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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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

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:

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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

 

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

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.

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.

pros and cons TEL implementation


Continue reading “TEL Assessment and Integration”

Apple TV not just a Fad

There seems to be some confusion as to Apple TVs; what these mysterious devices are and why should educators use them? After having a look into them for F.E and H.E educators it became apparent they are actually quite versatile pieces of tech.

So first things first, what is an Apple TV?

According to Wikipedia ‘’(it)…is a digital media player and a microconsole developed and sold by Apple Inc. It is a small network appliance and entertainment device that can receive digital data from a number of sources and stream it to a capable TV for playing on the TV screen. Apple TV is an HDMI-compliant source device’’ or as I like to call it, a little black box. From this little black box you can mirror your iPad to the Apple TV, to show what’s on your iPad on a larger board/projector or screen. I’m not going into a full flung ‘how to set up an Apple TV ’ scenario as this isn’t about that, it’s about how to use it in education.  However if you’re curious about set up and the technical ‘how to’ Here’s a quick guide.

Got it, so how do I use it in education…?

The most common two questions we get asked at e-learning, when introducing something new, is ‘How am I supposed to use this?’  and ‘well this (insert name of technology from about 5+ years ago) does that, why should we replace it?’ naturally demoing Apple TV was no exception. In this case it was SMART Boards, White Boards, Projectors and iBoards. Ok, ok I know some of these are more recent than 5+ years ago but I’m making a point and, realistically, they are basically the same thing. It’s a projector/large screen attached to a computer……

So as I was saying…… ‘they’re just a replacement for SMART Boards/iBoards I hear you say?’ Well yes and no. You can use it to present information in the same manner and it is a lot cheaper than a SMART Board (great for those thinking about pinching the pennies) but it also does a lot more than that. The next question of ‘How am I supposed to use that?’ was solved with a lot of research and a bit of creative thinking on our part. The e-learning team (that’s us!) gave demos on how to implement Apple TVs specifically for the different Academic Areas at the college. Here are a few examples discussed from around our institution:

  • Presentation tool: One of the first training sessions on Apple TV we did as the e-team was with General Education. They brought up some great points about wanting to present information while still maintaining ease of workflow for students, no redirection to YouTube and then coming back to students 5 minutes later to find they’d gone off task watching cat videos. We found that with the use of Apple TV and a dedicated tutor iPad (even if it was only for that session) meant as a tutor you can present information while still being able to move around the class. It makes for an ease of workflow between presentation and activity (not a clunky stop/start motion that most tutors may be currently working with) while allowing the tutor to integrate themselves into the classroom, allowing for effective classroom management. This is done using presentation apps mirrored to the Apple TV which would allow for activities to be fed into them, such as Nearpod. A brilliant tool for both GCSE, F.E and H.E sessions.
  • Visualisation: After the initial catastrophe of setting up the Apple TV for our second session (we’d gone in blind and didn’t bring the right cable, so setting up was as close to a Benny Hill sketch as I’ve ever physically seen) the session got off to a flying start, with highly engaged staff and some brilliant ideas going back and forth. After running through AirPlay and different ways to use the Apple TV, it was found that Motorsports used visualisers. These had their limits due to apparatus size and object constraints (only small objects could be shown and there was limited portability)  but essentially the theory of a visualiser to have for magnifying detailed objects to a larger audience, in this case students, was ideal for their Academic Area. We as the e-team, with this information in mind, demonstrated visualisation apps on the iPad, which could mirror to the Apple TV intricate details on objects such as engines, nuts and bolts, and larger machinery, while allowing for annotation. Due to the portability and size of the iPad it means tutors are not restricted to what they can show. So an iPad can be used to focus on larger models of machinery which can then be zoomed in on, as well as smaller objects in sessions. The Apple TV allows for the iPad to mirror the visualisation app onto the larger screen so that students can see what their tutor is explaining in detail, with written real time annotation and without having to crowd around an object. Problem solved with an extra tool thrown in (real time annotation). This method of visualisation can be transferred across Academic Areas, great for practical disciplines.
  • Interactive Classroom: With most of the training sessions we did, tutors’ realised that you could create an interactive classroom with students. Flipped classrooms or reflective practitioner activities can be used via app smashing and then students can showcase their work by mirroring it to the Apple TV, done through both individual and group work. This can then lead to student lead discussions on what they’ve have done, area specific theories and small group to whole class work. All the while the tutors can be the educational guides for their students learning, maximising learning and understanding, think Vygotsky’s zone of proximal development. This is great for GCSE, F.E or smaller H.E group sessions, where there’s enough time for an activity and discussion/s (say about 1 hour+).
  • Assessment: Though this is still a theoretical application, and we only briefly touched upon this in training, it would be great for individual practical based education. Using the iPad to record the information, the Apple TV can show the detailed work the student is doing without being intrusive. It also allows for staff to view what the student is doing in real time for the classroom observation, in a larger detail on screen via the Apple TV, all the while recording what is occurring as another form of evidence. It means that if it is not a formal assessment, when the student goes wrong the member of staff can show on screen where they went wrong without being obtrusive of the students work.

So overall, from what we can see here at e-learning, Apple TVs are not a fad but are in fact the next step in the evolutionary chain of technology enhanced learning. It’s a move away from the SMART Board and allows for new activities, previously unimaginable, to be used in the academic environment.