Pinterest_Logo.svg

Ghost of Pinterest Past

This app had it’s brief 15 minutes in the educational limelight a few years back. Though it is a few years old, as a rule, it still has educational benefits which shouldn’t be forgotten just because it’s not the buzz word of the year.

Recap of it’s uses:

  • Researching – Setting up a Pinterest board for a specific research project for yourself. As a student you can set a board up for yourself and keep it secret so you can gather ideas without worry that someone else is seeing the board.
  • Student Group Work – Creating a group board on Pinterest for group assignments means that classrooms can be flipped, so the students do the research in one place. The boards can be set up by staff
  • Collecting and sharing ideas – Search specific ideas, such as lesson ideas or ice breaker tasks. Share these with other people, or pin them on a public board so people can see it.
  • Visually Organising ideas – Organise the pins through boards in a way that makes it easy for you as a tutor. For example: a board called ‘ideas for unit 101 lessons’ and a board for ‘assessment ideas’

 

Now that it’s further along the line than when Pinterest first got used as an educational tool, new tools have come out and would need to be reviewed in comparison. There are always new apps out there, for example for group work Padlet can be used instead for a visual way of working in a group or creating a personal board to create a visual online mood board. However you loose some of the functionality which Pinterest allows you, such as the search facility. Think about how you want to apply the tech to decide on what you want.

So every now and then it’s good to have a visit from the ghost of educational tools past, even if it’s just to review if it’s still applicable.

~ Laura

Augmented-reality

Rolling out ‘MyOutTheBox’

I have worked on an unfunded project called ‘MyOutTheBox’ with Dale Munday from our Teacher Training team here at the college.

In this project we wanted a different way to make information available to staff in an interactive manner without having to be logged into a college networked computer or limited through desktop/laptop use. We wanted something that could be accessed by anyone, through any device. After a talk about what was wanted we chose to use the Blippar Augmented Reality online software and app.

So the brief was to share best practice and ideas between staff (and potentially) students. At the college we have CPD days in which teaching staff can share best practice between themselves. This can be done via specific sessions or through a casual workshop known as a ‘Teach Meet’ this is where teachers can share best practice with each other. For this project Dale recorded the Teach Meet sessions and then uploaded them to YouTube. Once this was done I created a poster for the A.R and used the Blippar Hub online tool to layer the A.R on top of this, linking to the videos and adding extra information to the poster via the computerised/augmented layer. When this was tested, approved and ready to go we rolled it out across college.

Some key points found in rolling out ‘MyOutTheBox’ :

External Marketing: Use social media in conjunction with the A.R. We’ve used twitter, leading to networking with others using A.R, seen how others have implemented it and reached an audience within the college we may not have reached before due to tutors being on social media.

Internal Marketing – Cannot stress this enough, it’s all well and good to spend time and effort on creating an amazing learning resource, but with any edtech like A.R you have to tell people about it. Whether this is through internal emails to let everyone know it’s gone live, CPD sessions to show people how to use it, putting information about it on any digital signage you have around the college, simply telling people about it via word of mouth or any/all of these options you need to advertise it to everyone. Sometimes blanket coverage works best to catch a wider audience, more is more in the initial stages.

Remember a CTA – A call to action (CTA) is needed to ensure that passersby, students and staff are aware that the poster/place is linked to Augmented Reality. This is so that it’s clear what to do and how to do it. A simple visual instruction like a instructional info graphic/image works best. Put it on the poster/place to highlight that it’s somewhere A.R is used. We based this off of Blippar’s guidance and created a Myerscough specific CTA. Here is the image we used below:

thumbnail_Step 1 and 2 My out the box

Have advocates – This links to internal marketing, get as many people on board as possible to encourage others to use (and even develop) the use of the new edtech. Luckily we have Dale and a few others who have seen the use of A.R in education and how they can use it or get their students to use it to enhance learning. There is a poster outside of the Teacher Training office which is a ‘MyOutTheBox’ A.R poster were teachers and students going into/past the office can see videos on new edtech used around the college and staff encourage students to create A.R based posters for their H.E dissertations and research projects.

 Setting clear roles  – If someone wants an A.R poster created, don’t tiptoe around the issue, if they don’t have the skills get it done then ask someone who does (obviously as really nicely as possible and accredit them – here it’s the e-learning team) Set out what you’re going to do. An example is Person A will collect/record the info, Person B will put said info together and sort out the A.R. These roles need to be clear from the start, otherwise time could be wasted.

Set clear expectations – Treat it like any project and set clear expectations, dates and goals. What did they want from the A.R? What extra info do you/they need? What kind of Multimedia do they want?  Who’s the audience? When does it need to be done for? With these clear expectations.

Communication – keep everyone involved up-to-date with how things are progressing, what needs to be done and where you are with expectations.

Overall it’s been an effective resource, there a few people using it both staff and students. However as we haven’t concentrated much effort into marketing it internally it’s not taken off as early or as rapidly as we would have liked. However in the new academic year I’m working on another A.R poster to add to the collection, I’m hoping with a push on internal marketing and gaining a few more advocates we can make this a campus wide learning resource.

Here’s to hoping!

~ Laura

 

Canvas_6268005

Reflection on implementing a VLE/LMS

We can officially say we’re moving to Canvas!

While this was a fantastic move on our part, choosing this LMS over another VLE/LMS works for us – see here for our journey of decision, it has come with challenges (as you would have with any VLE move)

There will always be teething issues with any VLE/LMS move, so a few things to keep in mind before you start the move:

  • Make sure your systems are sorted in the background – they all need to talk to each other and you have a cohesive system network, this will help in the initial run up, integration, automation and general running of Canvas.
  • Make sure your information is up-to-date: Cannot stress this enough, when moving systems and automating systems your core information about courses and tutors needs to be as up-to-date as possible.
  • Have a reliable someone from Management Information Systems – we’re lucky that we have a really great team here which we work with, but if that wasn’t the case the implementation would have been extremely difficult to automate.
  • Already have a game plan set – may seem like an obvious one, but it’s something to think about. What structure do you want in relation to how information is presented in the LMS? How are you structuring the sub-accounts?
  • In the immortal words of ‘The Hitchhikers Guide To The Galaxy’ – Don’t Panic! – If something goes wrong, it can be fixed. Just remember that there’s a test site (for Canvas anyway) and just save all your files to your computer first and then upload them.

However always keep in mind that the short-term hard work and stress pays off in the long-term, and no matter which way you cut it you’ll always get that moving over to a different VLE.

We are working on the background systems (we’re getting there) and the long-term benefits (analytics, format, structure, interface, ease of use etc) are going to outweigh the next few months while we get our act together.

Bring on Canvas!!!

~ Laura

AndrewHallClassroom

The Uniform Classroom….not what you think

When we talk about uniform we don’t mean there can’t be any personalisation, no posters, no student work, all grey walls…….. no personality. We mean that, from a technology perspective, in an ideal world each teaching room would have the same basic set of tech. For example, all classrooms would have the same capacity to evolve as and when technology does, while allowing tutors to go to any room and use any of the available technology without any unnecessary complications.

To do this you need a uniform technological base room template, so to speak.

How would it be implemented?

We’re all for trying new and emerging technologies so to keep the balance between classroom tech being the same and being static you’d employ trial and error techniques.

New tech could be tested in a beta teaching room, and when understood and found useful to teaching and learning could then be applied to all teaching rooms. I don’t mean “oh look Apple TV/Kindle Fires lets put them in every room straight away”, but that there is the physical IT capacity to have one in there where it can work at it’s maximum potential. What do we mean?…..well gone are the days of VGA cables, where you have to sacrifice sound to get picture. After all isn’t this the age of multimedia teaching? But with the previous future proofing of the room with the internal wiring and break out boxes allowing for future changes, this wouldn’t be as big as a task to implement later down the line.

So what’s the benefit for the students and teachers?

From a teaching perspective: At it’s most basic level the set up would allow for ease of use of technology due to familiarity as the tech set up is the same across every room. It also fosters confidence in using technology effectively to allow for developing digital skills, as tutors would not be put out by technical difficulties (as these would be reduced through the versatility of the rooms). Lesson plans, digital assessment, feedback and resources could be effectively implemented, allowing for further redefinition of teaching and learning.

From a student perspective: They can concentrate on their learning, as the tutor can guide them without worrying about technical glitches. It also means that the students don’t feel demotivated or disengaged due to technical difficulties. This allows for higher engagement from students to deepen their content knowledge and embed digital literacy skills.

Any issues?

Changing the rooms in which teaching and learning occurs, to be uniform, would mean that physically the whole institution would have to change from what they are now to include uniform technologically capable classrooms. To do this may mean more cost in the short term, especially in older buildings (getting the different cables in and allowing for any advancements, by keeping break out boxes easily accessible for IT to conduct further installations or changes in the future) but in the long run it would create a future proof room in which smaller changes could be made. This would allow for saved time, cost and hassle in the future.

How are we setting up our uniform rooms?

We’re currently in the process of creating this environment in the H.E and Teaching blocks in the College to allow for ease of movement for the tutors.

Our Hardware set up includes the following per room:

An Apple TV

An interactive Whiteboard (in H.E)

A projector (in the teaching block)

Breakout box for future cable connections (this can be either hidden or visible)

The Uniform Classroom is not static….

This versatility between different types of hardware (Apple and Microsoft) allows for multiple uses of the same teaching room while being inclusive of different students, in the case of the B.Y.O.D schemes. Similar set ups to this can be viewed across multiple colleges and in newer builds for colleges the idea of this version of a uniform classroom, is a predominant feature. So sometimes the idea of being uniform can be a good thing, in an age where everything is about the individual a uniform base adds a brilliant foundation for developing technology to suit everyone.