PJ Evans

eLearning@ Edinburgh

Posted on | April 23, 2015 | No Comments

I’m attending the eLearning@Ed 2015 conference and will be attempting to live blog throughout the day.

Melissa Highton, Director of Learning Teaching and Web Services here at Edinburgh is starting the conference and the theme of Designing for 21st Century Learning. Wanted to ask what 21st century learning might be and how it might be different from 20th century. Many aspects of learning and education have stayed the same, but differences around scale, technology, teachers and teaching and, in particular, “its not ok to not understand the internet anymore”.

Highlighting some trends in the sector from the New Media Consortium with trends around maker spaces, changes spaces for learning, BYOD, personalised learning and the wicked problems of recognition and reward for teaching.

Now moving on to a panel of Chairs in Digital Education on views of 21st century learning.

First up is Judy Hardy, School of Physics and Astronomy with personal view and concerns. Looking to the student experience in 2020 and what will it be like. IN many ways, it will be very similar to now: lectures, workshops and tutorials and self-study. But there will be much more extensive use of digital technologies. Uses an anecdote on research methods for honours students that includes a self-reflective assignment and many used cloud based tools and Facebook groups and these sorts of tools and working methods will be mobilised. Also cited research on active engagement in classroom teaching against more traditional (didactic) learning design that shows active engagement has massive benefits to learning achievement.

But why is there lecturer resistance. Cited a survey showing lecturers want to teach and take pride in their teaching competences. So what are the challenges: time – which is a proxy for many things; and pedagogical context, where innovations abandoned early or perceive too much choices. So there are challenges of awareness; ‘how-to’ knowledge and why innovations in learning are important – ‘principles’ knowledge – and understanding these three forms of knowledge are crucial to implementing improving teaching.

Next is Sian Bayne based in the School of Education and Prof of Digital Education. Sian’s talking about Dave Cournier’s Rhizo Mooc, that included Tweets on one of Sian’s papers that was a set reading. The paper was about striated and smooth space in online learning: striated spaces is formal, goal-orientated and ordered while smooth space is nomadic, open and wandering-orientated and these two metaphorical spaces do merge and their boundaries blur. We can map learning spaces on to striated and smooth spaces: striated spaces as VLEs/ LMS and smooth spaces as hypertext, linkages, multimodal assessments, wikis and blogs.How do these metaphors work in 2015 and we continue to have striated spaces in VLEs, progression, e-portfolios, personalisation, adaptive learning, learning analytics, gamification. But also increased smooth(er) spaces such as Twitter, YikYak, augmented realities, flipped classrooms, maker spaces, crowd-based learning. The bigger point is that this field is predominately future orientated with lots of trends forecasts which generates a change acceleration to adapt practices to the ‘next big thing’. But trends are contingent on the situated context (the University of Edinburgh) leading to questions of what sort of institute we want to be and what is the purpose of higher education.

Judy Robertson, Chair in Digital Learning talking about current work and using technology to support learner goal setting. A lot of her work involves user centred design for mainly school pupils related to behavioural change in education and in public health.  Typically games set goals for users but the interest here is user goal setting and setting appropriate goals. Currently developing a game to encourage behavioural change to increase activity levels. Can also be extended to realistic goal setting for students in their study skills. So the question is on designing technology to be helpful but not intrusive.

Critter Jam (FitQuest) is an exercise game for a mobile phone to encourage children to run around. The game includes being chased by a virtual wolf, or to pick up virtual coins. Children can select different goals such as topping the leader board, beating your PB, setting points targets (but how to select an appropriate points goal?). Her research is on self-efficacy and in patterns of goal setting related to increased performance. Also links to resilience in context of goal failure and adjusting goals accordingly – and this could be adapted to, for example, undergraduates.

David Reay from Geosciences and talking on distance education and the development of the MSc in Carbon Management involving the Schools of Business, GeoSciences and Economics. There was a clear demand from students for applied experience and so developed online learning as a response. Initially, developed a role play simulation with face-to-face learning and developed this for online learning that was delivered as part of the MSc in Global Challenges. So now there is a full online MSc in Carbon Management launching in September. He is also developing an online course in sustainability for campus based students linked to graduate attributes around understanding sustainability. Each student will look at sustainability in their subject area to understand what sustainability means and have an excellent online learning experience. His research is on climate change including online teaching and conferencing in terms of its environmental impacts including measuring the total carbon emissions for the online programmes. The intention is to off-set carbon emissions generated by the programme – to be the greenest masters ever!

Dragan Gasevic, Professor of Learning Analytics at the Schools of Education and of Informatics. Why learning analytics is important: especially in provision of personalised feedback loops for students that acknowledges their diverse needs. We use VLEs/ LMS but also rely on many other digital technologies for learning including on the web, using social learning, reflective learning through annotation technologies and blogs. In using digital technologies we are leaving a digital footprint. We have been collecting some of this data since the start of universities. We want to leverage this data to assist teaching, learning, policy-making etc. and this is the point of learning analytics. Learning analytics is about learning and this must not be forgotten – not just data crunching for its own sake but is purposive. Learners are not black boxes but are individuals with many different and not permanent traits, knowledge and understanding, The black box needs to be opened up to deliver the benefits of learning analytics. Looks to CLAS – collaborative lecture annotation system – but the key is to encourage learners to use beneficial technologies. So we have a duty to inform students on the benefits of a technology and to scaffold support for the students to use that technology. Found that students were more engaged with technologies in graded courses and came to internalise the use of the tool in either graded or ungraded courses. So if we teach our student to use a tool they will continue to use that tool even if that use is not required. Learning analytics support and validate pedagogy.

“Counts don’t count much is decontextualised”! We need to account for pedagogical context in learning analytics. Also, visualisations can be harmful especially in showing visualisations to learners/ students so we need to develop analytics literacy for students. We also need to scale up qualitative analysis to improve understanding of learners and to develop institutional policies to support the use of analytics. But the use of learning analytics is contingent for each institutional context – one size does not fit all!

Jonathan Silvertown, Biological Sciences, is talking about the project ‘virtual edinburgh’. The project will turn the city in to a pervasive learning environment for formal and informal education. The future is already here – such as WiFi on buses but also apps such as Walking through Time, LitLong (Palimset), Mesh, iSpot etc.. but virtual edinburgh will also allow interaction between users. Also look to the ‘nearby’ function on Wikipedia. These apps and functions will be linked together through virtual Edinburgh and draws on the teaching and learning strategy priorities on giving learners agency and providing technology to do that. Modes of interaction will involve existing and new apps, peer interaction, game play, new data layers, mashups etc. that can be used in courses or as part of self-directed (informal) learning. The ultimate objective is to create Edinburgh as the City of Learning.

Question

Question: One of the themes is on student digital literacy and what baseline of literacy should we expect students and staff to have?

Judy R: That’s a really interesting question as we cannot assume that students will know how to use it for learning.

Judy Harding: we need to think about how institutional and personal technologies are used with, perhaps students preferencing their personal technologies.

Dragan: the focus should be on study and learning skills and these will not change but that abilities may decline in these due to the affordances of new technologies.

Dave Reay: confession on start of online course assumed students would know about and be able to use particular technologies. Preparation with students is key.

Sian: the research busting the idea of the digital native. The evidence is that what students come to the university with is less important than what we expect them to do. As many of the talks have suggested, the context is key.

Question: on engaged learning[??]

Judy H: the flipped classroom is important in using the technology to engage with larger cohorts of student as the large lecturer will not disappear.

Question: teach honours and postgraduate students and trying to get students to use newer technologies and if not introduced to these technologies earlier, then it may be too late in learning to use these technologies for learning.

Judy H: do we need to be more explicit in encouraging students to develop relevant technology skills in students.

Dave Reay: this will improve in patches and should be a question for programme convenors to develop online learning experiences in degree programmes.

Dragan: we have academic autonomy and so top-down solutions will not work. We need to consider what technologies academics are aware of and can use and so what incentives are provided to encourage the use of technologies. Suggests greater emphasis and recognition of teaching.

Question: what learning technologies are we developing taking account accessibility and the ethical responsibilities of the university.

Dave Reay: the technologies and online courses increase the accessibility to the programmes to new and different students. Avoids some of the challenges of cost, visas, personal circumstances.

Sian: need to differentiate between learning and education – wanting to learn is different from seeking qualifications via formal education.

Dragan: accreditation is an important factor. Also students don’t just come to edinburgh for the content but also for the experience and networks. Online learning also needs higher development abilities at self-regulated learning. We also tend to think in terms of credit hour rather than outcomes and this can be seen in shifts towards competence based education including graduate attributes.

Question: what practical measures could be taken to keep academic staff up to date with what is happening with learning technologies at schools level

Judy R: CoE does include technology in primary such as using Microsoft office but also extreme paranoia about anything social online and allowing pupils outside the walled garden of eg, GLOW

Judy H: not all out students come through the Scottish education system and we need to encourage self-regulated learning for students coming from a vast range of education systems.

Jonathon S: that would be a goo topic for the conference next year.

 

We’re back from a break with Dash Sekhar, VPAA and Tanya Lubicz-Nawrock from Edinburgh University Students Association on “Co-Creation: Student Ownership of Curriculum”. Starts with the many forms of student engagement such as Kuh’s focus on time and effort aligned to institutional desired outcomes and Bovill emphasises respect, reciprocity and shared responsibility between students and academics.

Co-creation operates on a continuum  from student feedback/ evaluation to students as experts of their own learning experiences expressed through student representations to Co-Creation of the Curriculum. So Co-Creation is a mutuality between students and academics and so shifts power relations between staff and student.

Putting the ideas of co-creation in to action through student-led content where students create their own projects to meet learning outcomes and assessment criteria. Technology allows for more flexible and remote learning.

Student partnerships in assessment: where students select and negotiate the assessment components and weighting to create sense of joint ownership of the assessments. Involved a democratic process for selecting the final assessment process.

Social bookmarking: in a statistics course where as a part of the course, the students had to tag sites and posts related to the course content. These posts were used in a running ‘live feed’. While fairly surface, this involved a shift in how students relate to course content.

We’re now moving to small group discussion so I’ll stop here and be back later. 

Group work over and we’re on to Prof. Ian Pirie, Asst Principal Learning Developments on the use of portfolios and e-portfolios in art & design. Simon Riley (CMVM) will talk about portfolios in medicine. Portfolios are used to demonstrate research, process, methods, outcomes etc. and curate a portfolio for submission for assessment. Portfolios a central to the method of art & design education in the context of sustained practice including art, design, architecture, medicine, engineering, healthcare etc. linked to demonstration of competence.

In the case of art, design & architecture, the portfolio is used from recruitment to almost all assessments. Portfolios include all forms of media and is crucial in entry to the next stages of education and in professional careers.

Simon Riley, on portfolios in medicine. Medical education governed by the GMC as a competency-based curriculum with an interest in allowing student choice.  To enable the student choice element of the curriculum, portfolios were adopted since 1990s.

The university curriculum is closely mapped to the GMC requirements. The different themes of the curriculum is pulled together through the portfolio. Portfolios include case reports, essays, project reports, reflective analysis of professional skills, reflective analysis of experiences, assessment (by viva) and project organisation. The reflective analysis components continue to have room for further development.

There is also a professional development portfolio including capturing the graduate attributes using Pebble+ in parallel to the programme portfolios.

Gives the example of a Group Project that uses an open WordPress site. This involves the collection and synthesis of information and knowledge.

The portfolios are being used for the demonstration of competence and reflection. Portfolios also train students for progression to postgraduate study and professional development. There is a huge amount of commonality between how medicine and art & design use portfolios.

Back to Prof. Ian Pirie on the share pedagogy based on Kolb’s model of experiential learning. In the remaining time, the range of eportfolios being used at Edinburgh are shown. A key issue is transferring the ePortfolio so students can use them outside and after their University forum.

 

Melissa Highton is in the last slot before lunch to talk about Open Educational Resources: new media for learning, and recent developments on OER at Edinburgh.

Openess is seen as a bold and positive move for the University. Initially, the University set up a task group on the development of an OER strategy. OER underpins a lot of the themes of this conference. The task group involved a range of academic and support services stakeholders. Cites the Capetown declaration of 2007 as a fit with stated intentions around sharing and developing knowledge. This sharing of knowledge and learning resources is enabled by technology. But resources need amending to the local context and we’re not sure if this is possible/ legal. There are also strong opinions that publicly funded resources should be open.

A problem with the word ‘open’ is that it means different things: available, available online, accessible. There is a definition of open: “open data and content can be freely used, modified and shared by anyone for any purpose”. There is a need for rigour in the definition in apart to manage the reputational risks of stating that the university is using open resources and that staff understand licensing and sharing and publishing of material. Licensing tends to be on Creative Commons licenses which fits nicely with the notion of teaching as a creative act – and this is a growing phenomena with 882million items on CC license in 2014 from 50m in 2006.

Fourteen countries have made a national commitments to open education including Scotland. CC licensed material is available from all over the world – which would help in internationalising and diversifying the curriculum.

Edinburgh has launched open.ed as open content resources. Also CC licenses allow us to renew and amend any resources so as technologies change, resources can be updated and so are sustainable.

…. and now its time for lunch….and I’ll have to finish here as I’ve run out of power and that plug points don’t work… 

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