Following on from a blog post that we (SALT) created in January 2016 on New Year’s Resolutions, and given the changes that have taken place in 2017, here in SALT we thought it might be a good idea for some of us to reflect on what we’ve achieved in 2017 and what we hope to achieve in 2018.
This is the second of a series that will be published during January and February, and some of the post will give you the chance to meet some of our newer team members.
I’m now heading into my tenth year as part of the Blackboard/elearning/SALT team. In those ten years, I’ve seen SALT develop and grow from the 4-strong Blackboard team into the 15 strong SALT team that we are today.
As the team has grown and evolved, so too have our roles. This has been particularly significant for me as I have changed jobs slightly and now carry more responsibility, which is rewarding in many ways.
Among other things, 2017 saw me take on more mentoring and assessing for the internal Fellowship route, and attending the SAR Panel for the first time as lead assessor for the group of applicants that I assessed.
2017 also led me to design and online course based around the concept of the Flipped Classroom. This, in turn was designed in a format that I experienced in 2016, through Jane Hart’s “Modern Workplace Learning” course. You may have seen Jane Hart in last year’s SALT Conference. (That was the one with the sketchnote by the side). The flipped classroom CPD module is still running and set to be evaluated in February 2018.
I’m anticipating several challenges in 2018, but also looking forward to them.
As well as maintaining the current levels of support that we offer in the TEL (Technology Enhanced Learning) team, I would also like to develop further TEL-related CPD, in an online environment, but how this will look will depend on the outcome of the evaluation of the Flipped Classroom. However, I am keen on the concept of the #1minuteCPD as driven by Manchester Metropolitan University, but maybe adapting it to #10 minute TEL? Plenty of room to explore.
I also would like to revise my personal blog. I returned to blogging in 2016 but, like most New Year’s resolutions they tailed off, and I blogged sporadically. However, I have some strong ideas for reviving the blog, and in order to facilitate some of these ideas I am looking to migrate from the blogger platform to WordPress.
Finally, I am looking forward to working with two of my SALT colleagues, Rhian Ellis and Professor Jane Thomas on an event looking at ways of enhancing traditional teaching. All too often we expect teachers to innovate, and the majority of people assume that innovations must involve technology, when in fact, sometimes the simplest, or more low-tech technique is often more effective.
Furthermore, are today’s younger generation so immersed in technology that they see teaching without technology as innovative in itself, or whether this is a concept for the future?
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.
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]SALT’s IT Month kicked off with two contrasting uses of some of the features of Pebble+ to enhance student learning. Pebble+ is available directly from the University’s home.swan.ac.uk portal for staff or is a tool inbuilt in Blackboard, the virtual learning environment.
Joanne Berry from Arts and Humanities showed how she addressed increased variety and authenticity in her assessment approach by getting students to work in groups and create webfolios showcasing their research on aspects of Pompeii as well as blogging about their reflection on the groupwork and task.
Many students were scared at the thought of creating websites and a very small number dropped the module when it dawned on them the nature of the assessment. However, some of the amazing outcomes of this approach is that many of the webfolios are to a very high standard with amazing creativity – some are worthy of actual publishing on the web to share with others. (One of the advantages of using webfolios in Pebble+ is that such material can be created but not shared on the Internet unless agreed to by the student developing it).
The regularly submitted personal blogs as part of the webfolio enabled Jo to monitor how the groups were functioning and to intervene. In sharing some of the students’ comments, it revealed how many had grown in confidence (after initially being apprehensive) and also had developed great employability skills from this task. The impact on student learning was amazing! Jo presented her findings (via recorded presentation at the recent PebbleBash conference.)
As a complete contrast in using the features of Pebble+, Steve Beale from English Language Training Services shared his growing pains of trialling what would be a suitable way of enabling their students to upload electronic versions of their marked mark, addressing a pressing space limitation issue within the department. Steve shared some noteworthy tips on the differences between webfolios (more creativity and freedom) with the Workbook feature (more control and standardised responses) and how in particular he had to create additional guides and videos on using Pebble+ for those students who weren’t as computer literate as others. Getting students used to this feature of uploading their work and progress grades was a first step. The next step is to encourage the students to reflect on their progress and review their strengths and weaknesses. Templates within Pebble+ will enable them to do this.
This was a great session to kick off IT month, with lots of questions and interest from those attending to have a go… would any turn up for the more practical session the next week on how to build the webfolio and use the reflective tools? Find out in my next post.[:]
[:en]From September 8th through to October 7th there’s a comprehensive and exciting array of lunch-time seminars available to help staff at Swansea Make One Change, and have a go at using some technology to enhance your approach to learning, teaching or assessment and supporting student engagement. Have a look at what’s on offer!
The sessions include using Twitter and other tools to enhance student engagement, tools for groupwork, recording lectures, creating TedEd talks, blended learning as well as perhaps more familiar technology – Blackboard, the University’s virtual learning environment. But this isn’t just about covering the minimum requirements in Blackboard – its about using enhanced tools and techniques to engage and enthuse learners. Sessions will be covering what more you can do with Blackboard and some of its features, such as Campus Pack. There will also be Blackboard Drop-in sessions to help you with difficulties during the year.
Some will be delivered by SALT Team members, but others by your peers who’ve had experience of using these technologies in their courses. Come see them use it, listen to them talk through their challenges, discuss what has worked, and in most sessions try out the technology for yourself. Ask them questions!
Have you been reflecting on how you can enhance your teaching and/or support student learning? If you are already a Fellow of the HEA, how can you demonstrate that you are remaining in good standing? Are there any targets in your PDR regarding improving your teaching?
The sessions are being held in our refurbished Training Room on the Top floor of the Taliesin Building.
Finding us can be a challenge, but if you go the main library on the Singleton Campus, turn around to face north, and follow the gap between the Egypt Centre and the Keir Hardie Building you’ll find us! For a visual description, see our website contact details.
You do have to register for these sessions and spaces are limited to the first 20 registrants. So, what are you waiting for? Sign up![:]
[: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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
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: email@example.com.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org for details.[:]
It’s Wednesday so it must be Bristol and the Heads of E-Learning Forum or Helf as its known to its friends. Helf according to its website is, ‘a network of senior staff in institutions engaged in promoting, supporting and developing technology enhanced learning. We have over 125 nominated Heads from UK Higher Education institutions and a regular programme of well attended events.’ They have meetings 2 or 3 times a year as well as being involved in a number of reports and other publications. They also run a lively JISC mail list that brings a lot a remarkably useful information into my inbox.
One of the real values of this group is that your hear what really goes on in other institutions all shared under the Chatham House Rule. None of the proud parent, ‘Oh our young lecture capture is doing remarkably well at University’ here. What you get is a much more nuanced, honest view and all the better for it.
This was my first face to face meeting so I wasn’t quite sure what to expect but the title ‘Blending physical and virtual spaces’ was intriguing and I was keen to meet some of the people who had been sharing all that information. Interestingly, there were people from all over Britain but remarkably few from other Universities in Wales considering that Bristol is not that far away!
As I often do I won’t give a blow by blow account of what I did on my day out but instead share some of the many useful things I got from the day.
There was an interesting project from Derby using video feedback the https://flexiblefeedback.wp.derby.ac.uk. This involved staff to student feedback but also student to student feedback, helping students to learn to both to give and receive critical feedback. The trick will be to see how scalable it is. Another project The Dynamic Lab Manual in Bristol and has won awards and you can read about it here – http://www.chemlabs.bris.ac.uk/DLM.htm
UCL have created a new role of Learning Spaces Specialist, Paul Burt, who sits in the E-Learning Environments team. His role is to make sure that learning space at UCL are actually fit for learning. So they don’t have a ‘let’s have what we have already got but bigger, bums on seat approach’ that inflicts so many universities. Instead, making learning spaces effective for learning is at the heart of their design. The have some extensive Learning Space Guidelines that outline what to consider when requesting, specifying, designing, supplying, installing and maintaining facilities and environments in UCL’s learning spaces. The guidelines cover a whole range of requirements from access to the amount daylight and from acoustics to technology. One major area talked about was the variety of teaching uses a room could be used for. A strong message that came through was the outdated nature of traditional large lecture theatres and that theatres such as the ones below can accommodate both large group teaching and small discussion groups in the same session, make good use of the space and are not as expensive as may be thought. In some case they may even be cheaper than traditional lecture theatres.
Adding power in every seat may be outmoded when tablets can last for several days on one charge but may be needed in the short term by some students. UCL have power in the front two rows. If you want power, you need to sit at the front, which may well have other benefits for you as well.
Peter Bryant, Head of Learning Technology and Innovation at LSE was looking at the success or otherwise of e-learning and argued that there are numerous small local projects still in the use that have not reached tipping point. I think JISC has been responsible for a lot of the small project culture of e-learning, making the most important thing chasing the next round of project funding where the new is always more exciting rather than turning a project into an institution or sector wide application. Additionally he argued that institutional dictats do not always have the desired effect. What’s needed is change from the middle out.
Finally, Mark Gamble from the University Bedfordshire, home of the first series of Freshers,explained that his role is to manage the e-journey of their students from the moment a student thinks about coming to Bedford and clicks. Quite a task but how joined up are we in this process?
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?