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ABC Learning Design Update

CliveYoung19 December 2019

ABC is the effective approach to curriculum (re)design, developed at UCL four years ago and now used widely not only at UCL but across the HE sector. Well over a thousand colleagues have now had a chance to participate in an ABC workshop. For those still unfamiliar with this ‘sprint’ approach, programme and module teams take part in an engaging hands-on ‘design sprint’ workshop, usually facilitated by UCL Digital Education. In just 90 minutes using a game format, teams collaborate to create a visual ‘storyboard’ outlining the type and sequence of blended and online activities required to meet the module’s learning outcomes. Assessment, cross-programme themes and institutional policies such as the Connected Curriculum can all be integrated according to the needs of the programme/module.

After running pilots in the 2014-15 academic year, ABC was launched as a service in 15-16 and has enjoyed steady growth in numbers of modules (re)designed per annum. As part of UCL’s 2016-21 Educational Strategy we committed to work with 250 modules by 2021. We have nearly reached this already, not counting workshops run by UCL academic colleagues.

Word of ABC soon spread beyond UCL especially as we provide workshop materials for free download. In 2016-18 we were funded by HEFCE Catalyst to both evaluate the ABC method and develop these materials onto a downloadable ABC Toolkit to help other institutions run their own workshops. We ran demos at several JISC Connect More events, ALT-C and international conferences and as a result ABC is now a familiar UCL ‘brand’ in the UK and beyond.

90% of ABC participants surveyed in the HEFCE project agreed their experience was positive and 71% that the workshop enabled them to enhance the curriculum. Many follow-up interviewees commented on the ‘buzz’ in the room and enjoyment of the workshops:

it’s just a fun workshop so it’s colourful, it’s paper based, you’re moving things around and you’re feeling things, people are excited, if there are tutors and there are many of those who actually have a fear of technology type things, well they don’t have to worry about it in a workshop like this, …  it’s alive, you can see it; people are talking and it’s great to see that….

In parallel we have run the workshops for 16 fellow-members of the League of European Research Universities, including at Edinburgh, Oxford, Imperial, Trinity College Dublin, Amsterdam, Copenhagen and the Sorbonne. This networking led to the current Erasmus + project ‘ABCtoVLE’ (2018-2020) investigating both how institutions localise ABC and link it to their online learning environments. This year the UCL Digital Education team have also run workshops by invitation in Warsaw, Zurich, Geneva, Reykjavik and even as far afield as Auckland and Sydney.

The global interest in UCL’s learning design method is wonderful but hard to keep up with, so next year we will focus more on building a sustainable network.

Educause – Key issues in T&L in 2019

CliveYoung20 February 2019

A US focus to the infographic of course, but an interesting insight nonetheless.

Follow-up notes and “7 things” briefing papers at https://www.educause.edu/eli/initiatives/key-issues-in-teaching-and-learning

Innovating Pedagogy 2019

CliveYoung4 January 2019

The latest Innovating Pedagogy report from The Open University explores ten innovative trends in teaching, learning and assessment in eduction.

Aimed to inform ‘teachers and policy makers’, the annual report – this is the seventh – is free to download from www.open.ac.uk/innovating

The 2019 report was written in collaboration with the Centre for the Science of Learning and Technology (SLATE) in Bergen, Norway and sketches ten trends ‘in currency’ that they think have the potential to provoke major shifts in educational practice at all levels. These are listed below “in approximate order of immediacy and timescale to widespread implementation”. Digital education features of course, “technology can help us to do new things, rooted in our understanding of how teaching and learning take place”.

  • Playful learning Evoke creativity, imagination and happiness
  • Learning with robots Use software assistants and robots as partners for conversation
  • Decolonising learning Recognise, understand, and challenge the ways in which our world is shaped by colonialism
  • Drone-based learning Develop new skills, including planning routes and interpreting visual clues in the landscape
  • Learning through wonder Spark curiosity, investigation, and discovery
  • Action learning Team-based professional development that addresses real and immediate problems
  • Virtual studios Hubs of activity where learners develop creative processes together
  • Place-based learning Look for learning opportunities within a local community and using the natural environment
  • Making thinking visible Help students visualise their thinking and progress
  • Roots of empathy Develop children’s social and emotional understanding

Some of these ideas will be familiar, others more novel so the short sketches provide a useful overview and update, with links to further exploration.

Free LERU online digital HE summit

CliveYoung24 October 2018

 

Do you want to talk and learn about the latest ideas and practical solutions in digital education? To see how digital approaches have enhanced blended and online education in other research universities?

Sign up for the free online sessions at the Digital Higher Education Summit, a blended conference from LERU (League of European Research Universities), of which UCL is a member . The Online Conference will run from the 1st until the 29th of November 2018. 

The blended conference comprises a ‘virtual’ online pre-conference and a face-to-face event in Utrecht. The on-campus conference in Utrecht, the Netherlands is an invitation-only event. The online conference is open to everyone. Many on-campus events will continue the topics from the online activities. The Blended Conference starts online on November 1st, four weeks before (some of) the participants convene in Utrecht.

The LERU theme group on digital education is organising this first ever blended conference to disseminate knowledge of and experiences with digital teaching solutions in this group of leading universities. The blended approach will give a wide group of teachers and staff members the opportunity to build networks and hear about the latest developments from the different task groups.

Please sign up if you are interested in any of these topics:

  • Video and media
  • Academic development
  • E-assessment

… and many others

They will keep you updated on the schedule of activities around these topics. You can also sign up for the already scheduled online activities on the online community.

There are two ways to join the online conference:

  • As an active participant – actively joining the discussion, exchanging knowledge and experiences concerning specific topics
  • As an passive participant – hear about the latest developments from the different task groups and create new networks

The online conference can only accommodate a limited number of active participants, so register soon on this link, https://leru.educate-it.nl/

Video introductionLERU online digital HE summit 2018

 

ABC LD – the next steps

NatasaPerovic13 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.

Rebooting Learning for the Digital Age (report)

CliveYoung10 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.