#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!

BETT – Wednesday 25th Jan 2017

For the first day of BETT it was amazing and there was a buzz in the air in relation to seeing the seminars, discussions and demonstrations that were around the conference.

Secondary Learn Live stage – Using Cutting Edge Technology to Drive the Strategic Leadership of Student Behaviour (session by Jon Tait)

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The case study from Acklam Grange School demonstrated effective use of data in relation to leadership and organisation effectiveness. The big data that the school collected lead to the understanding of issues, rather than firefighting, to see the trends, sub groups, student behaviour and outcomes all based within the use of the VLE and other school systems and technology.

They used the following technology to help implement a long term sustainable strategy to combat behaviour:

  • Classcharts (software/app) – it creates seating plans and pulls information from the LMS and other systems through. It is a behaviour management tool where you can give and remove points from students, attached praise or negative behaviour, flags up specific issues, change the seating plan to put people next to others who may benefit overall class behaviour etc.
  • VLE – class statistics, engagement
  • Registers – attendance

After using all these technologies combined with each to create a forensic behaviour analysis and map students progression throughout the year.  The results showed that:

  • Their Ofsted rating increased
  • Behaviour reduction in exclusions by 98%
  • Results up by .6p 8

The overall takeaway from this session was considering how your institution uses data and would better student behaviour lead to improved, results, retention (both staff and students) and morale (both staff and students) Which if data is used effectively, according to this study, could be a vast improvement on what you already have. It’s just understand what the data is for and how it’ll be used.

Primary Learn Live stage – Wall to Wall Learning: Developing Collaboration and Showcasing Student Digital Creations (session by David Whyley)

This was specific to a smaller campus environment, and used the idea of an installed digital wall to display students digital work in real time. The idea being that it would give the student work a place rather than being stored away on a file on some networked drive somewhere, never to be seen again.

The simple installation of the wall and connecting every digital device to it, so that any work done could be displayed, lead to unforeseen results for the students.

What happened in relation to learning theory?

  • Students had ownership of work through the display
  • Communication skills developed, due to discussions about work posted
  • Social and organisational skills developed as peer to peer learning took place
  • Emotional skills developed due to group activities, reactions to works, peer to peer learning  etc.

While I enjoyed this session it is something, for this academic year at least, that would not be feasible due to monetary needs. Thinking through how it would work at F.E would it be more based on digital signage rather than students assignment work? Or could it be used for in class tasks and activities, such as a place to put the student work done on apps (Sparks Video, Pic Collage etc) which usually would be lost to the ether.

BETT Stage – HundrED: Bringing Innovation in Education up to Speed (session by Kate and Saku)

This was one of the main stage sessions at BETT and was brilliant in it’s thinking. It’s 100+ free resources and innovative ideas for education (can be found at www.hundrED.org )

The reason for it being a free resource is that the world is changing faster than the educational institutions and infrastructures can keep up to. This is due to faster digitalisation, globalisation and climate (social and economical) than previously seen before.

With the free resource it means that what happens in the classroom, with best practice, is shared between different countries, institutes and teachers instantly or quickly. It’s no longer kept in the classroom and doesn’t go anywhere.

A similar initiative was launched in conjunction with it called Global Oneness (it can be found at www.globaloneness.org )

As the plethora of resources is so vast I would suggest checking out what’s on offer and potentially joining in as an ambassador to collect in a specific topic. Think about creating resources on topics/subjects/skills which can be saved simply by sharing best practice and innovations in that area. Potentially saving skills and skill sets which previously may have died out.

H.E Learn Live stage- Learning to Fly  ( session lead by Dom Pates and Dr Sikora)

The premise for this case study was based into student work flow, student attention and infrastructure affects on learning. This was done using aviation students and teaching rearranging the learning experience for teaching them how to fly using remote guest lectures, flexible learning spaces with node chairs, web cams with mic to pick up the whole room, and used the connect app for text questions with the guest lecturer and with the tutor.

The feedback from the study had it’s positives and reworks. The main result found from the study was that it was labelled as inspiring from both the students and the tutor, both sides were keen to do it again as a form of teaching and learning. The students also enjoyed the  insight into the industry that they might previously not had, due to the web cam and remote guest lecture. However there were a few cases where the students and the tutors would have preferred more interaction with each other, not necessarily as a feedback tool but as an interactive learning experience. The evidence was qualitative and based on the ‘flow’ of work, this was measured through the students interactions as it was found that students wanted to talk and keep interacting in the more successful sessions.

Tips learnt from Case study included having the technical issues ironed out, the IT infrastructure, technical know-how and support needed to be in place for the tutor, as when this faltered it affected the students’ attention and therefore work flow. However it was also found that having the technology ‘hidden’ or embedded increased flow for the students as it enables rapport and ease of interaction.

Tips and Takeaways from the session:

  • Get feedback
  • Embed tech
  • Break up a talk
  • Record the session (reflective learning resource – student and tutor)
  • Wherever possible, make learning an experience not just a traditional regurgitation of information
  • Build Interaction into remote guest lectures from the beginning, helps with the flow of learning
  • Hide the technology (don’t make it obvious) embed the tech so it’s just part of the experience.

The session was brilliant in thinking about how learning is about the students’ experience of learning not just how to the tutor regurgitates information. It was also great to see that on some level we already take this into account with our learners here at the college, though there are a few takeaways to take back too.

H.E Learn Live stage – How the iPad Contributed Towards a Vision and Plan of Paperless Teaching and Learning Environment:

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This was a fantastic look into how slow TEL progression can lead to big TEL changes, and it all started with iPads in this case. It started with one tutor and one lab group and naturally scaled up bit by bit, with a small natural push from their TEL team.

Summed up they swapped lab books for iPads in their lab environments, and from this smaller changes occurred where more people used them and then found different ways to use them (flipped learning etc)

Overall it saved the institution £30,000 on printing costs and lead to more interactive lab books being created due to the different abilities an iPad offered over traditional pen and paper. The main takeaway was to concentrate on one thing, do that right and then build on it as it will naturally evolve bit by bit. Technology for a reason not a trend, don’t throw anything at the wall and see what sticks, but go in with one thing and do it well.

It was a brilliant reflection of how TEL does progress within an educational setting when it is allowed to grow and done well, rather than moving from one trend to the next. Fantastic to see how they broke down the initial barriers by rewording and giving sound logic and reasoning as to why that specific piece of technology should be used and from there grow the digital literacy of the students and staff by embedding the technology.

H.E Learn Live stage – Ensuring Technological Plurality through Effective Learning Design

I got somewhat lost in this session, as multiple models were produced and disseminated, thinking about it I wished I’d taken more pictures of the theory models!

However the main bit I can remember, and looking back through my notes, is that when creating a TEL learning theory model and effective learning design keep the following points in mind:

  • generic terms, not specific apps. This is due to the rate in which apps change, the functionality will be the same or similar ( a presenting app for example) but the name will be different.
  •  verb structures and semantics matter. The language which is used can provoke different responses within colleagues, so it’s best to use focus groups and discuss wording of theories with different colleagues.
  • Don’t overload it with information, keep it simple and easy to follow and always keep in mind what the reason for doing it is.

Overall Design tips:

  • Visualisation is key
  • Collaborative effort
  • students broader HE experience – it’s not just about learning academically at university it’s also about learning socially, emotionally etc.

Takeaway:

  • Anticipate, plan and use technology n the pursuit of learning outcomes
  • Download taxonomies and share ideas.

The session itself from the design side of it was informative, we’re currently designing a new TEL learning model at the college and it’s great to see we’ve already thought about a lot of these issues. However with it’s continual development this has been a key experience and informative session to take back to the team.

H.E Learn Live stage – Transforming Higher Ed with Mircosoft Hololens (session by Microsoft)

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The geek in me wanted to go and see this, it wasn’t disappointed. Though the Hololens was not presented to show the exact nature of the product, I was impressed with the amount of workable, varied and education based real life case studies were presented in using the Hololens currently in education both at F.E and H.E level (the case studies are American based but in the loose translation over from their educational system to ours they came out as F.E and H.E).

The following case studies were given (the Microsoft Hololens is Partnered with Pearsons educational packages) :

University of Washington in Seattle – Keeping students up to date in the future gaming and computer industries. Keeping the students up to date with technologies that are already used in industry.

Western Reserve University – Used for a biology interactive package to help students learn the human body.

Clackamas Community College – Automotive Department, teaching subjects and ideas that are complicated without 3D representation.

I was also intrigued in the idea of mixed reality, I had scheduled to go to the VR sessions on the Thursday so was interested to see how the progression of this type of tech worked. The idea being that reality is on a scale, as shown below:

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The idea of mixed reality seems to lie in the nook between Actual Reality and Augmented Reality, while using elements from each stop on the reality scale.

This is the next step from AR and VR to mixed reality, it may be a while off becoming available to the wider educational community, but it is definitely on the horizon. Again the point of the technology is for learning, the case studies circled back to the idea that its technology for learning not learning for technology. I look forward to seeing it in education and in the wider environment in the future!

F.E Learn Live stage – Empowering Teachers to Create Bespoke e-learning resources (session by Jonathan Hills)

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This session was an interesting insight. I’ll admit the title was rather misleading, for me, originally my thinking was that the tutors would be creating the resources, however this was not the case.  The concept was that tutors would write down the content and what they wanted, based on a template designed, and give that to the e-learning team for that college to develop, which in itself is common sense but at the same time very clever.

The barriers to tutors learning new technologies and creating learning resources can be summed up as:

  • Time – learning materials are time consuming to make in the first place
  • Knowing where to start – trial and error in how to make the learning materials
  • Lack of technical expertise – tutors are experts in their area but not necessarily with ever changing technology

Having a storyboard template for tutors to use means there is a guide for them to then build upon, which means that the tutors time is not wasted in thinking of the how’s but rather the whys and what knowledge. It also means that when the e-learning team is developing the learning materials they know exactly what is wanted, how it’s to be presented and what the outcomes for the learners should be. It also means the correct content is there to input and create into a learning material, as tutors are not technical experts neither are e-learning teams experts in Maths, English, Science etc.

The overall takeaway from this as an E-learning Developer was the template created was basic but effective, it kept the instructions easy to follow for the tutor and easy for an e-learning team to do the technical bit to develop content into a learning material for the tutor. This is definitely something we’ll be using here!

To keep the overall conclusion short and sweet, everything from this day can be summarised in these key points:

  • Technology for learning not learning for technology – don’t use it just because it’s there, think why are you using it?
  • Use your e-learning team – They are experts in their fields and are there to support tutors.
  • Why Big Data? – if there’s a problem, can big data solve it and why are you collecting it in the first place?
  • Collaboration is Key – In this digital age with the wealth of information out there, sometimes it’s good to share and there is no catch.
  • Paperless – Go paperless, it’s cost effective!
  • Embed technology – don’t make it obvious, embed the technology so it’s just part of the experience.

~ LP

Plickers vs Kahoot

These are both widely used within the College, as they’re both great assessment quiz tools, but as with every bit of TEL and educational technology there are the right times and places to implement tech.

So to use, or not to use: that is the question….

Kahoot and Plickers are both great in their own way for many different reasons. In this we’re going to sum up key strengths and ways to use them based on what we’ve learned here.

Kahoot:

  • Great for preliminary starter quizzes in class sessions.
  • Creates an engaging atmosphere through competition, either by the students being in competition wit each other or themselves (there is now a ghost mode which allows for personal best times)
  • Great for BYOD schemes or if there is a bank of tablet devices or laptops for the calss which they can use.
  • Gives statistics on the answers at the end of the session, which can also be accessed at a later date.

 

Plickers:

  • On the flip side of Kahoot being great for preliminary quizzes, Plickers is great for an end of session assessment review. As it is a student response system students can change their answers, this allows for a true reflection of what they know rather than simply answering as fast as possible.
  • Tutor can see who answered which question, as well as giving statistics for each question, this allows
  • Keeps students engaged as they have to think about which way the shapes to answer the questions are poised.
  • Doesn’t need every student to have a device, just the tutor.
  • Though this may seem like an odd thing to say, as it is not as flashy as Kahoot in it’s appearance, Plickers can be seen as more academic and appropriate for F.E and H.E learners due to cultural expectations.
  • Gives statistics on the answers at the end of the session, which can also be accessed at a later date.

 

Overall start a lesson with Kahoot and end it with Plickers. Always keep in mind when it would be appropriate, don’t overuse these apps as they can lead to disengaged students, the same with any overuse of a teaching delivery method can. Think about when you need the formative assessment of student knowledge. For example, using Plickers at the end of a module to give a true indication of which topics need revision for exams or using Kahoot to make a topic, which can be seen as quite dry, a bit livelier and more engaging.

Vary which apps you use and keep an eye out for new ones, after all there’s always plenty more technology out there to enhance learning!

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