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    Archive for the 'e-Learning Publications' Category

    Rebooting Learning for the Digital Age (report)

    By Clive Young, on 10 February 2017

    hepireportThe HE ‘think tank’, the Higher Education Policy Institute (HEPI), has just published Rebooting Learning for the Digital Age (PDF 58pp) written by three JISC leaders Sarah Davies, Joel Mullan and Paul Feldman. The report reviews best practice around the world to show how technology is benefiting universities and students through better teaching and learning, improved retention rates and lower costs and though a list of seven recommendations calls on universities to embrace new technology to meet the various challenges faced by the sector.

    While the actual approach is maybe less ‘reboot’ and more ‘refocus’, the report is an astute summary of the main issues and opportunities surrounding digital education in UK HE. It is more grounded than for example the OU Innovating Pedagogy 2016 report and provides a useful benchmark against which an institution such as UCL can gauge progress.

    A range of UK and international case studies indicate how digital initiatives can be used to improve student satisfaction, boost outcomes, retention and employability but still manage costs (so-called ‘win-win’ methods). However this inevitably requires strong leadership and the development of suitably-skilled staff.

    Two underpinning themes are threaded through the report, learning design and learning analytics.  On the first of these, the report comments, “when ‘designed in’ as part of the overall pedagogic approach, technology can be used to enable great teaching and improve student outcomes” and the first recommendation is Higher education institutions should ensure that the effective use of technology for learning and teaching is built into curriculum design processes. UCL has been particularly active in this area with ABC Learning Design, a bespoke rapid-development method that has already been very successful. The second recommendation identifies a real need, UK HE should develop an evidence and knowledge base on what works in technology-enhanced learning to help universities, faculties and course teams make informed decisions, plus mechanisms to share and discuss practice.

    Learning analytics which correlates patterns of student activity with learning outcomes and offer staff the opportunity to identify disengaged and underachieving students is the second main theme of the report. The next two recommendations suggest universities adopt learning analytics and research how the big datasets can be harnessed to provide new insights into teaching and learning. Digital Educaton has of course been looking into this e.g. From Bricks to Clicks: the potential for learning analytics and 8th Jisc Learning Analytics Network. Steve Rowett’s second post links the two themes of the report and the Open University published The impact of 151 learning designs on student satisfaction and performance: social learning (analytics) matters last year showing the remarkable potential of this combined approach.

    The third section of the report provides a useful reflection on the potential role of technology-enhanced in the Teaching Excellence Framework (TEF). It recommends Digital technology should be recognised as a key tool for HEIs responding to the TEF. Providers should be expected to include information on how they are improving teaching through the use of digital technology in their submissions to the TEF. Recognising the risk involved in new methods and the sometimes conservatism of students it adds, “The Department for Education (DfE) and the TEF panel must ensure the TEF does not act as a barrier against institutions innovating with technology-enhanced approaches”.

    The final two recommendations reinforce the institutional prerequisites mentioned above to realise the opportunity of digital education HEIs should ensure the digital agenda is being led at senior levels – and should embed digital capabilities into recruitment, staff development, appraisal, reward and recognition and finally academic leads for learning and teaching should embrace technology-enhanced learning and the digital environment and recognise the relationship with other aspects of learning and teaching.

    Innovating Pedagogy 2016 report

    By Clive Young, on 2 December 2016

    ip2016Innovating Pedagogy 2016 is the fifth annual report from the Open University (this year in collaboration with the Learning Sciences Lab at the National Institute of Education, Singapore) highlighting new forms of teaching, learning and assessment with an aim to “guide educators and policy makers”.

    The report proposes ten innovations that are “already in currency but have not yet had a profound influence on education”. In other words they are at an early phase of the Gartner Hype Cycle. Whether any will become, in the current idiom, ‘normalised’ remains to be seen and some scepticism would be advised. However, as I noted when the 2015 version was published, such reports often frame the discussion around technology in education, even if initially only at the level of “buzz-word bingo” for enthusiasts.

    The current list “in an approximate order of immediacy and timescale to widespread implementation” is;

    • Learning through social media – Using social media to offer long-term learning opportunities
    • Productive failure – Drawing on experience to gain deeper understanding
    • Teachback – Learning by explaining what we have been taught
    • Design thinking – Applying design methods in order to solve problems
    • Learning from the crowd – Using the public as a source of knowledge and opinion
    • Learning through video games – Making learning fun, interactive and stimulating
    • Formative analytics – Developing analytics that help learners to reflect and improve
    • Learning for the future – Preparing students for work and life in an unpredictable future
    • Translanguaging – Enriching learning through the use of multiple languages
    • Blockchain for learning – Storing, validating and trading educational reputation

    The usual fascinating mix of familiar ideas with novel concepts, the report gives a quick overview of why these may be important and includes handy links to further reading if you are interested

    From Bricks to Clicks: the potential for learning analytics

    By Stephen Rowett, on 9 February 2016

    I’ve blogged previously about the work that Jisc are doing in the field of learning analytics. Whilst there are some good case studies within the sector, informal conversations have indicated that most institutions are really only at the start of their analytics journey, or even simply keeping a watching brief on how the sector as a whole will act. Where institutions do have systems in place, they are often based on quite limited data sources (typically attendance data, VLE usage or library usage) rather than more holistic data sets covering a range of student experiences.

    A comprehensive picture of the current state of play is provided by From Bricks to Clicks: the Potential of Data and Analytics in Higher Education, a Higher Education Commission report which summarises the field and provides recommendations to institutions. A small number of pioneering institutions (Nottingham Trent, Open, Edinburgh) feature heavily as case studies, but the general argument is that universities are generating significant amounts of data about learning but are not yet in a position to use this data to support student success.

    At UCL, early discussions around the use of analytics have started. Our retention rates are generally good, but there is a feeling that students may leave their course due to social or economic factors – perhaps living in poor accommodation, feeling isolated, having financial difficulties or commuting into London. We think we might need quite a large dataset to model these parameters (if they can be modelled at all) although it is possible that attendance would be a good proxy for them. Certainly our journey into learning analytics is only just beginning.

    2016 Horizon Report

    By Clive Young, on 5 February 2016

    It’s that time of year again. Every year the NMC Horizon Report examines emerging technologies for their potential impact on and use in teaching, learning, and ‘creative inquiry’ within the environment of higher education.

    The report, downloadable in PDF, is compiled by an international body of experts and provides a useful checklist trends, challenges and technologies in the field and provides a useful benchmark of what is most talked about at the moment.horizon2016

    The key trends identified in the in the short term are

    • Growing focus on measuring learning
    • Increasing use of blended learning designs

    Longer term trends are: advancing cultures of innovation, rethinking how institutions work, redesigning learning spaces and a shift to deeper learning approaches.

    Key ‘solvable’ challenges are the same as last year

    • Blending formal and informal learning
    • Improving digital literacy

    More difficult challenges are; competing models of education (e.g. competency-based education in the US), personalising learning, balancing our connected and unconnected lives and of course keeping education relevant. “Rewarding teaching”, from last year seems to have been, ahem, solved.

    The important developments in educational technology they identify are in the short term are

    • Bring your own device (BYOD), same a last year
    • Learning analytics and adaptive learning

    Longer-term innovations are; augmented and virtual reality, makerspaces, affective computing (interpreting/simulating human emotions) and robotics.

    As usual there are useful commentaries and links throughout. Once again, encouraging that quite a few of these ideas are already being implemented, trialed and discussed here at UCL.

    Innovating pedagogy – 2015 trends report

    By Clive Young, on 9 December 2015

    Innovating-Pedagogy-2015-cover-large-211x300

    Innovating Pedagogy 2015 is the latest annual report from the Open University highlighting new forms of teaching, learning and assessment with an aim to “guide teachers and policy makers in productive innovation”.

    The scope is similar to the US Horizon reports, but presents a useful UK perspective.  It is of course sometimes difficult to differentiate the meaningful from the merely modish in such futurology (see for example Matt Jenner’s analysis of Horizon’s trend-spotting). However such reports definitely have an impact on the discussion around technology in education, even if initially only at the level of “buzz-word bingo” for those in the know. A fellow learning technologist last week accused me of “incidental learning” when, during a pause in our teaching session, he caught me reading a random handout left over from some previous class.

    The current crop is;

    1. Crossover learning – connecting formal and informal learning
    2. Learning through argumentation – developing skills of scientific argumentation
    3. Incidental learning – harnessing unplanned or unintentional learning
    4. Context-based learning – how context shapes and is shaped by the process of learning
    5. Computational thinking – solving problems using techniques from computing
    6. Learning by doing science with remote labs – guided experiments on authentic scientific equipment
    7. Embodied learning – making mind and body work together to support learning
    8. Adaptive teaching – adapting computer-based teaching to the learner’s knowledge and action
    9. Analytics of emotions – responding to the emotional states of students
    10. Stealth assessment – unobtrusive assessment of learning processes

    A fascinating list with several novel concepts (to me anyway), the report gives a quick overview of why the OU thinks these are or may be important and includes handy links to further reading.

    The authors also identify six overarching pedagogy themes that have emerged from the last four reports: Scale, Connectivity, Reflection, Extension, Embodiment and Personalisation.

    Now and next from E-Learning Environments Summer 2015

    By Domi C Sinclair, on 15 July 2015

    The second edition of our new monthly vlog series, where we bring you all the most important news from UCL E-Learning Environments. This video focuses on the what ELE are doing over the summer period, as well as some future plans.

    Useful link:

    Moodle Snapshot: https://moodle-snapshot.ucl.ac.uk/

    ELE Blog: http://blogs.ucl.ac.uk/digital-education/
    Twitter: https://twitter.com/ucl_ele

    Game SIG: https://moodle.ucl.ac.uk/course/view.php?id=21489§ion=3