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:

YouTube Preview Image

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:

YouTube Preview Image

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!

Apr 252012
 
Screenshot from the ViTAL Webinar on "Flipping"

This lunchtime I have been attending a ViTAL webinar (held via Adobe Connect here) on “flipping” which they describe as “the video-based approach that emerged in the US and has raised huge interest in the UK and Europe”. There is more background in an article on flipping in the UK edition of Wired this month: http://www.wired.com/geekdad/2012/04/flipping-the-classroom/

Our presenter for this session is Carl Gombrich, Programme Director for UCL’s undergraduate interdisciplinary degree: Arts and Sciences BASc. Carl has Maths, Physics and Philosophy degrees and is a professional opera singer!

 

Screenshot from the ViTAL Webinar on "Flipping"

Screenshot from the ViTAL Webinar on "Flipping"

So here are my notes from Carl’s talk:

This is my first webinar – in fact I’m really pretty new to technology in general. He’s currently setting up an interdisciplinary degree of Arts & Sciences. It’s a major launch of a degree for UCL, it starts with 80 students this year. And we’re really thinking in this climate – and the recent changes to student fees, funding etc – about how we can best engage our students. I am entirely focused on teaching – I’m not involved with the REF at all – and I am desperate to do something better than huge lectures to foster engagement with students.

So about 18 months ago I started to hear about “Flipping” with the launch of the Khan academy. I’m a fan of those and would have loved to have had access to those videos at school. So I wanted to think about how lectures could share content and do this ahead of the lecture so that contact time is really saved for stuff that really counts.

The idea of Flipping comes from about 2007 – Bergman and Sams although some say they have been doing this for much longer – where there was real questioning of why we gather students together in person in a room. I wanted to think about their model and think about how to make contact time more useful, more valuable, so wanted to add polling to the face to face sessions so that lecturers can really get a handle on what students want, to foster engagement through questions and why that’s a good idea.

You can see a 12 minute presentation on my blog about the kit I used but lets just run through quickly. I used the Echo 360 lecturcast system – the tool used at UCL. You just download it and it’s a few clicks to get started. I used a bog standard camera and mic – the built in options on laptops are fine. The lecturecast system could pair an image of the speaker with any materials. You can switch between the materials as you want. You can use MS Office docs along with any bespoke images you want. The exciting thing about video is that you can make it pretty interactive. You can stop the material, you can replay it to engage more with something you don’t understand etc. The other kit I used was a tablet – a little graphics tablet – I use Wacom/Bamboo – it just lets you underline, circle, highlight content as you want.

Actually after the presentation I did for the HEA I have learnt far more about how you do this stuff… some of the technologies are far more fluent, allow realtime noting etc. I think PowerPoint for Mathematics is a real killer. You have to see the process as you do in music, it’s visual, you learn best from seeing people thinking aloud. I think Khan does that so well, not everyone agrees but I think he’s a really excellent teacher.

So, that’s what I did. I think that sort of model is transferable to any old-style model. Any old knowledge transfer system should be transposable to the idea of making videos in advance. But if you want to do that what do you do?

Well you need to record lectures in advance – at home, in the office, event outside. Use lecturecast – this bit is easy. Then you ask your students to view the lecture before the timetabled lecture slot. Now that, of course, may not work… So… ask your students to upload 3 questions each with timings based on the video lecture (to indicate when questions arise) and send these questions to Moodle – everyone can see the questions that way and you also have evidance that the student has viewed the lecture and raised a question. Cognitively I think that’s very interesting but inevitably there’s also a command and control aspect here about ensuring students are taking part. And my colleague Matt Jenner has helped me set up some basic tracking in Moodle to know that students are participating. The other thing we dop is take a poll of the most popular, say 10 questions.

I was recently at a conference with Thrum, the man behind the Audacity web programming course at Stanford which you should look at as that is truly revolutionary, and he also uses polls and questions to gauge student need, to shape the teaching.

So back to what to do… the final stage is to go to the timetabled lecture slot with questions – interact, debate, solve problems with the students. That’s where it’s really pedagogically interesting. You get to know the students really well, you can get a sense of learning type (if you believe in those) and you can really get a sense of how they are doing. It’s a way to get back to more personal relationships in learning.

So the good things about this approach are that students can interact with lecturers on questions that interest them, problems they want to work through. Students can be split into groups and perhaps support each other (see Mazur) but the key bit is they get their questions answered. Better relationships are built up especially around mentoring, contact, etc. And submitting questions could be part of formative assessment so that everyone is involved in learning and that can really soldor that engagement. And that old lecture time can be used for summative assessments – short tests, blog pieces, group work, longer assessments etc.

And the bad things here?

Well some are concerned about the kit working, technology issues. But I am really a middle aged late adopter and I can manage, we owe it to our students to engage in this stuff and it’s easy to do.

“It will take me double the time – 1 hr to record the lecture, 1 hr for the interactive class” – well perhaps in the current fee climate we owe it to our students to spend that extra time. But being kinder on the lecturer you also do not have to rerecord the lectures every single year but you can rerecord as needed to update or correct anything. And like writing lecture series you can do this far ahead of term. And colleagues have pointed out to me that we don’t have to spend a full hour video – a series of shorter more intense videos might be better and allow you to really focus on the threshold concepts. I don’t know how much more work this would be – maybe 25% more in the first year but reducing over time. But the gains are so much more than any additional time one puts in.

“I hate working to camera” – I loathe working to camera, particularly I hate still images. It’s a real issue for me. But it’s where we are with the technology… I remember my grandparents generation refusing to use the telephone! We all use email now and I think video is really becoming that ubiquitous. We just have to go through that process of getting used to it.

“Students and colleagues will make fun of me or say inappropriate things about my style or the lecture” – this is falling away because of the ubiquity of video. There is an issue with trolling but it’s not a big issue with this sort of video. BUT there is a good reference in my slides here – students have other things to do, we need to rise above those concerns.

References:

And references from the community in the chatroom here:
Q via John Conway (Moderator)) We’ve had a comment about the Panopto product – it lets students annotate notes and save to their own profile, and they can then make them available online for discussion.
A – Carl): Lecturecast isn’t well used yet in UCL. The idea of polling questions in advance is the reflective thing – students can go away, come back, think about the questions. We learn when we aren’t thinking directly on the topic so those gaps can add some real advantage.
Q) What is the difference of Camtasia and Echocast 360?
A – Carl) I think they are versions of lecturecast systems but fairly similar
A – John) Lecturecast is the concept really. Camtasia is a vendor of several sets of softwares. It’s something that we’ve had to be careful to phrase things – see the previous presentation on Lecturecasts on Ning.
Q) What about doubling student study time?
A – Carl) Well we know the thing students most value about studying at university is the contact time and so I think making that more useful will be appreciated. But perhaps it does require reshaping of expectations. perhaps you shave reading time to allow this video engagement. I don’t think you add too much time and hopefully it will be something they value.
Q) Our experience at Aberystwyth is that lecturers are not keen to videoed and students are not that bothered to see them. The audio and the content are the key thing.
A – Carl) Speaking to colleagues there I have a sense that a face is really important for younger students – perhaps children/young people not adults. The audio is the key bit for older learners. But I’m not hugely sold on video particularly. The ability to draw on the screen, to show the process etc. is really important here.
A – John) We have some material on the usefulness of capturing body language – adding additional feedback and information here.
A – Carl) Matt here at UCL has made another point – there’s something on my blog about “do you need to see your lecturer”. I think a few minutes to see them on video may be enough. If you never see/meet someone in the flesh you lose something BUT once you have that, once you have a sense of them as a human, then you can go back to the virtual and use that sense of them to really better understand what you are engaging with online. I think there not meeting/meeting via video/meeting in the flesh. Both of the latter are important but perhaps we don’t have to do as much in person as we once did.
Comment) In teaching negotiation video is hugely important
A – Carl) That is a hugely important point I hadn’t considered – any teaching that requires understanding human interaction – psychology say – will really make the
Q) Do you make any of your material available under an Open Educational Resource model?
A – Carl) I’m not sure if we’ve worked out the economics of this… if a lecturer makes their materials available for free what does that mean for the lecturer and for the institution, doesn’t it undermine that? I certainly don’t want to release them all before students get here. Maybe I’m just not brave enough here!
Q) Many lecturers are used to presenting materials but some are not used to being facilitated? Should we offer training on how to be a good facilitator? For instance would they need training on how to handle debates in the classroom?
A – Carl) Gosh, maybe. I’ve always done my teaching the way I do. I suppose I just expect teachers to have those skills and I’m lucky that setting up a new degree I can choose my colleagues here. But if you don’t naturally engage with clickers, with new technologies that have proven pedagogical value then yes, you would want/need access to training.
Q) What is you say something untoward on camera?
A – Carl) That’s a really interesting issue and is far beyond just education. I would hope that we would really learn to handle this as society in a sensible way. As educators we should lead though. I think if you make a comment to a group of 200 people that isn’t being recorded should be fine with doing that when you are being recorded and be backed up by your institution.
Q) Could you use some of the captured content in the classroom?
A – Carl) I think you would not want to show long clips but with a bit of planning using a clip related to the key questions as you are addressing those.
Q) What feedback have you had from students?
A – Carl) As I mentioned earlier I am setting things up for September 2012 so I don’t have research base for this teching method yet but we do have research that what students value most is contact time. We are also trialling some split screen head to head debates for students to engage with
Q) How will you evaluate this approach?
A – Carl) Some open ended questions at the end of term will probably be the way to do this. I am cautious about over scrutinising students – I just think that’s the wrong atmosphere for what we’re trying to achieve.
Really most of the first and second year undergraduate courses you might be teaching are already on the web in some way – via existing educational materials online. But you really add the value meeting the teachers face to face and discussing and engaging with them.
Comment) Isn’t this the same as reading before a lecture?
A – Carl) Yes, some of my colleagues have said that! But the medium is really changing. In a way we’ve always asked students to do pre-reading – and they have rarely done that. But I think video, I think polling students is a qualitative shift that makes this difference.
John) Thank you all for coming along today and if you have any further questions and comments do take a look at the ViTAL (Video in Teaching And Learning) Ning community:  http://vital-sig.ning.com. We will address any questions raised there on Ning and perhaps in a webinar in the future.  The next webinar will be on video and pedagogical design.

 

Feb 142012
 

On Thursday afternoon I was at the University of Edinburgh eLearning Presentations Showcase 2011 event. This is a really lovely idea as it brings together presentations given throughout the year on or around the subject of eLearning into one afternoon. It’s a great way to catch up on colleagues’ work but also interesting from the point of view of seeing lots of varying types and styles of presentation in a packed afternoon.

Tweets about the event can still be found on the #elpp hashtag and further information and the presentations from the showcase can be found on the ELPP wiki: https://www.wiki.ed.ac.uk/display/eLPP/eLearning%20presentations%20showcase%202011.

These notes were taken as a liveblog but due to wifi issues are only being posted live now. So, although I’ve done a little tidying up, please be tolerant of typos etc. I thought it would be better to get these live quickly rather than perfectly but will try to correct any errors as they spot them. 

Wilma Alexander, Chair of the eLearning Professionals and Practitioners Forum, opened with a note that the annual eLearning at Ed conference will  be on Friday 13th April and loads of exciting programme stuff information will be live soon. With that it was right into the presentations…

 

Jo Kinsley PostGraduate Virtual Open Week at the University of Edinburgh

Jo originally presented this at the Blackboard Collaborate Connections Summit 2011 in Las Vegas.

Jo originally introduced this presentation with the background of the University mission statement and international profile. The University of Edinburgh has 26k students, many from Scotland. Of those international students at Edinburgh the largest group is from the US but 137 countries are represented in total.

This project intended to let potential students around the world the opportunity to engage with staff and attend an online open day as they are unable to attend the on campus open day. The idea came from the School of Social and Political Sciences with the idea that this would be important to students from other countries, particularly North America.

It was always intended as an alternative and additional initiative. It’s the first time this sort of project had been done in the UK on this sort of scale.

The planning… we saw this as an opportunity for a central event, here information services would be the central point for coordination. A one day turned into a full week in the end. Some schools wanted to represent the whole school, just one single programme of study. Number of staff (and in some case alumni) varied. Lots of varying technical requirements. We limited registration for academic sessions to 15 people to make it manageable and we decided to record this to see the outcomes, the attendance level etc.

Project requirements – a website, online registration, promotional planning, choosing software and training. We did most of the website central, also used an online tool on the website for registration. Comms and Marketing assisted with promotion. The software selected was Wimba and the training would be by IS.

Wimba was chosen as it is easy to use, there is no client software to install and we already had a pilot running across the university. Wimba also, via the SDK kit, made it easy to replicate classrooms quickly as there were 100s of sessions.

There were 38 staff technically trained to support sessions – Wimba did 2 hour training sessions for these staff. But we also ha 135 staff who would be hosted and/or moderating a session. The training was close to the event – took place in the training suite in the library with headsets etc. We showed them how it worked as a student and how it worked as a moderator. We gave them a role playing session to get used to the role of host, and of students, and some slides and examples to let them get a sense of using the classroom and the etiquette of the space.

We also gave them scripts – hosts with scripts, moderators with scripts etc. We gave everyone a script. People were hesitant but it worked well. We also made the staff try the experience of a participant – questions they would ask, what they would want to know – to help them get an idea of slides or notes to have to hand.

Although people were initially embarrassed etc. But after a few rotations around people really enjoyed and got into the role play. The feedback was that people weren’t sure about the time commitment or role play BUT they felt it gave them a good experience, what they could do on the day etc.

So the Virtual Open Week was 21st to 25th feb 2011. Involving 22 schools, 6 support sessions. There were about 170 unique drop in session visitors. For the academic sessions we had about 740 registered participants. We had 369 unique visitors – registered vs attendance. Roughly 50% of those who registered showed up on the day. Actually not that far off the in-person open day experience.

There was some disappointment over numbers but some great in depth discussions did take place. One chap from the dental school prepared a fantastic presentation but no-one showed up BUT he recorded the presentation and is using it as marketing on the course website.

Feedback on non attendees tended to be that they had forgotten, timings didn’t suit as well as expected, etc.

But those that attended gave great feedback. Most responded that they were slightly or significantly more likely to attend as a result. They felt it was worth while. Some said it was better than travelling to Scotland – the travesty!

Issues and lessons learned – some sessions had no preprepared information, emphasize the need for having some powerpoints to break the ice and engage attendees.

Working around admission deadlines of schools presented a timing issue.. One large event plus various school events would work.

From non attendees:

  • Reminders
  • Better account of timezone
  • And more programmes they were interested in to be included

Feedback from schools and staff has been positive. Since we did this Wimba has been in wider use across the university – PhD interviews, careers events etc. Been good for getting people used to the technology.

Q&A

Q1) would you do it again?

A1 – Jo) I would but as it happens I won’t be. But I was on the technical end, not managing the whole thing…

A1 – Fiona) It will run again on 23rd Feb as a central University thing. It will be once a month with drop in session on fees, other topics of interest etc.

Q2) It’s very important to note that on-campus that open days only attract 50% – really encouraging that online has same. Also an hour for one student is a great use of time.  And the training sessions were rather lively!

A2 – Fiona) central services found it effective – could work away then attend to students as they came in.

Q3) I used Wimba with students in Japan last year. They had some technical issues with the software. Last summer I tried it and had a problem as well. Stephen Vickers helped with that. But maybe in other countries the bandwidth can/could be an issue with using this. Especially places like China

A3 – Jo) We did put up some training/guidance and a wizard to try out Wimba before the sessions to try and help.

 

Jen Ross Partnerships and Collaborations: Future Networks of Exchange for Museums

This was originally presented with Angelina Russo (at RMIT) at ICTOP 2011 in Toronto. Jen is associate lecturer at the School of Education and works on various projects including cultural heritage.

This presentation was part of work that began as the National Museums Online Project and that led to the Digital Futures for Cultural Heritage Organisations project which ran recently. Angelina is a world expert in social media and museums – she’s not here but she says hello! Angelina is also the founder of Museum3 which is a great way to find out about digital innovation around the world.

So this talk was about how museums and cultureal heritage organisations approach social media and digital technology. As they get to grips with this they also have all sorts of organisational challenges around what expertise and authority means now. And how to be relevant in the world. The idea of exchange, the relationship between the audience and the museum as an exchange rather than top down, is something that Angelina has been working on.

So, exchange is a challenging thing for Cultural Heritage organisations (CHos) to think about. Often museums etc. have a real sense of purpose, that they are guarding “everyone’s stuff” so how  you start conversations about opening up that stuff. An exchange is a two or maybe even a three way exchange – there are exchanges between patrons/visitors as well as with the organisation.

Exchange requires people to invest in your project, in your idea. So trialling and piloting ideas can work well but if you neglect that you can lose some of the good will built up in the project.

The idea of communities of practice might be too constraining or problematic in thinking about what the relationship between museums and their audiences. It implies a shared language or a sustained engagement. It is not a realistic paradigm in the online networked world.

Instead we have been thinking about networks and flows. Organisations can trigger these but ultimately cannot control, flows of information and communication in digital space. Digital networks thrive on border crossings. What about “knotworking” (Engestrom Engestrom and Vaaho)? <another ref here too to grab>.

The digital futures of cultural heritage education project

The project had two main aims. To begin to establish a research agenda

Heritage was the biggest group, but there were a number of commercial, academic and government sectors – this is brilliant, you want to create a network of people with a shared interest but diverse needs.

I did want to iklustrate something about how twitter was used in the project. We normally think of tweets as knowledge exchange mechanism – here are five of my favourite tweets (AddressingHistory gets a mention!). But  the power of tweets also moves outside the room – presence, reach, flow…

Someone in the room asked for questions, someone else asked “how you identify your brand/institution fanatics and let them be fanatical about you?” and another person in the room summarised and replied. Artifacts move in and out of physical and virtual spaces in this sort of way. And here we see three very different people retweeting the same information to three very different audiences here.

We think that networks are a very useful and powerful way of thinking abouyt exchange in a cultureal heritage situation and a social media situation. And we nee dto think about how trust is reconfigured and strengtherned by a willingness to echange. Onus is on the institution to earn that trust through their participation with broader audienes.

You have to tie projects up when they finish – fragments on the web can reflect poorly on your institution,

Q&A

Q1) This might be premature. I can see the power of Twitter and other social spaces but they only reach a particular type/group of people but that canj provide some powerful insights into ow that moves into other digital and real spaces.

A1) That’s interesting. The DFCHE project had museums and RCAHMS etc. all part of this event. RCAHMS has had some dramatic things happen oin their education department happen as a result of these events. People working with digital things are often part of these big educational teams so are able to share that experience and develop it. In the msuems sector can be easier. But buy in from curational staff can be more tricky. Education and curation can be quite separate. Intra organisational issues can be just as profound as extra organisational issues.

Q2) Was the project combined with the resurgence of the National museums that has been going om – it feels really opened up now.

A2) We did have museums staff on the project but their refurb work was well underway. New Museology looks at the power relations within museums.

Q3) Was one project aim to raise awareness of flows and knotworking etc. in a systematic way.

A3) Yes and no. We wanted to establish a research agenda in Scotland. But we were all pleased and slightly surprised by the interest from the commercial sector so it was fantastic to see those people in those groups. Knotworking and flows it was more about what we have seen and looked back on.

 

Julie Moote & Erin Jackson Student learning in online discussions

Erin is teaching manager at the school of law. This presentation is related to the Principals teaching award. Julie originally presented this at a law education conference

Julie is a PhD candidate from the School of Education and has been working with up on the PETAS(check) project.

Julie – we are just near the end of this project, we really want to disseminate what we found. So this is a content analysis of discussion transcripts comparing synchronious and ascynchornous environments.

First step was to look at the literature of online learning. (e.g. Hara et al 2000, Heckman & Annabi,. 2005, Bliuc et al 2007,). There are real gaps in online learning environments and particularly in law learning and reasoning.

We had here main areas to look at – what is the nature of the learning taking place in online discussions – the level of cognitive engagement, the community of learners. How does the tutors online presence influence learning, the frequency of posts and the interaction betweein the students, and the final aspect – how to support a highly diverse cohort of students online? Suggestions for pedagogy, impact of legal background, language skills.

Over to Erin to introduce the elearning programmes in law. The LLM programme Innovation, technology and law, was launched in 2005/6:

There are three nominate eLLM degrees in IP Law, IT Law and Medical Law which began in 2008/9 and more are planned. There is a really diverse group of students and backgrounds here. And we do assess discussion as part of the programme – 20% usually – and discussions are led by academix tutors often with contributions with guest tutors and visiting scholars. Students value the opportunity to learn form the experiences  and insights of fellow students.

Methods

The most time consuming aspect of this project was thinking about how to analysis this content. We found an ascynchonous protocol that seemed to fit the programme. We found one and coded transcripts accordingly. Of the 30 students that consented, 9 students transcipts from the discussions were chosen fro detailed content analysis. One of the potential gaps or issues of this research was we eliminated postings from any student who had not consented so you do not get both sides of conversations often.

We found high levels of cognitive processing in discussion transcripts. They went beyond detailing factial information – connecting ideas, supporing opinions, application of judgements to different contexts. Personal interest side notes and examples etc. also were brought in.

We looked at students over 2 modules. There weren’t any obvious imporvements in discussion performance between modules 1 and 2. There didn’t seem to be a sense of tutor differences in assessment. Explicit student and outline of assumptions. We also did an in depth analysis of referenceing literature and how it was refefrenced.

We found that class size was not related to overall performance in the discussions. English languiage speakers may have a slidght advantage over non English speakers. But Lawyers fo not appear to have an advantage over non lawyers.

Limitations – we need a far larger number of students to get a sense of progression in terms of discussion. And although we used a strandard protocol it’s not well used and tested.

Conclusion s- some suggestions for pedagogy. Support for quality abd depth of student learning taking place in discussions. There are high levels of cognitive processing taking place.

Q&A

Q1) Do students have marks released between module 1 and 2

A1) Erin: Yes, they are per semester. They get grades and qualitative feedback. They should have had feedback between modules 1 and 2.

Q2) Did students get feedback on the study

A2) Julie: That’s the next step.

A2) Erin: We are looking at how we give feedback to students. Looking at how to use findings from this study to feed into that.

 

Robert Chmielewski – INTEGRATE – INTerlinking and Embedding Graduate Attributes at Edinburgh

Robert works in IS and particularly on the excellent work that has been taking place with PebblePad in the university. And this was given at the ePIC2011 (elearning Portfolios International Conference).

This was about a project that took place last year. A Scottish initiative run by AQA and HEA and this project involved Jessie Paterson (project leader), Tina Harrison, Nora Mogey, and Robert Chmielewski.

We wanted to look at graduate attributes at the university of Edinburgh. It’s a useful thing for universities to recognise the development of students etc. Lots of projects and work looking at developing this sort of reflective practice.

We identified 3 projects, one for UG, one for PGT and one for PGR students. We wanted to make a story of these that could be shared on the employability website. So three strands were recorded. Graduate attributes are crucial and link to the student experience at the university. It’s a tough choice to pick a programme of study. Many choose the wrong thing, but you learn loads of things even if you don’t want to stick with the subject you studied for your degree… so being able to pick out graduate attributes and skills is really important.

So, jumping into the first branch, for undergraduate students. This was for Divinity students – this is from Jessie. You can become a minister or a researcher at the end of your studies but most become something else. Jessie is running an Academic Skills course for 1st year undergraduates where they identify their existing skills and those they want to develop.

From the very beginning of that course students are given a framework of desirable skills and they monitor their own development against that framework. That’s a compulsory course but not assessed in a traditional meaning of that word.

If I now skip to the second strand. So these are the Postgraduate Tought students, in this case nursing studies. They use PebblePad to make sure that students are able to track their skills throughout their studies. They track their progression, they share things with tutors, and they can build up a more informed picture of their skils. We also decided to describe their journey of how eportfolios began in that department. And how these were embedded within the programme – this work will be published soon so do have a look. Quite an interesting example. All assignments are done through PebblePad and they can also do web essays instead of traditional dissertations etc. Quite exciting stuff.

The third branch is the Principals Career Development Scholarship Scheme – a series of these have been released across schools and this is exclusively for PhD research students and includes training to help them put their skills across and make more informed choices for their career paths. And look at how to engage with the rest of the world – public engagement, entrepeunership, teaching, etc.

So the picture of graduate attributes developed by the employability part of the careers service – see diagram.

So this can be shown in PebblePad and students can grade their skills in each area etc.

And an example of a webfolio from nursing studies – in this case nursing inforatics – this is something students can submit in place of a dissertation.

There is so much mojre I could tell you that is going on now – lots has progressed since this was originally presented.

Q&A

Q1) What’s happened since that project?

A1) The highlights: An aweful lot of new functionality in PebblePad that are now being used. And the user experience is hugely improved. And it looks like it may move into the School of Law for skills (not core teaching) etc. Also EUSA is working with ePortfolios now, as part of the Edinburgh Award which is recognition for non academic achievements – volunteering etc.

Q2) Is it linked with the new PEER project?

A2) Not yet. Lots of potential there and we will be expanding. It’s beginning to gain proper momentum at the moment.

A2) Nora: that group are well aware of PebblePad so those conversations are happening

Q3) What is the student feedback on PebblePad? How many students use it reflectively?

A3) Really only thoe using it as part of a structured programme in these sorts of way. Few students using it otherwise. It makes more sense with a purpose. At the moment we have about 5000 active users, but maybe less than 4000 who are properly active.  Our users are becoming users after they’ve logged in and begun using it.

 

The teaching and learning experience – a look back at the last ten years and the way ahead for the school of divinity, university of Edinburgh – Dr Jessie Paterson

This was given at HEA Subject Centre for Religious Education (check) at an event which was the last before the subject centre closed.

eLearning, as I mean it hear, is about teaching using technology usually via the web (not for us to do with teaching spaces). So very much about blended learning with very traditional lectures etc. Our approach has a strong pedagogic basis, teaching first, tool (technology) second.

Our mode of teaching is very traditional. So our Level 8 students (1st and 2nd year UG) are lecture and tutorial based. Our Level 10 and 11 students (3rd and 4th year UG and PGT are small seminar based).

We started out with our Integrated Virtual Learning Environment (IVLE) from National University of Singapore (U21 partner) as an easy entry point. At the time we looked at WebCT as a VLE and it was too complicated by comparison. But now on WebCT and about to move to Learn9 in 2012.

Initially only a few innovators used the VLE, they wanted to break traditional models a bit. Now all courses have WebCT presence. The usage very much depends on the teaching style of lecturer. The only requirement is that all essays are submitted via WebCT. Adoption based on seeing success from colleagues and also student pressure. The students pushed academics to adopt the VLE in some cases.

Resources are materials that are providing content – in differet ways, in contexts that are unusual.

So for instance we have here Katherine Rutven Seminar – historically very interesting as connected to John Knox, Mary Queen of Scots etc. So we built up this webste where her story could be explored and engaged with and combine various resources.

We also produced a Study Skills Treasure Hunt (HEA funded) – there are hugely good digital resources but students don’t know where they are. We gave students questions and missions to explore to find these resources. We still use a version of this. Students keep going back to this as a hub for finding materials.

An we also did a Special Collections resource digitisation project. There are great resources but accessing them can be tricky. So we took students physically to the library to see the real thing but then they could explore the digitised texts in full detail.

We used the Principals elearning Fund to create flash maps – this is quite a complex course that looks at the history of migration. They work well and help students understand the relationships.

This is a new resource – Jewish Non-Jewish Relations teaching resource – this is actually a new website which is a joint project between us and Canterbury University, it’s still a starting point that we’re just getting started with.

Overall comments

Think maintainability – especially with things like the flash map

Think costs compared with gains – digitisation is expensive for few texts so you need to tink this through

Tutorial and seminar preparation – it’s not about the tutorial/seminar itself, it’s a challenge to engage students to read as needed etd. So we trialled an idea of a Gobbet or Image of the Week (the Gobbet is a small bit of primary evidance).

For the Gobbet work: The students had to post this stuff to the discussion board. They could discuss it but at least they came to seminars really enthused to discuss it on the day.

For Image of the week we asked students to choose for an image that highlights the topic of the week. This again brought them engaged to class but they didn’t discuss the image ahead of time.

Blogging…

Used at all levels

Used in different ways but all have ideas around ownership – blogger versus commenter.  1st and 2nd year students use this in tutorials. A student is assigned to be the blogger and has to write fairly thoroughly on a topic, the others must comment ahead of the tutorial. For honours years blogs are used in seminars, in place of essay? These have really transformed the seminars – students are actually prepared and engaged and make the best of the face to face time.

Wiki

We use this were we want to encourage group working more formally. We’ve done two honours level trials. We put students in groups of 3 and each had to write 1000 words but the whole thing needs to have a cohersive story – some used comments on wikis and you could see development. Some work more like “blog” but have more scope in what do.

We also have a tutor support wiki – a peer support tool for tutors and they pool and add materials all the time. Loads of great sharing and tips here.

Going Forward

We’ve extended our blogging idea but combine with the ability for students to annotate and critic written texts. So can relate blog comments more readibly with the context.

Blogs have transformed tutorials and seminars and it’s been an easy and effective intervention with few technical issues.

The Wiki needs more management, students can find the medium difficult – the technology can be a real barrier. I’m excited to see how the Learn9 wiki works.

Assessment and Feedback

Predominantly essay based but course work do include blog, wiki, tutorial sheet assessment. Now have guidance on non traditional modes, A lot of our work is on paper, marking is usually on paper, but we do use Turnitin and I think staff will quickly adapt to marking/giving feedback online

Exams on computers

We offer some courses students choice typing or hand writing final exam, only alteration from traditional exams. Doing research on this as we go and have only been using 2 years so far. Exam4 by Externity. Student uptake has been quite low so far. But uptake increasing. And a growth there. A lot to do with confidence.

Autumated textual analusis – we’re looking at help that would be automatic to give idea of needing more referencing, grammar etc. It’s not about marking of text but improvement of pre-submission work. Working with Informatics on this.

We’re also doing more work on why uptake of typing by students is low.

Overall comments

Marking criteria non-traditional modeas need to be clear – implications for common marking scheme and our working group here has made quite a difference.

Exams on computers – think they’ll be an increase of uptake. Some infrastructure issues here – need power at every desk, more space etc.

And we’ve like to be able to give formative feedback on student essays as well.

Academic Skills Course

This is totally online for timetabling reasons. The idea is to ensure all students have basic skill set that they need. They work in their own time. It’s a mixture online resources and it’s non assessed.

We have now embedded Graduate Attributes into that course. We try to get them to write in semi-formal styles, and that is an attribute, speaking in tutorials etc. We are trying to help them to think about that skill and demonstrating that they have these skills.  And starting to use PebblePad.

Pre-arrival skills

We piloted in 2011-2012 we’ve shared this material ahead of arrival. When is a student really a student – A-Level results don’t come out until August, hard to define when they start. So we have a light touch graduate attrivute – two defined areas – academic writing and tutorials. Lots of skills bound up here. So those umbrellas let us bundle all those skills. These resources need to help and be encouraging – don’t want to put people off.

Some issues of the Academic Skills course though. The fact that it’s a discreet course. And studet engagement and sustainable engagement – making it compulsory has radically helped.

Other areas

First year learners experience project. We worked with STEER tracing of VLE usage – with Physics. WebCT doesn’t track everything you’d like really. And we are looking at student technology ownership and issues/opportunities around that.

In the future we are thinking now about distance education. Employability is becoming a growing issue – particularly as course fees  rise. Very few people come to be church ministers and they go on to a whole range of careers – and it’s the skills that enable that. Mobile U@Ed – we will be keeping an eye on. And Flexible learning.

Q&A

Q1) First of all I was thinking about how fantastic the work you are doing at Divinity is, it’s inspiring! I was wondering about whether you care about sharing study skills with those pre-admission students of any type – other students that don’t come here may value them

Q2) It all depends on the definition of the student – that really matters from a library/publishers point of view. That’s for us to deal with here. Preparation for university is so much about using the library

A2) we really want our students using both the physical and electronic resources of the library.

A2) Christine: Students know they are welcome to come to the library, using a visitor card. Some of our licenced resouerces do allow access for non registered students so perhaps we can give students a taster to work with that. And the library catalogue is completely free of course.

Comment) you could probably stage it so some parts are fine for all, other levels are only for registered students.

Comment) Students do arrive looking or flats and other stuff early, they show up at the library and need that card, that proof of ID for those rental and council tax type things as well. They don’t know when they are a student.

A2) It’s a huge issue.

A2) Wilma: I’ve just become a matriculated student and we are not clear about what we want them to do, what instructions to follow.

 

“That ever ephemeral sense of being somewhere” – Reflections on a dissertation Festival in Second Life – Clara O Shea and Mashall Dozier

This is to be presented at Experiential Learning in Virtual Worlds in Prague in 2012. More on the Dissertation Festival can be found here: http://www.elearning.education.ed.ac.uk/events/ and images can be viewed at: http://tinyurl.com/3ap3v32.

Clara teaches on the MSc in eLearning course with various colleagues,  including Marshall. So first off… the programme has about 150 students. About half UK, quarter EU and a quarter other parts of the World. We use Second Life and Twitter and Wiki and Adobe Connect and blogs and a social networking sites, a whole range of stuff. It’s awesome!

But then… students come to the dissertation… after all that aswesome collaboration they are alone and by themselves. They are doing a research projects on their own. They have a bit of a culture shock. And few people will do a similar topic. It can be quite a lonely and isolating experience.

So we thought that would be sort of a need to solve that problem and were thinking about what might work, drawing on our experiences. So we wanted to give people a cjance to get together. But students are very busy professionals. So we need those meetings to be synchronous and asynchronous. We wanted multiple ways to articulate an argument. We wanted sharing and exchange, to feel part of the environment, and to use some of these environments.

So – ta da!  – we wanted to do a Dissertation Festival – inspired by Japanese cherry blossom and Koi fish type festival ideas. So… over to Marshall…

Fiona Littletone raised part of our MSc in eLearning Second Life present out of the sea and made a space where students could share a poster of what the students were trying to address, and then visitors could leave comments, suggestions etc. for each presenter. And also we have them write a haiku summarising their dissertation. These were ways to succinctly describe their dissertation or research.

Clara again. We had  students as guinea pigs for this. The display was up for several weeks and we also had synchronous sessions where the presenters could explain their work.

The feedback boards and comments were useful – students found the summative nature of the displays very helpful, the feedback was great but also made some students feel exposed or a sense of risk.

So for the synchronous sessions we used voice to speak to the audience, the audience mainly used text. A bit like Twitter at conferences. Some of the Second Life “casual” poses tell you very little – so the audience can type “nodding” or “agreement” – some cues but not really disruptive. That seemed to work quite well.

Speakers could also respond in real time – very dynamic. It felt like a real experience of presenting to the student, it had meaning.

On the first day we also had a synchronous session in text for students to discuss the dissertation process – asking questions both straightforward and more complex. Also students not at that stage yet as well. And a champagne poster viewing session (that;s virtual champagne btw).

Students liked the chance to share. Students commented on the invisible blending of tutors and students. We had quite in depth discussion with people who attended. One commented about how nice it was to have tutors there. Another commented that they would have liked to have students there – there was a difference as the usernames aren’t obvious and that really flattens the hierarchy and gives a real sense of community.

Over to Marshall again…

We tried to make this feel like a party – we had sushi and champagne etc. (all virtual). The students said it felt like a group of friends – like discussion boards on steroids according to one syudent. One student said they think of the Uni on SL as a safe space. The wine and sushi gave a sense of presence to on estudent. And another commented that having that space was far nicer than emailing posters around.

The students who attended were current and past student s, some staff and ab outsider. And that was a nice number – like an in person seminar number. It felt very special. It was done in August when things are a bit quiet for students. Just before the restart of courses it sort of warmed people up. Partly we think its partly about how we use SL in the programme – coming together for fun tutorials but also graduations and Christmas parties etc. And that stuff – the sushi and wine and stuff all adds to that great environment. It’s all playful and special. The behaviours we model is very chatty and informal, that makes a difference. The flatterned hierarchy makes a difference. And that synchronous but not exclusionary interaction. And there’s a sense of “hard fun”.

Q&A

Q1) At what stage were these students?

A1) Different stages – one was writing up and using it to get thoughts in line. One student thought she was further along then she was. She was able to have a reflective moment and get a better sense of her own journey. Another was heading to get stuck. And another had completed and we were just finding out what he’d been up to. We’ve decided to run it once every year. Maybe slightly earlier in August than they were before. But not just people about to hand in. Good kick up the pants.

Comment) All our students hand in at the same time.

A1) Thinking about the idea of exemplars of student work – you show both good and bad work and the range of ideas. I’d like to encourage more students in, those that are a year off say.

A1 – Marshall) Some students were taking a year off and this got them excited about coming back

A1 – Clara) We have a lot of students who get excited about handing in and want things to do over the summer

Q2) IS it still up?

A2 – Marshall) It is down so we can use the space for Innovative Learning Week

A2 – Clara) We left it up for a couple monhs but you can find the Flickr pictures as well.

Comment – Jen Ross) It’s radically asynchronous. A student this semester asked something and it reminded me of one of the boards up on SL and those students have now been discussing their research. Also Clara said “we” but this was her vision.

Comment – Fiona Littleton) We are looking at doing something similar with the Vet school and extending  a physical poster session they do there to SL.

A2 – Marshall) And it would be great to have an archive as well!

And with that we were done for the day…

 

Apr 012011
 

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


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

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

Continue reading »