Time for Students to Lead Online?

Wall ClockStaff, and students alike have deliberated long and hard over when, where, and how they can work more collaboratively, either in taught sessions, while engaging in a group activity, or during activities that require distance participation.

Look no further, Learning Services has the right solution for you, in the Blackboard Collaborate Ultra tool.

There is greater emphasis these days on giving students the space, time and flexibility to work collaboratively, on joint projects and away from the constraints and rigidity of the conventional classroom environment.

All Learning Edge course templates include a link to Blackboard Collaborate ‘Ultra’, within the course menu (Note that Faculty or Department Administrators must add this course menu template) to merged courses.Blackboard Collaborate Logo

In earlier versions of Blackboard Collaborate, you’ll remember Tutors were given the role of Moderator; everyone else was given the Participant role. The Moderator is the person responsible for the room (usually the tutor), and is required to conduct sessions, and control Participant (usually the student) privileges and the availability of tools.

In the Ultra version, however, although the Tutor has overall control as Moderator, there are a couple of new roles the Moderator can use including; Presenter and Captioner. To encourage effective student online collaboration, we recommend setting up sessions, and applying the Presenter role for all students.

Captioner can be applied to any user. They are given an area to type what is being said, so that those with a hearing impairment can participate and join in with the conversation.

The Presenter role is designed to allow participants/students to use the whiteboard tools and present without giving them full moderator privileges.

Presenters can upload, share, edit, and stop sharing content. Presenters are able to share their screens and upload images or PowerPoint files, they cannot modify another users’ permissions the way a moderator can.  This is a useful role, as all students are given the same, high level of user access, but can’t accidentally exclude another member from the project group activity.

Guides to help you:

If you want to discuss this and other users of Collaborate further, as always contact the Learning Technology Development Team via ext.7754, ltdsupport@edgehill.ac.uk or Ask LTD knowledge base.

Martin Baxter

 

 

Martin Baxter
Learning Technology Development Officer

Improving Participation – Inclusive Digital Practice Toolkit

Teaching Essentials Toolkit

The “Inclusive and Accessible Practice (IAP) Project”, brought together expertise from Learning Services’ Assistive Technologies and Learning Technology Development Teams (John Haycock and Martin Baxter).

Both Martin and John have come-up with a Toolkit for staff, supporting them in the production of inclusive resources.  The aim is to enable all students to participate equally with digital content whilst studying.  The Toolkit is called “Inclusive Digital Practice”, and is a collaboration between Learning Services and the Centre for Learning and Teaching, John Bostock (Senior Lecturer in Teaching & Learning Development).

Student studying, Edge Hill and Learning Services logo.

Within our student groups it is increasingly likely that some will have a disability or learning difficulty.  According to our records, approximately 14% of our students disclosed a disability, the true numbers are likely to be higher, as some students prefer not to disclose a disability, or they may just want to keep it hidden.

The toolkit provides support for staff in creating teaching and e-learning materials that are accessible and inclusive by design; describing some of the steps for adopting an inclusive practice, how to achieve them and instances (case studies) where good practice is already taking place at Edge Hill University.

The Inclusive Practice Toolkit is made up of the following resources;

Want to learn more about the toolkit?

Visit the Learning Edge “Staff” tab, and the Inclusive Digital Practice panel at the top of the page.Learning Edge Staff Tab displaying the Inclusive Practice Panel.Adopting an inclusive approach and producing ‘barrier-free’ learning, gives everyone, regardless of their background or circumstances, the chance to study at higher levels of education (Inclusive Teaching and Learning in Higher Education as a route to Excellence).

John Haycock Profile.

 

 

John Haycock
Learning Support Officer (Assistive Technologies)

 

Martin Baxter Profile

 

 

Martin Baxter
Learning Technology Development Officer

 

Do you have a story to tell about your Inclusive Practice?  Let us know, click the linkMy Inclusive Digital Practice.  We want to share good practice so that more people can learn about it.

Technology Supported Learning – Lecture Capture (Classic User)

Panopto logi

 

 

Good Practice AwardNatalie Reynolds is a Senior Lecture in Secondary English. Natalie was introduced to lecture capture software (Panopto) during her own studies and immediately wanted to explore its potential on the programme she teachers here at Edge Hill University.

Panopto software provides lecture capture, screen-casting, video streaming, and video content management solutions. The Panopto lecture capture system is now available for use by staff in faculties as an additional learning tool for students at Edge Hill University.

Natalie is passionate about teaching and the importance of exposing students to some of the best and latest technologies to support their learning here at Edge Hill University. In this short YouTube video, Natalie talks about her introduction to lecture capture software and the use of Panopto in her teaching.

Hear what Natalie has to say, in this short video interview, about her first experience of Lecture Capture and the Panopto for Education software.

YouTube Video Player

Read on and learn more about Natalie’s use of Panopto software:

“My Name is Natalie Reynolds, like every teacher I want all my students to succeed in their studies regardless of where they are and how they learn.

I needed a platform that would enable my students to access a key lecture regarding starting their Professional Practice placement and was introduced to Panopto by a Learning Services presentation.

 

I felt that even if I would have emailed the PowerPoint that would accompany the lecture to my trainees individually (in addition to it being uploaded onto Blackboard), there would continue to be questions coming in from trainees when situations occurred during their placement. In light of this, I decided to record the session using Panopto however I also planned a flipped learning session and was then able to add further information (trainee presentations) into the recorded session after the original lecture took place.

Panopto Software Interface

The result of using Panopto was that my trainees were able to access the session when they needed it and not when I sent it to them. The fact that content was added in after the initial lecture (trainee presentations) gave them further ownership of the piece and made them more willing to access the content. The impact of using Panopto for this particular session was that it significantly reduced the volume of emails I received with questions about placement issues: trainees were able to access the recorded session and go straight to the information relevant to their situation. The other significant point is that trainees were able to have answers to these questions immediately, regardless of what time their question was posed as the recorded session is available on Blackboard. For key sessions such as the one outlined, I would have no hesitation in recording the session so that it can be accessed straight away by trainees at a later date, at a time when they need it.

Lecture Capture Enabled Room

Feedback from the trainees was extremely positive, especially when they realised that they could access the session at any point and move quickly through the recorded content. Some said that they felt a little uneasy at the beginning when the disclaimer slide was displayed however once it was discussed and fully explained, concerns were allayed. Some peers commented that using Panopto could result in attendance falling. My response to this, having investigated research carried out on this exact point, is that attendance falls when sessions do not engage or motivate the learners, no piece of technology is going to cause a drop in attendance. If sessions are personalised, pitched correctly and motivate your trainees, there will be no issues with attendance.”

If you feel inspired by Natalie’s story and want to use this or another technology to help you enhance and support your own teaching, please get in touch with the Learning Technology Team in Learning Services. We would be very happy to work with you.

Related posts:

Lecture Capture…What’s in a name?
Technology Supported Learning – Lecture Capture Summative Assessment
Embedding Technology – Panopto for Keynote Conference Events

Natalie Reynolds

 

 

 

Natalie Reynolds
(Senior Lecturer in Secondary English)

 

 

Online Student Response Systems – Claire’s Story

EH700 health046 TSL

Claire Moscrop is a Senior Lecture in The Centre for Learning & Teaching. Claire was until recently a Senior Lecturer in Computing, as a result of the continued increase in student numbers in this area, Claire was intent on maintaining student engagement for her sessions, particularly as the increased numbers meant moving from small seminar rooms to larger lecture theatres.

socrative

Claire is an advocate of technology, as long as it helps to get the best from her students. Claire wanted to utilise students own devices in her sessions to encourage students to be engaged and responsive during lectures. An online solution was sought to minimise the impact on growing numbers, and also due to lack of suitable in-house clicker systems.

This is Claire’s story; her experience of researching and using online response systems.

YouTube Player

“Given the growth in student numbers in the Department of Computing, we were forced to move back to a more traditional lecture/seminar model for our first year cohort. My immediate concern was to ensure that the levels of student engagement did not suffer in the traditional lecture theatre environment with over 200 students.

BW Clickers

I started to investigate the options for increasing engagement in this kind of environment and first considered the use of the clicker systems available at Edge Hill. These were quickly ruled out due to the logistics of transporting them, and the fact that I immediately had to leave at the end of the lecture to teach another session. This led me on to the idea of using the students’ own devices such as their mobiles, tablets and laptops. A number of academic papers were available on the efficiency and effectiveness of this method so I began to identify and trial different student response app’s. I settled on Socrative for a few reasons, firstly it was free, I was going to have to use the application within weeks so I knew I would not get any funding within that time period. Secondly, the Socrative interface was very clean and intuitive, both for the students and the teacher.

socrative teacher logo

Socrative was implemented from the first lecture with the first year cohort in semester 1. Students had no issues downloading the app and were able to start using it immediately. My method of using the app was simple, I decided before the lecture at what points in the lecture I would like to test understanding or to encourage discussion. I then entered the questions in to the Socrative Teacher app before the session, meaning I could just click on ‘start’ on my phone when I wanted to release the first question. Moving between the questions within the lecture was simple and I was able to see responses from students in real time. I included roughly 2 or 3 questions per lecture across the 10 weeks of lectures.

This method had a number of benefits:
• It allowed students to respond anonymously, which was a very important factor for the increased engagement as it removed the fear of responding in front of peers that usually exists in large lectures.
• It allowed me to test the student’s grasp of certain concepts immediately, and allowed me to save reports to follow up later.
• It allowed real time interaction with minimal disruption on the flow of the lecture.
• It allowed students to discuss what was being taught and work in groups to answer questions, thereby increasing their engagement.

socrative student logo

The student response to the use of Socrative was very positive, the data collected for the study demonstrated that students felt more engaged during the lectures, in comparison to the more traditional lectures they were also having that semester. It was clear that students very much linked the interactivity (with me, and also during their peer discussion) to their increased engagement. Anonymity was also a key factor that gave students the confidence to respond.

After this initial trial I continued to use Socrative in lectures and also started to implement it in to end of Seminar mini tests after students requested it. I would encourage any tutors to have a go at using the students own devices in this way, my initial aim to increase engagement in lecture theatres was very easy to achieve with this method.”

Claire Moscrop

Claire Moscrop
(Senior Lecturer – Centre for Teaching & Learning)

 

 

 

If you feel inspired by Claire’s story and want to use this or another technology to help you enhance and support your own teaching, please get in touch with the Learning Technology Team in Learning Services. We would be very happy to work with you.

logos for 3 clickers systems

There are a range of response systems that you might want to use with your students, including online ones like Socrative and Kahoot, handset based ones like TurningPoint, and even paper based ones like Plickers, which can work in situations where you don’t have access to a wireless network. Learning Technology Development have sets of Plicker cards which you could borrow.

Technology Supported Learning – MaST Programme Embedding Technology

Edge Hill University Western Campus lake view

Mark Wilcock (Learning Technology Development Officer) has, over the last few years, been working with the Faculty of Education’s MaST Team, providing support and guidance with the introduction of a number of key technologies including:

  • iSpring (a rapid learning authoring toolkit for developing professional e-learning courses in Powerpoint.
  • Blackboard Collaborate (browser-based web conferencing solution).
  • Panopto (lecture capture software).

In this case study, Mark tells us about his work with the MaST Good Practice AwardTeam and explains how and why they began to explore the available technologies, the benefits to the department and the students on the courses here at Edge Hill University.

This is what Mark says about the project and working with the MaST team to introduce these technologies;

“For many years now I have worked with the MaST team. I’ve delivered various staff development sessions and raised awareness and confidence in using technology in teaching and learning. More recently I have worked alongside them in the adoption of new learning technologies such as iSpring and Blackboard Collaborate. As a Technologist I’ve always recognised the need to respond to the changing demands of the student expectation and of course the opportunity to collaborate with staff towards enhancing the learning experience overall with the use of Technology Enhanced Learning (TEL). Starting back in 2014, MaST explored the use of iSpring as a tool to develop and enhance their current online induction resource for students. Here they created an accessible and interactive course induction resource that included a variety of multimedia (audio narration, video guides, information & social media links and supplementary attachments) to give students the best start to the course and to accommodate for all the diverse range of learning styles of the online students. This project enabled me to not only reach out to academics, but to also understand and build even stronger relationships with the team and the course the MaST programme itself. It also demonstrated the benefits that the iSpring as a technology brought to the online student experience, highlighting the student rewards and usability for staff.

iSpring, Blackboard Collaborate and Panopto logos

Moving into 2015 and 2016, the MaST team introduced Blackboard Collaborate and Panopto into their programme. The team required a platform to support online lecture streaming and video capture. Prior to the institution having Panopto (lecture capture) at its disposal, the only tool that could deliver such an ability was Blackboard Collaborate. For those new to Collaborate, it is a real-time video conferencing tool that lets you replicate the physical classroom into a virtual one with the option to share applications and a whiteboard. Though Collaborate was not actually a dedicated lecture capture product and more of a online classroom tool, it did however provide a short term fix to live streaming for the MaST Conference days until Panopto was introduced in 2016. However, the benefits of the team using Collaborate prior to Panopto, actually worked in their favour for their future endeavours as they had already obtained an initial understanding of this tool it is now currently being considered as a communication platform for online group and one to one meetings with students.

Student with Laptop

I strongly believe that the benefits of our collaboration has supported this application of technology into the online elements of their programme, which has enabled them to replicate the traditional teaching and learning activities for blended and distance learning, meeting the modern day expectations of the online student. For me personally, the ability to transfer knowledge and key understanding to academic staff working together with the technologies provided can only improve the student learning experience by improving teaching and learning within Edge Hill University is extremely rewarding. Overall my view is that Staff who develop good digital capabilities in technology enhanced learning can offer new opportunities for their students through improved access to resources, increased interaction between staff and students, changes to learning and teaching styles and more flexibility in their choice of place and time.”

You can here from Mark in this short video about his work with the MaST Team;

YouTube Video Player

…this is what Andrea Taylor (Senior Lecturer MaST) said;

“MaST have been working with Learning Services’ Mark Wilcock for a couple of years on ways to develop and deliver blended learning session for our students, some of whom are based on campus with others at locations across the country. Initial trials with Blackboard Collaborate were very promising, this allowed us to offer face to face sessions whilst students in Birmingham were able to join the session remotely from a device or their computer.  Working with Mark was also important in developing a number of iSpring packages which allowed us to create interactive multimedia e-earning content.  As we grew in confidence, in terms of using the technology, we were made aware of lecture capture software.  

The MaST Team approached Mark again to find out more about this new resource called ‘Panopto’ to see what it offered as an alternative.

It was important the technology is easy to use and allowed us to capture the lecture electronically and live screen to the second venue without any issues, and to create accessible recording we can upload quickly to the VLE so that students have almost immediate access to this resource.  Panopto allows our students to view the keynote address after the face to face day to follow up on their learning and to encourage further reflection.  We would recommend that other departments incorporate this technology into their courses.  The support for its use had been fabulous and although we have used it at a very basic level, we look forward to utilising many of the other features that are available through Panopto”

The MaST Team;
Mary McAteer, Andrea Taylor, Victoria Grinyer, Ann Barker, Philip Rowe, Stephen Williams

If you feel inspired by Mark, the MaST Team and want to use these and/or other technologies to help enhance and support your own teaching, please get in-touch with the Learning Technology Team in Learning Services.  We will be very happy to work with you.

Mark Wilcock

 

 

Mark Wilcock
(Learning Technology Development Officer)

Technology Supported Learning – Lecture Capture

Panopto logi

“Presenting Performance and Practice”

Good Practice AwardKevin Henshaw is a Senior Lecture in Operating Department Practice, Kevin has been involved in a project piloting the use of Panopto software to record students performing presentations and clinical skill procedures for summative assessment.

Panopto software provides lecture capture, screencasting, video streaming, and video content management solutions.  The  Panopto  lecture/media  capture  system  is  now  available  for  use  by  staff  as  an  additional learning tool for students at Edge Hill University.

Listen to what Kevin has to say in this short video  about his own and that of his students experience of using Panopto software:

YouTube Video Player

Kevin goes on to say…

“Lecture Capture technology has been readily available for some time now ( Kadirrie, 2011) and Edge Hill, as an Institution, is considering the merits of making the most out of Lecture Capture software. To this end the Institution has piloted Panopto. This software is readily available to download from EHU application catalogue:

Panopto is incredibly easy to install and to navigate. The primary aim of Panopto is to provide a means of electronically ‘capturing’ lectures.
As a part of my professional development I set myself an objective to develop a system of recording student activities such as presentations and other ‘soft skills’ (Skills Funding Agency, 2015. Carter and Wolmuth, 2010) which are seen as essential skills for students in Higher Education. Pinsky.et.al (2000) refer to a study by which students are given access to a recording of their presentation together with written feedback. Pinsky refers to ‘A picture is worth a Thousand Words’ and examined some of the practical uses of a combined approach to presentation feedback in Teaching.
The addition of feedback to a recording is crucial and affords the student an opportunity to ‘see’ themselves perform while reading the feedback. Panopto allows this facility and a single hyperlink can then be sent out to individual students or, groups of students, which can then be viewed on a mobile device anytime, anywhere.
By using a mini i-Pad, a number of recordings of various student activities have been carried out. These include:

•    Presentations (both formative and summative)
•    Viva Voce exams (audio recording only)
•    Simulated Clinical Scenarios
•    Observed Structured Clinical Exams (OSCEs)

EH335 DSC_0086 ODP

Video recordings are annotated by the 1st marker.  For quality assurance purposes
hyperlinks can sent to External Moderators who can view both the written feedback
and the presentation via Panopto. Documents (such as copies of the presentation)
can be attached to Panopto as a PDF.

Participants are encouraged to examine their ‘performance’ and write a brief
reflection about how they thought they met the Learning Outcomes which can be
attached to Panopto as a PDF.

For Group performances (such as simulated clinical exercises) a discussion forum
can be easily set up on Panopto which will allow for asynchronous discussion
between group members”.

For more information about Panopto at Edge Hill University, please contact our team of experts on lecturecapture@edgehill.ac.uk

If you feel inspired by Kevin’s story and want to use this or another technology to help you enhance and support your own teaching, please get in touch with the Learning Technology Development Team in Learning Services. We would be very happy to work with you.

Kevin Henshaw
Kevin Henshaw (Senior Lecturer in Perioperative Care)

Technology Supported Learning – Using Student Journals to Understand the Student Experience

Good Practice AwardThe Journals tool in Blackboard is a private space where students can post opinions, ideas and concerns. This case study, shared by Maria McCann (Widening Participation Manager), describes how the Journals tool was used within a research project, to understand the living, learning and emotional journeys of around 100 new students’ in their first term at Edge Hill University.

When the Student Journal project was envisioned, Maria and the team hoped that a tool within the university’s virtual learning environment (VLE) could be used to help document the student journey. Maria felt it sensible to use, a system already set up, open to all students on any course, something that they would be getting introduced to anyway and would continue to use throughout the lifetime of their degree programme.

To learn more about the Blackboard tools available to support student participation and feedback, Maria contacted Mark Wilcock, a Learning Technologist within the Learning Services, Learning Technology Development Team.

Maria met with Mark, explained her ideas, described what she wanted to achieve and what her key criteria were – she needed something that would allow students to record their thoughts in a single, secure place, that they could access anytime and anywhere. It was from this starting point that Mark (Learning Services) and Maria (Student Recruitment) were able to work collaboratively, to identify the most suitable tools and settings for her project.

Mark recommended a ‘Blackboard’ Organisation, which is similar to a Course area but can be used for non-credit bearing activity to house the research activity, and the Journals tool, which would provide the private online space, for students to write and submit their journals each week. The Journal tool settings were also suggested as a way to ‘release’ and ‘lock’ the weekly journals, at the same time each week, to keep the students on track.

It was decided to theme each week in a way that would be relatable to each individual student, regardless of programme studied. The themes were planned to mirror the systems, processes and services most students would experience and provided a ‘loose’ framework for students to base their journal entry on each week. Students were encouraged to think about key aspects of the theme and further guidance was given breaking down the themes into key points; however students were encouraged to think and write in depth, rather than trying to address all the points listed. Although the guidance was used widely by the students, it was not intended to be prescriptive and students were encouraged to think about what they had experienced in that particular week, their ‘journey’, rather than trying to ‘fit’ the framework. This was reiterated to the students in the briefing at the start of the project as well as emails and ‘posts’ to the organisation on Learning Edge. The benefits to providing a framework allowed quick reading and analysis for the reader.

This combination of Organisation and Journals provided the perfect platform for the research. Participants (and the researcher) had 24 hour access via their tablet, smart phone, PC or laptop, as well as providing complete anonymity (except from the reader-researcher).

Here Maria talks more about her experience whilst working on the project:

Maria McCann YouTube linkInformation about the Student Recruitment Research Activity

The Student Journey Programme is being managed by the Director of Student Recruitment and Administration aims to:

  • Provide an equitable, consistent and seamless high quality experience for all students from first enquiry through to graduation.
  • Provide services, systems and processes which are recognised as sector-leading nationally by prospective and current students and staff.

Edge Hill University Main Reception

This Journal Project sits within the wider Student Journey Programme. Its aims are:

  • To map interactions, activities and events where students engage with the university through its services, systems and processes- encompassing pre-enrolment and through the first 8 weeks of term as a first year.
  • To understand students’ emotional responses, perceptions, views and behaviours in relation to those services, systems and processes.
  • To provide a platform for students (as participants) to define what has the most impact on them and their learning experience (both ‘good’ and ‘not-so-good’ as defined by them).
  • To identify areas of good practice across the university (at different student ‘touch points’) and make recommendations for further enhancement in services being delivered to students.

Want to find out more about Blackboard’s Journal tool and Blackboard Organisations?  Contact your Faculty Learning Technology Development Officer.

Maria McCann

 

 

 

Maria McCann
(Widening Participation Manager)

 

LTD_Staff_0054 Mark Wilcock

 

 

 

Mark Wilcock
(Learning Technology Development Officer)

Technology Supported Learning – Making Use of BoB!

Good Practice AwardIn this case study you will hear how BoB (Box of Broadcasts) National is enhancing teaching and module content.  BoB National is a media rich online archive service that allows you to record and watch TV programmes from any internet enabled device including a Smart TV, PC, and mobile device. The services is widely available to staff and students here at Edge Hill University.

Charles Knight is a Senior Lecturer in Management in the Faculty of Arts and Sciences.  Charles is a firm advocate of good technology, especially if it enhances his teaching and enriches the student learning experience.Students watching TV online.

It was therefore no surprise to us that Charles saw, instinctively, the benefits of using BoB (Box of Broadcasts) National with his students.

Charles makes extensive use of BoB (Box of Broadcasts) National to enhance his teaching and his use of Blackboard. BoB (Box of Broadcasts) National is an innovative shared online off-air TV and radio recording service for UK higher and further education institutions. BoB allows both staff and students to choose and record any broadcast programme from 60+ TV and radio channels.

In this short video, Charles discusses how he makes use of BoB and how it benefits both his own teaching practice and that of the students. He also discusses why BoB is a better alternative to making use of sites such as YouTube due to issues of copyright.

YouTube_BoB Box of BroadcastsDuring the video, Charles demonstrates how you can search and select content on BoB and then embed into Blackboard.

The recorded programmes are then kept indefinitely (no expiry) and added to a growing media archive (currently at over 1 million programmes), with all content shared by users across all subscribing institutions.

The user-friendly system allows staff and students to record and catch-up on missed programmes on and off-campus, schedule recordings in advance, edit programmes into clips, create playlists, embed clips into VLEs, share what they are watching with others, and search a growing archive of material.

BoB National LogoWant to find out more about BoB National, its growing media archive and how you and your course can benefit?

 

Contact your Faculty Learning Technology Development Officer or look through our PDF guide.

CK-Staff-profile

 

 

 

Charles Knight (Senior Lecturer in Management)

ALT-C Conference 2015: Some things to consider

ALT-CALT-C is the main annual conference for the Association for Learning Technology. It is a great environment in which to see what others are doing, and to think about some of the big ideas that affect education.

In this post I’ll share some of the messages from the conference that I personally would like to consider further.

Keynote: Steve Wheeler
Key Message – Students could help us think in different ways.

Steve Wheeler from Plymouth University explored how learning is changing, and how we may need the help of students to help us think in new ways.

It can be difficult for us to notice the opportunities that new technology offers us; things change fast and we have little time. I was reminded that in around 2008 there was a short time when students often complained that they couldn’t get on campus computers to do work, because almost every computer was logged into Facebook. It was the consequence of a time just after the growth and adoption of social media, but just before everyone had smartphones that could be used to access the social media tools. These sort of odd things happen, and almost before we can react properly they’ve changed again. If these situations (both opportunities and challenges) are difficult to predict in the short term, then in the long term it is impossible to think what might change and how the collection of those changes working together might affect our context.

We could learn from each year’s intake of students about how technology could be used. Steve used the example of interactive whiteboards where early users just used them like blackboards, but someone without the experience of using blackboards who was given time to explore, might discover the possibilities.

In the past the learning technologies we had such as videos, and TVs, were primarily transmission tools, but now networked technologies can help move us towards student centered learning.

Teachers are often nervous about using technology, because there can be aspects of technology use that they think the students understand better than them. Even Steve’s students reported feeling like this when they went into school to do teaching practice and became the teacher, so the nervousness doesn’t seem to be related to age and experience with the technology. Personally I feel the same in induction sessions with the students when you advise a student to solve an issue one way, and other students come with other (sometimes better) solutions. I feel like I’m losing the position of ‘expert’, but as Steve is saying, perhaps we have to accept that in a complex changing environment there is no alternative.

On the topic of where the technological expertise lies, Steve pointed out that the ‘Visitors’ and ‘Residents’ theory is better than the much criticised ‘Digital Natives and Digital Immigrants’ theory if we are going to understand the way staff and students approach technological tools and spaces.

Keynote: Phillip Long
Key Messages – Cognitive Science can tell us a lot about learning. Performance and learning are not the same.

Phillip Long from the University of Texas at Austin spoke about the importance of using what we know from cognitive science when designing learning activities and environments.

First he talked about Soderstrom and Bjork’s work on the difference between learning and performance, where “Learning reflects the relatively permanent changes in behaviour or knowledge that support long-term retention & transfer” and performance is the “temporary fluctuations in behaviour or knowledge that can be observed and measured during or immediately after the first acquisition process”.

He discussed how there are different techniques for practicing in learning (e.g. distributed practice), and how some will work better for short term performance and some for long term learning. This can cause problems when working with students as they can really enjoy the results of short term performance gains and find aiming for these motivating. Long term learning methods with initially poor results can cause them to react badly.

He talked about EdX’s use of Cerego (see Jessie Brown’s overview) which is software that learns your personalised memory decay curve and aims to use this to optimise learning and methods of practice. Also if we want to encourage students to do important, but potentially tedious learning activities there is evidence that introducing transcendent purpose can help students, especially those with poor grades to start with.

He finished with the question “How can we bring good learning science into elegant learning environments that fit your institutional culture?”

Keynote: Laura Czeriewicz
Key Message – Online learning can play a role in reducing inequality.

Laura Czerniewicz spoke on the effects of online learning on inequality. She notes that we saw $1.87 billion (£1.22 billion) in ed tech funding in 2014, which means the effects cannot be large, including the effects on the developing world. She referred to Therborn’s 2013 book that looks at types of inequality to consider.

To face challenges in this area, she mentioned that we need to be aware of:

  • how online learning benefits some groups more than others
  • how learners need help so that they are prepared to learn in the online environment
  • how access to electricity and the internet affects any strategy
  • how mobile may be the answer if the price of data can be reduced
  • how verification of learning rather than learning alone is required for people to get jobs
  • how colonial attitudes need to be avoided and pluralistic epistemologies considered

Other Things of Interest
Key Message – Technology is not neutral.

The work P.A. Danaher was presenting was based on Affordance Theory (Gibson, 1979) via Actor-Network Theory (Wright & Parchoma, 2011). He mentioned how these theories say that technology is not neutral but shapes and is shaped by its users and occupants, and how effective research needs to respect that.

Key Message – Learning Technologists should be agents of change.

Peter Bryant from London School of Economics talked about the ‘Middle Out’ approach to institutional change. This was a concept taken from politics about the importance of creating growth through the middle classes, but in his focus on institutional change he says that there is a problem when Learning Technologists end up just maintaining the status quo by just supporting existing practices and not innovating new ones.

Peter argued that Learning Technologists should see themselves as agents and leaders of change at a strategic level and that we should aim for “a role where the learning technologist argues, lobbies, supports and resources change and where they work to break down functional barriers and silos between academic and professional services, in order to seek change through the development and celebration of a collective identity”.

Key Message – Technology affects power dynamics between teachers and learners.

Jonathon Worth spoke about his experiences as a photographer, how he learned to take advantage of the open nature of the web, and the resulting open course he ran. He discussed ethics around loss of privacy, changes to power within a class, cultural and technological barriers that might emerge, and how technology might affect trust. The idea that students should be asked to give informed consent around their use of ‘the digital’ is a challenge.

Key Message – Virtual field trips are possible, but require a lot of initial development.

Work from the School of Earth and Environment, University of Leeds was presented, where they had created a field trip environment (works best in Firefox) using the Unity game engine. This allowed field trip activities to be undertaken without the travelling, and allowed disabled students to participate more fully in them. The level of detail was only really suitable for undergraduate study, and they are looking at the possibilities of developing it in more detail for post-graduate learners. Adding hand drawn field sketches to the simulation alone took 80 hours work, which indicates the time taken up by the project.


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Peter Beaumont
Learning Technology Development Officer

BBC-featured History quiz engages students in HEA project

Reflections on ‘What Kind of Historian are you?’ Quiz

According to Mason Norton (Edge Hill University) and Dan Taylor (University of Roehampton), in history, there are four broad categories of historian:

  • Empiricist

  • Postmodernist

  • ‘historian from below’

  • ‘top-down’

The categories emerged as part of the Developing Historical Thinking project run by Edge Hill and Roehampton, when Mason and Dan teamed up to create a Cosmopolitan style self-test quiz – aimed at getting first year History students to think about the theory of history.  Mason wrote this post, and Dan comments: “… it’s a thoughtful reflection on a great tool and an enjoyable collaboration”.

 

Reflections on ‘What Kind of Historian are you?’ Quiz

by Mason Norton

HEA-QuizQuizzes can seem like a very basic, almost too simple, pedagogic tool, and with a topic as complex and as endless as historiography, you might be forgiven for thinking that the two would not go together very well. However, back in the summer of 2013, myself and Dan Taylor of Roehampton were given the task of thinking up a quiz to be called ‘What Kind of Historian are you?’. Whilst to me, the answer is simple, I was conscious of the fact that to many first-year undergraduates, the challenge is to get them to think about the theory of history as something other than a tedious irrelevance.

So we realised the quiz could be an opportunity to make something daunting look a little bit fun, whilst making students stop and think. After half a summer of e-mails going back and forward, we managed to get it down to four categories; empiricist, postmodernist, ‘historian from below’, and ‘top-down’. This was a simplification of some historical schools of thought, but it was a necessary one- freshers, for example, are ill-equipped to know, or even care, about debates within, say, the Marxist school of historians about the collapse of the USSR. This process was in itself quite interesting because it showed collaboration not just between the universities, but between the disciplines- I am a historian whilst Dan is a philosopher. The conversations between the two of us were mutually informative- it is useful, I think, for a historian to see what a philosopher thinks of history, and also for a philosopher to see what a historian thinks of philosophy.

Then, we had to think up of ten questions to ask. Easy? Well, no, actually. We needed to strike a balance between covering ground already encountered at A-level, and also introducing students to new areas of historical enquiry. Most freshers, for example, would probably have never thought of treating human sexuality as a subject for serious historical enquiry. So our quiz needed to be constructed as a bridge between what had already gone before- what students would, or at least should, be fairly confident about tackling- and some of what they would be looking at over the next three years.

When we launched the quiz, there was an immediate flurry of interest, which was pleasing. Then, when it came to the dissemination phase, interest expanded even further. We received an e-mail asking if we wanted to let the quiz be used on a History teaching resources site, and then we received an approach to talk about the quiz as part of Making History on BBC Radio 4, with a link to the quiz on the programme’s website, which boosted the profile of the HEA project as a whole.

Consequently, when it came to the second iteration, there followed after the quiz a series of entries on personal journals using Blackboard (which was also the software upon which the quiz ran), which meant that we could see what students made of the quiz and their answers. This further developed the interactive process between student and tutor. We observed students reflecting upon their engagement, and come the end of the semester, when we ran the quiz again, we could see how far (or not) students had come.

So the quiz, through both its construction and its iteration/implementation, proves the use of technology as a crucial part of the digital humanities, and of education as a two-way street. In the iteration, students have been introduced to some different historical schools via a practical, hands-on exercise, as opposed to say a fifty-minute lecture, followed by a two-hour seminar. We as tutors have then learned more about individual students and their preconceptions, and what we need to work on and/or develop over the next few weeks that the module will be running for- something that we would not otherwise have had necessarily until the first assessment a few weeks later. This dialogic element is what makes Blackboard such a vital learning tool, in my opinion- we can pick up on the misconceptions earlier, and without causing such a knock-on effect for student grades, or, for that matter, the confidence of individual students.

In the construction, we have been forced to look more seriously at what we had taken for granted- and in the design of this quiz, one or two of my own preconceptions have been challenged- that may well have been the same for Dan too. So this means that we too become better historians (or, in Dan’s case, a better philosopher) as a result of having to rise to a new challenge, which is, to use a cliché, all part of the learning curve.

The result is that a format that may, at first glance, seem trivial and trite, is actually- once you start to work with it in depth- quite challenging and quite stimulating- and offers a new take on what is, perhaps, an old problem.

BestofTEL_SMALLMason Norton

Associate Tutor
Department of English & History
Nortonm@edgehill.ac.uk

What I find most interesting in this post is how Mason highlights the increased connection between academics and students facilitated by the quiz and other technologies.  If you have been inspired and would like to learn more your Learning Technologist can help.  LTD would be very happy to work with you to create a similar quiz for your area – perhaps developing a quiz workshop for your team.

Blackboard also have some good online resources – such as this one about creating tests and surveys (a test is equivalent to a quiz):

   Tests_Surveys_Pools – Creating_Tests_and_Surveys

More generally, LTD deliver a wealth of support and staff development sessions – here’s a link to the current series that you can book on:

   DDE: Digital Practitioner