3rd (final?) draft of poster for conference

 

Following some more great feedback: “I wonder if the word ā€˜Onlineā€™ shouldnā€™t appear boldly? ….Ā ā€˜fuzeā€™ is occupying a lot of space….Ā Outcomes could be a little bolderĀ ..Ā the ā€œquiet is okayā€ point would be an interesting point to pull out in a quote to catch attention.”

I have added the word “online” in a couple of places hoping that would be enough to make a difference.

What do you think?

PosterDraft3

Draft two poster for conference

Even more great feedback and now there is a third draft to look at. I think this might be the final one.

Following some great feedback, I have produced the following 2nd draft. The comments I got included:

“…leave out the reference to the HEA PI, unless it suits the purpose of the other conference. The poster should represent your research and I donā€™t think you need anything which either supports the idea that it is practitioner research or is of a high quality. That should come through the poster…”

“I would put up front and in very big text a summary of the topic and findings (summary instead of introduction). Then around it you put further details on different aspects…”Ā among other pertinent comments. Ā Thank you to all my generousĀ critical readers.

draft2Poster

 

First draft of poster for conference

Please see draft two which is replacing this version.

 

Enhancing Student Learning Through Innovative Scholarship Conference – Durham 16/17 July

This will be A0 size Ā (but 84 cm x 84 cm square) and printed on canvas.

This is my first draft, produced, unusually, inĀ a square format to fit A0 posterĀ standĀ because I would like to re-use it at another conference – who might use landscape rather than portrait displays.

I would welcome your critique.

The objective for this poster is to have something to talk about.

1stDraftPoster

 

 

Personal learning environment – my space?

Personal learning environments (PLEs) are simply a collection of applications, websites and technologies that we use for studying. Because I also learn from people, I have included my personal learning network (PLN) incorporated with my PLE. It also changes all the time and this one was created a couple of years ago. I would make Twitter a much bigger part of it today if I were to redraw it and I would include Moodle too.

A representation of my PLE (mixed with my PLN)

My PLE also includes things which I am not representing on this image, because they don’t have icons. For example I am typing on a Chromebook and this little notepad computer has become the place where I study most of the time. I don’t write assessments and I can’t use Mendeley on it, but for reading, making notes and searching it is great and very portable. But the most important thing for me is that I am not at my desk, if I were at my desk I would be worrying about work rather than working on my studies. So I do think that PLEs need to also include a sense of the physical environment as well as the technological one.

When I first did this exercise I looked at a lot of other people’s PLEs and saved their images to Pinterest. Pinterest then became more interesting as a space for keeping diagrams, images of other research topics – as well as a shopping wishlist!

Follow Mandy's board PLE on Pinterest.

So where are PLE headed?

The very nature of PLE are that they are fluid, the applications and technologies will change as our needs change. So at the moment I am using Twitter much more than I have done in the past. Partly this is because it is encouraged by the course I am taking (MA ODE) and many of the students are using the #H800 hashtag to support each other and share experiences. It does make me wonder though whether the use of Twitter is therefore not really part of my PLE at all for this module but has actually been usurped by the module team? However, because I still follow many other people who are constantly introducing me to interesting resources and material, I think I can be relaxed about this.

I have also moved from eBlogger to hosting thisĀ blog in my own WordPress environment. As I learn from reflecting and I am using my blog for reflecting it therefore also needs to be included in my PLE. I purposefully chose to keep my blog away from the OU’s hosting service for it (still part of Moodle), because I wanted to use my blog more openly and, in the end, of course am intending toĀ attract an audience. I don’t think that happens via the university’sĀ hosted blog service. I certainly hardly ever read any blogs that are there, but at the same time recognise that for students who don’t want to have to start their own account anywhere else, it is more convenient to satisfy course requirements by taking the simplest route.

Issues

Students should be free to make choices and work together. Whether these choices are free of influence is a different matter and probably one that will become more interesting to look at in the future. At the moment I think we are in a time of settling in. We are getting more used to incorporating different technologies into our learning as students and our teaching as teachers. It is only when those technologies are embedded that we will be able to really see the effect they have had. There is a tension between innovation and experimentation and being able to give students a good learning experience.

I learnt this the hard way when I used a beta version of AppInventor with some students on a GCSE project; unfortunately the hosting of this application was changed halfway through their project and this caused a few problems.Ā I had assumed that something hosted by Google would be more stable – now I know better. ConsideringĀ the stability of any technology beingĀ incorporated into an assessment has to beĀ a priority. Although everything turned out okay in the end, it was unnecessarily stressful at the time. When I was teaching my approach was always to stay ahead of the curve with technologies and I think that my students appreciated that they were getting to try out new things and it often made the tasks they needed to do fresh and exciting. But sometimes, as is the way with all technologies, there were delays and frustrations too.

This shouldn’t, however, ever stop us from assessing new technologies in order to find fresh ways to approach learning and teaching.

Thoughts about video as a learning technology

I am consideringĀ the use of video in the context of tutoring a STEM subject on a higher education graduate course. There are several ways students encounter video: as part of their module materials, as an activity where they are required to produce one themselves, as recordings of long tutorials they were unable to attend or for review and, finally, tutor created videos.

It is likely that students will be fairly media literate Ā nevertheless the quality of video module materials would be critical to the way they perceived the course. The Open University (OU) once hadĀ a reputation for promoting lecture-type videos by men with beards and jumpers and this may have taken quite a few years to escape from, but the university probably now has. All module material videos now include transcripts for accessibility but these transcripts also serve another purpose – enabling students to scan the content. Harvard’s eDx is using a more sophisticated video embedding technology which includes a separate transcript but also includes a rolling transcript next to the video pane. This functions to allow the student to read and listen, review and scan ahead. At the OU the videos are sometimes external resources but more often they are produced in house and in contrast to its reputation no longer attempt to replicate the lecture hall. Were they still to feature the traditionalĀ OU tutor character they would be unlikely to impress these media savvy students.

Still from film
Still from Educating RitaĀ 

We tutors often berate students for failing to attend online tutorials. And it is true that, in my experience, if students are not assessed on attendance most will not attend. However at this time there is no easy access to data that would provide us with viewership figures. Our online tutorials normally last around an hour. We need to know how our students access and watch the recordings of them. I suspect that they may use the inbuilt facilities in the OU Live recordings to find parts of the tutorials they will be able to use for helping with assessment rather than seeing this as a deep learning experience. The OU live environment also constrains the tutor. But this may not be a bad thing.

Many tutors are now producing, sometimes shorter, quick fire video messages using YouTube for dissemination. Some of these have a distinctly professional feel Ā but the majority will be more simple offerings.

It is a very good question, with interesting implications, whether or not these amateur productions enhance the overall OU offering. I have been producing quite a few of these, usually aiming to be less than 5 minutes long. I use a tag “open university ” when I publish and this makes me question whether there needs to be a more formal approach. At the same time short to the point video messages which could, for example, include feedback to groups and even individual feedback perhaps using another online video grab from Collaj, would certainly help to create more presence between tutor and student.

If tutors were able to use these video technologies to help students reflect more deeply on feedback I believe those of us working online would find that this also improved our communications with students. However,Ā I believe that there continues to be a danger that the face to face lecture is replicated via video. I Don’t believe that this continues to be the most appropriate use of the technology because student attention is too early diverted elsewhere.

 

Evaluating video/screencasting softwares

Evaluation of Screencasting Software (SCS)Ā including webcam support

Collaaj

I am in the process of writing a paper about Screencasting Software (SCS) and at the same time I am playing about with different software, probably as a procrastination method, but also because I want to see what is on offer.

This was made using the free version of Collaaj which allows a 2 minute recording to be uploaded. This video took up about 12 MB so theoretically one could store around a hundred 2 minute videos (actually less, but lets not quibble).

It would also be good to play around with the kind of mouse used. This would need to be done in windows (or whatever OS) settings. It is possible to download and install custom mouse pointers (see deviantart.com, search for mouse cursors, go to personalise etc etc).

 

Assessment design for learner responsibility by David Nicol

Ten Principles of Good Assessment and Feedback Practice Good assessment and feedback practices should:
  1. Help clarify what good performance is (goals, criteria, standards). To what extent do students in your course have opportunities to engage actively with goals, criteria and standards, before, during and after an assessment task?
  2. Encourage ā€˜time and effortā€™ on challenging learning tasks. To what extent do your assessment tasks encourage regular study in and out of class and deep rather than surface learning?
  3. Deliver high quality feedback information that helps learners self-correct. What kind of teacher feedback do you provide ā€“ in what ways does it help students self-assess and self-correct?
  4. Encourage positive motivational beliefs and self-esteem. To what extent do your assessments and feedback pro cesses activate your studentsā€™ motivation to learn and be successful?
  5. Encourage interaction and dialogue around learning (peer and teacher- student. What opportunities are there for feedback dialogue (peer and/or tutor-student) around assessment tasks in your course?
  6.  Facilitate the development of self-assessment and reflection in learning. To what extent are there formal opportunities for reflection, self-assessment or peer assessment in your course?
  7. Give learners choice in assessment ā€“ content and processes To what extent do students have choice in the topic s, methods, criteria, weighting and/or timing of learning and assessment tasks in your course?
  8.  Involve students in decision-making about assessment policy and practice. To what extent are your students in your course kept informed or engaged in consultations regarding assessment decisions?
  9. Support the development of learning communities To what extent do your assessments and feedback pro cesses help support the development of learning communities?
  10.  Help teachers adapt teaching to student needs To what extent do your assessment and feedback processes help inform and shape your teaching? 

Nicol, D. (2007). Principles of good assessment and feedback: Theory and practice. From the
REAP International Online Conference on Assessment Design for Learner Responsibility, 29th-31st May, 2007 . Available at http://ewds.strath.ac.uk/REAP07

Exploring authentic assessment

Authentic Assessment

Redefining objectives: A government school in Faridabad. From Livemint.
From http://compromisocalidad.cl/

I find myself having a rather immature emotional reaction to this subject. It stems from experiencing years of inauthentic assessment at a grammar school during the 70s when the only thing that mattered was memory. This also is pretty much the only thing I don’t have, as I have intelligence in bucket loads! (I’m not saying this to blow my own trumpet, only in order to try to throw light on how frustrating, and damaging, experiencing false assessment can be.)

So from a deeplyĀ personal perspective I am hyper-aware that assessment of knowledge is a very different thing than assessment of memory. When I finally discovered the joy of learning, it came hand in hand with being assessed for work I was doing, whether that was simply writing an essay (in the peace of my own room) or producing a film in a group of like-passioned people.
Therefore I am tempted to define authentic assessment as judgement of students’ knowledge and learning through means other than memory.
However, it is clear from reading Whitelock and Cross (2012) and Mueller (1993) that this requires a far more thoughtful and positive response! The former demonstrate that the argument over its definition has raged for many years but the latter produces quite a simple definition:

“A form of assessment in which students are asked to perform real-world tasks that demonstrate meaningful application of essential knowledge and skills.”Ā 
Having taught KS3 & KS4 the problems of authentic assessment are very obvious; sheer numbers of students requiring frequent reporting of progress; the simplest and quickest way to get information is to set a summative computer marked test. Nevertheless changes in use of materials in exams are certainly a move in the right direction, for example in English language and literature, students are supplied with texts to analyse and are not required to quote by rote. This differs hugely from my experience in the 70s having to memorise poems, novels and Shakespeare plays. Unfortunately our current government seems intent on returning to this type of testing and eradicating coursework.

Whitelock, D. and Cross, S. (2012) ā€˜Authentic assessment: what does it mean and how is it instantiated by a group of distance learning academics?ā€™, International Journal of e-Assessment, vol. 2, no. 1 [Online]. Available at http://journals.sfu.ca/ ijea/ index.php/ journal/ article/ view/ 31 (accessed 30 June 2014).

Mueller, J., (1993). What is Authentic Assessment? (Authentic Assessment Toolbox). [Online] Available at: http://jfmueller.faculty.noctrl.edu/toolbox/whatisit.htmĀ (Accessed 30 Jun. 2014)

Reflecting on our group project

Averting disaster

These screenshots represent the first page of our prototype website viewed on my mobile phone.
The objective was to work in a group to produce a resource enabling people to learn about local history (of some location) using mobiles and social networking.

I think, rather remarkably, we succeeded in doing exactly this and we haven’t even yet fallen out.

Having read ahead through the materials I knew this task was coming up and it wouldn’t be exaggerating to say that I was absolutely dreading it. My earlier experience, during Block 1 of H808, of feeling responsible for sending the group off down completely the wrong track was not yet a distant memory and I was quite determined not to do that again! But I also made the decision not to allow that to stop me from just getting on and doing my best to ensure that we all succeeded.
I was quite happy when I was assigned to the local history project, because it was similar to a project that I had started to work on several years ago and I felt that that work might be useful to this. In the end it really wasn’t helpful except as a talking point and a reference for myself when it came to creating a template for teachers to use to set up their own activity. However it also quickly became apparent that almost everyone else wanted to be doing something else which created a slight air of negativity that needed dissipating. It was interesting that quite a few people saw little to no purpose for their own learning to be doing this project, needing it instead to be something tangible that they would be able to use in their own environments in order for it to have meaning. This is something that we struggled with throughout the project.
I additionally chose this project because it played to my strengths; I understand mobile technology, I understand web development and I understand how to mash everything together using social networking. My personal challenge was to step back and allow others to demonstrate their own strengths, for example with organising the site or getting to grips with appropriate theory and working through the module required design challenge it. My contribution to working through the module requirements was to create a Gantt chart for us and continue to encourage everyone to use it. I think most people did end up using it and venture that when people didn’t was when they became unsure about what they should be doing. I also decided to toughen up a bit and if other people were struggling with aspects of the project to resist imagining it was my responsibility to untangle them. That was also the reason I didn’t want the team leader role even though I took on several aspects of it and shared other aspects particularly with Lawrence.
It was interesting to see people shine though and everyone did at one point or another. Our meetings were generally amiable and only occasionally did anyone (including me) succeed in taking us off track. My weakness in meetings was that I had such a clear idea of how the project was going to pan out, not specifically our vision, but the practical side of it, that I was continuously pushing towards that outcome and sometimes not taking into account or enough heed of a suggestion that might take us too far off that track. But at the same time, there was often an unhappy equilibrium between just getting on and doing things, without asking others for permission, and trying to seek consensus.
Following the process outlined by the module had its issues but overall it provided a means to an end. It was interesting, if sometimes a little frustrating, to see a learning design theory in practice. Once we allowed ourselves the liberty of assigning different tasks to different people (at the point when we split up the theoretical and case study research), the whole project became a lot smoother. Before that there was a constant concern that one or two people might not be getting something done and might be holding up the group.
I would be sad if now I were to read that some people were unhappy with their own contribution or unhappy with anyone else because I sincerely believe that everyone in the group contributed critical aspects to the overall process and the product, because whether or not they achieved their personal goal, as a group, we achieved our collective one.