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    Archive for the 'Students' Category

    Digital evening classes?

    By Jim R Tyson, on 1 October 2018

    This term, for the first time that I know about, the Digital Skills Development team are offering sessions in the evening. I had intended to write a blog post ready for this morning promoting these sessions and encouraging people to sign up. Alas, I fell behind. However, when I logged on this morning to check our schedule of training and bookings, I was delighted to see that the two evening training sessions for R and RStudio have already attracted more bookings than any other session – and this just a few hours after booking opened!

    It will be interesting to find out how popular and successful this experiment is. If the demand is there for out of hours sessions in Digital Skills Development then we may be able to increase the offer. Do you find the idea of an evening class in digital skills attractive? Let us know in the comments.

    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:

    Download (PDF, 42KB)

    Learning Analytics as a tool for supporting student wellbeing – Identifying student mental ill-health

    By Samantha Ahern, on 20 November 2017

    Research has shown that students who are distressed and at risk from mental ill-health will often exhibit one or more of the following indicators concurrently: academic struggles and failures, excessive absences from classes and obligations, excessive substance use, loneliness and isolation, social and interpersonal difficulties with others on campus, changes in self-care and lack of self-care, extreme risky behaviours, inability to tolerate frustration and normal stressors in college, inability to regulate emotions, hopelessness and despair(Anderson, 2015).

    Gemmill and Peterson(Gemmill and Peterson, 2006) have found that internet communication may have the same buffering effects of stressful life circumstances in the same way as non-internet communication by increasing measures of social support and perceived social support.

    This corresponds to findings by Gordon et al. (Gordon et al., 2007) who investigated types of student internet usage (meeting people, information seeking, distraction, coping and email) and four indicators of well-being: depression, social anxiety, loneliness and family cohesion.

    Their findings suggest that it is the type of internet usage, more so than the frequency of use that relates to depression, social anxiety and social cohesion. Using the internet for coping purposes was significantly associated with lower levels of family cohesion and higher levels of depression and social anxiety. Whereas, information seeking and email were positively associated with family cohesion.

    Research into predicting depression with social media(“Predicting Depression via Social Media – 6351”, n.d.), in this instance Twitter, found that social media contains useful signals for characterising the onset of depression in individuals, as measured through decrease in social activity, raised negative affect, highly clustered ego networks, heightened relational and medicinal concerns, and greater expression of religious involvement. It is noted that in order to identify changes in some behaviours, it was important to know the normal behaviours of the user e.g. an indicator of depression is a tendency to be more active at night. To be able to identify if there has been a change in activity the authors defined the normalised difference in number of postings made between the night window (9pm and 6am) and day window to be the “insomniac index” on a given day.

    In summary, these studies show that identifying behavioural changes are key to identifying student mental ill-health, this therefore implies that an understanding is needed of normative behaviours of students.

    References:

    Download (PDF, 42KB)

     

    Learning Analytics as a tool for supporting student wellbeing – The role of HE Institutions

    By Samantha Ahern, on 20 November 2017

    Byrd and Mckinney (Byrd and Mckinney, 2012) found that the combined effects of both individual and institutional level measures were associated with student mental health, accounting for 49% of the variance in mental health after controlling for background and demographic characteristics.  The IPPR state that their findings(“not-by-degrees-summary-sept-2017-1-.pdf”, n.d.) suggest that a majority of HEIs should take measures to ensure that the nature of course content and delivery does not result in academic rigour being sought at the expense of students’ mental health and wellbeing.

    Social problem solving, coping, was identified as a more useful indicator of suicide potential than hopelessness, they therefore note that the concept of coping, especially in relation to students’ adjustment to university life, deserves further attention.

    In addition, O’Keefe(O’keeffe, 2013) states that student wellbeing can be seriously compromised if the university is unable to create a caring environment, develop a sense of belonging among students and provide adequate campus based counselling support.

    The Huffington Post blog post ‘What Happened to Pastoral Care?’(“What Happened to Pastoral Care? | HuffPost UK”, n.d.) states that the term ‘pastoral care’ has been missing from many of the discussions on mental health in higher education, and asks if the loss of the term ‘pastoral care’ reflects that we no longer tend to hold universities responsible for student welfare?

    The Universities UK Student mental wellbeing in higher education Good practice guide(Universities, 2015) states that there has been a very significant growth in the specialist support and guidance services provided for students in higher education.  This includes supported provided within faculties and teaching departments including personal tutoring and other pastoral systems.

    With respect to duty of care, institutions have a general duty of care at common law to deliver their services to the standard of the ordinarily competent institution; and, in carrying out their services and functions as institutions, to act reasonably to protect the health, safety and welfare of their students.

    The QAA report What students think of their higher education (“What-Students-Think-of-Their-Higher-Education.pdf”, n.d.) identifies that positive and supportive relationships with a personal tutor was essential to successful learners. However, inconsistencies in students’ experiences continued to be problematic with student comments including:

    The personal tutor organisation has been really poor. After four years at […] I am now

    on my seventh personal tutor, who doesn’t know anything about me and I don’t feel

    very supported in my final (and very stressful!) year. I’m not very happy at the idea of

    this person writing a reference for me for a future job as they will only have the basic

    information that is on my student record.’

     Suggested improvements included greater and easier access to personal tutors through scheduled tutorials and that tutors should be contactable via email.

     A response to the inconsistencies in the approach to student advising and tutoring has been the establishment of UKAT, the UK Advising and Tutoring group. UKAT believes that personal tutoring and academic advising have not been given the attention they deserve in UK institutions and aims to redress this situation, offering professional development and training in this vital area, providing a forum for the exchange of ideas and working to ensure that tutors and advisers receive the respect they deserve (“About Us”, n.d.).

    References:

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