Travelogue – Reflections on ePortfolios in Professional Development event

Measuring the distance travelled is a phrase that is often associated with the use of portfolios in education. In many ways my attendance at the Pebblepad “ePortfolio in Professional Development event at Sheffield Hallam was a little like time travel. I have traveled some distance but I’m also travelling back, way back, back into time.  My first role at LJMU in 2006 was to support the wide scale implementation of the Blackboard ePortfolio tool to support student Personal Development Planning and assessment. ePortfolios haven’t enjoyed the same uptake as VLEs within Higher Education and tend to be described as ‘troublesome knowledge’.  Even the term ePortfolio isn’t widely agreed upon and PebblePad no longer use it to describe their product, preferring instead Personal Learning Space. That said,  many Higher Education Institutions now require, broadly speaking, some process or tool to evidence staff and student progression. So it is with many hats on I attended this event. Part of my current role is to look after the upgrade to Pebbleppad V5 this summer, so I was keen to hear more about how this area of learning developed. In particular, how Pebblepad could potentially be used to support HEA Fellowship application and Professional Development Review.

While the topic was familiar, the environment for the day certainly wasn’t. Andrew Middleton introduced us to their SCALE UP room and how this environment would shape the activities for the day, but also connected the space to Pebblepad’s online learning space. SCALE UP stands for Student-Centered Active Learning Environment for Upside Down pedagogy. I was unfamiliar with the term but recognised the flipped classroom approach. SHU and neighbours NTU have invested in this approach as it supports the flipped classroom methodology, and student as partner approaches, encouraging more active group working in a technologically rich environment.  The aim is to remove passivity in the classroom and engage in higher domain learning accordance with the Bloom’s Taxonomy approach. Lectures are replaced by problem solving and enquiry based activities carried out in strategically-assigned groups.

The event was hosted in a large room and was divided into 7 round tables which could comfortably sit 9 staff or students. Each table has a laptop to capture work on that was connected to the LCD displays surround the room. Also in the middle of the table was range of power sockets and USB inputs for power-hungry working. Each table also had a 6 foot portable white board which Andrew stated was an integral part of the approach. He also suggested that the set up afforded structure and flexibility to the teaching experience, and the fluidity to remove the hierarchy of one central speaker but devolve it into the “spotlight” groups. This layout supported the structure of the day. Short presentations from experts, round table discussions, writing up ideas and feeding back to the group. I really enjoyed the social element of this approach, as well as white-boarding ideas and sharing. If I’m being a little critical (and selfish!) I would have liked to have the opportunity to do that with all the speakers for the day, as there were so many interesting topics.

ePortfolios in Professional Development

I was fortunate to spend the most time in a group with Dr Karen Ford at University of Sheffield. She detailed the work done at the institution over the past few years in using Pebblepad to support flexible pathways to HEA recognition. With the help of Pete Mella from the TEL team, they created self-contained workbooks for each of the different routes to recognition. The workbooks act like mini websites packed full of contextual information to help the applicant submit statements at the appropriate level. The workbook acted as a scaffold to allow individuals to provide evidence that allow them to meet the UKPSF criteria. Pebbelpad also doubles as an area where individuals can store evidence, reflections and artefacts privately, before electing to share or add them to the application. These methods were backed up by face-to- face explorer events, mentoring and successful writing clinics throughout the year. She commented that the new version of Pebblepad has made the process and usability much easier. The technology, support and tailored design process has been a success. Over the past two years there has been increase in applications across the board, including a significant rise in SFHEA applicants – from 6 to over 100.

Here is a link to Karen’s presentation. Pebblepad have collated  all the other presentations from the day on their website.

Alex

Report: Pedagogic Research Conference #LivUniPedRes 2017

Newly arrived on our learning and teaching scene is the University of Liverpool’s Pedagogic Research Conference. Set up and run by Educational Development and eLearning Unit colleagues (including our own Tünde Varga-Atkins and Debbie Prescott) from tentative beginnings this event has rapidly grown in just a couple of years in size, scope and shifted venue to accommodate its blossoming. The original idea, about three years ago, was in the recognition that that there needed to be a next step from the annual Learning and Teaching Conference to support staff presenters who wanted to engage with pedagogic research theory, method and literature, ultimately to publish.

Here is this year’s conference brochure so you can get a full idea of the range of the sessions. There was a strong field of  papers with Technology Enhanced Learning as a component at the heart of the research. For me a couple of items from the day caught my eye, Pete Smith’s research into which learning resources students valued and utilised the most, and then Treasa Kearney and Chris Raddats’ work, which brought in the perspective of Marketing theories of value co-creation (which critiques ideas that service providers ‘give’ consumers value – not dissimilar to critiques of the model of students ‘receiving’ learning). They looked at an international cohort working together online on an assignment and what opportunities for value co-creation exist. We’ll look forward to reading these in their published form and blog more about them, and others, as they appear.

The rest of this post consists of a set of resources from the day, including:

  1. A recording of the keynote address by Professor Pauline Kneale, PVC Teaching and Learning University of Plymouth.
  2. A guest blog post from Professor Helen O’Sullivan, APVC Online Learning, who opened the conference.
  3. Tweets from the day gathered together in a Twitter Moment and embedded below.

1. Keynote address

Professor Pauline Kneale, PVC Teaching and Learning University of Plymouth, gave the conference keynote around experience and strategies for building capacity in pedagogy research. At Liverpool the PedRes conference is one such footing in the planned building of our own capacity. If you would like to watch the keynote address from Pauline then click the image below or follow this link.

Professor Pauline Kneale’s keynote address - click image to watch the recording
Professor Pauline Kneale’s keynote address – click image to watch the recording

2. Guest Post: Creating a culture of pedagogic research and publication

Highlights from our 2nd (!) Pedagogy Research Conference,#LivUniPedRes

(Originally posted on 23 January 2017 by Professor Helen O’Sullivan, APVC Online Learning in Education – thanks to Helen for permission to copy this.)

“I was absolutely delighted to open this year’s Pedagogic Research Conference on January 12th. Pedagogic research has been close to my heart and central to my practice since I saw the light in the mid-90s and switched from lab based research. This was the second time the event has run and the increased attendance and quality of the presentations demonstrates the increasing importance of recognising the critical value that researching the student experience and using an evidence base to support policy making has in our vision for Education at Liverpool. The key difference between the annual Learning and Teaching Conference and this Pedagogic Conference is that the former is mainly practice-focused, whilst the Research Conference supports staff with publishing their educational research rooting it in theories, rigorous research methodologies and contribution to literature. One of the key reasons for an event such as this is to cement the growing community of practice around pedagogic research and therefore provide support and fellowship for colleagues who can often feel isolated in their Department. The 100 or so participants at Thursday’s events are the research group and provide advice and expertise for each other. The buzz, the enthusiasm and the warmth was infectious!

Full conference
Image credit: Phil Walker

Guest post continued…

“Our keynote speaker was Professor Pauline Kneale  who gave a perfectly apt talk on how to build capacity around pedagogic research. This included some advice as to how to work smarter to develop #pedagogicresearch, the more neglected, Cinderella sister of research (Evans 2001). One idea suggested by Pauline was working with students as researchers and involving them both in disciplinary and pedagogic research. Pauline also stressed the value of collaboration of outside one’s immediate School, whether within or beyond the institution and reminded us that Plymouth’s PedRio is not too far to collaborate. PedRio’s activity is organised under theme-groups, including sustainability, medical education research, digital innovation, inclusive pedagogies, quantitative reasoning and community engagement. Quite a few of these parallel some of our #LivUni activities!

A real gem for organisers of this conference is seeing how colleagues’ presentations of full papers and emerging ideas (conference brochure link) have developed over the course of the year. It was excellent to hear all the great innovations and focus and enthusiasm on teaching evident from these sessions. What attendees found useful:

An appreciation of level of scholarship/research activities being completed in University.

Interacting with the like-minded.

Encountering a range of different ideas and innovations

Hearing how colleagues in other departments address student engagement. Finding out about experiences of international students.

It is probably unfair for me to pick highlights but I was particularly impressed with the work that Ricardo Tejeiro and Alex Whitelock-Wainwright have done to investigate why some online students don’t participate in course evaluation and I was also interested in Sarah McKernon’s work in Dentistry looking at non-technical skills development.

roundtable
The conference included roundtable Q&A session with editors from educational journals

Guest post continued…

“The day’s focus was supporting colleagues towards publication of their scholarship and research. For this reason, four editors from different educational journals contributed and answered questions on how to get published in the form of a roundtable session. Delegates valued their input on getting tips and ideas, advice from them: “focus on publication was also particularly useful for me”. Networking, sharing practice over a sandwich or cake was a highlight for many attendees.

Where next?

For those wishing to pursue their presentation towards publication, the organising team offers further formative feedback; on request we are happy to arrange a writing retreat. As our keynote observed, pedagogic research is receiving more attention because of the TEF. We were heartened by the success of the conference.

And finally, huge thanks to the organising team who has made the event  happen:

  • Charles Buckley, Educational Development
  • Debbie Prescott, eLearning Unit
  • Julie-Anne Regan, Educational Development
  • Tunde Varga-Atkins, eLearning Unit (who also put together the structure and visuals for this blog post)
  • Ilona Walker, Educational Development

with credit to Amy Jackson, eLearning Unit, for conference design materials.

This conference is now firmly established in the University calendar and we will be building our formal capacity and structures around the research and scholarship of learning and teaching as we set up the Centre for Innovation in Education.

Save the date

Thursday 11 January 2018, 3rd Pedagogic Research Conference. Make it a date for your diary next year and start preparing your contribution now!

3. Tweets from the day #LivUniPedRes 

Finally, Here’s a Twitter Moment for the conference created by Alex Spiers from our team which you can also explore here: https://twitter.com/i/moments/819833189959135232

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Black Sabbath to Busted – Report on Blackboard Enhanced Assessment and Feedback Event

Leaving home under an early-morning starry sky and up over the misty, snowy Pennines to Sheffield, I wasn’t sure what to expect from the Blackboard Enhanced Assessment and Feedback day to which I was travelling. I had a sketched outline of the themes for the day ahead but not much more, namely that we would engage in some way with:

Assessment and feedback – an institutional perspective

  • Examination of key drivers and challenges (reputations, quality of process, quality of data, legal, business efficiencies, risk etc.)
  • Placing use cases on a confidence/effectiveness model
  • Highlight relevant Blackboard solutions

 Assessment and feedback – innovation and organisational change

  • Identifications for drivers for change
  • Gap analysis of practice and stakeholder experiences
  • Prioritisation of opportunities for change
  • Highlight relevant Blackboard solutions

This kind of workshoppy day from Blackboard was something I hadn’t experienced before, so I was propelled by curiosity as much as that it seemed relevant to the work that our team are currently leading on e-submission and e-feedback at Liverpool. What I got was a useful day of frank discussion and sharing of experiences, ideas and commonalities, which was mostly reassuring, with colleagues from other institutions in the kind if depth you don’t often get. This is especially useful for a sense of the bigger picture in HE, to talk about the differently badged or described but largely similar activities, structures and strategies that are top of our agendas at the moment, e-submission and e-marking being one of Liverpool’s current strategic TEL focus. One universal and rapidly-emerging area of concern that became evident on the day was a need for a variety of programme-level views of assessment activity in the VLE for academic and administrative staff and students. This is a long-requested feature from Blackboard usergroups that’s time has come with the adoption of e-submission and e-marking policies across the sector of late and I hope this was the main takeaway message for the Blackboard team.

The event was run by our regional Blackboard Customer Success Team, in partnership with the BB North user group, recognising a need for a more extensive exploration of particular issues that get raised at user group meetings, where the format doesn’t allow fuller discussion. Whilst advertised as intended for senior leaders, learning technologists, TEL managers and academic staff, the majority attending today were learning technologist types. It was instructive to hear that on the previous day at Edinburgh a couple of PVCs had attended, sending some very positive signals about the depth of an institutions’ engagement and intent with the actual tools that students, academic and professional service staff use as a part of their everyday life at the University.

Music, sweet music…

Our first activity was to introduce ourselves telling the room the first piece of music that we had ever bought. An astonishing array of formats and first loves was paraded, from Now compilation tapes to Avril Levigne downloads, from Osmonds vinyls to Busted CDs. Blackboard’s Alan Masson and Gillian Fielding all admitted to their first purchases, but I’ll spare their blushes here. Top-trumping all these, however, was Blackboard’s Steve Hoole, whose overnight Novotel stay featured a vinyl deck (remember these, kids?) and a selection of Sheffield synth heaven albums to spin the night away.

Structure of the sessions

The morning and the afternoon were structured in a similar way so that we would first ‘brainstorm’ our thoughts in groups on a set of e-assessment themes, then work together on some specific ideas from those and bring something interesting back to the room. We’d finally end with a discussion of the potentially useful tools in Blackboard that could be a part of the thinking for some of these. I initially thought this last element was going to be a sales pitch but it was pleasingly nuanced in that the Blackboard team wanted to hear stories of how people are using these tools, where they’re working well and what the gaps are. A very clear point made more than once was that the recent Blackboard activity in developing the assignment tool to offer dual marking, moderation and anonymous marking had been excellent but it now seemed that the Blackboard focus had moved on from this, whilst the toolset still needs work, that there had only been one iteration of the process. Also that this process of close consultation should be constantly repeated for other areas as our needs are constantly evolving, not just for assessment.

Morning Session – what’s needed to enhance assessment and feedback practice?

For the morning, we’d thought about quality, processes and workflows and where the opportunities for enhancement lay. We chucked all of our ideas at the first Padlet below. You’ll find all of the issues that we have encountered in the course of our work as learning technology developers and as part of the University’s EMA project, from how to handle video submission and feedback, to combining some functionality of Blackboard assignments (group tools, double marking, staged release of feedback, etc) with that of Turnitin assignments (Originality Checking, GradeMark, offline marking). In fact, this was another big ask on the day, that Turnitin and Blackboard align/integrate their products in ways that will help us, as you will gather from some of the posts in this Padlet.

Made with Padlet

What leapt out at me was a so-far un-encountered issue at Liverpool of needing a read-only external examiner access to modules. In some institutions administrative staff are packaging up content and assignments into a special section of a module, which only the external has access to, and making the rest of the module inaccessible to them. This is to meet an anxiety around externals potentially changing grades and altering content, but it costs hours of administrative time, essentially duplicating what’s already in the module, so re-introducing at a later stage of the assessment cycle serious administrative burden that the electronic submission process had originally taken away from the front end. What’s needed is a read-only access enrollment level, which is another development idea for the Blackboard team to add to the suggestions box.

Moving on to the next activity in groups again, we were tasked with listing and describing up to five assessment and feedback enhancements that would have significant benefits for the listed stakeholders and the degree to which it would require resource. This photo shows our effort…

dsc01104

…and for those who aren’t adept at reading the handwriting of people who spend their whole day attached to a keyboard our five enhancements (all pretty standard) were:

  1. External Examiner Access – read-only access for external examiners or a similar idea.
  2. Student Assessment Journey – programme level views of student assessment activity for students and staff
  3. Flexible innovative assessment – making the assessment and feedback tools at all points in Blackboard, not just for assignments, so that you can start thinking about using any tool for assessment purposes.
  4. Double marking – further work on the current functionality to take it to a robust, fully-usable level.
  5. Programme Level Assessment – looking at assessment practice across entire programmes and thinking about programme-level learning outcomes.

Hearing back from the rest of the room we discussed in more depth some of the already described above (external examiner access, programme-level views of assessment) and the Blackboard team promised to send round some case study examples of good practice for external examiner processes using Blackboard tools. In a discussion around whether and how institutions were using the Delegated Grading functionality, which was designed for UK HEIs, again the Blackboard team said they would gather together some case studies of where these are being used well. The feeling from the room was that this kind of functionality should be available across all assessment tools rather than locked to a single tool.

A few other interesting discussion points to end the morning session were that many institutions are thinking at programme level about replacing traditional assignment assessment. Video assignments and feedback are rapidly on the rise but also causing headaches as infrastructure and policy isn’t keeping up.

Afternoon Session

As I said, the afternoon session followed the same structure. So our post-lunch digestif activity was another Padlet , this time thinking about innovation and new practices that would enhance assessment and feedback in our institutions. I’ll let the Padlet do the talking so scroll around to see the ideas. I was interested in things like students being able to select the kinds of assessment that they wanted to do, and learners and academics developing assessment literacies through feedback dialogue and feed-forward as a continuous process.

Made with Padlet

As in the morning, next was a group task, where we were asked to think “aspirationally” about how we imagined assessment could look, if we had a free rein. What change or innovation in assessment and/or feedback would have significant impact and how would it benefit learners, tutors, courses and institutions? Essentially we were encouraged to go wild in the aisles of transformative assessment practice.

Our group went Back to Basics and offered the transformative potential of programmes where learning outcomes were mapped to assessment.  Well, someone had to. Other groups had some tidy, Tomorrow’s World ideas including:

  • An assessment wizard which built the kind of assessment you wanted with one view for staff and students (no more multiple systems or at least hiding these from you).
  • A tool that surfaced programme level assessment data.
  • A tool for personalised feedback and assessment routes – feedback raises flags on further help students can get and other staff can see that in later assessments.

And as per the morning session the Blackboard team led a discussion on how their products could work to do some of these things. One thing they did bring back to my attention was the Goals and Outcomes system which has a new dashboard view of the data and I think it would be opportune to review this in the light of programme development work that is heading the way of our team, as this could present an opportunity for offering programme-level views of progress through modules.

The end

So not a sales day, not your regular product roadmap/roadshow day, this represented a deeper dive into Electronic Management of Assessment, including the Blackboard tools that can be a part of that that environment. The Blackboard team wanted the day to be about sharing practice, raising awareness of what Blackboard tools we have already and encouraging us to get the best we can out the Blackboard tools and products that you have and I think this was more than achieved on the day. Thanks to the team and to the Bb North UserGroup for arranging and hosting. I had some very useful conversations (which is pretty much usual for the BB North User Groups meetings) and plenty from all of the above to take back for the project board overseeing the implementation of an e-submission policy at Liverpool.

What music did I first buy? The Muppet Show album. And I’ve never needed any other in my life…

Dan

“It won’t take too long” – eLU presentation on developing online learning

Recently, Liverpool’s Hope University got in contact with Glenn Godenho, an academic in Egyptology at the University of Liverpool, to ask him if he would deliver a CPD presentation about online / blended learning courses. Glenn was happy to take up the offer and quickly extended the invitation to me to help bring the holistic message of eLearning to his session. I have worked closely with Glenn over the last few years to develop and deliver a MOOC through the Future Learn platform,  as well as a designing a series of Continuing Education courses. We felt our experience had dealt specifically with the tensions of translating traditional forms of teaching face-to-face into the ever changing online environment, tackling the popular ‘It won’t take too long’ attitude, that can creep around such developments.

Our message was simple – don’t let content dictate how an online course should be designed and delivered. It seems obvious, but you will be surprised how even the most adept users of technology in teaching easily fall into this trap. I’ve known countless academics that try to convert their subject expertise into online course content only to be faced with more questions and troubleshooting issues, particularly issues about the deeper design and pedagogical structure of their course. In the digital domain this is not an easy task but it’s an important stage to understand, within the framework of an institution.

tpack-new

I always point staff to the TPACK model of education. TPACK is a model that states the need for equilibrium between content-knowledge, pedagogical-knowledge and technological-knowledge. The centre of that model is an environment that is ripe for online learning to take place. The principles behind the model seem straight-forward enough when designing courses in practice I really notice how each of these features needs to work together.

 

Overall the session was an exposition of our thinking and the developments of guidance materials that enable online course delivery to be more streamlined within the institutional processes of UoL. Hope University are not currently producing MOOCs but they have a good awareness of the pedagogical tensions within traditional modes of teaching. It’ll be interesting to see how they develop over the years ahead. They certainly have some great facilities, including their flexible learning laboratory (which won an AV industry award last year and you can read a case study with more detail here) designed for collaboration in several group areas with screen sharing technology to pass group material to the numerous displays inside the space.

img_20170202_125512 img_20170202_125518

 

 

 

 

 

We hope to visit Hope again at some point. Networks in Higher Education become more valuable as we tread more on new ground, whether that be in the online classroom or within carefully crafted learning spaces like this one.

 

Philip Walker | Learning Technologist

Report: e-Learning Network Meeting – January 2017

We were delighted to welcome Professor Helen O’Sullivan, APVC Online Learning, as speaker at the first e-Learning Network meeting of 2017. Helen spoke to us about the University’s new Education Strategy, giving the network an overview of the structures, leadership teams and immediate priorities. The recording of that talk is linked-to below. Helen then led a discussion workshop on what an institutional Digital Education vision might look like (this part of the session is not recorded). We also managed to make time for a couple of extra items: a first look at Turnitin Feedback Studio, the new design for GradeMark we will be moving to in July; and an introduction to the Go Mobile user group that began meeting this academic year. A pretty busy lunchtime for the forty staff members who came together for this valued networking event.

Professor Helen O’Sullivan

So much is going on at the University at the moment it was a welcome opportunity to spend some time thinking through and discussing how current strategies relate to our own interest area and Helen did a great job of this, even in the sweltering conditions of our meeting room. The Education Strategy’s core values, ‘Liverpool Hallmarks’, of ‘research-connected teaching, active learning and authentic assessment’ are immediately appealing to anyone interested in learning and teaching, and learning technologies can play a critical role in these. I won’t go into micro-detail but what I found really useful was an update on the top priorities for the coming year, including the setting-up of a new Programmes Development Team, a media technical support team, continued work on the Electronic Management of Assessment project, and also hearing about less familiar things including the focus on the London Campus portfolio and degree apprenticeships. Click the image below for the (Stream Capture) recording, about 32 minutes long.

bloghelenimage
Click the image above to watch the recorded talk by Prof O’Sullivan (32 minutes)

 

We then moved to some group discussions to consider a Liverpool take on David White’s digital leadership framework which is designed to help high-level discussion and decision-making about all things digital, giving some coherence for thinking about the whole organisation and how decisions can affect all of these layers. The framework diagram below is taken from David’s blog post (click the diagram to read) and was the starting point for the activity. In my group we focussed quite a bit on the Digital Service layer, which possibly reflected the areas we work in but which we felt was the bedrock of an organisation’s culture and medium.

Turnitin Feedback Studio – Dan Roberts

There was also a bit of time for a couple of extra items. First up was a look at the new design for Turnitin GradeMark, called Turnitin Feedback Studio. This was an out-of-the-box walkthrough and we were only examining the feedback environment. Essentially the desktop version has been rebuilt and the design is very similar to the current iPad app version, but now you will be able to use it on any device. This video below maps the key differences between our current version of GradeMark and what we will see after this summer’s upgrade. You can also try out a live, online demo if you follow this link.

No horses seemed to be startled by this new look. From a design point of view I think it is a much-improved, cleaner system, tidying away a lot of the distracting array of menus and buttons we are used to, and instead putting the most commonly-used feedback tools directly in front of you whilst marking work; no more hunting around for different comment types for instance. The rebuild has also focussed on making GradeMark fully-accessible which is great. Asking about what kinds of things people would be interested to test in the lead-in time to the summer upgrade, long-standing functionality/workflow requirements such as double marking were top of the list. Looking through the release notes whilst writing this post I can see that there is a Beta version of the multiple markers facility for which Turnitin are looking for some testers, so we will organise this through the network and the e-submission/EMA project board. Get in touch directly if you want to be a part of this testing.

Go Mobile Usergroup – Alex Spiers

We rounded off chatting about the new user group for anyone interested in anything mobile that Alex  has set up and has met a couple of times already this academic year. It is as wide-ranging as that sounds, so we’ve looked at apps, devices like the iPad pro and pen, and the kinds of things staff and students from all parts of the University are doing with mobile technologies for learning and teaching. Look out for the next meeting which we hope will be this side of Easter and we’ll release details ASAP or keep up with #LIVUNIGO.

gomobilemarch
Next meeting – April 27th

Many thanks to Helen for the valuable and engaging insight into the strategic thinking and work going on for the University’s Education Strategy, and the role that Technology-Enhanced Learning has to play as it moves into its implementation phase. It was also a great opportunity to have a first say on some emergent ideas around a Digital Vision for the University of Liverpool. This is an ongoing process and Helen would welcome more comments and feedback on anything covered in the presentation or discussion.

The next e-Learning Network meeting is scheduled for Thursday 27th April 12:30 – 2pm. The network lunch is intended primarily as a sharing event so if you have an idea for one of our meetings or anything you want to share about something you have been doing with TEL and to get some feedback and discussion from the group then please let us know.

Dan

Winter School 2017 report

winter-school‘Brilliant, engaging, authentic – thank you!’

This year’s Winter School, our sixth, has been the best attended of any we have run so far which was really pleasing for the team. We’ve met lots of new colleagues over the two weeks and been inspired by the kinds of things people want to do with technologies for their learning and teaching. Feedback from the sessions has given us some great ideas on how to develop our workshops and also the kinds of things people would like to find out more about, that’s why we collect it, so we’ll be scheduling in workshops on Evernote and technologies for polling over the next few months for starters. To keep up to date with when workshops are running you can follow us on Twitter (link below), follow us on this blog, keep an eye on the University Announcements page and also search the CLL Booking page here.

‘Lots of showing and sharing of experiences – colleagues sharing their use of various tools… Learning about those tools and trying them out.’

Our aim is to make the Winter and Summer schools a mix of introductory and more exploratory sessions, providing opportunities for staff to extend themselves. In the feedback we get, staff report a valued feature of the sessions is the opportunity to try out new tools and systems, to discuss the strengths and limits of these, how these can be trialed and then made a part of learning and teaching practice, and to share and learn from what colleagues in other schools and departments are interested in and are doing. We are also delighted to read about the wider impact and reach our sessions have in a range of contexts, from enriching personal practice, to staff championing in schools and departments the ideas and knowledge they gain, to applications for research groups.

‘I came to build up professional knowledge and skills for my own personal development and I think this will definitely come in useful in the future.’

‘This will quickly enable myself and other module leaders to elevate the skills of our students…’

Immediate use to help a research collaboration (2 UK sites, 2 European) meet and collaborate. I will include this system as a way of indicating how we will collaborate – thus strengthening a bid for funding. I will explore using this for T&L in a European meeting to demonstrate some of our T&L content.’

Another way we’ve responded to the feedback we get has been developing an advanced session on using Twitter, following a brace of well attended introductory Twitter sessions over the summer. We ran this in the winter school and knowing that it is crucial to include local examples of good practice we enlisted the help of Zelda Chatten, who is part of the team that supports the Library’s social media presence. Between us we were able to share practical tips and useful advice about our experiences using Twitter.

This was a fruitful partnership which extended the range of sessions we run collaboratively (we also run an Adobe Connect session with colleagues from CSD) and one which we will repeat and continue to build on, for example we are planning to develop a session jointly-run with CSD colleagues on Stream Capture.

‘The opportunity to explore some very useful tools in a supported way – I left with some great ways to make my slides more visual and engaging and will pass these tips onto others.’

It was also the first time we ran the session ‘Engaging learners visually’ in which Alex and Tünde shared a few tools that you can use to create more exciting, visual slides, including Notegraphy, Piktochart, Prezi, Haikudeck and some features of PowerPoint. We discussed accessibility considerations when putting together pictoral slides. Judging from the attendance and busy keyboard-working during the workshop, it was a lively and useful topic to cover!  We will definitely run this workshop again.

‘Hands-on guidance through the set-up, recording, stream process. Also love the well-scaffolded and visual resources laid out on the VITAL page. Great!’

If you attended one of our the Winter School sessions you will be enrolled on our Workshop Resources module in VITAL which will contain at least the slides from the sessions and usually further links and support resources on all of the sessions we run. Our Summer School will be running from Wednesday 7th June until Friday 16th June 2017 and some sessions are already scheduled in to run and are bookable here: https://www.liverpool.ac.uk/cll/booking/

‘Thank you – terrific, inspiring session!’

Thanks to everyone who came along and engaged so positively. We derive much inspiration and learn so much from all of our sessions, which we always strive to make a collaborative venture. But for now, the decorations are stowed back in the loft, the last green triangle Quality Street has reluctantly been scoffed, and the jumper from Santa exchanged for a Star Wars onesie, it can mean only one thing; the eLearning Unit Winter school has been and gone and the festivities over for another year. Hope to see you at the Summer School!

The eLearning Unit team

 

Old and New: Highlights from the Durham Blackboard Users Conference 2017 #DURBBU

Total Architecture

As I’ve said elsewhere, I’m no stranger to the Durham Blackboard Users Conference (now in its 17th year!) having attended and presented on number of occasions. However, this was my first visit in my new role at University of Liverpool and also the first visit to the new location at the Durham Business School. Very impressive venue located a little further out of town but close to the excellent Oriental Museum.  The conference began with a warm welcome from the new VC Professor Stuart Corbridge. Then we were back on familiar ground with Malcolm Murray introducing us to the conference theme (Better Assessment & Feedback) and using the Lego figures to settle us into a great couple of days.

The Keynote was delivered by Dr Susie J Schofield from the University of Dundee. Translating evidence-based principles to improved feedback practices” using the “interACT” study she co-authored. The main focus of the presentation was a review of the literature on a range of feedback models and principles (Gibbs, Nicol, Carless, Barton) and draw out some commonality. She shared the view that students can avoid bad teaching but they cannot avoid bad assessment. Stating how a shared understanding of assessment criteria is crucial to student success. I wonder how often there is the time and space in the curriculum to allow students to get a real grasp of this.  Sounds like a good opportunity for students to get involved and co-create their own assessments and criteria.

Wayne Britcliffe presented us with a useful overview of the breadth of tools being used at the University of York, to support assessment and feedback. Many of which are familiar to Blackboard users, although it was interesting to hear that they are a Google University He also shared some useful tips in and a few ‘gotchas’ This was a thought provoking and refreshing topic as it sums up the learning technologist experience at the moment. We are all dealing with similar issues and complexities of electronic assessment. This has certainly been the case for me. A deeper understanding of electronic submission and e-marking approaches have been at the centre of my working practice particularly as these methods gain wider adoption within institutions.

Patrick Viney from University of Northumbria presented a novel approach to using PebblePad V5. Not as an ePortfolio but to manage the dissertation proposal process for over 800 undergraduate students. A common problem to many institutions. The process was based on the workbook functionality in Pebblepad. This allowed students to submit proposals electronically and and select keywords to identify the topic and allow it to matched to an appropriate supervisor.  The effect of this change resulted in a speedier matching of supervisors to students. Reducing time taken from 2 weeks to 1 day! As well as time saving befits, this approach is paper free and auditable. Non submitters can easily be identified and contacted. I’m sure this process could be adapted to support a range of subjects at our insitution, and perhaps lead to greater adoption of the system.  Kudos to Partick for going live into the Pebblepad to demonstrate it. Always valuable to see it live if possible.
I’ve always been a big fan of screen-capture and I use screencast-o-matic a lot these days, since Screenr passed away a few years ago. I’m also very interested in visual learning, so I was keen to hear how University of Reading Lecturer, Emma Mayhew, used this technology to enhance student assessment.  Using Camtasia she developed a range of study support videos which quickly gained popularity, so she ended up creating more and using other tools such as Powtoon to get the message across.  Then applied this to her feedback on assessment. The video feedback reminded me of the useful qualities of audio feedback. Students get more feedback – quantity and detail, but also feed-forward suggestions about what can be done better next time. Staff demonstrate empathy and encouragement more clearly, but also visually identify issues where the student needs help. The process is necessarily efficient for the lecturer but is overwhelmingly receives positive responses from the students. An excellent presentation from an enthusiastic academic making positive changes.

Finally,  it has always been a bit of a tradition for Blackboard to share new advances in their technology at Durham. Nicholas Matthij was excited to share the work he’s been doing on a new product called Ally. This is another Blackboard acquisition and looks to be platform agnostic. The functionality that Ally provides is to make  course content within the VLE more accessible. The tool guides academic staff on how they can make their content more accessible and offers alternatives while keeping the original files. Clever eh? In addition it also has an interesting analytics dashboard that could make it easier for staff to recogise popular content and patterns of use. Developed in part as a response to the changes in legal requirements,  Blackboard will make this service available in Q2 2017. Sadly this will not be appearing in the product as standard but can be purchased separately.

Anyone that is using Blackboard or its associated products would be well served in attending this conference. I know I always have been. Its not just because I keep winning prizes (iPad mini in 2012, £50 amazon voucher this year), although that helps! The community is the crucial element of the conference. Enthusiastic people presenting, sharing and openly talking about issues they care about to help change and make things better. Now that sentiment never gets old.

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 Alex