[:en]Using Social Media at Conferences #LTHEchat[:]

[:en]#LTHEchat and #HEAchat with Prof. Simon Lancaster and Sue Beckingham

badge-lthechatWednesday 27 Jan 2016 at 8pm

The #LTHEchat collaborates with the HEA chat for the first time this Wednesday on the topic of ‘The four dimensional conference: using social media at conferences’.

Taking us through the evening will be Professor Simon Lancaster and Sue Beckingham.

Whether it is for networking, impact or CPD, twitter can add additional dimensions to the conference experience.

In this blog post Professor Simon Lancaster, National Teaching Fellow and keynote at the forthcoming HEA STEM conference, and Sue Beckingham, HEA Fellow and prolific advocate for using social media for learning and teaching, explore how using twitter can leverage the value of conferences.

We will be using social media at the SALT Learning and Teaching Conference on the 28 June 2016 so now is your chance to find out all about using social media at a conference by taking part in this brilliant tweet chat.


The tweetchat last night was really great with loads of familiar faces and some new ones taking part … will blog the storify shortly


[:en]Save the Date for the SALT Conference ![:]


The 8th Annual SALT Learning and Teaching Conference will take place in the Taliesin Arts Centre, Singleton Park Campus, Swansea University on Tuesday 28th June 2016.  Further information regarding the conference and the call for papers will be published to the Conference Website in due course but in the meantime please make sure you save the date in your diaries. If you have any queries please contact Debbie Baff ( Deborah.Baff@swansea.ac.uk)
28 june 2016[:]

[:en]Hello from Debbie[:]

[:en]SALTHello My name is Debbie Baff and I’m new to the SALT team as one of the Senior Academic Developers.

You can find out more about me here on the Meet the Team page or on my About Me Page here.

I’m really looking forward to meeting colleagues at Swansea University and helping to develop, support and embed best practice in learning and teaching across the university .  I tweet at @debbaff but you might also find me lurking around the @susaltteam twitter account !

I started last week and I’m loving it so far 🙂 My colleagues at SALT have been so friendly and welcoming – check out the sign on my chair on my first day !


SALT Conference 2015 by Chris Hall
SALT Conference 2015 by Chris Hall

Learning and Teaching Conference

One of my first tasks is to manage the Annual Learning and Teaching Conference at Swansea, so if you would like to offer me any advice in terms of feedback from previous years or ask me anything about the conference please do get in touch.  Save the date, I have it on good authority that it will take place on 28th June 2016 ! If it is anything like last year’s conference I’m sure it will be really great. Anyhow, as soon as I have some more details to share I will let you know so watch this space.


Debbie Baff
Debbie Baff


I will also be looking at our communication channels and how we communicate generally both across SALT and the wider university so again if you can offer any thoughts on this I’d love to hear from you !

My phone number is (51) 3166 or email me at Deborah.Baff@swansea.ac.uk 


Open? Educational?

OER (Open Educational Resources) 2015 took place at the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama on 14th and 15th April in a very sunny Cardiff. https://oer15.oerconf.org/

The question of the conference was “What does it take to move OER into to the mainstream?”

Introductory Video

After the usual interminable welcomes we got Cable Green’s keynote. I won’t give a blow by blow account as you can watch it yourself here

They key elements I got from him though were

He opened with the 5 Rs of openness from David Wiley, where OERs should have the following 5 attributes –

• Retain – the right to make, own, and control copies of the content
• Reuse – the right to use the content in a wide range of ways (e.g., in a class, in a study group, on a website, in a video)
• Revise – the right to adapt, adjust, modify, or alter the content itself (e.g., translate the content into another language)
• Remix – the right to combine the original or revised content with other open content to create something new (e.g., incorporate the content into a mashup)
• Redistribute – the right to share copies of the original content, your revisions, or your remixes with others (e.g., give a copy of the content to a friend)

The original 4 Rs http://opencontent.org/blog/archives/355
The addition of the 5th http://opencontent.org/blog/archives/3221

He put forward his OER Proposition which included
• Open as a tactic rather than a goal – open practices rather than just lots of open content
• People leaning in new ways with students as co-creators
• Reducing barriers to education
• Transforming teaching and learning through open practice
• Enabling free access to human knowledge
• Introducing internet and digital technologies into education
• Re-professionalising education – not using prepared publishers material
• Connecting communities
• Increasing efficiency of public funds spent on education

There are challenges though. 65% of US students skipped required textbooks due to cost
66% of faculty unaware of OER although 25% who use it are quite passionate about it.
Staff don’t think about cost as they don’t have to buy the textbooks
Staff want content that is of trusted quality – what does trusted quality mean?

Lots of research in this area http://openedgroup.org/review

His plan –
• Default set to open – all publicly funded education and research must be open – CC BY or CCO no embargo period
• Publicly funded resources should be openly licensed resources
• Learning shifts to solving global grand challenges
• Assignments that matter – eg update the OER for classmates and the world

How do we take it mainstream?
The time of the Cape Town and Paris declarations has passed and it’s now time for an implementation strategy

Would the OER movement benefit from a co-ordinated OER implementation strategy? If so, would his strategy be the right one. He invited everyone to take part in developing the strategy – http://tinyurl.com/oerstrategy

There were lots of parallel sessions in a variety of formats. There are videos of all the key notes here and I’ll give a bit of a flavour I picked up from the sessions I attended.

Christine Davies from UWTSD talked about finding and using OER created with Xerte. There will be more new on our own Swansea installation of Xerte will follow at the SALT Conference on July 2nd.

In a presentation from the University of Cape Town a key point from this that struck me was the Global North/South divide in the creation of OER. Who creates and controls knowledge? There is an imbalance north creating and the south consuming.

Hannah Watts talked about adapting the MOOC model for mainstream students at Southampton Solent. It was all about transition, academic skills and socialisation. They created open area on their VLE – no need for a university account to access the materials. Students were involved in development of the MOOC with one student being the week by week narrator of the course.

Short online CPD Courses from Chris Rowell Regent’s University. The first ‘course’ was the 10 days of twitter as run here by the Librarians https://su10dot.wordpress.com/ the next was the 12 Apps of Christmas. He didn’t know what the apps would be when started! The process for each app was
• what is it
• what can it do
• then a 10 min task for someone to do then followed by a discussion form and then a follow up task

It was not a MOOC and open ‘course’ where staff could just dip in. He had four conclusions
• Learning should be situated – people use own space and device wherever they are
• Learning should be discursive
• Learning should be authentic- task should be real things staff could do with students
• It was also important to have a daily joke

You can read more here https://totallyrewired.wordpress.com/2015/04/22/reflections-on-the-12-apps-of-christmas-at-regents-university-london/

There was a really interesting session from Rob Farrow of the OER Research Hub #oerrhub that raised lots of interesting questions. https://oer15.oerconf.org/sessions/openness-and-ethics-727/

• Being open with research data may make it easier to identify subjects
• Gorilla research with open data – no need to get ethical approval
• What ethical responsibility do you have when you use open data?
• What about learning analytics? Is this and Open Education Heaven and Hell? Are students just a node on a system? Does as system originally designed to help students end with denying students a place at university because students often fail if they come from certain postcodes?
• Being legal and ethical is not always the same thing.
• The OER Research ethics manual on OER research hub http://oerresearchhub.org/

The third keynote was by Sheila MacNeill https://howsheilaseesit.wordpress.com/ at the lovely time of 9am!
Openness isn’t free – some large universities spend lots of money on being ‘open’
It needs to be recognised that it can be difficult for academics to find the time to be open. There is a danger that only those that can afford Use a lot of gardening metaphors an argued that we don’t all need a garden or a meadow can just have OER pots
She also made the point walled gardens have a purpose to protect vulnerable plants from the elements and the walked gardens in education are therefore not always a bad thing as they create safe, protected spaces.

Paul Richardson for JISC posed some interesting points. He suggested we are better teachers by using OER. However, what is needed to get people to make OER? In universities a great deal of money is often spent on creating nice new paths across campuses. The students then often walk straight across the grass and create a new muddy path. With OER we need to put paths where people have been working. However, we need to recognise that some people are quite private and don’t want to share and publish their teaching.

Is a lot of OER just rebadged Technology Enhanced Learning (TEL) that in itself was rebadged e-Learning? There seem to be a number of people doing the same things and saying the same things about disruption that were being said 5 or more years ago. All perfectly valid but not perhaps the cutting edge to be shared at a conference.

I know it was a relatively small conference but one of the quotes in the overview video, about the conference being about the people who were there, is quite revealing. There seemed to be a sense that everything was marvellous and everyone was brilliant. This has carried on in many of the post conference reflections. There seemed to be very little dissent or rigorous debate and questioning. For example, while there is a lot of great OER significant amounts of it are very poor. Why are the OER repositories such a poor experience? JORUM isn’t really very good but no one is allowed to say. Is OER just TEL? Is OER always the way forward?

I asked this in a tweet and most of the responses were along the lines of ‘we do like dissent and we are a group the welcome questions’. The framing of the responses with ‘we do’ and ‘we are’ emphasised the point that this was something of an echo chamber with lots of people who know each other well and have built up the group. Communities can be great but they can also be excluding. Perhaps this is a case of this is local OER for local OER people. Interestingly the Twitter comments defended the OER community, while many non-Twitter conversations also raised the issue of the echo chamber. For OER to really enter the mainstream the OER community have to let go of it.

Enough of my thoughts. I leave the last words to the final Keynote, Martin Weller
He argues that Open Education is a set of coalescing ideas.
There are 3 types of users – OER Active, OER as facilitator and OER consumer
Open Access publishing has reached a tipping point – publishers are double dipping and predatory Open Access practice where we now have pay to publish.
Education is the next tech target of big companies. Another mention of openwashing and the concept that “education is broken someone should sell me something”.
He raises the questions –
Why does openness really matter? What can it do for you? He suggests that it not inevitable that open will go into the mainstream.
Watch the video and see what you think.

HE/FE Show London – Engaged staff a blank Canvas?

Thursday 15th October was the HE/FE Show in London billed as the only show of its kind for HE and FE. Arriving at Earl’s court I was surprised to see that the train was not running and a circuitous route via West Brompton was needed. When I did get to Olympia there seemed to be no sign of the show. Had I got the wrong place? The wrong date? eventually I saw a sign point round the corner onto Earl’s Court Road. Olympia this was but BETT it wasn’t. It’s was just one small room, for a show as it was billed, about twice the size of the refectory in Fulton House. Despite it’s small size there were some interesting things there as well as plenty of not so interesting. I’ll stick with two of the interesting.

Canvas – there has been a lot of talk recently about Canvas, especially since Birmingham University switched completely to Canvas from Blackboard in 4 months last year. They have got nice shiny videos, glowing endorsements etc but as we know anyone can do that. So is it worth the hype? At the moment I don’t know. I had an interesting discussion with two of their team on their busy stand, which was probably the busiest in the show when I was there. They have an event in London on 4th November when the plan to reveal more. Have a look at the video and watch this space.

I was intrigued by the prospect of hearing Professor Peter Slee, Deputy Vice-Chancellor at the University of Huddersfield, talk about ‘An Engaged Workforce’. They reputedly have 100% of their teaching staff with HEA fellowship or a teaching qualification and it seems to be a great place to work judging by some of the awards they have won.

The Times Higher Education Best University Workplace 2014
The Times Higher Education Awards – University of the Year
The Guardian Higher Education Awards – Inspiring Leader Award

Professor Slee argued that many interactions drive the success or otherwise of their strategy. Therefore everyone needs to be able to understand and own the strategy. So the Huddersfield strategy is 2 sides of A4 – no preamble, no waffley management speak, no vanity fueled stats, just a simple strategy for all staff. There isn’t a separate document for managers and other staff. They all work from the same document and go in the same direction.

He followed this by saying that –
Bad managers tell people what to do.
People who think they are good managers explain why they want people to do what they want them to do.
Good managers involve people in designing what is best to do.

He then had three questions for teachers and managers –

Why would someone want to be taught by you?
Why would anyone want to be led by you?
If you had to apply for your own job, would you get it?

Tough questions especially the last but I think he was presenting it in a positive career development way. Everyone needs to keep developing their career and from what I can make out Huddersfield intend to empower people so that they are able to do it. CPD as a positive aid and not as a punishment.

Will our new Values based approach lead to a situation like this here at Swansea?

You will find the presentation slides here – http://www.thehigherandfurthereducationshow.co.uk/seminar/best-practice-an-excellent-and-engaged-workforce/?presentations=1

Some thoughts from the SALT Conference (morning presentations)

As you will be aware, the 6th Annual SALT Conference took place on Thursday 26 June 2014. For me, personally, I love to attend because I like to hear what others do in their teaching, and I usually take away plenty of ideas. This year was no exception, and the lateness of this blog post is because I wanted time to reflect on the conference, and to gather my thoughts and ideas together.

Within the SALT Team, we tried to split ourselves out across all the streams so that each of the presenters had someone on hand if they had any requirements. If I don’t mention any of the round tables/presentations it was because I wasn’t there (apologies!)

For me, there were a lot of highlights, but one of the things that stood out in particular for me was the panel and question time. I thought that being able to write questions down during the registration was useful, and I thought that the panel had some different perspectives which lent itself to some interesting discussions and room for further discussion. More on this in another blog post.

I stayed in Faraday A for the three presentation sessions, all of which were very good, and gave plenty of food for thought going forward.

Stuart MacDonald kicked off the presentations in style, talking about Live Tweeting in Lectures. As someone who tweets often, I was interested to see how it was used in the classroom. Stuart’s presentation took the audience through how it was used, and I liked the way the use of the hashtag for each lecture was used, thus enabling students to easily find what they were looking for.

The pilot of the live tweeting had some really useful benefits, such as academics from other institutions chipping in to discussions, which added weight to what the students were learning/discussing, as well as offering alternative viewpoints.

Ideally, they would like more learners to actually participate and ‘tweet’, though they did stress that several students were reading the twitter posts without actually sending tweets and so were participating after a fashion.

I feel that there is a lot to be learned from this pilot, and there is also a lot of potential for development – particularly in using twitter as a form of revision tool – for example using third party apps such as storify, to collate tweets around a specific hashtag. One to watch I think.

View the presentation here

Mark Jones and Sally Williams were up next with their presentation “A Blended Approach to work based learning. Experiences of learners in enhanced professional practice”.

I spoke to Mark briefly at the arrival and registration and he was rather nervous, this being his first conference presentation. I wouldn’t have thought it though, and was really interested in what he had to say. Though his research and presentation was around Health Care Practitioners who may be on placement etc, I felt that the lessons learnt were easily transferable, and I can certainly see a lot of potential for the Bay Campus.

Key points for me were the emphasis on the learning being student centred – “Learning starts with the learner and is focussed around them” and the extremely positive feedback from both the learners and practictioners. As a result of the blended learning, improvements were made to practice, service delivery and patient care.

The recording of the presentation can be found here

Feeding forward, Mark and Sally are looking to collaborate with other colleges, so if you are interested in finding out more then please contact Mark or Sally, or the SALT Team.

The final presentation came from Dr Michael Draper and one of his students (and president of the Law Society), Jack Golpin. What I particularly liked about this presentation was that the student perspective was very much integrated into the presentation, and Jack’s contribution only served to emphasised how valuable the role of the academic society was to their education.

Jack mentioned that first year student members of the Law Society are assigned mentors – could this be transferable to new staff? It was also noted that some students indicate that they join for networking and mentoring reasons.

Both Michael and Jack indicated that the society receive quality external speakers, and host events open to externals, thus giving students the opportunity to complement their studies, and being able to network with current practitioners in an informal setting.

Jack stated that “the main focus of [academic societies] is to assist students in studying [their subject]”

Their presentation can be found here

ALT-C 2009: Responsible e-learning? In your dreams?

I blogged a bit about ALT-C2009 on my personal blog while I was at the conference. Now I’ve been back a few days I thought it might be useful to put a few of my thoughts here on the Learning Lab. One of my colleagues, having viewed the keynotes and one of the streamed seminars, as well as following the conference on Twitter, got the impression that (although suggesting this may be unfair) “it’s a very cliquey sort of event with a lot of navel gazing and very little that is of immediate practical use!”

As most conferences are, this was a bit of a curate’s egg – I’ll leave you to decide whether I mean in the original or modern sense. There were a few things that stood out for me and three sessions (although two were actually in the same slot). I won’t comment on the keynotes as you can watch them for yourself and pass your own judgement.

Peer support

Gijs de Bakker from the Technical University of Eindhoven gave an interesting presentation on his research into peer support using the SAPS Model. As he argues, “the essence of the SAPS model is to help students in getting their questions answered.” He uses an algorithm to determine which student is best able to answer a student’s question. The question is allocated to the student and they then communicate using a chat tool he has developed. The chat tool is for research purposes only and he ultimately plans to make it a Skype or MSN tool, so today’s’ news could be interesting. You can find out much more from the links above but one of the key things was that the main beneficiaries were they students answering the questions, as they felt that answering the questions helped them in their understanding of the subject. An area the one of our Enhancement projects is looking at.

QR codes

I’ve heard about QR codes before and David Gill has been looking at using them on a number of projects. Andy Ramsden gave a whistle stop tour of some of the possible uses. He refreshingly didn’t oversell their use and agreed that they may well have a relatively short shelf-life before being superseded by other technologies. However, he pointed out that they are a relatively low-tech, quick and easy way of exploring some of the possibilities of augmented reality. You can find more about Andy’s work on QR codes at Bath here http://blogs.bath.ac.uk/qrcode

Visitors and Residents

I’ve never liked Presenky’s Digital Natives. It doesn’t really describe what I think the reality is, it has been latched onto as easy soundbite by a whole bunch of people who haven’t really examined the issues and is offensive on a whole series of levels; not least of which is that it appears to argue that the “immigrants” are in someway inferior beings. As Dave White pointed out, it gets summed up as “Old people just don’t understand this stuff.” Instead of giving Presenky a good kicking (many people at ALT-C spend an awful lot of their time telling people what they don’t like – new media douche bags anyone?) , refreshingly, he talked about an alternative view of the use of technology – the Visitor-Residents Principle. You can read more about it on Dave’s original blog post on the TALL blog but there were a number of points he made that caught my eye/ear.

He argues that there are two main categories of people online –

visitors – go online for a specific purpose, leave and then leave no trace behind.
residents live much of their time online and when they log off something of their presence remains.

There is no hierarchy in this model, with each category being equally valid and educators need to be aware of this.

Here are a couple of interesting quotes from Dave’s presentation

“…..just knowing how to use particular technologies makes one no wiser than just knowing how to read words. “

“It’s not about academic or technical skills (or age) it’s about culture and motivation.”

Great stuff!


I’m not a big fan of awards and award ceremonies as they can tend to be merely an excuse for some mutual backslapping. However, I find the ALT awards especially strange. I’m sure there are reasons for this that I don’t understand but the nominations for the ALT awards are made by the nominees themselves with the winners then selected by a panel. I’m sure that the winners this year are excellent at what they do but why does a ‘profession’ that has a problem with some individuals being more interested in promoting themselves than anything else encourage people to say “Look at me – I think I’m the best Learning Technologist!!” Maybe it’s just me but, even if you think awards are a good idea, this seems a rather odd way of going about things.

Recordings of the main ALT-C 2009 Conference sessions are available here http://elluminate.alt.ac.uk/recordings.html Unfortunately, it’s a bit like ALT-C itself. There’s some good stuff there but you have to hunt for it and and it’s much easier if you’re part of the in crowd. You’ll need to click on the “Recordings” tab and then select the day the session was recorded on. The conference ran from 8th-10th September 2009.

Maybe a few of the ALT in crowd would benefit from taking the 12 step programme?