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    Understanding the essence(s) of portfolio-based learning

    By Domi C Sinclair, on 15 June 2016

    Last week saw the first ever joint AAEEBL and CRA conference, hosted in Edinburgh between 6th – 8th June 2016 whioch was titled, ‘Understanding the essence(s) of portfolio-based learning’. For those who don’t  know AAEEBL is a US based global portfolio organisation, it stands for the Association for Authentic, Experiential and Evidence Based Learning. CRA is a very similar UK based organisation, with it’s name standing for the Centre for Recording Achievement. So, as you can imagine this was a portfolio conference.

    There were 3 key themes that emerged from the conference. These themes kept popping up in presentations and discussion :

    Scaffolding
    Process not product
    Cultural shift/ change

    Let’s look briefly at these themes below, but if you would like a more detailed look them please see the AAEEBL/ CRA Conference 2016 on my personal blog.

    The first theme,  scaffolding, refers to the importance of having structure around portfolio activities. This predominately broke down into conversations about templates and frameworks for guiding staff and students without restricting them. Templates can be useful for giving students a little bit of direction without restricting their creative freedom (depending on the content and detail of the template). They are also useful because, anecdotally, students can find it overwhelming to simply be given a blank space to do with as they please. A template gives students a starting place. In relation to frameworks this was mostly a discussion about their usefulness for staff, to help give them some scaffolding from which to build a portfolio activity into their module or course, either as a single assessment or as an on-going activity to support learning via reflective practice. It was thought that this framework should be fairly high level, meaning it was not too prescriptive and not software dependant.

    This actually leads quite nicely into the next theme, process not product. There was a strong emphasis on focusing on the process and pedagogy of portfolios and not the product (either meaning the final output or the technological product used to facilitate them). It is easy to become distracted by debating whether you are using the best online portfolio system. At the moment UCL use MyPortfolio, which is based on the Mahara platform. As good practice we will be reviewing the use of this platform in the near future, however whether we use Mahara, WordPress or Office 365 the process of running a successful portfolio is the same and the buttons are not as important as strong pedagogy.

    The final theme is perhaps the one that has the biggest impact for portfolio, especially online portfolio adoption at institutions, and that is the need for a cultural shift/ change. This is perhaps best summarised by an analogy that was used by Trent Batson (President/CEO of AAEEBL) at the conference. He was talking about the American automobile and how it took 35 years to become fully part of US culture. First they invented the automobile and it opened up a lot of possibilities, such as people being able to commute more easily for work. But even after this it still took time to build all the roads, parking spaces and petrol stations needed. The idea was proven but it took a lot longer for the infrastructure to become part of daily culture. It is fairly easy to see how this relates to portfolios. There are a number of case studies out there to prove their potential, however the infrastructure to support them is not fully part of the culture of universities. Portfolios tend to expose the learning process which can be an intimidating prospect for both students and staff a like. However, portfolios can offer a very useful reflective space where you can use journals to do written reflections, and also reflect whilst curating examples of work you have produced that you are going to include in your portfolio. Reflection gives us the ability to stop and think about our thinking, and to understand how we can do better moving forward.

    Introducing the new E-Learning Baseline

    By Jessica Gramp, on 7 June 2016

    UCL E-Learning Baseline 2016The UCL E-Learning Baseline is now available as a printable colour booklet. This can be downloaded from the UCL E-Learning Baseline wiki page: http://bit.ly/UCLELearningBaseline

    The 2016 version is a product of merging the UCL Moodle Baseline with the Student Minimum Entitlement to On-Line Support from the Institute of Education.

    The Digital Education Advisory team will be distributing printed copies to E-Learning Champions and Teaching Administrators for use in departments.

    Please could you also distribute this to your own networks to help us communicate the new guidelines to all staff.

    Support is available to help staff apply this to their Moodle course templates via digi-ed@ucl.ac.uk.

    We are also working on a number of ideas to help people understand the baseline (via a myth busting quiz) and a way for people to show their courses are Baseline (or Baseline+) compliant by way with a colleague endorsed badge.

    See ‘What’s new?’, to quickly see what has changed since the last 2013 Baseline.

     

    ISD Digital Roadshow@IOE

    By Clive Young, on 24 May 2016

    draioe

    Join us for a digital roadshow on June 29th 10.30-3.30pm, Nunn Hall, Level 4, UCL Institute of Education. All staff and students are welcome.

    Listen to key ideas about digital capabilities in relation to educational practice from Diana Laurillard and Nazlin Bhimani. Find out about the range of digital services available from UCL ISD and IT for IOE in short talks and PechaKucha presentations.

    Get practical support and share ideas and issues on stalls including; ‘There’s an app for that’, a ‘Mac Brilliance bar’, ‘The digital library‘, Digital Media Services and much more.

    Network with colleagues over a brown bag lunch, share ideas and concerns and find out how ISD and  IT for IOE and the UCL IOE Library can help staff and students.

    http://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/isd-digital-roadshow-ioe-tickets-24865392057

    ABC reaches Glasgow… and Santiago!

    By Clive Young, on 23 May 2016

    Nataša Perović and I took UCL’s popular ABC learning design workshop on the road last week, on Friday running a session for the first time outside UCL. We were invited to the University of Glasgow by ex-UCL colleague Dr Vicki Dale, now with their Learning Technology Unit. Vicki had seen the workshop running in London and was keen to try it with her colleagues. 32 participants came from all four of Glasgow’s colleges and the energy in the room was remarkable and  indicative of the huge interest generated. We were pleased to see the method was as “really useful” for Glasgow participants (see below) as we have found it with UCL colleagues.

    glasgow

    In a curious coincidence on Friday the ABC method was also used for the first time abroad, this time in Santiago, Chile. Robert Pardo, Director of the Centro de Aprendizaje, Universidad Adolfo Ibáñez, had taken our materials, translated them into Spanish and after a couple of Skype sessions with us ran the workshop very successfully with a group of his colleagues. His conclusion? ” It works!! “

    chile

     

    Developing projects with disabled students

    By Moira Wright, on 9 May 2016

    In 2014 Michele Farmer (Disability IT Support Analyst – ISD) came up with the idea for developing some projects and put in a bid with help from Steve Rowett (Digital Education Developments Team Leader) and was allocated some money to run a project for disabled students.

    The idea was to give students a chance to develop resources that they felt would be useful to disabled and non-disabled users whilst gaining new skills, work experience and a bit of pocket money.

    We recruited four students who worked on a variety of outputs and ideas. Mark Shaw worked on a film that compared different referencing tools which is helpful to all students. Two others, Richard Kendall and Lewis Hopper, worked on a series of informational films that told users about the various support systems available to disabled users as well as a short film on Repetitive Strain Injury (RSI) from a personal perspective. James Prime worked on resources for blind users.

    We are extremely impressed with the students’ efforts. Check out the links below to view the films they produced.

    These projects were delivered with support from Digital Education Developments who helped to access some additional funding through the UCL ChangeMaker Digital Literacy programme.

    Mark Shaw – comparison and demos of reference programs.

    Overview of Reference Manager software

    Richard Kendall and Lewis Hopper – students’ views on support and services for disabled users at UCL.

    Initial experiences of UCL

    How has UCL responded to your needs both academically and outside university?

    What facilities are made available at UCL and do these met the needs of students?

    What advice would you give to a prospective student with a disability starting at UCL?

    Some courses offered by UCL include physically demanding activities. How have these been dealt with?

    Are you aware of the places round campus where you can access confidential support?

    Did you feel there was any difference in treatment between you and other students during your time at UCL?

    Richard Kendall and Lewis Hopperadvice on prevention and care of workstation related injuries.

    Dealing with Repetitive Strain injury (RSI) and related nerve damage

    James Prime – Guide to using JAWS with Excel for blind users and for trainers.

    http://www.ucl.ac.uk/isd/how-to/accessibility-disabilityit/jaws-and-excel-commands

     

    It’s off to work we go: the role of universities and employers in developing digital skills for employability.

    By Moira Wright, on 5 May 2016

    Off to workThe next UCL Digital Literacy Special Interest Group will be taking place on June 9th from 2- 5.00 pm  (ticket link at the end this post).

    The report ‘Digital skills for the UK economy’ (ECORYS UK, 2016), strongly suggests that the vast majority of the workforce increasingly need the confidence, skills and competences to use digital resources in the workplace. Although Higher Education institutions provide support for their learners in developing these skills, often at a high level, these efforts may be more focused on enhancing the student experience and achievement within the education environment than on their employability.

    Indications are that workplace skills are better developed outside the traditional functional skills development model designed for the more specific occupations of the past and instead perhaps should focus on real-world learning experiences and novel approaches to help graduates develop the workplace skills needed today. A recent Spectator article about their internships highlighted ‘ If you write well but can’t edit an audio file or make short video (or work out how to) then this internship is probably not for you’ (Nelson et al, 2016) and novel ways of such as interactive infographics instead of CV’s being used to attract prospective employers attention becoming more commonplace such as this example – http://www.rleonardi.com/interactive-resume/.

    Jisc have suggested embedding these skills within ‘connected curricula’ and recognising the lifelong learning aspects of employability as a graduate attribute could be underpinned by technology (JISC, 2015). The recent introduction by QAA of the themes of digital literacy and student partnership in developing employability have highlighted the need for higher education to face up to the challenge of delivering practical support in digital and workplace know-how to enhance graduate attributes (QAA, 2015).

    Adaptability, flexibility, complex problem solving, working in a team and an ability to use an ever increasing range of digital platforms, technologies and environments are the abilities that the modern workplace requires – irrespective of role or career choice.

    Who is responsible for developing these digital skills for employability – the university, the employer or the student?

    This event will explore the issues around technology, digital skills and employability in order to provide an opportunity to reflect on evidence, good practice, challenges and opportunities.

    Programme

    Hugh Mannerings – Academic Lead for Retention & Attainment at Higher Education Academy

    Tobias Buschel – UCL PG student – slack / student projects

    Stephane Goldstein,  Informall – SCONUL 7 Pillars employability lens

    Laura Firmin and Sophia Donaldson – UCL Careers – internships at UCL

    Charlie Inskip – UCL Department of Information Studies

    Please note the programme will be updated in due course with further details about the sessions and is subject to change.


     References:

    ECORYS UK (2016) Digital skills for the UK economy. Available: https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/492889/DCMSDigitalSkillsReportJan2016.pdf [ Accessed March 7th 2016]

    Nelson, F., Ross, D., Thompson, D., Chancellor, A. and Beasley-Murray, B. (2016) Internships at the spectator for summer 2016. No CVs, please | coffee house. Available at: http://blogs.spectator.co.uk/2016/03/internships-at-the-spectator-for-summer-2016/ (Accessed: 14 March 2016).

    JISC (2015) Technology for employability. Available: http://repository.jisc.ac.uk/6252/4/Technology_for_employability_-_quick_read_report.PDF [Accessed March 7th 2016]

    QAA (2015) Higher Education Review: Themes for 2015-2016. Available:http://www.qaa.ac.uk/en/Publications/Documents/HER-Themes-Guidance-15-16.pdf [Accessed March 7th 2016]

    HM Treasury, Department for Business, Innovation & Skills, The Rt Hon George Osborne and The Rt Hon Sajid Javid (2015) Fixing the foundations: Creating a more prosperous nation. Available at: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/fixing-the-foundations-creating-a-more-prosperous-nation (Accessed: 10 March 2016).

    HEA, Learning and Employability series 1 and 2 (2006) Available at: https://www.heacademy.ac.uk/sites/default/files/id116_employability_in_higher_education_336.pdf (Accessed: 10 March 2016).

    Are we using technology effectively to support student employability?
    Available at: http://blogs.ucl.ac.uk/digital-education/2016/01/19/are-we-using-technology-effectively-to-support-student-employability/ (Accessed: 22 March 2016).


    Link to registration and tickets via EventbriteIt’s off to work we go: the role of universities and employers in developing digital skills for employability.


    For any queries about this event or the UCL DL SIG please email: moira.wright@ucl.ac.uk


    UPDATE: Slides from the event:

    Hugh Mannering presentation



    Tobias Buschel, UCL Computer Science



    Link below brings you to a video of the presentation for the UCL Teaching and Learning Conference Tobias did about the UCL slack project:

    https://www.ucl.ac.uk/stream/media/swatch?v=13daf5ac3474 (Tobias’s  speech starts at 8:45)


     

    Stephane Goldstein, Informall


     

     

     


     

     

    Sophia Donaldson and Laura Firmin, UCL Careers presentation



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