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    Archive for the 'Our Views' Category

    TPCK, data and learning design

    By Samantha Ahern, on 13 February 2018

    Samantha is an experienced educator, technologist and creator.

    This is my standard biog text. Technology is both what I have studied and what I have taught others. The use of technology in learning activities was authentic and integrated into the learning design. Technology, pedagogy and curricula are therefore intrinsically intertwinned.

    For meaningful use of technology in teaching and learning these three elements should form a braid.

    The 2007 paper What is Technical Pedagogical Content Knowledge? is a good discussion of this interplay and is pretty much how I view the relationship between technology and pedagogy.

    When talking about learning and the use of technology in learning I often used the phrase and advocate for ‘pedagogic intent’.

    Its a great phrase, but what does it mean?

    Lecture capture is very popular with students, and increasing numbers of lectures are recorded.  However, there can be a quite passive use of the technology.

    However, it can be used create engagement in the classroom.  The technology becomes part of the pedagogy of the classroom experience.  Our UCL colleague Parama Chaudhury presented a great webinar for the Echo 360 EMEA community on ‘Engaging students with active learning: lessons from University College London’.

    This technology can also be used post session to identify content that is that is either difficult, identified by a flag, or of particular interest to students, that could inform future session planning.

    Additionally, many taught modules have corresponding Moodle courses.  Although the e-Learning baseline introduces a degree of consistency, these vary immensely in their purpose and content types.

    A move towards blended learning designs provides data points that could support post-course review or, perhaps most interestingly, to flag ‘critical-path’ activities (quizzes, forum posts, downloads etc) for intervention in real time. In this case ‘blending’ in online activities becomes an essential part of the student experience.

    This identification of course elements of pedagogic interest of existing learning designs and how resulting questions could be answered by the identification of corresponding data points and analysis can be embedded into the learning design process.

    The upcoming JISC Data informed blended learning design workshop aims to help participants ensure that their blended learning designs are purposeful. It will seek to make explicit the pedagogic intent in a learning design and explore how data can enable us to understand whether or not learner behaviour is corresponding to those expectations.

    Thus returning us to the intertwinned relationship between technology, pedagogy and curricula.

     

    Introducing StepShot Manuals

    By Jim R Tyson, on 8 February 2018

    For a while now, I have been quietly promoting StepShot Manuals (StepShot for short) to my colleagues in ISD. StepShot is a rapid documentation development tool. Which is not nearly as bad as it sounds. StepShot allows you to record an on-screen process – for example, formatting a table in Word or filling out an expenses form – taking screenshots, adding callouts and annotations and writing explanations as you go.

    Some key uses for StepShot include

    • rapid development of training materials and technical documentation
    • developing test scripts for UAT
    • recording test results or bugs
    • creating knowledgebase articles
    • recording process for business analysis and process review

    If you have ever done these jobs, then you might have combined several tools, for example

    a screenshot tool (Windows has one built in), Word, an image editor (Paint or Photoshop), with a workflow like this: take all your screenshots, insert them into word editing, cropping etc as you go, adding explanatory text.

    Stepshot brings all this together in one tool. You set it up to record the activity and select to create a screenshot for mouse clicks or keyboard actions or to use a specific hot key combination for screenshots. As you go through the activity recording images you can also give each a descriptive title and a comment. When you stop recording StepShot opens its editing tool. This latter looks a bit like PowerPoint: your images are listed vertically down the left while the main window allows you to edit an image and add text.

    Click to see the animation!

    This is already a vast improvement on hacking documents together with separate applications, none of them specifically designed for the job, but wait there’s more! StepShot can export your document when you have finished, as Word, PDF, HTML, XML or DITA and can publish directly to Confluence, SharePoint or WordPress. (If they add a PowerPoint option I’ll throw a party). There are simple built in templates for output and with a little effort you can create a customised or branded template.

    So, currently about a dozen people at UCL have taken up a license (UCL staff members can contact ISD Training Administration for licensing information. To use StepShot you do need admin rights on your Windows or Mac PC.). It has been used to create training materials for lecturecast (published on Confluence), it has been used in UAT creating test scripts, it has been used by software testers to record bugs and communicate them to developers. No one currently using it has had more than a two minute informal introduction to the product but people seem to pick up its basic use very quickly. Users report that they enjoy using it as well. The most commone response using it for the first time has been about the immense time savings you can achieve and next about the simplicity of use. One or two people have commented that they don’t really like the look of the output, but this is largely because they haven’t learned how to customise output. I have offered a short workshop on customisation and hope to run it again.

    I have created a Microsoft Team site and I will be keeping in touch with people using it since I have been asked to feedback our experience to the developers.

    The purpose of education?

    By Samantha Ahern, on 25 January 2018

    “Were all instructors to realize that the quality of mental process, not the production of correct answers, is the measure of educative growth something hardly less than a revolution in teaching would be worked.”
    John Dewey, Democracy and Education

    Over the last few weeks I have attended a number of events, but they have all the same common thread.

    They have left me asking two questions; firstly, what is the purpose of education and secondly, what do we mean by learning?

    This has reminded me of comments made by Peter Goodyear in his keynote at the 2017 ALT Conference regarding learning spaces, ‘attributes and qualities of spaces do not determine the learning and outcomes and objectives’ and ‘it’s what students actually do that effects what they learn .. can not be designed’.

    In the #IOEDebates event What if… we really wanted evidence-informed practice in the classroom? Gert Biesta (Professor of Education and Director of Research, Brunel University London) noted that ‘Teaching is: Open, semiotic and recursive’ and this makes teaching a messy business. We can remove the messiness but would this reduce teachers to technocrats and create an education environment of uniform conformity, evidence must not become another thing to tell you what to do.

    Professor Biesta went on to ask ‘What do we want education to work for:’

    • Qualification?
    • Socialisation?
    • Subjectification?
     This had parallels to discussions at the debate What is a university education and where is it going? where Lord Willetts discussed the wider benefits of Higher Education:
    http://blogs.staffs.ac.uk/mikehamlyn/files/2015/06/willetts1.jpg
    How do these benefits relate to the learning or the learning gain that takes place within our universities?
    Many of the presentations at the HEFCE open event Using data to increase learning gains and teaching excellence hosted by the OU primarily focused on non-subject knowledge gains and employability.
    HEFCE define learning gain as ‘an attempt to measure the improvement in knowledge, skills, work-readiness and personal development made by students during their time spent in higher education.’ (http://www.hefce.ac.uk/lt/lg/). They go on to state that measuring learning gain will ‘contribute to a broader international understanding about the value of higher education, and help governments shape their policies and investments accordingly.’.
    So what is primary purpose of learning within our institutions? Can this learning be effectively measured?
    I don’t know. All I do know is that I now have more questions than answers about the nature of learning and the purpose of a university education.

    Developing Digital Scholarship at UCL

    By Moira Wright, on 23 January 2018

    The next UCL Digital Literacy Special Interest Group (UCL DL SIG) will be taking place on Friday February 16th from 2pm – 5pm (ticket link at the end of this post).

    Digital content is increasingly being used in learning, teaching and research across the Higher Education sector. This has led to a significant change in research practices across disciplines, which include knowledge creation and dissemination through social media and repositories. Complex software tools are being used for data analysis in Arts and Humanities as well as Sciences, and large data sets are being made available to the research community, leading to a blurring of the organisational and support responsibilities of academic stakeholders. This timely event takes a look at digital scholarship at large, and considers new initiatives and opportunities within UCL to address the challenges associated with this disruptive shift.

    Event Programme

    Developing Digital Scholarship: Emerging Practices in Academic Libraries – Alison MacKenzie, Dean of Learning Services at Edge Hill University and Lindsay Martin Assistant Head of Learning Services at Edge Hill University.

    The impact of digital on libraries has extended far beyond its transformation of content, to the development of services, the extension and enhancement of access to research and to teaching and learning systems.As a result,the fluidity of the digital environment can often be at odds with the more systematic approaches to development traditionally taken by academic libraries, which has also led to a new generation of roles and shifting responsibilities with staff training and development often playing ‘catch-up’. One of the key challenges to emerge is how best to demonstrate expertise in digital scholarship which draws on the specialist technical knowledge of the profession and maintains and grows its relevance for staff, students and researchers.


    From digital scholarship to digital scholar  – Alison Hicks, Lecturer UCL Department of Information Studies.

    Drawing on her experience working as an academic librarian in the United States, Alison’s presentation centres on the capacities that are needed to participate in practices of digital scholarship, as well as the inherent risks and challenges of engaging in open and networked spaces.


    Introduction to Digital Scholarship and Open Research – Daniel van Strien, Research Data Support Officer UCL Library Services.

    Daniel will be presenting on a session which aims to help participants make a practical start in practicing open science and digital scholarship he is a Research Data Support Officer within UCL Library Services with an interest in digital scholarship and new approaches to research.


    Where’s your digital at? – Moira Wright, Digital Literacy Officer, UCL Digital Education.

    With an interest in student digital and information literacy skills for employability. Moira will be talking about the Jisc Digital Capability Discovery Tool and how to get involved in the UCL beta pilot.


    Research IT Services – Tom Couch, UCL Research IT Services (RITS).

    Whilst many of the existing users of Research IT Services are pushing for more of the same but better, the broadening base of digitally engaged researchers from different disciplines requires more experimentation with new technologies and services. Tom Couch reports on some recent projects that have helped RITS to engage and support new groups of researchers.


    Please use this link to book your ticket via Eventbrite

    We’re using the Jisc definition of digital literacy: ‘the capabilities which fit someone for living, learning and working in a digital society’.
    The UCL DL SIG was created for UCL staff to promote the use of technology in learning, provide a platform to ask questions, exchange ideas and also to get support from colleagues beyond UCL Digital Education.

    Photo by Tim Mossholder on Unsplash

    Where’s your digital at?!

    By Moira Wright, on 22 January 2018

    Discover your digital capabilities! The Digital discovery tool helps you to reflect on your digital expertise and confidence. Find out how to make digital technologies work for you – and get noticed for the skills you have already.

    The tool is a self-administered quiz about professional digital practices in education. Workshop participants will receive a personalised report based on their responses with links to resources and guidance. The tool is designed to be reflective, informative and developmental – it’s not an objective measure of an individual’s digital performance.

    UCL staff are invited to participate in one of three workshops of the beta pilot with an opportunity to use the tool and provide your feedback to JISC.

    Places are limited for these sessions and a sandwich lunch will be provided.

    Sign up via Eventbrite use the links below:

    Thursday 8th February 2018 from 1 pm – 2pm

    Tuesday 20th February 2018 from 1pm – 2pm

    Monday 26th February 2018 from 1pm – 2pm

    A version for students is planned for March 2018 and we’re keen to give students at UCL an opportunity to participate in the pilot. If you would like to discuss running departmental workshops (either staff or student) please contact Moira Wright.

    Links:

    JISC digital capability discovery tool

    Photo by Emily Morter on Unsplash

    Learning Analytics as a tool for supporting student wellbeing – Learning Analytics and Student Mental Health & Wellbeing

    By Samantha Ahern, on 20 November 2017

    Learning analytics is defined as ‘the measurement, collection, analysis and reporting of data about learners and their contexts, for purposes of understanding and optimising learning and the environments in which it occurs’(“Guest Editorial – Learning and Knowledge Analytics. Educational Technology & Society, 15 (3), 1–2. Siemens, G., & Gašević, D. (2012)”, n.d.).

    Applications of learning analytics include Early Alert and Student Success, Course Recommendation, Adaptive Learning and Curriculum Design(Sclater, 2017).

    Can and should this learning analytics be extended to identify normative behaviours of students and recognise changes to those behaviours, aiding pastoral support?

    Although much of the data for informing pastoral support is the same as that for Early Alert and Student Success the aims and implications are different. The data needs may also be more demanding. For example, there will be additional considerations around data sharing and protection as mental ill-health is classified as a protected characteristic.

    For inclusion of engagement data from virtual learning environments, this would involve understanding the seasonality of student interactions with online course content, cohort interactions, how a student’s interactions are differing from both their cohort and their own normative behaviour with respect to the seasonality.

    Prinsloo and Slade (Prinsloo and Slade, 2017) note that ‘Not  only  do various  stakeholders  in  the  institution  work  in  silos,  responding independently  of  each  other and resulting  in  overlap and inconsistencies, institutional  sense-making  of  students  at  risk is  also  fragmented’, which may hinder student well-being support.

    Evidence on the effectiveness of learning analytics based interventions in unclear. A systematic review and quality assessment of studies on learning analytics in higher education by the University of Exeter(Sonderlund and Smith, 2017) was only able to include 20 of 560 papers identified due to the methods employed in the studies, only 4 studies evaluated the effectiveness of interventions based on learning analytics. The key recommendation from the review is that more research into the implementation and evaluation of scientifically-driven learning analytics to build a solid evidence base.

    The combination of the lack of evidence of the effectiveness of learning analytics based interventions and the potential negative consequences for both our students and institutions, therefore causes us to question whether learning analytics should be used to support student mental well-being.

    Conclusion

    Student mental wellbeing and in particular student mental ill-health is of major concern, with 48% of UK HEIs having appropriate policies in place(Universities, 2015), and continually needs to be addressed.

    An “unhelpful divide” of distinguishing intellectual needs from emotional needs, then students mental health may suffer if the emotional needs are ignored(“What Happened to Pastoral Care? | HuffPost UK”, n.d.). Therefore, pastoral care in addition to academic support is crucial student mental wellbeing.

    The Higher Education Academy UK Professional Standards Framework (“UK Professional Standards Framework (UKPSF) | Higher Education Academy”, n.d.) dimension A4, Developing effective learning environments and approaches to student guidance,  indicates that student support is an area of activity in which those teaching and supporting learning in higher education should be involved. Additionally, the Universities UK #stepchange(“#stepchange”, n.d.) guidance states that HEIs should seek to promote a diverse, inclusive and compassionate culture as part of their preventive actions.

    Unfortunately, there are a number of inadequacies with the current provision of pastoral care in UK Higher Education Institutions.  I propose that learning analytics can be used to help to address some of these inadequacies by providing timely and meaningful data to personal tutors about their tutees., this is in alignment with the Univerisites UK guidance(“#stepchange”, n.d.) to align learning analytics with student wellbeing. However, this will require action on behalf of tutors, and there are legal questions still to be answered around negligence and failing to act on or engage with information provided via learning analytics.

    Despite the potential ethical and legal issues around using learning analytics to support pastoral care and student mental wellbeing, I believe that this application area that should be explored.

    References:

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