The team are fresh back from the now-legendary 2017 ALT conference, and bursting to share and connect with this fantastic community. One of the things presented by Alex, Tünde and Dan which caught people’s eye during our session on the sometimes arduous road to EMA was Tünde’s ‘Blackboard or Turnitin’ decision flow chart.
It was designed to help staff decide what were the most important factors when they first come to choose whether BB or Tii is the best fit for their context. Behind it is the usual mountain of documentation, guides, caveats, sub-clauses and subtleties, but we had a think about what were the most-often asked questions from our staff and the priority they gave different requirements and used this to help map an easier route through the terrain.
As it looked useful to a few people, we’ve tidied it up, and given it a CC licence so please feel free to grab it from here and try it out with your own colleagues. If you want to know any more about our approach to guiding staff through the BB and Tii tangle then please do get in touch.
You can also catch up with our slides from the session here.
Something else that caught people’s attention, quite literally, was our percussion department for bringing the breakout discussion parts of our workshop presentations to order. ALT delegates are incredibly eager to get stuck in to a good conversation about any aspect of learning technologies, so you definitely need some serious help on your side as a presenter if you want to get a word in again! Here’s our kit, level 1 – the bell, level 2 – the castanets, and level 3 – our last resort – the slide whistle. We went all the way to level 3.
I attended the second day of the Solstice Teaching and Learning Conference at Edge Hill University. I’m not sure why I haven’t been to this conference for a number of years, I guess sometimes you overlook things because they are on your own doorstep. I’ll make sure I don’t make that mistake again. The topics discussed on this day admirably represented the current state of play in educational technologies, academic development, as well as the condition and purpose of the “University” at this tumultuous time. The notions of openness and space recurred throughout the day’s presentations. Beginning with Dr John Cater, Vice Chancellor at Edge Hill, addressing the audience with – as he described – his musings on the possible changes to the trajectory of Higher Education after the general election, it was great to see him pull up a table (no lectern or chair) and begin to share and respond to views about the responses around TEF and why we are at this point. He also did a little bit of future-gazing, sharing his ideas about the possible impact that a likely Conservative win would have on the Higher Education sector in general. This was an absorbing, passionate and inspiring talk and one I suspect doesn’t happen in other teaching and learning conferences around the country. Great start to the day.
The theme of openness continued with Prof Keith Smyth’s presentation on the ideas and approaches around the Porous (or leaky) University. Many will be familiar with his previous work and approaches to open practice via the 3E Framework and the Journal of Perspectives in Applied Academic Practice. The ideas around this talk weren’t unfamiliar to me. I’d been made aware of them through colleagues Mark Johnston and Sheila McNeil sharing their thoughts on Twitter. As I understand it, the Porous University is an exploration of openness and place – in particular third spaces as described in Ray Oldenburg’s The Great Good Place, the idea being that large amounts of learning can and does (and should?) take place in other spaces beyond the traditional classroom environment. With the increasing commercialisation of Higher Education in the UK, these ideas tend to be in tension with view of universities as a civic good and education as a mission, rather than a marketplace. Keith went on to share a range of examples from across the country which look at alternative models of higher education as well as challenging the ideas of the current curriculum. What I found valuable about this work was the focus on connecting the University to local communities and other discrete groups in ways that would impact positively on both, becoming valuable to people in the activities it pursues and not just the revenue it generates.
The use of institutional tools came under scrutiny as being potential barriers for collaboration across modules, groups, interests and countries, suggesting that social media spaces are in a better position to encourage sharing and openness, while traditional VLE spaces are bound by transactional delivery of information. This theme was also picked up by Simon Thomson Head of Digital Pedagogy at Leeds Beckett University with his presentation “Disrupting the ownership model of educational technology”.
He has recently begun a project, supported by JISC, which pushes the idea that our digital spaces can be provided by the institution but the ownership, control and the data ultimately resides with the student. Working with his current VLE provider Blackboard, he is exploring ways to allow students to share from their social spaces into the VLE. Taking IFTTT as his model, where you use existing parts of the web to plug into and connect services and profiles to be able function more effectively. They are currently testing a product called Pulse which I’ll be keeping an eye (and finger! Boom boom!) on.
With a greater shift into digital spaces, there appears to be an increased level of questioning directed at educational technology providers. I’m sensing that people are no longer willing simply to accept what is presented to them, and adapt. Rather, interrogation of fitness for purpose appears to be becoming the new normal. Perhaps this is not too surprising when you consider that a number of universities in the UK are reviewing their digital spaces by undergoing or planning a VLE review. Continuing this theme was a presentation from Claire Moscrop entitled “Digital Accessibility in Higher Education: a Model for Improvement”. Set against the backdrop of changes to DSA support the talk highlighted a growing number of students that would need further support in the coming year. This context provided the basis of their research study looking into ways to provide guidance to create accessible content for adding to the VLE that would benefit all students.
It was not just the digital space that was being considered, the physical was also under discussion. Federica Oradnini (University of Westminster) and Prof Peter Hartley (standing in for Prof Gunter Saunders) shared the substantial work being undertaken at Westminster to update and change a large number teaching rooms into effective learning spaces. The presentation highlighted a range of examples across the Higher Education landscape citing examples by Northampton, Leeds and Nottingham Trent Universities.
This project saw investment of £10 million over five years that would develop 260 standard teaching spaces at the institution. They are now in year three of the project and will have completed 100 rooms by the end of the summer. They presented pictures of the 5 different room types that emerged from discussions with staff. I would have liked to have spent a little more time in the session discussing these as a group as it seemed some of the choices were more geared to interactivity than others. Westminster had already adopted a number of in-class engagement tools to make the best use of these spaces including Poll Everywhere, Reflector and Padlet. To help academic staff make the best of these new spaces Federica and her team created an online module to share good practice and ideas from within the institution. The early stage feedback from staff and students who had used the room was positive but will be interesting to revisit in a year or two. Peter wrapped up with some considerations about the conditions and good practice needed to develop spaces like these. Key in this appears to be implementation “based on pedagogy not just capacity or efficiency”.
All in all this was a stimulating event with a great mix of workshops and presentations covering many of the key considerations of teaching and assessment in higher education at this current time. They also have ducks wandering around their campus. What more could you ask for? See you at Solstice 2018.
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:
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.
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!
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.
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.
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!
If you are a supervisor, a postgraduate researcher or into research in one way or another, then this website may be of interest. It helps you find a participant for your research, whether it is a survey, interview or something else. The website is entitled ‘Call for Participants’. It’s been developed by students at Nottingham University and was supported by the JISC Summer of Innovation programme.
The live website will soon superseded by a more improved version which can be customisable to institutions or departments. So for instance, if you are a Psychology department at University X, you will be able to design your own landing page, listing all your current research projects’ “Call for participants” area. This site may also be useful if you just want to have a quick view on the current research going on in your field.
The departmental and institutional customisation is a new offering and is currently being piloted. Matt Terrell who presented this project at the JISC learning and teaching experts forum, asked if any institutions are interested in piloting these new features. It is currently free, so why not try it out?
If you are interested in hearing about university related developments in technology enhanced learning, please subscribe to our University of Liverpool eLearning Unit blog (bottom right).
On 4th June 2014 at the Birmingham Rep Theatre, I felt a bit like going to Cannes for a sneak preview. If Cannes is one of the events to be at for films, for surveys and student evaluation, the HEA Surveys for Enhancements conference is THE one to be at. Admittedly, without the red carpet though!
This year’s hot topic was the review of the 10-year old NSS (National Student Survey) by Professor Janet Beer‘s opening keynote as current chair of the steering group for the National Student Survey (HEPISG).
From Professor Beer, we learnt the current state of the NSS review: the NSS is staying with some rewording and modifications (it has been 10 years since the NSS started!), and the consideration of including questions on student engagement and academic experience. The 3 purposes of NSS remain valid (Quality Enhancement, Quality Assurance and public information). As Professor Beer observed, there was ‘limited appetite for change and support for retaining most questions’; the timeline of changes is as follows:
Autumn 2014 – cognitive testing of new NSS survey
Spring 2015 – piloting new NSS survey
2017: first new NSS survey
Prof Beer offered a teasing taster of a data analysis tool that will be available on the 10-year data set of the NSS, the full data will be available for analysis (not by institution) – but we have to wait until early 2015 for this! Nevertheless, it will be a customisable tool, which caused the excitement.
Taking a holistic and more critical approach, Dr Camille Kandiko Howson‘s keynote was on “Metrics that Matter: Student Expectations and Effective Educational Practices”, pressing the point that it is the process of student evaluation – the ‘who does what’ and ‘for what purpose’ with the data – that is more crucial than the ‘what data’ is collected. I loved Camille’s analogy of deep/surface learning applied to the way institutions deal with survey data. She argued that many institutions take a surface approach to using their survey data: trying to climb up on the league tables rather than the deep approach: really engaging with and thinking about their data well and how they could lead to enhancement.
My highlights from the parallel sessions were:
* Hearing about an interesting initiative from next door: LJMU‘s Dr Elena Zaitseva talking about how they have changed their module surveys to be much more concise: 4 quantitative and 4 free text questions only, focusing on student learning and development. This led to a discernible shift in free text responses from satisfaction to student reflection and learning in students’ responses.
* I didn’t see the session by Dr Sarah Townley at the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine on their use of focus groups for student feedback, but it resonates with our Vet School’s student feedback system based on focus group methods, which has been very successful and which Ellen Singer will talk about at this year’s Learning and Teaching Conference. One to get the slides from!
* I also picked up as a skill from Dr Metaxia Pavlakou, Oxford Brookes University, who led a workshop session on cognitive interviewing to test survey responses. It is something I have done before piloting a survey but it was nice to consider and learn about the ‘official methodology’. A good book link given was Cognitive Interviewing by Willis (2005).
Another initiative I have been keeping an eye on is the UKES (UK Engagement Survey) pilot. UKES is the UK-adaptation of NSSE (National Student Survey of Engagement, US) which is currently being piloted at 36 institutions across the UK. Once piloted, it will be made available from 2015 to all institutions by the HEA. The purpose of UKES is quality enhancement – its data are never publicly available, they are for the institutions to make use of.
The panel discussion about the ‘Future of surveys’ was a stimulating debate including the keynotes, students, academics and HEA staff. At times I had felt opinions waged a battle between a Hollywood blockbuster aimed at satisfaction (the NSS) and a thoughtful independent movie (NSSE/UKES aimed at student engagement). But it was not that simple. There was a range of views from commitment to the NSS as a tool for helping the student voice through to experiences of it being used as a ‘stick to be beaten with’. The audience was pointedly asked: “How many of you know the departments with the worst NSS scores?” “And how many of know you know those with the best scores?” (Has anyone got any praise?). Views also highlighted the importance that the NSS should never be the only data collected: “Triangulate!”. The importance of the process of student evaluation (what happens with the data) was stressed again. Audience questions also suggested at the institution’s service there are many other means – focus groups, well-working student rep systems etc. – of eliciting student feedback and ways of responding to them – at their centre being systems and processes built on constructive dialogue between staff and students.
Inaugural Symposium organised by ELESIG North West
Thursday 15 May 2014, 12.00 – 16.30
Are you interested in sharing knowledge and practice around
researching the learner experience and technology?
ELESIG North West is a regional group aiming to
promote networking and the sharing of good practice
in learner experience research within a collegial setting.
Come and find out more at our inaugural event.
Speakers include Dr Paul Ashwin, University of Lancaster.
Paul will lead an interactive session on researching the learner experience
to inform teaching and institutional practices and add to the existing literature on this topic. During the session, you will have a chance
develop your own idea and turn it into an action plan for research.
Venue: G-Flex Room, Central Teaching Laboratories (building number 802 on campus map), University of Liverpool, Liverpool, L69 7ZJ
ALT (Association of Learning Technology) is 20 years old, so this year’s conference (ALTC-2013) themed as ‘Building new cultures of learning’ was marked by firework celebrations at the lovely green campus of Nottingham University. The 3 conference days were well spent networking, presenting our work and observing what others are up to in the field of learning technology in UK and global HEIs and other educational institutions. Naturally, with the 20 year-anniversary came an element of reflection.
One of my highlights of the conference was seeing one of our very own academic member of staff, Dr Tim Bullough (Engineering), amongst the presenters. We have so many innovative good practices at Liverpool worthy of being shared with others. Tim presented Kritikos, a customised visual media search tool for students, in front of a captive audience (see our earlier blog post on Kritikos being presented at a uni e-learning network meeting).
The main flavours of the conference were: institutions presenting data and insights on their minimum VLE requirement programmes, such as Jess Power from Huddersfield on ‘Blockages in relation to VLE use’, or Suzanne Wright from Nottingham on ‘Maximising Moodle’. Lecture capture was another much-spoken-of topic, typically presenters sharing their experiences with institution or department-wide lecture capture implementations, such Leonie Sloman from King’s College London’s medical school using echo360 who collected some impressive rigorous data both from students and staff on their preferences and experiences with it; or Ben Steeples from University of Essex, who shared with us a fast-pace whole-scale implementation of a lecture capture system within 30 months, using Panopto as their chosen system. Many universities in the audience had institution-wide lecture capture systems. Ben pointed out a legal guidance document by JISC on recording lectures. Essex will be looking at guidance on writing rights management and license awareness of staff and implementing a more gradient way of guiding rights of recordings from staff opting out from recordings through to enabling the creation of OERs and anywhere in-between. I also went along to a demonstration of Lecturetools (an echo360 company) by Prof Perry Samson, USA, who demonstrated his use of this as an in-class tool. An impressive aspect of it was not only that in-class polls can be asked after slides, but also the fact that each student can add their electronic notes/marks on any slide which are recorded for each student and can be retrieved by them later – saving on having to make notes on paper!
Of course the conference couldn’t happen without the mention of MOOCs, which others have documented amply, perhaps just to mention an award-winner example by Nottingham Uni who have developed their own ‘NOOCs‘ (N for Nottingham, rest is the same as in MOOC), the one on sustainability has won the prize.
A useful session was given by Lesley Gourlay, Martin Oliver (and sorry, I forgot the third presenter’s name!) on how to get your research published in the Research in Learning Technology journal – if anyone is interested in this contact me (Tunde) for more details. It’s a great journal to be published in: it is a high quality peer-reviewed, open access and free journal! See also two of our staff’s recent publicatons in it:
And finally, last but not least, I wanted to mention our own presentation by our eLearning Unit team, which Phil Walker and I (Tunde) presented on everyone’s behalf entitled ‘eLearning Unit, can we help you?’. It was about our team development. The session was well attended – people were buzzing with activity and we got many positive comments afterwards. A separate blog will follow on this shortly.
So the overall impression of ALTC? It is definitely a useful forum to benchmark in our role as learning technologist. I just wish it wasn’t so expensive as its high costs is getting preventive wiping out one’s annual conference budget! And one of the best unexpected bits: not only meeting and getting to know national and international colleagues but also having a chance to catch up with one’s very own colleagues (yes, Peter Reed and Tim Bullough!).