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

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I.T and TEL – What’s the Difference?

After a few days of dealing with various people asking I.T related questions, and reading articles online which seem to be muddled in what they expect from an e-learning team and an I.T team, it’s safe to say that there is some confusion as to what I.T and TEL are…

I.T stands for Information Technology and refers to the study or use of systems (especially computers and telecommunications) for storing, retrieving, and sending information.

TEL stands for Technology Enhanced Learning and refers to the use of both physical hardware/software based on educational theory.

Simply put if you want to know what/how to use tech in education to help enhance learning (whether with students or sharing best practice with staff) or ways to create interactive learning materials with educational theory to explain why we use them, then ask a member of the TEL or E-learning team. As a rule we’re based in both learning theories, innovation and the latest technology. If you need to know how to get your computer fixed as something is broken with it or it’s not working, or you need a recommendation or solution for hardware/software ask I.T professionals.

Summed up I.T is not TEL, but TEL involves aspects of I.T.

NB – Please bare in mind this is an overly simplistic view of the differences and it is slightly more complicated than this. Anyone working in these areas trains for years in their subjects and has different/specific skill sets and shouldn’t be considered in anyway less or more tech savvy or knowledgable than any others.

 

What I learned about ‘The Power of Digital’

In a #TBT moment I realised it’s been a month since I volunteered to go to Digifest 2016, so in the style of reflective practice I thought I’d revisit my notes and do a retrospective write up about the day. Digifest is a 2 day technology in teaching and learning showcase run by JISC held in the International Convention Centre in Birmingham, it was called ‘The Power of Digitial’ and lived up to it’s name.

There was a lot of workshops, stalls and sessions going on throughout both days. So it may be worth noting that I only attended the second day (Thursday 3rd March) and this was my Agenda:

09:00 – 10:00 –  The power of digital for teaching and learning

10:00 – 10:30 – Break

10:30 – 11:15 – #HullDtn: a collaborative approach to digital pedagogies

11:45 – 12:30 – Designing and developing great courses together (sponsor session from Pearson)

12:30 – 13:30 – Lunch

13:30 – 14:30 – Having a nosey around at the stalls, meeting new professionals (and some I already knew)

14:45 – 15:45 – Leveraging the digital: capability, capacity and change in HE and FE

My teaching colleague went on the Wednesday and got a few different key ideas from the sessions they attended. For more information on what was on offer on both days, you can find out here.

So in a quick summary style, the key points I took away from Digifest were:

  • The need and use for analytics as a teacher and an educational e-learning professional
  • The importance of Play
  • Networking and open sharing is important
  • Virtual Reality is the way forward in education

Now I know a lot of these seem almost common sense, but believe me, when it’s a relatively new area where previously research has been scarce it’s refreshing to go to a conference with like-minded people. In this case there was research all around you to support the theories it’s easier to safely, and reliably, share and build on the ideas. Like all good research in education it’s always stressed that reputable, valid and reliable sources are key so being somewhere enriched with multiple case studies, research groups and living ongoing cases made information flow freely throughout the day.

09:00 – 10:00: ‘The power of digital for teaching and learning’

This session had a few varied speakers and brought up multiple issues such as learning analytics and play in education.

Now I will admit I only came into the back half of the talk about learning analytics, but the conclusions and atmosphere from the crowd seemed to be positive. The lead on this talk was Ian Dolphin, who is about open source and academia. He suggested that learning analytics are a digital key to students success and the way in which they’re analysed and used is massively important to help advance and develop learning. But there needs to be smart ways in which to do this otherwise we’re simply overwhelming ourselves with data.

The main part I got from the morning session was about the importance of play throughout education, specifically H.E. This mainly may be because I was there for the full talk, the ‘Wondering While Wandering’ session by Chrissi Nerantzi. The research suggested that using play, as a hands-on method of teaching, in H.E encouraged independent learners and engaged them with their subject more than those who were taught via the ‘traditional static’ method, supporting the blended learning pedagogy. There were a few significant points about how to implement play in H.E effectively and the issues that can be faced with introducing play into an academic environment. The main issues were cultural and how there might be negative perceptions of using play in F.E & H.E. This is because it is not a static view of learning and instead can be seen as childish or less academic both by educational peers (other teachers/researchers) and students.  However to combat this notion clear learning objectives must be given, with an evidence based approached used for reflective practice. Chrissi also suggested giving teachers a safe space to try out new innovative teaching ideas, such as a ‘learning laboratory’ without the fear of judgement, assessment and peer observation, but where they can reflect on themselves through recording the lessons to see what worked and what didn’t.

This method of hands-on play teaching lead to a discussion about how it would be viable to use this for educational technology, to help create digitally competent individuals who are ready for the digital working world due to a safe environment to initially learn and/or teach in. The idea of a safe space for the teachers to play, lead to students having more opportunities to use technology and become digitally literate through guided learning in lessons, as the idea of the digital native is not necessarily true. The assumption that people of certain generations take to technology more than others may be true but the fact is that there are still people out there who come from different socio-economic and cultural backgrounds and so may not have the opportunity to play with tech outside of education. Not only that but without context of application on technology the full use outside of simply tech for leisure may be lost. There needs to be understanding as to the reasons why tutors use specific tech for certain things, for example Twitter being used as a medium for CPD. Though this idea of ‘the death of the digital native’ was looked into in depth by Donna Lanclos in a different session, which unfortunately I couldn’t attend.

Moving on to the next part….

10:00 – 11:15: #HullDtn: a collaborative approach to digital pedagogies

It was all about networks, everywhere you looked and everyone I talked to outside of the sessions were all about collaborative working with other e-learning professionals at other institutes.

There was an amazing positive, innovative atmosphere to the day where collaboration and talking ideas out with other professionals was the norm. This was only supported in the #HullDtn: a collaborative approach to digital pedagogies session. Colleges in the Midlands and Southern part of England, specialised and otherwise, worked in a network together to provide technology enhanced learning support across the board. This initiative has lead to shared best practices and advancement of the use of technology within the different institutions, creating a support network for each e-learning team to feed back into and gain something from. The idea of different networks, or one large network to help each other in best practices of technology enhanced learning is appealing as it allows for case studies to be shared, best practice to be shared, ideas about technology to flow and develop further than they could have done in perhaps a single institution.

 

11:45 – 12:30: Designing and developing great courses together (sponsor session from Pearson)

This was an informative workshop about the concepts between course design and how to implement go through and develop courses effectively. Obviously as it was a sponsored session there was a little bit of a sales pitch however it was only small and didn’t detract at all from the overall workshop. The session lead to some amazing points about how to design a course, pictured below:

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It made me think about how we design courses at the college and that we already adhere to most, if not all, the steps. The most interesting thing we have to consider here is that with us moving over to a new VLE the need to keep these points fresh in our mind is integral into making the new VLE a VLE rather than a traditional CMS repository where tutors dump files.

 

13:30 – 14:30: Having a nosey around at the stalls, meeting new professionals (and some I already knew)

You may have noticed that there was about an hour where I had a look around the stalls. What came from this wandering was the noticeable advancement of virtual reality, robotics, sharing platfroms and making technology mainstream. There was a robot called Neo, assistive tech such as exam readers, lots of virtual reality headsets anything from Google Cardboard to the Occulus Rift but there was also a BB8 sphero, which of course I had to have a play with!

What surprised me was the advancement of the technology for the mainstream, usually considered toys, and what this meant for cultural shifts of technology in education. It made me realise technology has previously either seen to be as either a toy or strictly for scientists….but there is a culture shift that has occurred in the change of attitude towards it. It can now be both for leisure and work, again I refer to Twitter for CPD or following your favourite celebrities or virtual reality headsets, which are being sold commercially, being used for orientation or viewing different worlds – think class trips without the long journeys, health and safety forms etc.

There was also a massive market for Virtual Reality and while unsurprising, this year seems to be about making virtual reality commercial, the idea that it’d be presented for education was interesting. As a general rule for new technology it is sold within education more towards the coding, software and hardware core IT skill sets. So mainly for tutors and  students on IT courses. However at Digifest the presentation of the VR headsets was presented more for this is what it can do, if you can find a way to apply it then go for it. This refreshing approach made it easier to look at the uses of VR at a more objective level, encouraging questions like is this applicable? How could we use it for our institution?…..surprisingly as a land-based college the answers to these questions were yes and in lots of different ways. The idea of VR is to make everything more interactive and as a provider of more practical based studies this really lends itself to our courses. We’re currently working on a project for Augmented Reality and are now looking into different ways we can make our own VR content as it seems like Virtual Reality is another way forward in education  that would suit our needs.

I also bumped into other e-learning professionals, some I knew and others who I networked with, at that point it was nice to see a familiar face and meet new people!

14:45 – 15:45: ‘Leveraging the digital: capability, capacity and change in HE and FE’

The final session I attended brought up an amazing toolkit being developed by JISC to help analyse and develop institutes digital capabilities. There isn’t enough time to go through what the whole project is but you can look for it on the JISC site.
There was emphasis on the term ‘digital capability’ and what this meant. It was not, as a few people understood, to be how capable someone was to use the technology but how open someone would be to using the technology. The overall meaning from the session was that it didn’t mean you had to know everything about technology and how to use it but you were willing to learn and there was a want to learn about the new technology. This linked in with the idea of the death of the digital native idea, where it wasn’t dependent on what generation you are as to how digitally capable you are but rather how open minded you are to learning new technology.

The overall view lead to the need for a toolkit to help measure digital capability. JISC have developed a toolkit used to analyse your institutes’ performance against other colleges, or between faculties within your institution. The whole scheme seemed positive, with the case studies already suggesting that this helped institutes to reconsider how to present and filter technology training throughout their cores to develop the overall digital capability to a higher level than previously done. It can also be done anonymously so that institutes don’t feel like they are in competition with each other but can still see the UK average for digital capability.

Overall thoughts?

Digifest turned out to be a useful conference as a college as it demonstrated ongoing case studies useful to implementation of e-learning, great ideas for design of courses, innovative ideas to how technology is advancing inside and outside of education and last but not least amazing networking opportunities which as a college we are currently undertaking to share best practices and technology use ideas.

I look forward to going to Digifest next year and the opportunities it will bring!

~ Laura

TEL Assessment and Integration

So we wanted to start the New Year getting back to the basics of Technology Enhanced Learning (it’ll be referred to as TEL from now on), deepening our current knowledge of educational technology research and how to integrate it successfully (just be warned this is probably a long post!)

Technology is always evolving. A general example of this evolution is the Virtual Reality Oculus Rift technology which will be available commercially this year but was still science fiction a few years ago, the same goes for touchable holograms though still a few years off, it’s a lot closer than futuristic sci-fi films would have you believe. With this continuing evolution through discoveries and creations of new technology, and it’s cultural implications, it’s always best to keep in mind the research behind why we use technology? What research supports it? and how to integrate it effectively in education? Find out more about the different types of technology integration.

So why use it?

Apart from the fact it’s now a standard part of the educational assessment process, whether that’s classroom observations, peer to peer review or Ofsted, TEL makes education innovative, engaging and provides another base tool to enhance learning.

Realistically there has been a wealth of evidence to support the use of technology in education since the early 90s (seriously, there’s a lot of research out there based from late 1980’s onwards about technology, even from using a blackboard to a interactive whiteboard, and it’s possible impact on learning). The most recent one which comes to mind is about Pragmatics and Cognition which summarised to the conclusion technology, when based on cognition, is effective to enhance learning. On the whole there are Pros and Cons, but the Pros outweigh the Cons.

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