For the last four years, the Department of Science, Technology, Engineering and Public Policy (STEaPP) has been running a two-week programme called ‘How to Change the World’ (HtCtW) for undergraduate engineering students in the Faculty as part of the Integrated Engineering Programme. The aim of HtCtW is to enable students to work in multi-disciplinary teams and collaborate to create engineering solutions to an open-ended problem linked to a particular global challenge.
Due to the success of this format, the programme is being rolled out externally. It was piloted with members of the Royal Academy of Engineering (RAEng) in London in 2016, and now STEaPP is partnering with the RAEng and National Academy of Engineering to run a student programme for a cohort of 150 students (from China, UK and US) at the Global Grand Challenges Summit 2017 in Washington DC on 18–20 July.
Students will generate their own audio or video podcasts exploring how solving one or more of the Grand Challenges could impact real peoples’ lives for the better. These podcasts will be reviewed and a selection will be promoted across a range of professional networks and media channels, with career-enhancing benefits for participants.
Five members of STEaPP staff will travel to Washington DC and offer face-to-face facilitation at the Summit. In additional, the department is also offering online learning consultancy to the RAEng that enables us to develop, produce and release online learning materials to support the programme. Based on a ‘flipped classroom’ approach, we are use a combination of the Microsoft Office 365 tool and online cloud storage to set up a password-protected online portal where students can access information and reading materials to prepare for the programme. Using Dropbox’s “File Request” allows students at the Summit without an account to submit their deliverables.
We are also working with experts in media to give the students some unique insights into how best to communicate their message. Alok Jha (ITV News Science correspondent), Dr Kevin Fong (STEaPP Honorary Lecture and BBC science programme presenter) and Oliver Morton (the Economist) have been tasked with producing an online guide on how to produce a good podcast.
The use of a range of cloud services enable the partnership of UCL STEaPP, RAEng, British broadcast professionals and US-based organisations to work effectively together to design, develop and deliver this student programme. It is hoped that the experience of this collaborative work will help STEaPP to further develop our expertise in the use of learning technologies in both formal and informal learning curricula.
Learning Technologist and E-Learning Champion at STEaPP
The UK Open University (2006) provide a useful introductory course, called Accessibility of eLearning, that will help you understand how to create accessible e-learning experiences that provide access for all. The course can be completed online, or downloaded in a number of common file formats, including for e-readers and as a PDF.
I would strongly suggest either completing the course, or reading the course materials, but if you don’t have time I’m going to summarise the key points in this post:
In 2006, disability affected 10-20% of every country’s population, and this number is growing.
In 2006, 15% of the UK population, over 16 years old,self-declared a disability.
A disabled person is one who has a mental or physical disability that has a substantial, long term (12 months or more), adverse effect on their ability to carry out normal day-to-day activities.
Around 1 in 10 men and 1 in 200 women have red-green colour blindness.
UK Universities are legally obligated to make reasonable, anticipatory adjustments to ensure those with disabilities are not discriminated against.
There are two views of disability. The medical model describes the problem of disability as stemming from the person’s physical or mental limitation. The social model sees disability as society restricting those with impairments in the form of prejudice, inaccessible design, policies of exclusion, etc.
Accessibility is about both technical and usable access for people with disabilities. For example, although a table of data may be technically accessible by a blind person using a screen reader, they may not be able to relate the data in each cell to its column or row heading, so the meaning of the data is lost in the process, rendering the table unusable for that person.
Computers enable even severely disabled people to communicate unaided, giving them independence and privacy that is not possible when they need to rely on human assistants.
When communicating online, a disability may not be visible, removing barriers caused by people’s reactions to the disability.
Creating accessible learning environments helps everyone, not just those with disabilities. For example, products that can be used by blind people are also useful for people whose eyes are busy*.
*This last point reflects my own preference for listening to academic papers while running or walking to work, when I would be otherwise unable to “read” the paper. As a student and full-time employee, being able to use this time to study enables me to manage my time effectively and merge my fitness routine, with study time. This is only possible because my lecturers, and many journals these days too, provide accessible documents that can be read out loud using my mobile smartphone.
This list brifly summarises the key points I drew from the OU’s Accessibility of eLearning course and demonstrates some of the ways we, as developers of online courses, can make better online learning experiences for all our students, including those with disabilities.
During the autumn term a group of 20 UCL UG, PG, PGR, PGT and PhD students attended a LinkedIn masterclass workshop series designed and delivered by Miguel Garcia, Global Instruct Manager from LinkedIn. The course consisted of six 2 hour workshops designed to develop the right mindset and enhance skills to enable students to use LinkedIn according to their own needs and interests.
The benefit of having Miguel Garcia delivering the sessions was apparent from the start – his knowledge of LinkedIn and how it can work for an individual or an organisation – is second to none!
Watch the video below to hear more from Miguel and some comments and feedback from students here:
He took his experience of helping customers grow their businesses using LinkedIn and applied this to helping students find and prepare for careers aligned to their personalities, interests, ambitions, skills, and values.
The first session asked the question Why Should I use LinkedIn? The students were shown how to begin to establish a professional brand, how to find the right people, how to engage with people, and how to initiate and build relationships as well as how they can see and measure immediately the effectiveness of their actions on LinkedIn. The session ended with recommendations on what to focus on and some actions to take in the next seven days.
Session two was called How do I build my personal brand? and was based on the premise that just because you are a student it doesn’t mean you don’t have experience or a personal brand. This session focused in learning how to showcase the skills and experience gained from student roles, volunteering or part time work in a compelling way to attract recruiters and powerful industry influencers. The students learnt about how to curate content from past experiences for their profile to enhance and improve the way this is shown by using the rich media options available to you on LinkedIn. This curated content along with a professional profile photograph provides a complete profile that is attractive to both recruiters as well as prospective employers.
The third session How can I communicate effectively? is probably something that most people have struggled with at one time or another – finding the right way to say things and then share them with a global audience can be daunting so this session concentrated on effective social sharing and publishing on LinkedIn. During the session students were sending messages, InMails, introduction and connection requests to begin to build their networks. One key aspect covered in this session was the difference between academic writing and business writing in respect of written posts for LinkedIn and the importance of finding ‘your voice’ to do so.
The fourth session How should I connect with others? was focused on connecting with the right people in the right way – basically networking effectively. The opportunity for students to connect with professionals, academics and influencers gives them access to unique career opportunities and informs them about the job market and how it works. The most effective students will be able draw on the expertise of their network before applications and interviews giving them unique and valuable insights and information or advice.
The fifth session How do I use LinkedIn to find a job or internship? is probably why most students signed up. The challenge is not just to find a job but the right career opportunity and something that you will enjoy doing. There are many examples of how others have managed to do this – even when it did not seem very likely. This session showed how by conducting research on LinkedIn you can access career and company pages to get an understanding of an organisation’s culture, benefits and opportunities to make sure they line up with what you are looking for. The session also included how to create a plan to stay in contact with employers so that when opportunities become available your chances are enhanced.
The final session How can I use LinkedIn to develop the ultimate career plan? was about how to put together a strategy and flexible plan to raise your chances of success in a changing world. The importance of having a long term plan and strategy for how you will use everything learned on the course and use it over the next 6 months in actionable steps. Students will set their own milestones, agree what further learning they may need or where they need to improve. Every student will make a 6 month commitment with regular check-ins to ensure progress.
The course was totally oversubscribed and I experienced something I never have before at UCL – an increase in participation for the first few weeks – a definite first for me. In fact the course has been so successful we are running it again this term – this time with 40 places available and have moved every other session online to Blackboard Collaborate.
Miguel has brought with him a set of unique skills and experiences that have greatly benefited UCL students –there really can’t be many who have experience of the full recruitment cycle from both an employers and employee perspective along with such a deep understanding of how a platform like LinkedIn works. Having completed the course students are now confidently and happily making connections, reaching out to prospective employers and building networks of contacts on their own.
There is usually a distinct lack of control for a graduate who is job searching – they are often limited to contact with a HR department or a recruiter and with most job applications being made online – they seldom get feedback or guidance on why things may not have worked out as the volumes of applicants are far too high to do so. This is one of the many benefits of using LinkedIn – you are much more in control of things and generally the communication is direct and also in real time.
Nowadays it is increasingly important for students to understand how online recruiting and job searching works – what the pluses can be and also any pitfalls. What has worked so well with this course is how Miguel has perfectly balanced the blend of coaching, activities and presentations – yet still managing to address each and every person’s needs in the group. There have been some quite remarkable transformations during the course and some of the first cohort are now working on a 1 minute video to add to their LinkedIn profile – watch this space!
All teachers of English as a Foreign Language (EFL) also known as ELT and related disciplines of ESL and ESOL.
Anyone teaching languages to teens and adults
Questions any language teacher might ask before buying a resource book:
Will I learn something? Will it save me time? Will it become a useful addition to the (digital) bookshelf?
Answers: Yes, yes and yes
Questions for any language teacher might ask about buying an educational technology themed resource book:
Do I need a certain amount of experience in order to be able to make use of this? Or – for more advanced practitioners – Is this only for beginners? Will I still learn something?
Answers: No, No, Yes
Why should I buy a book about exploiting digital video?
Because online video is an increasingly important part of everyday experience. Everyone is viewing and sharing more video than ever before. So what?There is also an ocean of text and images washing over us. The relevance to education is? The point is that most of us are already sufficiently empowered to deal with text and audio. Those of us who are so inclined can tweet, blog, Facebook, Instagram etc. to our heart’s content and many educators are taking advantage of a plethora tools to explore associated educational benefits. Video is different. Where to find resources (apart from YouTube)? What tools to use? What approaches to take? That is what this book offers help with. Lots of resources, tools and techniques even the savvy may not have known about. Very practical suggestions, all linked to pedagogy and learning outcomes. There is no “tech for tech’s sake” here.
Is this only for English as a Foreign Language (EFL / ELT) teachers?
The resource reviews are more focussed on the core audience but the majority is of use to language teachers anywhere and quite a few sections of general interest to teachers of any subject where bringing video into the classroom and student creation of video offers potential.
I am less experienced with video or learning technologies. What does this book offer me?
Video tutorials (hosting a video online/ downloading videos / embedding videos in a webpage / muting audio / adding subtitles / creating QR codes / creating a video slideshow)NB you need to be online to access these.
Technical help in selecting editing tools and hosting sites
A clickable glossary throughout which picks up lots of the key digital terms – examples of words glossed – apps / applications / synchronous / asynchronous / target language / URL / QR code / LMS interlocutor / paradigm.
A good range of comprehension and creation activities to try out with step by step instructions.
A list of resource sites to explore.
How does this support more experienced teachers?
All of the above is useful for most audiences but experienced users can benefit from is a helpful overview to jump around easily. There are also sections on ‘cool tools’ and application reviews.
So far so positive. Any negatives?
For a higher education audience, the Approaches to Learning chapter (Chapter 4) may come across as simplistic although this does not detract from many of the sound points therein. The real value of the book is the tutorials, tools, sample tasks and resources.
The tutorial videos don’t work offline.
In this fast-moving environment, some of the tools and resources listed are no longer available. Three out of approximately twenty resources fall into this category.
In keeping with his frontier-gazing, guru status in some circles, the author adopted what he termed a Publishing 3.0 approach https://nikpeachey.blogspot.co.uk/2014/01/publishing-30-new-model-for-independent.html. Firstly he used crowd-funding to sign up a number of guaranteed readers in advance – which also explains why there is a discreet sponsor stamp on each page. Secondly he self-published which inevitably led to a few rough edges but for £4.99 who is arguing?
Coincidentally, this is the second excellent book on the subject produced for the EFL / ELT sector recently. Language Learning with Digital Video (Cambridge University Press) is an excellent addition to this new field and, like the Nik Peachey book, has won an award or two.
Know It Wall has been announced as a Summer of Student Innovation winner, bagging £10,000 in funds to further develop their idea in collaboration with Jisc.
On 23 August, seven of the 15 Summer of Student Innovation ‘Student Ideas’ first round winners beat the competition to secure further funding and support from Jisc to develop their ideas into real products ready for market. Following a four day Jisc run ‘design sprint’ in Birmingham, the student teams went head to head to persuade the judges in a Dragon’s Den style pitch, and we are proud to announce that Know It Wall came out on top!
Know It Wall aims to make current academic research accessible to the intellectually curious public through the use of text and high quality audio-visual content. So far the team have produced 18 episodes on topics ranging from human memory to the discovery of the Higgs Boson. Team Know It Wall is planning to spend the prize money on producing video content and the development of additional features to the website.
“The competition really does show that students are best placed to address education sector issues, and their innovative ideas are perfect for supporting learning, teaching or research”
– Andy McGregor, Deputy Chief Innovations Officer, Jisc
Have you got students with an innovative edtech idea? Digital Education Futures can provide support and mentorship.
UCL staff and students have access to audio and video content from free-to-air TV and radio channels through UCL’s Box of Broadcasts subscription. Staff can also make clips and embed this media into their Moodle courses without worrying about infringing copyright. And unlike YouTube, the clip will remain indefinitely.
On 1 August 2016 the new Box of Broadcasts (BoB) went live with a fresh look, enhanced video quality and more powerful searching capabilities. The search now returns ordered results in a much easier to follow format.
From September, BoB will deliver a whole host of improvements:
A platform working across desktop, iOS and Android devices.
More powerful searching capabilities (using TRILT metadata).
Better programme coverage and a permanent archive of content from nine channels:
BBC Radio 4.
BBC Radio 4 Extra.
Better thumbnail previews on search results.
Preview clips before saving.
Label your own clips.
Personalised email alerts when programmes are ready to view.
More detailed citation data.
Limited content and functionality during upgrade period
Throughout August some of BoB archive content and some functionality won’t be available during the upgrade period.
On 1 August you won’t be able to access your saved clips and playlists, but don’t worry these will be accessible again in September. Also, you may not be able to access some archive content broadcast before 1 July 2016. There will be some programmes in the archive available before this date but not everything. The archive content and enhanced functionality will be restored in September, along with all the exciting new features. We apologise for any inconvenience caused during the upgrade period.
Find out more
You can now find Box of Broadcasts on their new Twitter handle @OnDemandBoB. All followers and previous tweets will stay attached to the new handle, so if you’re following us you don’t need to do anything. Just make sure you tag @OnDemandBoB in your BoB tweets, as the old handle will no longer be active.
To promote the BoB upgrade to staff and students here’s a short video highlighting all the exciting improvements.