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Connected Learning Essentials – now open to teaching staff outside of UCL

Jo Stroud7 October 2020

In Term 1 of 2020/21, UCL’s core teaching is taking place online. There has been significant planning and an extensive amount of work from across the institution to support this transition, including a range of centrally-organised opportunities for staff to learn more about online teaching and learning.

The Connected Learning Essentials programme

One such opportunity is Connected Learning Essentials, an online course that was swiftly developed by Digital Education, the Arena Centre for Research-Based Education, Library, and colleagues based in academic departments, and run in multiple two-week-long cohorts from June to September 2020. The course was developed with recognition of the challenges facing staff and what could be achieved in a short period of time, and introduced some of the most urgent and important aspects of positive and active online teaching. Programme sections include:

  • Taking a Connected Learning Approach
  • Securing student engagement
  • Ensuring a consistent learning environment for students
  • Assessment
  • Designing for students’ active learning
  • Curating and making resources
  • Knowing students are engaging and learning.

It is important to note that the course only covers the basics, and was supplemented with a range of further opportunities to broaden the scope of course topics, including a series of live sessions and localised support within departments and faculties to support distinct pedagogic approaches.

Enrol on Connected Learning Essentials

The course is now open to anyone who might like to use it, regardless of where you work. You don’t need to progress through everything in order, either. You can dip in-and-out of specific sections depending on what you need or interests you most. If you find you need to move your teaching online very quickly, you might focus on sections 2, 3, and 5, and return to others later. While some UCL-specific content has been removed or genericised for other contexts, there will be occasions upon which guidance refers to UCL policies, practice, or platforms.

To access the course:

  • Navigate to Connected Learning Essentials (open) and click the Login link
  • If you don’t have a UCLeXtend account already, click ‘Create new account’ and complete the sign up process. If you do, sign in and you should be directed to the course
  • In the ‘Self enrol’ field, enter the enrolment key: ‘CLEUCL’.

Reusing material from Connected Learning Essentials

Material and activities from Connected Learning Essentials are available to download in Word format as part of the course and are licensed under CC BY-NC 2.0. Alternatively, if you work in digital education, educational development, or a similar role at another institution and would like to reuse and adapt the course on your own platform this may be possible via a course export. If you have any questions about this please contact extend@ucl.ac.uk.

Open Education and Teaching Continuity

Samantha Ahern and Leo Havemann15 May 2020

Open Education practices and resources have become increasingly important of late. Sharing what we have learnt and changes that we have made in our approach to digital pedagogy and learning design are important in helping create the best possible learning opportunities for our students. In addition, as students may not have access to all the resources available via campus, now is a good time to re-use, share and create open educational resources. For instance, selecting an open textbook will enable greater access to a textbook resource.

Ongoing support

UCL Digital Education are continuing to run a series of online drop-in and training sessions. A full list of all upcoming sessions is available on the DigiEd team blog. In addition, a series of how-to videos are available via the E-learning wiki.

Arena centre colleagues are also hosting a range of online drop-ins. Details are given on the Teaching Continuity webpages.

SIG update

All OpenEd@UCL SIG face to face meetings are suspended for the forseeable future, including both SIG meetings and the monthly informal meet-ups.  Instead we will be keeping in contact via our SIG space on Teams and the mailing list. We are have already held one successful remote meeting and we will advertise upcoming meeting dates and times via our Teams space.

Resources

There is a wide range of fantastic resources available that can be utilised by you and your students. Some of these have been created by colleagues within UCL, some have not.
Please share any OER that you think will be useful to colleagues via the OpenEd space on Teams.

Things to read or watch

Some fantastic guidance is being provided by a range of experts at present to help with the transition. Included here are some great things to read to help inform your practice moving forwards, plus just some great reads related to open education and practices. All listed items are open access.

 

ABC LD – the next steps

Natasa Perovic13 July 2018

UCL Digital Education has been awarded two year Erasmus+ funding to develop their well-known ABC learning design workshop with a 12 European universities. Since its inception at UCL only three years ago this unique ‘rapid-development’ approach to help academics develop high tech student-focused modules and programmes has had an unprecedented impact on the sector. Dr Clive Young, the originator of ABC alongside his Digital Education colleague Nataša Perović, gives the reasons for its success, “Most universities have aspirational strategies to develop future-looking digitally rich and blended courses, but few teachers have the skills, knowledge and time to redesign their programmes”. ABC is UCL’s response, a light touch team-based approach which co-creates a visual storyboard for a module in just 90 minutes. Over 75 workshops have been run at UCL with nearly 500 academics (and students) redesigning around 200 modules. The participant response has been overwhelmingly positive and ABC was soon picked up beyond UCL, and is now used at 20 other universities in the UK alone. The Erasmus project builds a strategic partnership between UCL, six other universities from the League of European Universities (Amsterdam, Helsinki, Leuven, Milan and the Sorbonne, with Oxford as an associate) and six innovative universities from Belgium, Denmark, Croatia, Estonia, Ireland and Romania. The partnership will develop ABC as a downloadable toolkit that can be used globally by any institution in the sector.  More information…

Follow the project progress via twitter @ABCtoVLE @ABC_LD.

2016 was a busy year for ABC LD!

Natasa Perovic22 December 2016

We facilitated ABC LD workshops in UCL, Glasgow, Aarhus (Denmark), Bruges/Kortrijk (Belgium), Santiago (Chile) and Brisbane (Australia). We presented at two conferences and published a paper about ABC LD.
Colleagues from other universities also facilitated ABC LD workshops (with our guidance).
A full list of activities (with nice images!) is available on the ABC LD blog, 2016 summary.

It seems that 2017 will be an even busier year for ABC LD. Our community members and the workshops planned for 2017 are indicated on the map below.

ABC_LD community map

Best wishes for 2017 to all!

ABC LD blog/

 

A next generation digital learning environment for UCL

Steve Rowett7 November 2016

At UCL we’ve been pondering what a future learning environment might look like now for about two years. And we are starting to reach some conclusions.

Our analysis of our VLE – and pretty much all of them out there – is that it suffers from two fundamental limitations.

Silos – staff and students see the courses they are enrolled for, and generally can’t look over the fence to see something else. In real life, if a student asked to attend lectures for a course they weren’t registered for, we’d welcome their interest, their breadth, their love of learning. In the VLE we tell them that this is impossible. The VLE limits a student’s education to just what they have paid for, just what they deserve, and just what they need to know. All curiosity is lost.

Control – the teacher sets things up and students do them. No questions asked or even allowed. Forums lay devoid of posts for fear of asking ‘dumb’ questions, or fear of making mistakes. Assignments are submitted with perfunctory duty with the best that a student can hope for getting a green pass on Turnitin and some feedback some weeks later which is ignored anyway as the triumph or the disappointment of the grade awarded is processed. All love of learning is lost.

So we’re looking for something different.

And our inspiration came from an interest place – Brockenhurst College in Hampshire. Now they have a very rural catchment area – some students travel over from the Isle of Wight to attend classes. So of course, they don’t travel if they don’t have classes and therefore feel disconnected from the university.

We realised that part of the challenge at UCL is the same. The distances may be much smaller, but when you are travelling from home or commuting on the Central Line means that the disconnection is just as real.

So we need an environment that promotes connections. It just so happens we also have the Connected Curriculum initiative which will encourage interdisciplinary research-based education, where students do real, authentic work, not just essays for a teacher to mark. Where group work is the norm, not the exception. Where students are not passive recipients, but actively engaged in enquiry.

So it’s all coming together. What we want for UCL is an Academic Social Network.

What do I mean by that? Let’s take each word at a time.

First, it’s Academic. That means it is designed for education. There are plenty of social networks around – Facebook, LinkedIn and Yammer spring to mind – but they are designed for different things, typically business. Whether it means allowing people to ask questions anonymously, embedding LaTex in messages so mathematicians can speak in their own language, or structuring data to be able to find final-year projects, the platform needs to speak to teachers and students as being something for them. It’s about work, but also all of the other things that happen at university; social clubs, sports, societies, volunteering. It’s a safe and trusted place to be because the user trusts the university and knows they are not the product to be sold and re-sold to the highest bidder.

It’s Social. Because learning is social. I don’t just mean group work, but the full gamut of human social interaction. If you talk to students in our learning spaces, they are often working ‘alone, together’; that is they are doing individual tasks but just looking after each other. A student who is tired will be offered a coffee; someone will look after your laptop while you go to the toilet. Students are friends with each other on Facebook, but having staff friends is just ‘weird’. We want a space without complex meanings or difficult relationships but where everyone can connect with each other as part of the university community.

Finally it’s a Network. Universities are big places, and UCL is bigger than most. Networks are a place where you can meet like-minded folk, but also get exposure and understanding of those who study different things, think in different ways, have different approaches to the same challenge. That network extends beyond current staff and students to pre-entry students, alumni, industry and charity partners – all of those that have a stake in the vibrancy and excitement of what a university can be.

So what are we going to do?

We’re going to get one.

That’s quite a lot of work, as we have to do a lot of procurement activities to get what we want.

But for now, we have students and teachers on the ground talking to peers, understanding needs, working our what it means to be part of the UCL community.

We’ve done a lot of thinking, some talking and even more listening. It’s an experiment. We don’t know if it will work. Even if it does, it will probably take many years.

We characterise what we want as follows:

Characteristics of our platform

 

It’s our shot at what a Next Generation Digital Learning Environment will look like.

Many thanks to Eileen Kennedy for her work in developing and evaluating these ideas within UCL Digital Education.

Sharing data, sharing experiences

Steve Rowett26 April 2016

The thing we love most in Digital Education is working with our students, hearing their ideas and seeing what they can achieve.

The UCLU Technology Society recently approached us about an API for accessing information at UCL – what is available now and what more could be made available in the future. It’s a difficult question, as we don’t own most of the data we process and don’t have the right to just make it available. But with the UK topping the Open Data Barometer, it’s such to be a question we will have to face.

The leaders in this field in the UK are Southampton and Oxford. Four members of TechSoc and myself recently visited Ash Smith and Chris Gutteridge at Southampton, who have done tons of work in opening up university data – everything from buildings to catering.

The TechSoc have written up the visit as a blog post, so I’ll do no more other than link to their report of the visit.