HEA STEM (Computing) event

On Friday 21st February, individuals from across the length and breadth of the United Kingdom gathered at the University of Derby for an HEA STEM and Computing seminar/workshop. The event provided attendees with a space in which to consider how large-scale approaches to teaching, assessment and feedback might be facilitated in innovative ways. In total there were 4 presentations which acted as prompts to generate discussion and debate around a range of themes.

The first presentation by Dr Rachel Long of Oxford Brookes University showcased examples of her work in providing feedback to the formatively assessed work of Computing students. Her work focused on a program generating mathematical problems for students to solve and seek feedback on. The discussion following her presentation addressed areas such as transferability to other disciplines and how to maintain student interest in formatively assessed work. The second presentation was given by James McDowell from the University of Huddersfield. He provided examples of how he uses video feedback with Computing students to support their assignment work. James demonstrated examples of how he encouraged students to use screen capture technology to reflect on their work, identifying not only what they had done but how and why. After the lunch break, proceedings were started by Dr Trish Murray from the University of Sheffield. Trish discussed the Global Engineering Challenge, a large-scale teaching approach bringing first-year students from across Engineering disciplines together to work on simulated problems from industry. The aim of the initiative is to provide students with collaborative spaces to develop professional skills, which alongside academic knowledge, prepares them for life before and after graduation. Working in teams, the students choose problems to work on and demonstrate solutions they believe will solve them. The final presentation of the day was given by Jane McNeil and Beverly Cook from Nottingham Trent University. They provided insights into their experiences to date as part of the SCALE-UP project, aimed at exploring the role of Enquiry Based Learning (EBL) with large classes. They discussed some of the spatial and technological issues involved in re-configuring learning spaces to meet the needs of more active approaches such as EBL. Beverly also discussed her own observations, as a Computing lecturer, concerning the benefits and challenges of EBL.

The event provided a lively discursive environment in which audience members were able to interact with presenters in order to gain a sense of why they did what did, not just how they did it. During proceedings, individuals used the presentation themes to share, discuss and build on practices in an effort to support each other. There were many questions raised throughout the day, notably ‘How do you generate scalable teaching, assessment and feedback models which still remain personal to individual students?’ What do you think?

Upcoming HEA STEM event at the University of Derby

On Friday 21st February 2014, 1000 to 1600 in KR, the TEL team will be hosting an HEA STEM Thematic Workshop/Seminar focusing on innovative teaching, assessment and feedback approaches for large-scale Engineering and Computing classes.

This event will explore how individuals from across Engineering and Computing subject areas are supporting innovative teaching, assessment and feedback approaches in contexts involving large cohorts of students. It will provide participants with discursive opportunities to reflect on how they might develop their own learning, teaching, assessment and feedback practices.

Through the different presentations, a range of approaches will be demonstrated in order to generate discussion, critical reflection and provide potential models of practice. The themes have been selected to provide participants with a mix of pedagogic insights and practical tips into how the activities discussed might be applied to contexts they are familiar with in their everyday teaching contexts.

The first session focuses on formative assessment methods used to support Computing students working with discrete mathematics calculations. It will highlight how through feedback mechanisms, tutors seek to develop students’ abilities to solve similar problems for themselves. The second presentation draws on the experiences of an academic using audio-visual feedback in blended learning contexts to support a range of Engineering and Computing students. The presentation will highlight the potential pedagogic value of such approaches as well as the practical realities of adopting them. Presentation three outlines how students from across different Engineering fields where brought together to work on a project aimed at developing cross disciplinary knowledge and enhancing employability. The final session concentrates on how enquiry-based learning (EBL) approaches are being adopted by lecturers teaching to classes of around 100 Computing students.

If you want to book on the event, visit the event page at http://www.heacademy.ac.uk/events/detail/2014/Seminars/STEM_Comp_21-02-2014. If you have any further questions, please contact Charlie Davis at c.davis@derby.ac.uk.

10 top tips for using your own devices to support personal learning activities

A proliferation of media devices now exist which provide us with the potential to create,Swiss army knife curate and share resources in a wide range of formats. For a while now, some people have been using laptops, phones, MP3 devices and tablets to support their learning activities across a variety of settings. Below is a brief outline of the different ways in which personal technologies might be put to use as part of individuals’ learning experiences. These examples are based on my own uses and those of others in the Learning Technology Team. I have provided links, where possible, to the technologies mentioned.

1. Using the camera
Photographing diagrams, extracts of texts, different stages in a design process, complex calculations and a variety of documents.

2. Using audio apps
Recording personal reflections, random thoughts, discussions with tutors, discussions with peers and creating podcasts.

3. Using video apps
Recording video diaries, brainstorming activities, different stages in a design process and creating digital stories.

4. Taking notes
Using software like Diigo and/or Evernote to take notes and archive them for future use.

5. Having real-time text conversations
Using apps such as What’s App, iPhone/iPad Messaging and/or Skype to have discussions with other people.

6. Having real-time audio and/or video conversations
Using apps such as Skype and Face Time (iPhone and iPad) to have discussions with other people.

7. Bookmarking
Archiving, curating and sharing work with peers using applications like Diigo and Evernote.

8. Managing academic references
Bookmarking, curating and sharing academic resources using applications such as Mendeley, Zotero and ZotPad (iPhone and iPad).

9. Annotating PDFs
Annotating and making notes on PDFs using applications such as  Foxit Reader, Skitch and iAnnotate.

10. Managing and sharing resources
Applications such as Dropbox and Google Drive can be used to access, manage and share a wide range of resources.

If you use any of the applications above and/or different ones, please let us know how.

Flee to the high ground! A technology Tsunami threatening HE fast approaches!

On Thursday 21st June, I attended the JISC RSC East Midlands e-Fair – http://moodle.rsc-em.ac.uk/ – and was introduced to the indomitable and controversial figure of Bob Harrison – http://www.setuk.co.uk/ for the first time. Bob is an Education Advisor and Consultant with a distinguished pedigree in FE. Explosive from the start, he managed to entertain, inform and wind people up in his keynote speech – http://moodle.rsc-em.ac.uk/course/view.php?id=215, which is what you want from an opening presentation. I found myself agreeing with much of what he said, particularly his observations about the need for pioneers who address the analogue thinking which informs much educational technology policies. His call for such individuals was refreshing and had me totally captivated. However, in the back of my head I had this niggling voice that told me he was going to spoil it all by making grandiose claims about the zeitgeist defining powers of technology in education. Continue reading

When the flipped classroom flops

Picking up where Glenn McGarry and Laura Hollinshead left off in their previous posts, I feel compelled to add my two penneth on the subject of so-called flipped classrooms. The whole notion is too good to be true: every student diligently preparing for class, engaging with pre-session materials.

…the practice of pre-recording lectures for students to watch at home, so that the timetabled contact with the lecturer or teacher may be used for Q&A or seminars, supposedly to reinforce deeper learning.

Based on my own recent and past experiences of providing students with pre-session materials in a range of formats, I believe the likelihood of getting each and every student to buy into the notion of the flipped classroom difficult. In fact, when considering my own experiences, renaming the concept the flopped classroom would seem more appropriate. This leads me to wonder why there is so much fervent eulogising about the perceived merits of the flipped classroom in certain quarters.

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MELSIG comes to the University of Derby

Continuing its commitment to provide the UoD with a forum in which to share good practice whilst debating current innovation in technology informed pedagogy, LEI hosted an event at Derby by the Media Enhanced Learning Special Interest Group (MELSIG) on Friday 20th April.

Ben Sams at the MELSIG Event

An independent organisation focusing on the use of digital media to support teaching and learning in HE, MELSIG brings practitioners together from across the length and breadth of the UK. This was the first time the group had visited the University and they left proclaiming it to be “up there with the best of their events!” Having attended previous events and deciding that theUoD had a great deal of innovative practice to share, Charlie Davis and Glenn McGarry, both LEI, invited MELSIG to Derby and with the help of various colleagues organised the event. Continue reading

Don’t Believe the Hype

Hype is part and parcel of technology enhanced learning (TEL), particularly when gurus evangelise about what’s hot and what’s not in the world of eLearning. At some stage in our lives, we’ve all been seduced by the slick patter of any number of individuals passing themselves off as a leading Authority on the role of technology in education. From their ivory towers they proselytize about the benefits the latest technological developments will bring to learning. More often than not this is based on speculation and a one-size-fits all approach to learning. Subjective viewpoints are articulated in terms that make them seem like common sense and visionary. These are circulated, take hold and before you know it we are buying into the next big thing or eLearning concept. Continue reading

Offline marking

On the whole, broadband connectivity is something that is taken for granted and bar the odd occasion when it goes down most never consider a time when it won’t be available. However, for those people who live in rural areas or still have dial-up connections Broadband connectivity is fleeting or non-existent. This makes online marking difficult or impossible. As with a lot of technological terms, online marking has on occasion come to represent electronic marking. Nevertheless, marking online is not the only way students’ work can be corrected electronically. There are offline electronic options for those that have Broadband issues. In the interview below Laura Hollinshead discusses with Charlie Davis what offline marking is and how to do it.

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Fillng the ICT Void

Local Education Authorities (LEAs) like so many other educational services are feeling the pinch due to budget cuts. As a result, some primary schools are witnessing a reduction in the levels of ICT support and resources previously provided by LEAs. This worrying development has been compounded further by the dissolution of organisations such as Becta, which was pivotal in influencing policy and strategic developments with regards to ICT provision in the primary and secondary sectors. The continued culling of bodies such as these will only serve to increase the spread of an already existing void. A question some believe HEIs need to be asking themselves is whether or not they are in a position to fill this void, and if so, what should the nature of their involvement be.

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What image would you choose to represent a VLE?

The video below was created in April 2010 as part of an MA ICT in Education module I was studying looking at how images could be used to represent ideas/concepts. It was also an exercise in using lo-fi equipment and production techniques to produce video content to support learning, which explains the less than Spielberg-esque production values.The video was shot using a digital stills camera, edited in Windows Movie Maker and hosted within YouTube. Cheap, cheerful and something that can be done by anyone.

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