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    E-Learning Development Grant (ELDG) scheme – 4 years of successful bids!

    By , on 14 April 2011

    2010_ELDG Berlingieri reportFor the past four years we’ve been given the support of the Office of the Vice Provost to ask UCL staff:

    “Would you like to develop the use of e-learning in your teaching?

    Do you have innovative ideas but need support putting them into practice?”

    It’s been those who’ve responded to this call with creativity, vision, and sometimes strong pragmatism that we’ve then worked with as part of UCL’s E-Learning Development Grant (ELDG) scheme.

    This gives funds to further knowledge and experience of e-learning within UCL. It’s previously been used to:

    • support the development of resources
    • evaluation and technology reviews
    • promote innovating teaching methods
    • or even visiting external institutions for inspiration and to compare practice

    A strong part of the ELDG process is to share and learn from these experiences so each year we ask successful bids to report back so that other members of the community can build on them. These reports now span four years in total and will definitely be of interest to applicants for 2011-12 funding or staff looking for inspiration to draw on.  Though many projects are still ongoing it’s been great to review the reports for completed projects so far,  now up on the page for: ELDG Reports Successful bids from previous years

    Though there are more to come, reports from the 2010-11 session have been more detailed than previously. It’s also been the first to encourage video report/presentations, which’ve been particularly engaging and informative and will now probably be a continuing feature of the scheme.

    This year the Office of the Vice Provost (Academic and International) has made available £40,000 to fund ELDG projects, more than ever before. However, this coming academic year is also the culmination of UCL’s efforts to have all taught modules on Moodle to a ‘baseline’ standard. Of course, many modules already on Moodle have been there for some time and have gone well beyond baseline use. Recognising this and encouraging an enhanced use of Moodle is therefore a strong strand in this year’s grants and proposals  including innovative uses of Moodle or combinations with other UCL integrated technologies  are eagerly anticipated.  (See ELDG Themes and inspiration page)

    For those thinking of applying for an ELDG grant the deadline is fast approaching (April 28th!) so we suggest looking over these previous years’ successful bids and themes and ideas page to get some ideas, reading criteria for application and then applying.

    Last year we received over 40 applications so we look forward to seeing what this new year brings in terms of new practice, ideas and innovation!

    If you have any questions do feel free to contact us.

    “Social” self-study

    By Clive Young, on 17 March 2011

    Head forst book pageEarlier this year I came across the Head First WordPress book from O’Reilly and was much taken by the “brain-friendly” highly visual, conversational, sometimes jokey layout (see left).  This made me ponder just how friendly our self-study e-learning support material is. We tend to make our documents and videos quite academic and dry, though our live workshops are fun and interactive.

    e-Learning consultant Clive Shephard raised much the same point in a blog post this month Can self-study be social? .  He suggests “self-study could feel very much like one-to-one learning if the content was prepared with a degree of personality… written using a conversational tone, with the author’s personality shining through“…maybe I suggest a bit more like the Head First design approach.

    Clive puts it bluntly “Web 2.0 content – blog and forum postings, YouTube videos, etc. –  is consumed with gusto because it has personality. Policy manuals, corporate brochures and self-study compliance courses are not, because they don’t.

    He concludes “Time for e-learning to get some personality. If it does, even self-study can feel like a social experience.

    It seems there is a challenge there for all of us involved in the development of print and online support materials, to move from the dry academic tone towards something that is a little more fun and engaging.

    Smarter learning with Social Media? A 10 Step Plan

    By Fiona Strawbridge, on 17 March 2011

    I’ve just enjoyed a webinar led by Jane Hart on how social media (or SoMe as she refers to it) can help orgnaisations to ‘work smarter’.  The basic premise is that conventional training and development fills people’s heads with knowledge in an inefficient and ineffective way, and that online versions of courses – which are often over-engineered, do little better, whilst taking additional resource to develop; this is not sustainable.  Jane argues that much real learning takes place outside the formal work or learning environment, and that social media can help us to learn in new ways, sharing resources, ideas, experiences and expertise.

    The script and slides for the whole presentation are helpfully available at http://c4lpt.co.uk/articles/10steps.html (it would have been even more helpful if I’d known this at the start as I was typing notes frantically as she spoke).

    The 10 steps are:

    1. Raising awareness of the potential of social media for both working and learning – stuff like finding thinks on the social web; keeping up to date; building a trusted network; communicating;  sharing; collaborating; improving productivity – see http://c4lpt.co.uk/workingsmarter
    2. Help people with personal knowledge management – dealing with information overload; filtering info; finding the right resources, and people
    3. Develop team collaboration skills – perhaps by integrating social tools into training activities and helping people to learn and work together)
    4. Help establish communities of practice (or ‘professional practice groups’ as one of the attendees suggested) – apparently this goes down better with managers than “let’s set up a social network”. These groups do need to be nurtured – “seed, feed and watered”
    5. Use social media for ‘performance consulting’ – this rather uncomfortable term means getting to the root of an apparent performance problem and finding a solution rather than automatically sending a colleague on a training course.
    6. Help people design and build their own solutions – help them to own the solution
    7. Help teams build social resources together – a nice example was given of rethinking induction and using social media to connect new staff with existing staff,  ask questions, and access key resources from day one rather than waiting for the next scheduled event.
    8. Build communities of practice into formal approaches – consider incorporating social media into formal training approaches (but take care to make sure that they are seamlessly integrated). Turn your Community of Learners into a Community of Practice!
    9. Integrate learning into the workflow – use the same tools for learning and you do for working.  Yammer was presented as a tool to allow people to share resources, ideas, ask questions, and to work in groups.
    10. Lead by example – use a supported, bottom-up approach. So we should be using social media to help staff develop their e-learning practice, demonstrating its value ourselves.  Watch this space!

    For chapter and verse see http://www.C4LPT.co.uk/10steps.html

    Apps and the end of lectures?

    By Clive Young, on 8 February 2011

    Why should we spend so much time memorising this much when the information is easily accessible?

    Interesting article in this months medicalstudent – Are iPhone apps replacing traditional lectures? It’s on page 5.

    Echoes the comments of Prof Sugata Mitra, star of TED and ALT-C (hole-in-the wall computers etc) when asked asked last year to make three predictions  – in just 2 minutes – about what universities would be like in 2025 – one of the areas he obviously felt quite strongly about was how mobile computing might change medical education.

    E-assessment 2.0 – making assessment Crisper…

    By Fiona Strawbridge, on 15 September 2010

    CALT organised a stimulating presentation by Prof Geoffrey Crisp of the University of Adelaide about assessment in the Web 2.0 world. Much information at http://www.transformingassessment.com and a similar presentation is on slideshare.

    Crisp calls for much more ‘authentic’ learning and assessment – the need to set big questions; for instance in aeronautical engineering we should set students a task to build a rocket in 3 years. This allows them to see reasons for the smaller things. The tendency with conventional assessment is for everything to become very granular – little learning outcomes are assessed with discrete assessment tasks which don’t encourage students to make connections, and which encourage surface and strategic rather than deep approaches to learning.

    Of course moving away from more traditional forms of assessment entails proving that the alternative works – traditional approaches are very deeply engrained in the culture of institutions and are not easily challenged. Crisp acknowledged that even in his own institution there is some way to go.

    Three points to start with:

    1.    Assessment tasks should be worth doing – if students can get answers by copying from web, or asking google, or guessing, then the task is not worth doing. We need to stop setting tasks which are about information since information is everywhere.

    2.    We should separate out diagnostic assessment from formative assessment. Diagnostic assessment is essential before teaching and can be an excellent way of starting relationship with students at the outset. The teacher can then build their teaching on students’ current level of understanding.

    3.    Think about assessment tasks which result in divergent rather than convergent responses.  In the traditional approach we tend to seek convergent responses in which all students are expected to come up with same answer but divergent responses are more authentic.  Peer- and self-review approaches can support this approach.

    Bearing this in mind, and drawing on the work by Bobby Elliot (see http://www.scribd.com/doc/461041/Assessment-20), we heard that:

    • Assessment 1.0 is traditional assessment – paper-based, classroom-based, synchronous in time and space, formalised and controlled.
    • Assessment 1.5 is basic computer assisted assessment – using quizzes which tend to replicate the paper-based experience, and portfolios used mainly as storage for students’ work. Tasks tend to be done alone -competition is encouraged and collaboration is cheating.  They tend to encourage focus on passing the test rather than on gaining knowledge, skills and understanding and don’t lead to deeper levels of learning (indeed Elliot argues that factual knowledge is valueless in the era of Wikipedia and Google.)
    • Assessment 2.0 is tool-assisted assessment in which students do things using a variety of tools and resources and then simply use the VLE (typically) to submit the results. This kind of assessment is typically authentic, personalised, negotiated, engaging, recognises existing skills, researched, assesses deeper levels of learning, problem oriented, collaborative, done anywhere peer- and self-assessed, and supported by IT tools especially the open web.

    Some nice examples of interactive e-assessment 2.0 design included:

    • Examine QuickTime VR image of a geological formation then answer questions based on that – drawing on things wouldn’t be able to see from static image.
    • Examine panograph (scrolling and zoomable image) of Bayeux Tapestry and answer questions drawing together different parts – students selecting evidence from different segments of the tapestry.
    • Interactive spreadsheets – Excel with macros.  Students can change certain bits and answer questions on resulting trends in graphs. Can have nested response questions so that the answer to the second is based on first. (But there is a need for care with dependences so that a wrong move early on doesn’t lead to total failure).
    • Chemical structures using the Molinspiration tool. Students can draw molecular structures using the tool and copy and paste the resulting text string into answer which is held in the VLE quiz tool.
    • Problem solving using a tool called IMMEX (‘It Makes You Think’) which tracks how students approach problems.  The tutor adds in real, redundant and false information that the students can draw on to solve the problem.  They can use it all but the more failed attempts they make the fewer marks they get. We saw an archaeology example in which students had to date an artefact.
    • Role plays which can be done using regular VLE features such as announcements, discussion forums, wikis.  Students adopt different personas and enter into discussion and debate through those personas.
    • Scenario based learning – this is more prescriptive than role play. The recommended tool is Pblinteractive.com
    • Simulations – the Bized.co.uk site offers a virtual bank and factory. Students can work within bized then answer questions in the VLE.
    • Second Life (virtual world) assessment in which the avatar answers questions which go back into Moodle.

    Examples of these and more are available through the http://www.transformingassessment.com/ site – it’s Moodle-based and anyone with a .ac.uk email address can self-register and try out the various tasks. (They also run a series of webinars.)

    Crisp argues convincingly for much more authentic and immersive assessment, and for assessments in which  process as well as outcome is evaluated – for example approaches to problem solving;  efficiency; ethical considerations; involvement of others.

    A good closing question was whether teachers will be able to construct future assessments or will this be a specialist activity. Is it all going to get too hard for people? There may be a need for more team based approaches in future.

    Useful resources

    Boud, D., 2009, Assessment 2020 – Seven propositions for assessment reform in higher education, Available at: http://www.iml.uts.edu.au/assessment-futures/Assessment-2020_propositions_final.pdf

    Crisp, G., 2007, The e-Assessment Handbook. Continuum International Publishing Group Ltd

    Crisp, G., 2009, Designing and using e-Assessments. HERDSA Guide, Higher Education Research Society of Australasia

    Elliott, B., 2008. Assessment 2.0 – Modernising assessment in the age of Web 2.0. Available at: http://www.scribd.com/doc/461041/Assessment-20.

    Etherpad – a gem of a tool for collaborative writing

    By Fiona Strawbridge, on 9 March 2010

    Steve Rowett has just introduced us to Etherpad – an online tool for collaborative writing.  You can find it at http://etherpad.com/ and using it is beautifully simple:  You simply click on the ‘Create public pad’ and start writing.

    Of course, being collaborative you would want to invite others to work with you, so the first thing to do in the ‘Public Pad’ view is to invite others to join you.  I sent out an invitation to colleagues at 11.45, suggesting we start working together at noon.  One by one people showed up, within moments had worked out how to identify themselves, and how to use the chat as well as the editing interface, and 15 minutes later we had created a reasonable document.  You can see who is writing what as all text is colour coded by author.

    Fabulous for brainstorming. Beats the wiki hands down. Also beats GoogleDocs as the refresh time is just 0.5 seconds compared with 15 secs for Google.  Etherpad explain that they are able to do this because ‘it’s really, really hard. We’re fairly experienced programmers, and to make this work we had to solve problems that, as far as we know, no one had solved before.’

    It also has a timeline feature so that you can go back through the entire document simply by sliding a slider across the screen. Lovely!

    Here’s a quick (and slightly rough around the edges) video to show it in action.