique expertise, then you have something unique that no-one else has, you can really help get other things out there. And talking about digital stuff – reviews being important for instance. Asking your audience to share and support it and be ambassadors for you, influencers that reach more people… etc.

Yellow Table: Also a wide ranging discussion. Talked about how flexibility to respond sounds good but some concern about timescales. Discussion of social media… could we do it better? Could we do it for each other and help each other? And talking about quite physical digital resources – creating material that can be brought out into the space, not just online. The HiPPo thing struck a chord. Thought analytics and data could be really useful from that regard. Got a bit confessional about making assumptions – and the wrong assumptions – about what people want. Research being important here. Also we may not know what we will change… but we may go back and ask different questions. To find quick wins and small changes.

Panel discussion with speakers (David, Rosie, Tessa)

Image of the Panel Discussion, showing David Craik, Tessa Quinn, Rosie Cardiff

Q1) How have you monitored Art Hunter in the last year? Also how could it be used in events or one off things – not just artefacts

A1 – Tessa) There is an app evaluation package, called Flurry, which allows us to see downloads, usage, how many items they are collecting etc. tines of day being used. But so much data… we needed to find the questions we wanted to ask. We saw a spike when we launched it. We currently have around 100 downloads per month of each version (iOS and Android). And because we are about to redevelop it for GENERATION we have been able to use that data to help us do that. We found, for instance, that 60% of people use it outwith gallery hours… we don’t know why but we can now ask those questions… and we want to also see what we can do that takes it beyond the gallery space to see how to make it more useful. And we have also been doing some research on gallery visitors about whether they have used the app, and how it has impacted their experience.

We have tried to keep the app as open as possible with unlockable content. We have the button called “Extra” – could be any number of things which could include events. We did try using it for two Friends events. But for partner offers our partners wanted to track a lot of what was going on which was harder to do… but for GENERATION we’ll think about that again.

A1 – David) In terms of analytics…. Google Analytics has several thousand measures. We talk about “the critical q” – for any organisation there are key questions – probably three of them – that really matter, and those need to be questions you can actually address. So conversion rate (e.g. for Skyscanner) might be on of those measures.

Q2) Was wondering about that Lets Get Real report – and the key findings there…

A2 – Tessa) that one question “why did you visit the website today?” was just part of the website. Of those only 30% wanted to visit the gallery that day, but our website was so focused on that. There was so much more being looked for… and a need for consumable, browsable data…

A2 – Rosie) We found that we had about 40% international visitors… so they may not step foot in the gallery. Particularly in terms of learning resources they have an interest far beyond those who visit… but is that what your organisation is about? If you are all about attendance and ticket sales that might not be useful to focus upon. To have those priorities…. I think each person in Tate would have their own response. It would be hard to get a consistent organisation-wide view of that. We all want to give a great experience… but we have very different ways to do that.

A2 – David) With Critical Q it doesn’t really matter if they differ… having your three for you to focus on is useful.

A2 – Tessa) One way to do that is to have different dashboards for different parts of the organisation…. to help deal with that.

A2 – Rosie) We are trained in how to use the analytics but… you can do brilliant against your metric but noone else might care!

Q3 – Rosie) One thing about the Agile Marketing… how do you measure the successful things….? We have 1 million Twitter followers…. we aim at a number of retweets… but what are you measuring as success.

A3 – David) Measurement for small scale actions like a post is about engagement…. we use various tools to grab that. Likes, comments or shares. for Tweets it’s replies, retweets or favourites. Poeple can get hung up on it. Reach can be useful… even if people don’t “like” it. Engagement helps us judge things… each sticky in Twillo for us is a theme, we have maybe 10 posts around the themes…. we divide clicks or comments or like by the number of page likes. So you can see the engagement proportionate size (e.g. 0.1% engagement).

Comment) our group talked about success being about getting funding for your next project!

Q4 – Christopher) This morning we talked about copyright and contributions etc. Are there examples of people working around copyright issues…

A4 – Rosie) It can be a real challenge. That can be very tricky to manage. And worse somehow as a Google Image search might well surface materials that an artist’s estate will not permit you to use or share online. At Tate we have to be really really careful about it. We are protecting artists as well as creating a great user experience. It would be good to look at themes that the artist addresses, that their work addresses, and activities for interaction broadly around that…. With Tate we did a kids activity around Lichtenstein but not branded as such, about artwork from dots. But there are things you can do… and thinking around what the artist address. That 1840s room was brilliant that we could just put the artwork out there… if only we could do that for everything… but we can’t! Getting other artists involved – a contemporary artist interested in that work – can be another way…

A4 – Tessa) I think every year the artists are becoming more flexible. When I was working 10 years ago just getting images on the website was difficult, now most artists are keen. Certain artists are particularly complex. There were moves to trademark the name “Picasso” for instance. So you have to think about this stuff first. And then you need to be creative about how address the issue. And if you are shooting video for instance then just including images you are fine to include.

A4 – David) This stuff is a creative challenge. What’s the human angle? Is there a twist? So for the Commonwealth Games we are looking at making a water cooler device with a secret beer dispenser for locals…. so there’s a human interest factor… the human interest is that there is a huge audience coming to Glasgow, will drink lots of beer, and the twist: what if we don’t want them drinking our beer…. and so voice recognition (not too complex at all – a phone, a computer, a human listening in!) will mean that those with a Scottish accent get beer, those without get water…. there’s a human angle and then using the public to give it a twist.

Q5) Thinking about sponsorship, or partnership… any examples of more creative ways to work with sponsors through the digital platforms that you have?

A5 – Rosie) Not particularly about working with sponsors. I’m not sure how interested they are about being collaborative with us…. with technology companies and developers though – as Rohan said this morning – is about a more collaborative aproach. A lot of the funding out there – the NESTA/AHRC fund for digital arts – are looking for more collaborative work here.

A5 – Tessa) We still find it hard to find sponsors for digital projects… maybe we don’t pitch it right, maybe our regular sponsors aren’t interested in digital. When we have had funding often part of the bigger funding process. I think the NESTA thing taught us the benefit of a real relationship with your digital provider. But that’s trickier with procurement processes – already a procurement type relationship. But maybe there is a need to restructure tendering processes. But the NESTA fund means you partner with the provider in the bid. But sometimes the technology provider may also own the idea… can be collaborative though. You don’t put digital to one side once done… you have to iterate.

A5 – David) Speaking from the point of view of brands. Savvy brands know that ads aren’t interesting any more, content is. Most stuff we do has cultural aspect. Markleting spend moving from ads towards content, to jointly created content. Questions here about “selling your soul to the devil” but otherwise huge potential for making content that’s genuinely engaging to audience, to customers, etc. And reach new audiences. But it’s about picking the right partners.

A5 – Rosie) we have challenges with sponsors. BP sponsor a lot of stuff but we have campaigners who oppose that. They look to us to boost their profile, but that also impacts on our too.

A5 – Tessa) And the approval too… everything needs approving for some sponsors. Really challenging for the practical arrangements.

Round up of the day

Christopher is starting to round up the day by saying that this is the sixth event in 13 months with engage. We will send round a link to the video

Sarah Yearsley, engage 

Keywords I found interesting today:

  • iteration – and the process of developing content online
  • play – really important
  • content
  • experimentation – liked hearing this. A lot of what loearning people do is about experimentation
  • failing small – making small changes and building upon them, to make bigger changes perhaps
  • be clear, think carefully – think about the benefits of what you do
  • unexpected outcomes
  • sharing models – engage, ARTIST ROOMS, and GENERATION really help here
  • digital space to meet – not just about content and structures, but spaces for people to meet
  • hidden content – loads hiddden on our website… great learning resources but can be hard to find. maybe where A/B testing comes here
  • digital fear – maybe still some of that but if we start small we can then think bigger as useful…

Sarah Yearsley, engage

Comment from David: the digital fear thing… the biggest challenge is the creativity, the ideas for content…. ironically people in this room are great for the hard bit, the content, the creativity… the technology is easier by comparison!

Back to Sarah:  And I will say what I say at the end of every event: There are some evaluation forms on this table. Please fill them in and let us know what you think. Either on paper or via SurveyMonkey.

Christopher: this event was a wee bit different to the london event because of feedback of wanting more discussion.

Sarah: the next engage event is at the Scottish National Portrait Gallery. Where we will hear about how we engage with audiences away from the gallery space – in the community, through games, etc. Also a free event. Please do book and come along – 23rd April.

Finally thank you all for coming, thank you to the galleries for hosting, thanks to Nicola for blogging, and finally thanks again to all of our speakers!

And with that we are done….

Find Out More

Related Resources

The delegate pack included a wide range of resources which will be of interest both to those who attended the event, and those following the blog (only). “These online resources were suggested by contributors as background reading and reference for the seminar. The selection aims to offer some starting points; from projects that contributors have found useful and inspiring, to details of many of the projects referenced by contributors in their presentations.

Feb 242014
 

This afternoon I will be liveblogging the MOOCs in Cultural Heritage Education event, being held at the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art in Edinburgh.

As this is a liveblog please excuse any typos and do let me know if you spot any errors or if there are links or additional information that should be included. 

Our programme for today is:

Welcome and Intro – Christopher Ganley (ARTIST ROOMS, National Galleries of Scotland and Tate)

Image of Christopher Ganley (National Galleries of Scotland) Christopher is the learning and digital manager for the National Galleries of Scotland and Tate. In case people here don’t know about Artist Rooms, this is a collection that came to Tate and NGS in 2008. Around 1100 items of art from Anthony d’Offay with the National Heritage Memorial Fund, the Art Fund, the British and Scottish Governments. The remit was to be shared across the UK to engage new audiences, particularly young people. The collection has grown to around 1500 items now – Louise Bourgeois is one of the latest additions. The Artist Rooms Research Partnership is a collaboration between the universities of Glasgow, Edinburgh and Newcastle with Tate and NGS led by the University of Edinburgh. And today’s event is funded by the Royal Society of Edinburgh and has been arranged by the University of Edinburgh School of Education as part of the outreach strand of their research.

Year of the MOOC?: what do Massive Open Online Courses have to offer the cultural heritage sector? – Sian Bayne, Jen Ross (University of Edinburgh)

Sian is beginning. Jen and I are going to situate the programme today. Jen and I are part of the School of Education working in Digital Education, and we are ourselves MOOC survivors!

Image of Sian Bayne (University of Edinburgh)We are going to talk about MOOCs in a higher education context, and our research there, and then talk about what that might mean for museums and the cultural heritage context. Jen will talk about the eLearning and Digital Culture MOOC and expand that out into discussing cultural heritage context.

So, what do we know about MOOCs? It’s a bit of a primer here:

  • Massive: numbers. Largest we ran at Edinburgh had 100k students enrolled
  • Open: no “entrance” requirements.
  • Online: completely.
  • Course: structured, cohort-based. And we don’t talk about that so much but they have a pedagogy, they have a structure, and that distinguishes them from other open education tools.

In terms of where MOOCs are run we have EdX – they have no cultural heritage partners yet. We have Coursera and they do have cultural heritage partners including MOMA. And FutureLearn who have cultural heritage partners yet (but not who are running courses yet).

The upsides of MOOCs is that they have massive reach, a really open field, high profile, massive energy, new partnerships. But on the downsides there are high risks, there are unproven teaching methods – and the pedagogy is still developing for this 1 teacher, 20k students kind of model, and there is a bit of  a MOOC “backlash” as the offer begins to settle into mainstream after a lot of hype.

In terms of cultural heritage there isn;t a lot out there, and only on Coursera. American Museum of Natural History, MOMA, California Institute of the Arts and the new Artist Rooms MOOCs are there. Some interesting courses but it’s still early days, not many cultural heritage MOOCs out there.

So in terms of the UK Jen and I have just completed some research for the HEA on MOOC adoption. One aspect was which disciplines are represented in UK MOOCs. We are seeing a number of humanities and education MOOCs. FutureLearn have the most of these, then Coursera and then there are cMOOCs in various locations. In terms of the University of Edinburgh we launched our first MOOCs – 6 of them across 3 colleges – last January and were the first UK university to do so. This year we have 7 more in development, we have 600k enrollments across all of our MOOCs and sign ups for the Warhol MOOC is well past 10k already.

So why did we get involved? Well we have a strong and growing culture of digital education,. It was an obvious for us to take that step. There was a good strategic fit for our university and we felt it was something we should be doing, engaging in this exciting new pedagogical space. Certainly money wasn’t the motivator here.

MOOCs have been around for a while, and there is still some things to learn in terms of who takes them, who finishes them etc. And we’ve done some research on our courses. Here the Philosophy MOOC saw over 98k students but even our smallest MOOC – equine nutrition- saw a comparable number of registrations to our total on campus student body (of approx 30k). Of the 309k who enrolled about 29% of initially active learners “completed” with a range of 7 – 59% across the six courses. We think that’s pretty good considering that only about a third of those who signed up actually accessed the course – of course it’s easy to sign up for these and hard to find time to do them so we aren’t worried about that. The range of completion is interesting though. We had 200 countries represented in the MOOC sign ups. And age wise the demographic was dominated by 25-39 year olds. And we found most people who took the MOOCs, at least in the first round, mostly had a postgraduate degree already. They were the people interested in taking the MOOCs. And now over to Jen…

Image of Jen Ross (University of Edinburgh)Jen. I want to tell you about the experience that lecturers and tutors had on the eLearning and Digital Cultures MOOC that took place last January. Firstly I wanted to talk about the xMOOC and the cMOOC. the xMOOC is the highly structured, quite linear, institutional MOOCs – the Coursera or FutureLearn model. Some peer interaction, but as a side benefit of the content as the main thing. Teacher presence in these sorts of MOOCs tends to be very high profile – the rock star tutor concept. You won’t meet them but you’ll see them on video. A lot. The other sort is the cMOOC, the connected MOOC. these were thought of by Canadians in 2012/13 before MOOCs became built. Around the theory of connected environments, participants create the course together, very loosely structured, very collaborative, very focused on participant contributions. Not about the rock star professors. This difference has been quite a big press thing, xMOOCs have had a bashing, people suggesting they are “elearning from 1998 minus the login button”. But actually what Sian and I have been finding is that in ANY MOOC we see much more than these two different forms. Our own MOOC is really neither an xMOOC or a cMOOC but had a lot of other content.

So our MOOC, #EDCMOOC, was based upon a module of the MSc in Digital Education module that generally has about 12-16 participants, and instead trying these ideas about the self in online environment in a MOOC format, at huge scale. So we decided rather than doing week by week lecture heavy format, we would do something different. Instead we did a “film festival” – clips for participants to watch and talk about. Then some readings on theory of digital education. And questions to discuss. We asked students to create public facing blogs which we linked to, we also used the built in discussion spaces. And instead of weekly tests etc. we had a single peer assessed “digital artefact” final assignment.

We gathered all blogs, which they had registered with us, in one place – so you could see any post tagged with #EDCMOOC. And we had a live hangout (via Google+ / YouTube) at the end of every few weeks – and we would pick up on discussions, questions that were coming up in those discussions and coming in live. The students themselves (42k of them) created a Facebook Group, a G+ group, used the hashtag but also these additional groups meant there was so much material being produced, so much discussion and activity beyond a scale anyone could keep up with. A hugely hectic space for five weeks, with everyone trying as best they could to keep an eye on their corner of the web.

Bonnie Stewart described our MOOC as “subverting it’s own conditions of existence”. And it was a chance to rethink that xMOOC/cMOOC divide. But also what the teacher is in a MOOC. What it means pedagogically to be in a MOOC. There are interesting generative questions that have come out of this experience.

So, I want to show you some examples of materials participants made on the MOOC. Students shared these on Padlet walls. We also had an image competition halfway through the MOOC. e.g. “All Lines are Open” by Mullu Lumbreras – the Tokyo underground map re-imagined with many “You are here” markers – emphasizing the noisiness of the MOOC! There were many reflective and reflexive posts about students trying to get to grips with the MOOC itself, as well as the content. There was such a variety of artefacts submitted here! There were images, videos, all sorts of assignments including super critical artefacts, such as Chris Jobling’s “In a MOOC no-one hears you leave” – although interestingly we did. There was also a chatbot assignment – allowing you to talk to “an EDCMOOC participant” and used comments from chats and from the course to give back comments, really interesting comment on the nature of the MOOC and the online environment. We also had a science fiction story all created in Second Life. This must have taken such a lot of time. We have found this on the MSc in Digital Education as well that when you give people the opportunity to create non textual assignments and contributions they give such creative and take such a lot of time over their multimodal work.

We also had  – a nod for Artist Rooms colleagues – a Ruschagram tool as an assignment. And indeed people used their own experience or expertise to bring their own take to the MOOC. Artists created art, scientists drew on their own background. Amy Burbel – an artist who does lots of these online videos but this one was all about the EDCMOOC.

Image of Jen Ross and Sian BayneSo I’d like to finish with some ideas and questions here for discussion… Elizabeth Merritt from the Centre for the Future of Museums asks about MOOCs in terms of impact. Rolin Moe talks about MOOCs as public engagement on a different scale. Erin Branham asks about reach – why wouldn’t you run a MOOC even if only 20k people finish. We have comments on that actually… David Greenfield emphasises the innovation aspect, they are still new, we are still learning and there is no one single way that MOOCs are being used. There is still a lot of space for innovation and new ideas.

Q&A

Q1) I work at the Tate in visual arts, the idea of assessment by multiple choice is very appealing so I wanted to ask about peer assessment. How did that work? Did there need to be moderation?
A1 – Jen) It is quite controversial, that’s partly as the MOOC platform don’t handle peer assessment too well. We didn’t get asked too much to remark assignments. Peer assessment can work extremely well if the group know each other or share a common understanding.

A1 – Sian) It was strange how assessment focused many people were for a non credit bearing course though, they wanted to know how to pass the MOOC.

Q2) I wanted to ask about the drop out which looked absolutely huge…

A2 – Sian) You mean people who didn’t begin to engage with the MOOC? It is problematic… there has been a lot of criticism around drop outs. But we have been looking at them from a traditional education point of view. MOOCs are free, they come in, they sample, they leave. It’s about shifting our understanding of what MOOCs are for.

Q2) What did you learn from that…?

A2) I think it would be too hasty to make too many conclusions about that drop off because of what it means to be in a MOOC

A2 – Jen) there is some interesting research on intentions at sign up. Around 60% of people signing up do not intend to complete the MOOC. I don’t think we will ever get 90% retention like we do on our online MSc. But Sian’s point here holds. Different demographics are interested for different reasons. Retention on the smaller equine science MOOC was much more about the participant interest rather than the content or pedagogy etc. The 7% retention rate was the more innovative assessment project.

Q3) We would love to have that data on drop outs. We aren’t allowed to fail at that rate in public. I work in the National Library of Scotland and we know that there is “library anxiety”.  I would hate to think this is a group with inflated library anxiety!

A3) Absolutely and I know there will be more on this later on. But its about expectation setting within the organisation.

Q3) Just getting that data though – especially the research on those who don’t want to complete – would be so valuable for managing and understanding that completion in open contexts.

Q4) Perhaps the count should be from the first session, not from those who sign up. It’s not the original email we are concerned with but the regular drop out which would be more concerning. We get people doing this with on site free experiences. This is more about engaging with the higher up decision makers and marketing about how we could use MOOCs in cultural heritage.

A4 – Sian) It was unfortunate that many of the MOOCs really marketed sign up rates, and inflated expectations from that, as a way to promote the MOOCs early on. Very unhelpful to have messages like “we want this one to hit a million sign ups!”

Q5) These aren’t credit bearing but are there MOOCs which are, how do they work?

A5 – Jen) Quite new territory. Some allow you to have some sort of credit at the end of the MOOC on payment of a fee. And some – including University of Central Lancashire – are trialling MOOC credit counting for something. Work at European level there too. But no one has cracked the magic bullet.

A5 – Sian) Two offering credit so far – one at Oxford Brookes, one at Edge Hill.

Q5) Maybe credit will appeal to those currently absent from the demographic profile – moving to those with few or no higher level qualifications

A5 – Sian) we did ask people about why they did the MOOC, many for fun, some for professional reasons. none for credit.

Q6) what are the indirect benefits of the programme?

A6 – Sian) We have had five or six people enrolling on the MSc as a direct result of the MOOC. We also got great publicity for being at the forefront of digital education which is great for the University. That indirect benefit won’t last of course as MOOCs get more mainstream but

A7 – Sian) 40 days academic staff time to develop, 40 days to deliver it. And that doesn’t include the Information Services staff time to set up the technology, In terms of participants I’m not sure we have that data

A7 – Jen) We kind of have it but it’s taking a long time to analyze it. You get a lot of data from the MOOCs. There is a whole field of learning analytics. We have the data from both runs of the MOOC but it’s hard to find the best way to do that.

Q7) Interesting, for people reflecting on their own time investment

A7) We gave guide time of 5-6 hours per week for the basic involvement but actually many people spent a lot of time on it. And there was a lot of content so it took that long to read and engage with it for many participants.

Q8) How do you assess 40k people?

A8 – Sian) Well that’s why we spent a lot of time trying to make the assessment criteria clear for people marking each other.

Q9) Can you say a bit more about xMOOCs and cMOOCs. A lot seem to be xMOOCs?

A9) There is a lot of discussion around how to go beyond the bounds of the xMOOC.

A9 – Sian) Our MOOC was seen as quite innovative as we were a bit of a hybrid, but a lot of that was about participants using social media and just having a hashtag made a difference.

Q9) So are there people trying to move out of the platform…

A9 – Jen) for the credit and microcredit courses you try to bring students into the MOOC platform as that is easier to measure. And that’s an area that is really becoming more prominent…

A9 – Sian) Would be sad is the move towards learning analytics took away the social media interactions in MOOCs.

A9 – Jen) We do see AI MOOCs where there is some opportunity to tailor content which is interesting…

Comment) Can see these working well for CPD.

:: Update: Jen and Sian’s Prezi can be viewed online here ::

The changing landscape of teaching online: a MoMA perspective – Deborah Howes (Museum of Modern Art)

It is a pleasure for me to tell you just a little bit about what has been going on at MOMA, especially having to spoken to just a few of you – I realise you are very savvy digital education, cultural education audience.

I like to start with this slide when I talk about online learning at MOMA – of MoMA education broadcasts in the 1950s. We have always been interested in technology. It is part of our mission statement to educate (the world) about the art of our time. This image is from the 1950s when MoMA had an advanced idea of how to teach art and creativity – and they invited TV crews in from Rockafeller Centre to record some of what was going on in terms of that education.

So online learning for MoMA can be as something as simple as an Online Google Hang Out working with seniors who go on a field trip once a month without them having to leave their apartment – they have a museum visit and discussing the art. Some have mobility issues, some have learning disabilities. But they have these amazing opportunities to visit and engage all the time for free. We use Google Hangouts a lot and this is an example that really hits home.

Image of Deb Howes (MoMA)

This example, like much of what I’ll talk about today, isn’t strictly a MOOC but it’s from that same open online concept and the MOOC is changing. However we have, at MoMA been running online courses since 2010. These are NOT MOOCs as we charge for them. You can take them in two ways. You can be self led and there is no teacher responding to you and there are no students but you go at your pace whenever you want. Or you can do the teacher led version with a teacher, with fellow students, with responses to your comments. We started the concept of starting these courses. We did this with Faith Harris, who now works at Khan Academy, and she was teaching online in the New York Museum of Fashion. She had a clear idea of what the format was – a structured course led by an educator. We did a studio course – how to paint – to see if that would work. That seemed such an usual idea at the time but they are really popular, especially as an instructor led experience. They like to see and share progression and to get feedback on that. Just like a real studio experience. So the “how to” videos, one of the things we tried to replicate online was the feel of exclusivity you have in an on-site course. If you enrol in person you get to paint in our studio then you get access to the galleries when no-one else is around. So here we have Corey Dogstein and he’s also an artist, the students love him, but you can see this video of how to paint like Jackson Pollock and really get into that free form, jazz playing vibe.

My previous role I came from a gallery where I had no idea who was doing my tour, or what they were getting from it, then I was in an academic place where I knew who everyone was, how they were progressing, assessing them etc. So in this role the online teaching experience has been really interesting. In particular taking out the temporarility and those barriers to speak up, you open up the accessibility to a much much wider audience. The range of learning difficulties that students come in with and feel able to participate online, that wouldn’t feel able to participate as fully in person is striking.

We use a course management system called Haiku. No matter what you do it looks like a bad high school newspaper. It organises content top to bottom, welcome messages, etc. 60% of our students to the MoMA online course have never taken an online course before. They tell us they’d rather try it with us! We have a lot of first timers so we have to provide a lot of help and support. We try to make them engaging and lively. The upside of the highly controlled space is that the teachers themselves are making these courses, it’s easy for them to change things, that’s the upside.

We try to think thematically about content, rather than thinking academically along a timeline say. So colour as a way to explore modern art came to mind, and also broadens the base beyond painting and sculpture – design and architecture for instance. So this way we can interview the curator of design, Paula Antonelli, on colour in design. [we are watching a clip of this]. Talk about exclusivity! Even on my 11 o’clock tour I couldn’t get you time with Paula. The students really respond to this. And we also created videos of the preservation techniques around colour.

This course: “Catalysts: Artists creating with sound, video and time” brings all those ideas together, and is a hybrid xMOOC and cMOOC although I only just realised this! We got the author Randall Packer to put this history together using artefacts and resources from MOOCs. It’s so hard to do this history – why read a book on the history of video artworks?! As an educator how many museums have the space to show a whole range of video art? Even at the new Tate underground you have a rotating collection. Rare to have an ongoing historical way to explore these. One of the reasons MoMA was able to jump into online courses feet first, is that Volkswagen are a corporate sponsor of the galleries and were keenly supportive. And as part of teaching the Catalyst course Randall, who is also a practicing artist, thought it would be great if we could get students to make and share work, wouldn’t it be great to make a WordPress blog they could use to share these and comment on each other. And my colleague Jonathan Epstein suggested digital badges – they get a MoMA badge on their blog and badges for LinkedIn profiles etc.

So, over three and half years we’ve registed about 2500 students. Small versus MOOCs but huge for us. Around 30% of enrolees are not from the US and that 30% represents over 60 countries. For us it was about engaging people in a sustained way with people who couldn’t come to MoMA or couldn’t come often to MoMA, and we really think we’ve proved these. This is one of those pause moments for us… so, any questions…

Q&A

Q1) That quote on your slide “the combination of compelling lectures with the online galery tours and the interaction with the other students from around the world was really enlightening and provocative” – what do you learn from these participants?

A1) We do find students who set up ongoing Facebook groups for instance, and they are really active for a long time, they will go on a trip and write to their peers about what they’ve seen. We learn whilst they take the course, but also over time. What is so hard for museums to learn is what the long term impact of a museum visit… there is no way to know what happens months or years later, or when they are at another gallery… But you get a sense of that on the Facebook groups.

Image of Deb Howes (MoMA)

Q2) At the moment it’s $25 to come into MoMA. How much are the courses?

A2) It is. But it’s a sliding scale of prices. For self-led courses… 5 weeks is $99 if you are a member. or $150 for a non member (of the museum) 10 week course. For instructor led it’s $150 to $350 per course depending on time etc. They may fluctuate, probably go down. I like the idea of a cost recovery model. Free is hard for me as instructor. But there is a lot of free stuff, and especially in the MOOC world, they are comparing what’s available, what the brand is worth, which is worth doing.

Q3) Member?

A3) Of the museum. Typically at the museum you get lots of discounts, free entry etc. as part of that. I think it’s about $75 for an individual membership right now and that’s part of a wider financial ecosystem I don’t get into too much.

So… we have all these courses… We got contacted by Coursera who said “oh sorry we can’t take your courses as you don’t award degrees” but here is a sandbox for K-12 for you. In fact MoMA does a huge amount for teachers. We had just done a huge new site called MoMA Learning with resources for all sorts of classes. So we thought, well this will be our textbook essentially. If we leave it there we don’t need to renogiate all the content again. So we decided to do a four week “art and inquiry” MOOC. There is a huge focus in the core curriculum on discussions around primary source materials, we do a lot of training of teachers but we can’t fit enough of them in our building. We have taught a class for teachers around the country, perhaps beyond, who come for a week in the summer and talk about inquiry based learning. It just so happened when this came together that we were the first MOOC in the primary and secondary education sandbox – I think that has everything to do with why we had 17k ish participants. We had a “huge” engagement ratio according to Coursera, they told us we were off the charts – people are watching the videos “all the way to the end!”. Huge validation for us, but if you think carefully about all the ways people are learning that satisfy them, people look for something to engage with – and museum educators are great at this, great at finding different ways to explain the same thing.

At the end of the course we had a survey. 60% were teachers. The rest were taking the course for different reasons – doctors wanting to talk about x-ray results better with patients. 90% of all those who answered the survey had not been to MoMA or had an online MoMA experience but they did visit the website or site afterwards. We had more friends, we had people following and engaging with our social media. It was a wonderful way to have people access and engage with MoMA who might now have thought to before.

So I have a diagram of MOOC students. It is kind of Ying-Yang. The paid for courses tend to be my age or older, highly educated, have been to many international galleries. Coursera they are 20-30 year olds, it’s about their career, they take lots of Coursera courses. And what struck us was that putting our content beyond the virtual museum walls, people really want to engage with it. In the museum we want people coming to us, to speak to us, but here they don’t visit us at all but they still want to engage.

We had 1500 students get a certificate of completion. In MoMA we have 3 million admissions per year. I have no idea how many take that information with them. For me as a museum professional 17k people made an effort to learn something about MoMA, word is out, and I taught 1500 teachers in the way I would like to in an academic way, and I taught more than I could teach over three years, but in one single summer. And the success of that means we have followed up with another MOOC – Art and Activity: Interactive Strategies for Engaging with Art. The first one runs again soon, this new course runs from July.

There are a few other things we do online… MoMA Teens Online Course Pilot. This was a free 5 week course in art appreciation at MoMA. These were teens that had taken probably all our teen courses as part of after school programmes. They brought back to us this Real World MoMA episode. [very very funny and well full of art in-jokes].

You get the idea right? I should just let the teens do all the videos! We have a new group of teens coming in doing a completely different thing. This is their medium, they understand. They combine the popular with the collection in an unforgettable way, the kids will never forget these five artists they focused on.

I just want to go through some pedagogical background here. There is a huge body of really interesting reseach on how the brain works, what makes memories… One of the things I always try to think about is what makes your brain remember, and why a museum is such a great way to learn. So one thing that is that you learn when something new comes in – a new sight, a new sound, a new smell… Museums are like that. They are new experiences. For children they may never have been to a museum or even to the city before. I try to make the online courses take that into consideration. How can we do that, and make the brain hold on to what it being learnt?

I don’t know if Howard Gardner is familiar to you? His ideas that different brains work differently, and that we need to present material in different ways for different people. We have hands on aspects. We have scientist experts, we have critics… we try to present a range of ways into the material.

So here also is some student feedback – the idea that there is more in the course than can be absorbed but that that is a good thing. We also try to ensure there are peer to peer aspects – to enable sharing and discussion. So here we have the learning communities from that studio course – where participants share their art… increadible learning experiences and incredible learning communities can exist beyond the museum and beyond the university but it is great to be there to support those communities – to answer questions, share a link etc.

I wrote a post you might like: moma.org/blog search for “how to make online courses for museums”

Moving forward we have a couple of hundred videos on YouTube but we were asked if we would put these into Khan Academy. We filtered the best down, gave them embed codes, and they have created a structure around that. As a museum you don’t have to do everything here, but reusing is powerful.

And moving forward we are doing some collaborations with the University of Melbourne.

And my forcast for Museum-University Partnerships forecase? Sunny with a chance of rain! There are real challenges around contracts, ownership etc. but we can get to a place of all sunny all the time.

Q1) We would be developing online learning as a new thing. When you decided to go down the online route did you stop anything else? Did you restructure time? How does that fit with curator duties?

A1) We didn’t drop anything. The Volkswagen sponsorship allowed us to build the team from myself and an intern to include another individual. But it’s a huge time commitment. Curators don’t have the time to teach but they are happy to talk to camera and are generally very good at it. I was at John Hopkins, and previously to that at the Metropolitan Museum… I was used to having media equipment to hand. There wasn’t that at MoMA but we created a small studio which makes it easy for curators to pop in and contribute.

Q2) Could you say a bit about the difference of practical versus appreciation type class?
A2) for practical classes the key is *really* good videos. Being able to replay those videos, if shot well, is really helpful and clears up questions. It lets them feel comfortable without asking the teacher over and over again. If you’ve ever been in a group critique that can be really intimidating… turns out that the level of distance of photographing your work, post online, and discuss online… students feel much better about that. There is distance they can take. They can throw things at the wall at home as they get critiqued! It is popular and now online you find a lot of low price and free how to courses. But our students who return it’s about the visits to the gallery, the history of the gallery, connecting the thinking and the artwork to the technique

Q2) So unspoken assumptions of supplies available?

A2) No, we give them a supply list. We tell them how to set up a studio in their own bedroom etc. We don’t make assumptions there.

Beyond the Object: MOOCs and Art History – Glyn Davis (University of Edinburgh)

Our final speaker is one of the “rock star lecturers” Jen mentioned!

So, in comparison to the other speakers here the course I have been preparing has not yet run. We have just under 12000 signed up so far, we anticipate around 20k mark. I am an academic and I teach film studies, particularly experimental cinema. A lot of the films I talk about it can be hugely hard for people to get hold of. That presents massive difficulties for me as a researcher, as a writer, but also for these sorts of learning experiences.

Where I want to start is to talk about Andy Warhol. A book, Warhol in Ten Takes, edited by myself and Gary Needham at Nottingham Trent University. We start with an introduction about seeing a piece called “does Warhol make you cry?” at MoMA – and he was at the time. So many rights to negotiate. That book is solely about Andy Warhol’s cinematic work, focusing on 10 films in detail. Those that are newly available from the archive, those where there was something new to be said. He only made films for five years – making 650 movies in that time. A lot even in comparison to Roger Corman (5 a year or so). Some are a few minutes long, some many hours. The enormous challenge was that in 1972 Warhol took all of his films out of circulation – he wanted to focus on painting, he was getting sued a lot by collaborators who wanted money from them. And they remained that way. Just before his death he said “my movies are more interesting to talk about than they are to watch”. He may have been joking but that sense has hung around studies of his work. Take a film like “Empire” (1964) it’s a conceptual piece – 8 hours and, in terms of content, time passes and it gets dark – has been little shown. Very few of his films are in circulation. MoMA has around 40 circulation copies available but that’s a rare place you can see them, you can see screenings at the Celeste Bartos screening rooms. The only other place to see them is at the Warhol museum in Pittsburgh on VHS. If not that its 16mm. You can’t pause or rewatch. It’s cold. It’s really hard to do Warhol research… so many pirate copies also out there…

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So are his films worth seeing or are they just conceptual pieces? Since the films have started to come out of the archives films like Empire have been shown in their entirity… people then discuss the experience of sitting through all of them. Indeed in his PhD thesis (Motion(less) Pictures: The Cinema of Stasis), Justin Remeselnik suggests they are “furniture films” – you can admire and engage with them but not to be paid attention to for an increadibly long time… and yet in Pamela Lee’s book Chronophobia talks about seeing Empire the whole way through, as a phenomenological record of pain it’s fairly incredible. She’s not alone here… another writer, Mark Leach, asked an audience to provide live tweeting during a screening of Empire, and then compiled these into the book #Empirefilm.

This is a long diversion but… Gary Needham and I tried to think hard about the experience of the Factory and the working environment there, what was it like to see Warhol’s films in the context of other experimental filmmakers in the 1960s. In trying to put together a MOOC these ideas sat with me, as the rights negotiations for the book took place over 18 months. We had 30 new images created – we had to apply for grants to get these made, rather than reproduced – by the Warhol museum. We had materials from BFI. We were able to use publicity materials as well. And we had to get agreements from so many people. The Whitney Museum has a Warhol Film Project and acted as our fact checker. It’s a 500k word book so that took some time. One of Warhol’s assistants, Gerard Malanga, allowed us to use his diary entries in the book. I came to Warhol knowing the rights access issues. And I came to the MOOC knowing those issues, knowing the possible time lag…

Chris provided a great introduction to Artist Rooms earlier. I head up the Art and it’s Histories strand. Sian and Jen head up the education strand but I work with artist historians and theorists doing research projects around the materials. So making a MOOC was an idea we thought about as a way to bring out Warhol to a wider audience, and to highlight the Artist Rooms content. I had a lot of questions though and I knew we could not use moving images at all. Could we talk about Warhol’s work without images or clips? What does that mean? Can we assume that people taking the course might source or be able to watch those things. I’ve been teaching Warhol for 15-20 years. I can show all manner of images and clips to students for teaching which are fine to use in that context but which would be impossible to use online for copyright and provenance reasons.

So, there are roughly 250 Warhol pieces in the Artist Rooms collections. There are particular strengths there. There are a great number of posters, as Anthony d’Offay said to me, these give a great overview of events during his lifestyle. There are also stitched photographs – another strength – and these are from the end of Warhol’s career. There are not many so to have a number to compare to each other is great. There are also early illustrations and commercial works. And there are self portraits from the early to mid 80’s. So for me how do I put together a course on Andy Warhol based on this collection? His most famous work is all from about 1962 to 1966. These pieces are silk screens of Monroe, Electric chairs, guns, Campbells soup cans. They are hugely expensive and not in the collection. But are these so familiar that I can assume those taking the course will know them. But the other partners in Artist Rooms – from the National Galleries of Scotland and the Tate – that did cover some of this famous 1960s material, to sex up the course a bit!

So this let us take shape. This will be a five week course. Each week will be a video lecture from me (sex, death, celebrity, money, time) and then a video interview who have worked with Warhol’s work in one way or another – curators, academics, conservators etc. Who could give a fresh perspective on Warhol and what he means to them. I’ll come back to them shortly.

I’ve talked about Warhol’s ubiquity and that’s been an issue as we finalised materials, looked at editing videos. Warhol is one of the most well known artists in the world. His images circulate so widely on such a range of objects (maybe only exceeded by the Mona Lisa) that familiarity with them is high. You can buy just about everything – from mugs to skateboards… the Warhol story is extraordinary. What’s really interesting for anyone teaching art history or theory is that he provides a really interesting test case with regards to reproduction and distribution.

For instance the Marilyn Diptych ( Andy Warhol, 1962). This was based on a publicity still for the 1953 film Niagara which he cropped to his liking. He started to make works just after her suicide in 1962. They have been described as work in mourning. And they are important examples of pop art, collapsing the worlds of art and pop culture. But also commenting on the mass media reproduction of imagery. The uneven application across this piece suggest the blurring of images in newspapers, and the important difference between similar reproductions. Thomas Crow (in his essay for Art in America (May 1987), “Saturday Disasters: Trace and Reference in Early Warhol”) writes that Marilyn disappears quickly when you look at this work, what becomes clearer is the blurrings, the paint level variations. But I have been using this image to teach with Walter Benjamin’s essay on mass production in relation to art work. His essential argument is that endless reproduction, owning of facsimiles etc. changes our relation to the original. It could seem less valuable… or more valuable… as we have seen with Warhol’s work. And Warhol’s own work is a reproduction itself of course. And his painting is the valuable thing… not the press still…

Being able to talk about this work and reproduction through the MOOC and the digital format adds another layer. MOOCs raise the question of what the use of gallery visits may be. What’s the difference of talking about a work and engaging with the original piece. The process of art or art history has always involved travel to galleries, biennials, festivals. Writing about it means seeing the work, there are financial angles there, there are green angles there. For example I am going to Newcastle for three days to see “Crude Oil” (Wang Bang, 2008). It is a 14 hour movie, you can only see it in installation. I intend to move in… my husband thinks I’m mad!

And what about the experience of engaging with the stuff here. I spent three days at the Warhol Museum in Pittsburgh preparing for the MOOC watching to VHS, speaking to staff, and also looking at Warhol’s “time capsules” – receipts, ephemera, e.g. a box from 1978 is just “Concorde stuff”. I was accompanied by a curator, they opened boxes for me… some smelled bad due to moldy stuff, exploded soup cans, a still-inflated silly birthday cake which was a present from Yoko Ono. They are treated as art works. They are still cataloguing these things. So I spoke to the curators about how they are making the time capsules educationally engaging. They have video of celebrities going through them, for instance John Waters gives a great critique of one of the time capsules. They did a live opening, streamed to the ICA, of one of the time capsules. I mention these because these were really interesting examples of opening this type of content and artist up to others.

Let me just say a bit about how we have made the videos for the MOOC. My colleague Lucy Kendra who had filmed other MOOC content saw this filming experience as unusually immediate and intimate in form. We spoke to curators and conservators at the galleries, Gary at Nottingham, and Anthony d’Offay himself. We were also given access behind the scenes at the Tate Store – they took out 10 pieces as a backdrop which was so valuable. We had interviews of an hour, an hour and a half. We have so much materials. For the Warhol class there will be a required 10 minute version of the video, but we will then give a longer, possible unexpurgated, videos for those that want to see them the whole way through. These are fantastic and extraordinary videos. I think they are fantastic representations of these institutions but I think it may open the doors to careers in some of these roles. We hope they may open doors in ways other art education courses may not do.

These interviews I could not have forseen, but they have become the bedrock of the course, the USP, the main draw, and these first time perspectives on the artist and his career. Why Warhol is still of interest and the personal interests of the interviewees themselves. We started by thinking the issue would be about content and rights but the interviews have gone beyond the object there.

Image of Glyn Davis (University of Edinburgh)Q&A

Q1) Will there be assessment at the end? Will they be assessed by peers.

A1) Yes, I think there has to be for Coursera. I have PhD student Teaching Assistants. I have left some of those decisions to them. They have suggested allowing practical responses to the materials – to get a sense of materials and present day materials, contemporary approach. Or a short written text, a 2-300 word response to a work of their choosing – perhaps from Artist Rooms or perhaps another. These are great TAs though with ideas like building a map of the nearest Andy Warhol to the participant, opening up possible discussion of access. Peers will assess the work and this is where drawing on the expertise of colleagues who have run MOOCs before is so valuable.

Q2) When we did our MOOC we had an easier rights time but we really wanted to use films that it was hard to find legal clips to… we avoided anything we knew was of dubious origins. But we found students sharing those clips and images anyway! What do you plan to do with that?

A2) As far as I know the Warhol Museum in Pittsburgh are well aware that material leaks out… if our participants link to those things we can’t help that. We just create that distance and leave that in the students hands.

Comment – Debs) I feel your pain entirely! In addition to the academic excellence issue, at MoMA part of our job is about preserving the identity of the work, of the artists in our collections. We can’t distribute unofficial copies of works by artists in our collection, it wouldn’t look good. And yet… we were one of the first museums to go to Electronic Arts Intermix about using video online. They’d never really been approached to digitalise their works in that sort of context. The first person I spoke to was extremely pessimistic about these once-cutting edge technology using artists works being able to share these works online. We were able to say that in the environment of this course – a limited course, not a MOOC, we have a lot of details on them – it is very comparible to the classroom. We stream it and although you probably could capture the content but most won’t. They were OK with this. We got Bill Viola, Yoko Ono, etc. allowing us to stream the content. It was costly… but I hope as we push these boundaries more the artists and rights holders will go with that. Otherwise we will have a loss to art history and accessing this hard to reach art. That arguement of the most famous work being the most visible already is one I’ve used before, I hope that rings true.

Q3) Do you have specific goals – educational or a specific combination of enrolees – for this MOOC?

A3) There are two or three key goals. Part was a partnership between the university, the Tate and National Galleries. And part of that was about trying a MOOC as a way to do that. It might be that the Tate or National Galleries want to use one of those interviews somewhere else too. For me it is also about trying a new tool, and what is possible with that. I am interested in testing the boundaries of what Coursera will do.

Q4) With the MOOCs which you have completed… with hindsight now is there a lot that you would do differently?

A4 – Deb) Not a lot but… with the videos I wish we had done differently. I wish we had done them straight without “last week you did X”, or interviews with curators etc. I wish I had had the insight to bring in the right people or to make it more long term useful.

A4 – Sian) for our second run we did make changes. We refused to make videos the first time, we were being hard line. But the dominent comment online were “where are the professors” and “where are the videos” so we made introductory videos for each week. That was the most significant change.

And with that a really interesting afternoon is complete with thanks to organiser Claire Wright, and to the Royal Society of Edinburgh for providing funding for the event.

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