#Digifest17

It’s been a week since Digifest17, so here’s our reflection! Learning from last years outing to #Digifest16 where only one of us attended, this year two of us from the e-learning team went down to Birmingham to see what the JISC conference had to offer.

Honestly it was a mixed bag, nothing negative, just not as many ‘new’ concepts. Though then again, for those that are not specifically e-learning or TEL based, there were a few sessions which could have been revelationary. However it was still a great experience and it could have been down to session choice. The sessions we attended were the following:

Initial Keynote: 

This was interesting, in relation to the simple questions asked ‘Do quality learning materials matter’ ‘How important is organisationa culture to successful adoption of technology’ and so on. To us viewing this from an e-learning perspective, now backed by the statistical results, screamed the common sense answers to each question. It was key to see the varied views, though the common sense answers screamed out yes, there was a high proportion of uncertain answers which suggests an almost

The second part of the Keynote heavily related to making us think about if we are helping students be fit for the future and predicted changes in the job market.

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However  to me, it was fresh in memory anyway, we (the e-team) had done a session presentation with the P.G.C.E students at the college about TEL and the relationship Millenial students would have with it. This helped the future educators think about how they would be preparing them for jobs that might not already exist, so the focus should be on embedding problem solving and flexible TEL skill sets within the classroom as well as specific content knowledge ( game keeping, animal form and function for vets, how to tell if a tree is dead etc..you can tell we come from a Landbased College!)

Workshops attended: 

Digitally Enhanced Curricula:

We decided that splitting up and going to different sessions was the way forward. So I went to this workshop on Digitally Enhanced Curricula, whereas my colleague went to a student based workshop. Within this session a learning activity design model was discussed and then 5 case studies were given about how TEL has been used and implemented in different institutes and then a full session discussion.

The themes that came out from all were utilising your e-team, thinking of creative ways of using technology, fostering creativity within your students and using peer learning to the best effect.  I would suggest having a look at the Digifest17 program and looking for exhibitors to get in contact with, as everyone is willing to share and collaborate on ideas.

Student Innovators:

At this point both me an my colleague started going to the same sessions, as they were more applicable to us as an institute. This was a session held by Gloucestershire College and was run by one of their e-team and a member of the student innovator team. With most student innovator schemes there were problems and solutions, it was great to see that the student innovators had really run with what they had to do.

The innovators had created Tech Toolboxes for other students, run and helped to create induction and training sessions for new students and are working on further developments working with the heads of areas. In addition they collectively ran a blog, with the help and guidance of the e-learning team, rating different apps and giving reviews (a bit like shopping reviews) like a rating system by students for students. It was an inspiring session for us as we are looking into using a similar system to have student TEL champions.

‘Surfing the Shallows or Creative brickolage?’

I personally loved this session and after discussing it with my co-worker, we both agreed it was refreshing to attend. The premise of this session was that students are now digital scavangers, or bricoleurs’ and that the way they read information is different, so different and varied ways of showing and navigating information should be  offered by education.

 

Overall  the day was a bit of a reinforcement for us, from the sessions we went to there was only 1 which stood out as revelationary theory or practice but the rest of the sessions supported what we’re already doing. Hopefully that just means that at the college we’re based at we’re ahead of the curve in some respects, in regards to practice and theory. It could also be due to the sessions we chose, but that is the beauty of any e-learning conference, being able to tailor the session program to our needs.

I am looking forward to attending next year to see what’s out there!

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Learning with iPads

Last Wednesday (8th March) I attended a ‘Learning with iPad’ session at the Essa Academy in Bolton, organised by MCC.

After an introduction from the Keynotes: Essa and the Bolton School about the Essa Academy  and Bolton School  technological journeys, we then went into different workshops. The choices were varied from the technical side with coding with swift and iPad deployment workshops to the softer skills sets with Apple Teacher and Assessment and Feedback with the iPad.

Due to personal time restrictions on the day I could only attend the initial Keynote and 2 of the workshop sessions.

Keynote: Introduction to the Schools

The introduction to both schools showed how iPads could be effectively integrated in very different schools (funding differences, student backgrounds, socio-economic areas etc)

The Essa Academy had effectively redefined their use of technology rather than substituted it, much like the SAMR model. They had classed it as transforming the teaching and learning rather than translating it.

They used technology to create consistency and transparency. Essa swapped their old VLE for iTunesU. This change was more redefinition rather than substitution due to the cultural change in regards to how to use iTunesU rather than an off the shelf VLE, being less of a repository and more of a learning space to assess and feedback to students.

The online resources within iTunesU became interactive  iBooks with multimedia resources within them, rather than the traditional PDFs, PowerPoints and Word Documents. They then integrated apps like Showbie to integrate assessment and feedback. It all threaded through and blended into the learning.

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The Bolton School also used iTunesU (as a student resource and for teaching lesson cover) and had blended the technology within the older setting of their school. The focus was more on the psychological framework for pedagogy to apply technology to fit within that, and building the digital competency and literacy of the teachers.

Within this on the development of the digital resources was less on the polished look of resources and more on the students creating their own resources to revise and be assessed and fed back on. Again they used a similar system with what apps they used and how they used them.

Both schools share best practice with each other and learn effective ways of using technology to enhance learning and teaching.

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Session 1: Apple Teacher

This session opened my eyes to the wealth of information available at appleteacher.apple.com in relation to how to use Apple apps and technology. Like the microsoft.edu innovators project which is specific to Microsoft technology, Apple Teacher acts as bitesized CPD which can be done in the tutors own time. Again like the Mircosoft.edu course it offers badges, so you can see who has done which training to allow for peer to peer support. For example if Jo Blogs is great with Keynote but I’m not as confident, I can always go to Jo for some tips and pointers on how they use it.

We were also shown the apps Pages (multimedia document app) and Keynote (presentation app) and given examples of how they were used to gain a context to how Apple Teacher can take the app knowledge and use a step further.

Pages – Task designed for students to create a resource/poster on  a specific topic, using multimedia (images, audio, video etc) to show subject knowledge.

Keynote – Task get students to design a presentation on a specific topic to present to the class using multimedia resources (such as videos, or creating their own animations to explain the subject i.e how atoms move)

The knowledge and passion of the presenter reflected the positive difference that technology could make to the students and staff. Engaging learners and saving staff time.

Session 2: Assessment and Feedback

This session was mainly practical and based on delegate participation. The first part of the session was aimed at briefly understanding the pedagogy of using technology and digitising Assessment and Feedback.

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The apps demonstrated in the more practical side of the session were:

Kahoot – A fun way to quiz students based on speed and knowledge. Students can retake the same kahoot in ghost mode and almost compete against themselves.

Socrative – Tutor gets instant analytics of how individual students within the group are doing, so you can see strengths and weaknesses.

Showbie – A great way of showing feedback, as it can be given in audio and visual annotation forms.

From the whole day it was amazing to see how the schools had successfully implemented iPads in their educational institutes. However for an F.E college whose funding is different and are not completely Apple, nor Microsoft based, and who can’t supply 1:1 devices for students, the only things to successfully take away from such an inspiring day is how the apps are used and ‘app smashed’ together to work effectively. As well as the Apple Teacher free self study CPD. This in itself is a brilliant thing to take away. I would suggest to attend as many sessions to do with iPads and tablets as possible, you never know which new app or new way of using the same app you’ll find!

~LP