Active learning and flexible spaces is not new to me but I was interested to see what is happening across the sector and find out what challenges have had to be overcome to implement such spaces, as well as what technology would be used for the room, how easy it is to use and is it device and operating system agnostic.
Duncan started off with an introduction to the SCALE-UP project, this project started in North Carolina State University physics department as an initiative to change the mode of teaching as they were finding their traditional method was not working and they had a high drop out rate. The project changed the learning mode and environment to a highly collaborative, hands-on, computer rich interactive learning environment for large cohorts. The impact of this change in mode is summarised below:
– Ability to solve problems is improved
– Conceptual understanding is increased
– Attitudes are improved
– Failure rates are drastically reduced, especially for women and minorities
– “At risk” students do better in later engineering statics classes
The basic premise of this approach: get students working together to examine something interesting, and free the teacher to roam about the room asking questions, challenging students and stirring up debates, was showcased during the roadshow and also how technology can aid this way of working.
The technology solution used during the roadshow was that produced by Kramer, each table had a Kramer Pro box and the lectern PC had a Kramer campus box. What these allow is for students to connect their own device, Android, iOS, Windows, Mac etc. to the monitor on their table and collaborate on documents or present documents, video, images from their own device to the rest of the group. The teacher has a simple to use Application that has control of all of the monitors in the room and can override the monitors with their own presentation, or share one of the groups displays with the rest of the groups monitors.
Over the last 12 months here in SALT we have been looking at a range of other/alternative solutions that promise to do this type of collaborative sharing, but until now all have fallen short of the mark, either due to complexity of connecting devices or that they are limited to only one or two operating systems. The Kramer quite easily let all of the devices listed to connect and share content. There were restrictions on iOS devices, and it was highlighted that the solution works best with laptop devices rather than tablet/phones but all the same this is the first solution that allowed multiple devices to easily connect and share content/screen.
Also at the roadshow was Nicholas Burwell, Director of Burwell Deakins Architects, who was behind the design of the Loughborough University collaborative lecture theatre (amongst others). He gave an interesting discussion covering the modern thinking behind university lecture theatre design. I found his presentation fascinating giving some interesting views as to the way students are changing and how we should be adapting to accommodate these changes both in pedagogy and the design of our teaching spaces. You can view his presentation at an earlier roadshow in 2016 below ( would highly recommend taking the time to do so)
Duncan continued on this theme and showed further examples of innovative, flexible, active learning spaces across UK institutions he has worked or visited.
Two points were also mentioned during the roadshow the first was of cost. The Roadshow setup cost in the region of £50,000, which sounds expensive, but Duncan put it in the context of the SCALE-UP project; by implementing that type of learning space it had improved student retention. So in turn if by implementing a similar space in the UK improves the retention of 2 students (on average spend £9,000 per year on fees), the cost of the room is covered. As well as paying for itself active learning has been shown to improve student attainment so those students that do use the room will also benefit in their knowledge and understanding.
Secondly Nicholas mentioned that the Loughborough collaborative lecture theatre was designed and built for Design school, but it has been so popular that it has now moved into the central timetable system for any department to use, and its utilisation is far greater than traditional lecture theatres as it is being used both for didactic and active teaching both to large and small cohorts. It was also noted that these spaces digital classrooms, collaborative lecture theatres, and flexible spaces were being used by students outside of timetabled learning and again space utilisation of the such spaces are higher than traditional learning spaces.
At Swansea we have aspirational goals of increasing our student numbers significantly over the next 5-10 years, this increase I believe will lead to an even wider diversification of our students and this will have an impact not only on where we teach them but how they are taught. Combined with the fact that employers are looking at both soft skills as well as depth of knowledge as displayed in the T-shaped graduate (Nicholas Burwell mentions this in his presentation above) I believe we need to be considering collaborative lecture theatres for new buildings and the refurbishment of existing rooms. To help staff become familiar with this change in space and pedagogy investment in a learning lab which contains a similar type set up to that of the digital classroom so our staff can experience the space and way of learning that this type of room and technology can provide would be of great benefit. These changes to learning spaces will come at a price and it will require a change in the way some staff approach teaching but if we aspire to be a top 20 University they at least need to be explored further.[:cy]
Nid yw dysgu gweithredol a mannu hyblyg yn rhywbeth newydd i mi, ond roedd gen i ddiddordeb i weld beth sy’n digwydd ar draws y sector a dysgu pa heriau y bu’n rhaid eu goresgyn i gyflwyno mannau o’r fath, yn ogystal â pha dechnoleg byddai’n cael ei defnyddio ar gyfer yr ystafell, pa mor hawdd yw ei defnyddio ac a yw’n addas ar gyfer unrhyw ddyfais a system weithredu.
Dechreuodd Duncan drwy gyflwyno’r prosiect SCALE-UP. Dechreuodd y prosiect hwn yn Adran Ffiseg Prifysgol Talaith North Carolina fel menter i newid y dull addysgu, oherwydd nad oedd eu dull traddodiadol yn gweithio ac am fod nifer uchel o fyfyrwyr yn gadael cyn gorffen eu cyrsiau. Newidiodd y prosiect y dull a’r amgylchedd dysgu a’i droi’n amgylchedd dysgu cydweithredol a rhyngweithiol iawn a oedd yn gwneud defnydd helaeth o gyfrifiaduron ac yn addas ar gyfer carfannau mawr. Crynhoir effaith y newid hwn isod:
Mae’r gallu i ddatrys problemau’n well
Mae dealltwriaeth gysyniadol wedi cynyddu
Mae agweddau’n well
Mae cyfraddau methu wedi gostwng yn sylweddol, yn enwedig ymhlith menywod a lleiafrifoedd
Mae myfyrwyr mewn perygl yn gwneud yn well mewn dosbarthiadau stateg peirianneg diweddarach
Cafodd egwyddor sylfaenol yr ymagwedd hon – annog myfyrwyr i gydweithio i archwilio rhywbeth diddorol, a rhyddhau’r athro i grwydro’r ystafell yn gofyn cwestiynau, yn herio myfyrwyr ac yn pryfocio dadleuon – ei harddangos yn ystod y sioe deithiol a hefyd, sut gall technoleg gynorthwyo’r ffordd hon o weithio.
Cynhyrchir y dechnoleg a ddefnyddiwyd yn y sioe deithiol gan Kramer. Roedd gan bob bwrdd Kramer Pro Box ac roedd Kramer Campus Box ar y cyfrifiadur ar y ddarllenfa. Mae’r rhain yn caniatáu i fyfyrwyr gysylltu eu dyfeisiau eu hunain – Android, iOS, Windows, Mac etc – â’r monitor ar eu bwrdd, a gallant gydweithio ar ddogfennau neu gyflwyno dogfennau, fideo, lluniau o’u dyfeisiau eu hunain i weddill y grŵp. Mae gan yr athro gymhwysiad sy’n hawdd ei ddefnyddio. Mae’n gallu rheoli pob monitor yn yr ystafell a gosod ei gyflwyniad eu hun ar y monitorau, neu rannu cynnwys un o’r grwpiau â monitorau’r grwpiau eraill.
Dros y 12 mis diwethaf yma yn Academi Dysgu ac Addysgu Abertawe, rydym wedi bod yn archwilio amrywiaeth o opsiynau eraill/amgen sy’n addo’r math hwn o rannu cydweithredol, ond sydd heb fynd â’r maen i’r wal hyd yn hyn, naill ai oherwydd cymhlethdod cysylltu dyfeisiau neu am eu bod yn gweithio gydag un neu ddwy system weithredu yn unig. Gyda thechnoleg Kramer, roedd yn hawdd cysylltu pob un o’r dyfeisiau a rhannu cynnwys. Roedd cyfyngiadau gyda dyfeisiau iOS ac amlygwyd bod y dechnoleg yn gweithio orau gyda gliniaduron yn hytrach na llechi/ffonau. Er gwaethaf hyn, dyma’r dechnoleg gyntaf sy’n caniatáu cysylltu nifer o ddyfeisiau a rhannu cynnwys/sgriniau’n hawdd.
Yn bresennol yn y sioe deithiol hefyd roedd Nicholas Burwell, Cyfarwyddwr y cwmni penseiri, Burwell Deakins, a oedd yn gyfrifol am ddylunio darlithfa gydweithredol Prifysgol Loughborough (ymysg eraill). Rhoddodd gyflwyniad diddorol ynghylch yr ymagwedd fodern sydd y tu ôl i ddylunio darlithfeydd prifysgolion. Roedd ei gyflwyniad yn afaelgar iawn ac yn cynnwys rhai syniadau diddorol am sut mae myfyrwyr yn newid a sut dylem ymateb i’r newidiadau hyn drwy addasu ein haddysgeg a chynllun ein mannau addysgu. Gallwch weld ei gyflwyniad mewn sioe deithiol gynharach (2016) isod. Byddwn yn eich argymell yn fawr i wneud hyn.
Parhaodd Duncan i siarad am y thema hon, a dangosodd enghreifftiau eraill o fannau dysgu arloesol, hyblyg a gweithredol mewn sefydliadau ledled y DU y mae wedi gweithio ynddynt neu ymweld â nhw.
Crybwyllwyd dau bwynt hefyd yn ystod y sioe deithiol, a chost oedd yr un cyntaf. Cost creu’r sioe deithiol oedd tua £50,000, sy’n swnio’n ddrud, ond gwnaeth Duncan ei osod yng nghyd-destun prosiect SCALE-UP; drwy gyflwyno’r math hwnnw o fan dysgu, llwyddwyd i wella cyfraddau cadw myfyrwyr. Felly, pe bai modd sicrhau bod 2 fyfyriwr yn parhau ar eu cyrsiau drwy gyflwyno man dysgu tebyg yn y DU (gwariant blynyddol cyfartalog ar ffioedd o £9,000), byddai hynny’n talu am gost yr ystafell. Yn ogystal â thalu am ei hun, dangoswyd bod dysgu gweithredol yn gwella cyrhaeddiad myfyrwyr felly, bydd gwybodaeth a dealltwriaeth y myfyrwyr hynny sy’n defnyddio’r ystafell yn elwa hefyd.
Yn ail, dywedodd Nicholas fod darlithfa gydweithredol Loughborough wedi cael ei dylunio a’i hadeiladu ar gyfer yr Ysgol Ddylunio, ond oherwydd ei phoblogrwydd, ei bod wedi cael ei symud i’r system amserlennu ganolog i unrhyw adran ei defnyddio. Mae’n cael ei defnyddio i raddau llawer mwy helaeth na darlithfeydd traddodiadol am ei bod yn addas at ddiben addysgu gweithredol a didactig hefyd, i garfannau mawr a bach fel ei gilydd. Nodwyd hefyd bod yr ystafelloedd dosbarth digidol, y darlithfeydd cydweithredol a’r mannau hyblyg hyn yn cael eu defnyddio gan fyfyrwyr y tu allan i’r amserlen ac unwaith eto bod y lleoedd hyn yn cael eu defnyddio llawer mwy na mannau dysgu traddodiadol.
Yn Abertawe mae gennym nodau uchelgeisiol o ran cynyddu nifer ein myfyrwyr yn sylweddol yn ystod y degawd nesaf. Credaf y bydd y cynnydd hwn yn arwain at amrywiaeth ehangach byth ymhlith ein myfyrwyr ac y bydd hyn yn effeithio, nid yn unig ar ble rydym yn eu haddysgu ond sut cânt eu haddysgu hefyd. Ar y cyd â’r ffaith bod cyflogwyr yn chwilio am sgiliau meddal, yn ogystal â gwybodaeth fanwl (fel y’i harddangosir gan y syniad o ‘raddedigion siâp T‘ y cyfeirir ato gan Nicholas Burwell yn ei gyflwyniad uchod), credaf fod angen i ni ystyried darlithfeydd cydweithredol ar gyfer adeiladau newydd ac wrth ailwampio’r ystafelloedd sydd gennym. I helpu staff i ymgyfarwyddo â’r newid hwn mewn lleoedd ac addysgeg, a’u galluogi i gael profiad o’r lleoedd a’r dulliau dysgu y gall y math hwn o ystafell a thechnoleg eu darparu, byddai o fudd mawr buddsoddi mewn labordy dysgu â chynllun tebyg i un yr ystafell ddosbarth ddigidol. Bydd cost yn gysylltiedig â’r newidiadau hyn mewn mannau dysgu, a bydd angen i rai aelodau staff newid eu hymagwedd at addysgu ond, os oes gobaith gennym ymuno â rhengoedd yr 20 o brifysgolion gorau, mae angen eu harchwilio o leiaf.[:]
[:en]A while ago, I came across a website (via twitter, incidentally) called Learning Wheel. This particular site is a community site where you can collaborate and share resources or technology that can be used to enhance your teaching or professional development.
Each wheel is split into 4 sections and each section has a series of ‘spokes’. To quote Learning Wheel themselves:
“LearningWheel is a model of digital pedagogy designed to enhance learning and develop digital literacy skills. It has several unique layers:
Visual pedagogically informed tool
Created by practitioners for practitioner
Categorised in to four pedagogic ‘modes of engagement’
Can be ‘Resource’ specific
Can be ‘Contextualised’ to a subject area
Can be ‘level’ specific
Promote free and accessible digital resources
Scalability: flexible and adaptable”
There are two that stand out particularly for SALT, and one of these are in the subject resources and is aimed at the trainee teacher, although it’s just as useful for practising teachers too:
There are lots of subject specific wheels too, so have a look. You may find some useful resources for your discipline! If you feel you can create one, then there is an option to be the captain of your own learning wheel.
As with all collaborative resources, the resources contained within each of these learning wheels are not necessarily used by Swansea University, but if you are interested in any of these tools and want to know more then SALT would be more than happy to look at some of these with you and suggest alternatives where possible.
If you do use some of these learning wheels, please share it with @learningwheel and also with @susaltteam or contact SALT so that we can promote the good work that is going on, not just in Swansea but further afield.
Being part of the SALT (Swansea Academy for Learning and Teaching) team at Swansea University has its perks, some more obvious than others.
Having attended a meeting of the Learning Innovation Group (LIG) yesterday, I was reminded of some of the reasons I love the job that I do. I’ll admit, I’m not a big fan of meetings – the thought of sitting down trying to concentrate (both from an engagement and an accessibility point of view) for hours on end is certainly not fun. But every so often, little nuggets crop up and make them worthwhile.
The topic of the meeting yesterday was “Learning Innovation” and the purpose of the meeting was to find out what was going on within the colleges, to facilitate discussions and try to encourage, nurture and foster collaboration both between the colleges and between SALT and the colleges.
It was heartening to see that innovation wasn’t necessarily perceived as being “techy”, particularly as within SALT we try to promote the ethos of “Pedagogy first, technology last”. Perhaps it was unfortunate that numbers were low for this meeting (or maybe a blessing in disguise as it enhanced those conversations?) but it was good that the colleges who weren’t able to have representation at the meeting were able to supply valuable insights from within their colleges.
The biggest talking point came from “Flashback Friday” which is a method of encouraging reflection within the School of Management. It employed a simple technique whereby students are given one question on a Friday and are expected to reflect on that question for the following week. The concept was simple yet effective. So simple in fact that it wasn’t regarded as innovative by the lecturer concerned and only identified due to a chance conversation between the lecturer and a member of the SALT team.
Flashback Friday also generated attention in the meeting because of the materials used to deliver it – students were given what can only be described as heavy duty cling film (I’m not sure what the material was called – sorry!) that acted as a whiteboard.
I was also enthused by the amount of innovation in assessment that was on display, from giving students advance notice of a potential exam question (Gen Bio & Geography), the increasing use of in-class polling (Engineering) and the use of multiple choice questions as both formative and summative assessment, using both technical and non-technical solutions (Medicine, Science and Engineering). Furthermore, I continued to be impressed by the “Authentic Assessment” that was being used throughout the university – the College of Arts and Humanities offered some excellent examples of how role play by way of running a fictitious company to aid translation, or a news studio to aid media students.
As the discussions progressed, it became apparent (in a nice way) that while there is a tremendous amount of good practice and innovation going on throughout the university, because staff are “doing it”, they don’t see it as innovative. This was all very positive though, more of a “Wow, we do that in our college and I didn’t think of including that on our list”.
Having worked in SALT for 8 years, I have been party to several different discussions, projects and events that covered similar things and it’s not the innovation itself that impresses me, it’s that fact that there is so much of it, and that people are so humble with it, and so willing to share with others. What I took away from yesterday’s meeting was the “so and so in my department does that too, why don’t you speak to them” – we don’t foster this type of conversation enough!!
In SALT we pride ourselves on being good teachers, but we are unique in that we come from all sorts of backgrounds and we continually look for new tools and technologies. The best nugget of all for me from this meeting came from one of my SALT Colleagues – “This type of discussion is really good, but have you seen how they curate this in Manchester Metropolitan University” #101creativeideas
THAT is what makes me tick. The sharing of knowledge, resources and tools as well as the sharing of the way things work. My role, and that of the majority of the SALT team is to foster the wealth of talent that is teaching at Swansea University, and to nurture it. In order for us to help others, we must help ourselves, and to do this we must start from within. The subject of my reflections from yesterday’s meeting is therefore, how can SALT curate the knowledge, skills and resources within the team, how can SALT collaborate with each other and with the wider community to enhance the knowledge, skills and resources, and (most importantly for me), what part can I play in this process?
If we want teaching to be excellent at Swansea, we need to strive for excellence as a team and lead by example.
This September Debbie Baff, Simon Gibbon and I (Mandy Jack) attended this year’s annual ALT (Association for Learning Technology) conference which is the UK’s main learning technology conference. See our reflections on the SALT Blog. This year the conference was held at the University of Warwick Campus and the theme was called: Connect, Collaborate, Create – the full programme can be found on ALTc website.
The opening keynote was from Josie Fraser, UK-based Social and Educational Technologist, with a talk called “In the Valley of the Trolls”. Josie looked at specific contexts of open practice – social and political, and “digital environmental factors that shape, restrict and enable collaboration and collection”.
In her talk, she highlights key issues relating to online anonymity, trolling, and self-regulation that educational organisations, providers, and individuals need to be aware of and engaged with, in the context of supporting all educators and learners to work, share and learn openly online. She also referred to open educational practice, and how uncomfortable it is to share with people who don’t agree with you.
‘Welcome to the M-Assessment Quiz show’ with Lisa Donaldson from Dublin City University. Assessment is THE most impactful thing we can do for student learning (Black & Wiliam 98). It felt like a good call. This innovative workshop demonstrated how to easily make formative assessment an integral part of the learning process by creating technology rich experiences to engage learners. The session was hands on, the audience participated in a selection of online quiz and polling activities, which were interesting and versatile. After a quick play, we evaluated eight assessment tools for the classroom. Of which my favourite was Zeetings.com.
We used Zeetings to vote on our preferred tool, participated in 3 quizzes with Kahoot, Mentimeter, and Quizizz and also reviewed a Zaption video quiz and vote via Plickers on a question set. Final three tools were posted to a Padlet Wall with supporting documentation. We then voted via Answergarden to crown a winner! Wow, a fabulous range of tools used in a fun way to allow us to try them out. Obviously, you wouldn’t use them all at once with students, but they are all worth a look. We used a selection TEd some in the IT month so check out the blog between September 8th to October 7th.
Sherman and Havemann began with a quote from Ferrell 2012 “Assessment and feedback lie at the heart of the learning experience, and forms a significant part of both academic and administrative workload. It remains, however, the single biggest source of student dissatisfaction with the higher education experience”.
Sherman and Havemann presented the argument that online assessment and feedback methods and processes are increasingly essential to the student experience and must be regarded as a priority for education institutions. In their session they considered the experiences of the members of the Bloomsbury Learning Environment (BLE) consortium (a group of geographically-close HE institutions based in London) in which there has been an increasing interest – and concern – in this area. The presentation describes how they assessed and evaluated appropriate technologies to support e-assessment across the consortium, producing documentation and case studies.
The pair shared their lessons learned and highlighted areas of good, innovative and interesting practice. They used the Jisc Transforming Assessment and feedback with technology guidance https://www.jisc.ac.uk/guides/transforming-assessment-and-feedback, which provides ideas and resources to help colleges and universities enhance the entire assessment and feedback lifecycle.
Emma Purnell, Rebecca Vickerstaff, and Liz Mcgregor from Plymouth Uni presented an interesting paper called Evaluating Evaluation! This was described as a four tiered approach encapsulating evaluation techniques and methods in staff training and delivery, peer review, participant experience and formal feedback in Higher Education. They developed their research based on training and development needs of academic and non-academic staff in Higher Education, which are critical in ensuring continued digital literacy standards. Enhancing staff skills and awareness’s of digital technology is vital in creating engaging and innovative teaching materials for students (Courtney, 2013).
I was particularly interested as they asked how do we continue to ensure that the method in which we evaluate is appropriate and meeting learning outcomes in an increasing evolving educational field? Evaluation of training is a critical process in measuring the impact of learning and training provision in Higher Education and many institutions demonstrate and disseminate various ways of evaluation. So to help answer their question the team developed a 4 tiered approach to help bring consistency to their training programmes.
Courtney, K. (2013) ‘Adapting Higher Education through Changes in Academic Work’. Higher Education Quarterly, 67 (1). pp 40-55.
I went to the Jisc workshop entitled ‘What is Digital Capability’ I didn’t think that they particularly answered the question, and they didn’t particularly ask for our ideas either. Here is the diagram from their website which is rather helpful, and there are a range of tools and projects that can help with the understanding of this complex concept.
The activity they asked us to engage in however, was interesting. They asked us to plot the technology we used personally in each area of our lives. Here is my diagram, make of it what you will.
In another talk, later on in the day Kerry Pinny and Marcus Elliot suggested that, Creativity takes courage (and digital capabilities) . They used the Jisc framework to design their CPD workshop. They research began by asking ‘How do you convince the important people of the way forward, of what you want to do and how you intend doing it?’ They explained that it is crucial to get the stakeholders together; take of wellbeing was a keyword. So they began by sending an email asking How Digital Are You? along with a questionnaire. The other key development was departmental opportunities, where their Law department gave their staff a Digital week to explore their digital capabilities.
Another interesting presentation from Huddersfield Uni Flipping heck! Be careful what you wish for : Andrew Raistrick, and Steven Bentley. Their Academic developers ran a range of workshops like our September It month called Pick and Mix workshops. However, they used the flipped classroom approach. They used eStream to create a range of video resources that they expected staff to watch prior to attending the course. They reported that trainer fatigue was avoided by using the videos. The answer was not to replace the hands on with the video, but to have them as a supplementary resource. Here are some of the courses Huddersfield have on offer; if there is anything here that you find interesting please contact SALT.
[:en]Here is Mandy Jack abseiling off the top of Kilvey Hall of residence, behind Fulton House. She was part of the ISS team Book drop fundraising for SOS Africa.
Video and images by Deb Baff
Not exactly the type of group work we would normally be writing about here in SALT. However, it is a good example of being part of a group or team, contributing an individual piece of work for a project, a concept which is often confused or interchanged in teaching with group-work. Work like this is purely an amalgamation of individual pieces of work collected and presented as one, rather than a collaboration where individuals share ideas, skills and methods to accomplish a task or project. The latter is much more difficult to manage, but has so much to offer especially in higher education. Kezar (2004) discusses how the external pressures and the known benefits of collaboration, drove many higher education institutions to develop more collaborative learning opportunities. She talks of higher education institutes trying to create learning communities, service and community-based learning, and interdisciplinary research and teaching and that 50% of them failed. The article was written twelve years ago, so how far have we come? Furthermore, can technology help to drive the initiative further and with more success?
After reading an interesting article on Mediashift a few months ago I was interested to find out what sort of innovative collaboration was happening here at Swansea using digital technology. If you have any stories, successes or otherwise we would love to know. Please email email@example.com.
I also want to investigate the possibilities that interactive touchscreens and presentation technology might have in various settings. You might have attended one of the demonstrations last month where the SALT Team had a range of Interactive Touch Screens (ITS) available to explore. If so, please let us know what you think? Again contact us: firstname.lastname@example.org.
We are hosting a session on Wednesday afternoon (June 22nd 2016) as part of the Learning Innovations Group (LIG) project asking “Can technology enhance collaborative learning?” It will be an opportunity to see the new SALT learning and teaching space and to test some collaborative, interactive tech over a spot of lunch. You will be asked to collaborate with colleagues and to share ideas about how you could embed such technology into your practice. If you would like to attend please contact Mandy Jack at email@example.com for details.[:]
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.
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]”
The conference brought together an eclectic mix of people from education, Government and industry, from apprentices to managers and from all four corners of the UK. That in itself illustrates that innovation is open to all!
I picked out some interesting points and ideas that I feel I can take forward with the Engineering project, but I was struck by how much of this “innovation” we already do here at Swansea University. Some of the tools and methods were held up as excellent practice in their sector. Things we do here in Swansea but we don’t think of them as innovative because they are almost commonplace.
A particular favourite presentation of mine from the day’s speakers was that delivered by Mark Griffiths from NESTA. NESTA is an charity whose main aim is innovation. They have since launched a project entitled ‘Make Things, Do Stuff’ aimed at getting children and young people people to become digital makers. On the site, you’ll find advice, support and tools to help code a website, create a game or even build a 3D robot. This may not necessarily be relevant to Higher Education but personally I found the methods used to teach them really good, and with backing from Nominet, Mozilla and the Chancellor, it’s high on the Government’s priority list at the moment. The video below shows some of the comments from young people as well as the sponsors at the Make Things, Do Stuff launch:
Dr Andrew Manches led one of the morning keynotes in talking about a report (commissioned by NESTA!) which was the culmination of extensive research into how technology has been used in the UK education systems, as well as lessons from around the world. This report provides a whistle stop tour of different types of innovative use of technology and provides links to several innovations.
Social Media also played a key part throughout the conference, with references dotted in almost every presentation, participants encouraged to Tweet with the conference hashtag #learntechconf as well as being the focus on yet another keynote, this time from Nitin Thakrar, Director of elearning Studios.
The video below shows the impact of Social Media on the world:
Research in Learning Technology is the journal of the Association for Learning Technology and is now open access so that access, including back issues, is now available free of charge. The journal aims to raise the profile of research in learning technology, encouraging research that informs good practice and contributes to the development of policy. The journal publishes papers concerning the use of technology in learning and teaching in all sectors of education, as well as in industry
Michael Wesch has been very influential in framing the debate around e-learning. I first came across him via his video The Machine is Using Us, published in March 2007, and I still use it as an introduction to my Level 1 lab course on Practical Internet Technology. It has 1,358,994 views on YouTube. His second, A Vision of Students Today (published October 2007), has had 4,112,629 views, is shown at virtually all e-learning conferences and is cited by all e-learning bloggers at some point.
Now his third magnum opus, Rethinking Education has just been posted. Will it be a focus of debate for the next three years?