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Educational Design and Engagement

Educational Design and Engagement

Enriching the student learning experience & supporting development of on campus and online courses.

Head to Head – HELF E-Learning Forum – Leeds 22nd May 2014

We were welcomed to the Leeds venue on a rather grey morning by a bright and cheerful Kyriaki Anagnostopoulou, our Heads of E-Learning Forum (HELF) event coordinator. The meeting got off to an engaging start by Neil Morris, Director of Digital Learning, and host from the University of Leeds.Leeds Venue

Professor Morris described their strategy and policy as being focused on the entire student experience but having a healthy core of blended learning. Three key parts to this were:

  1. Open Educational Resources (OER)
  2. Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCS)
  3. Audio and Video recording through lecture capture

The Leeds lecture capture implementation had equipped 260 rooms across campus, working with Sonic Foundry (Media Site) to deploy what is to date the suppliers largest ever implementation. The policy upon which the service has been founded states that all staff and students can be recorded, but with a school level opt out entitlement and protocol for showing recording in progress (effectively a red light) and for students or staff to pause the recording for offline discussion.

Media Site has been integrated with Blackboard Learn, and once recorded enables review edit and approval for publication via the VLE. The Media Site interface offers clear chapter bookmarking of content, although Leeds appeared to be directing traffic to their YouTube channel. All recordings are delivered via the University YouTube channel and archived within Jorum. Professor Morris describes their approach as additionally enabling students to engage and prepare for face-to-face meeting (commonly referred to as “flipping the classroom”). Following a large training effort, Professor Morris was justifiably buoyant to report 85% university sign up and a range of benefits:

  • Increased accessibility
  • More resources for current students
  • Digital agency for research
  • Engaging new global audiences

Further discussion of the day incorporated Helen Beetham from JISC explaining her experience of leading the Digital Student Project.

Some key messages were that there is a clear social dimension (space and place) to development of digital skills, recommending that we ‘push a vision of what the digital workplace for graduating students could be’ and where students can develop ‘a positive digital footprint.’ This echoed current work here at Edinburgh where our Institute for Academic Development in conjunction with partners are planning to run a year long series of workshops to engage students with development of their own positive digital footprints. Some ideas that Helen Beetham suggested for developing students’ digital skills included:

  • Central clearing for student data surveys
  • Joint horizon scanning
  • Sharing the management of student expectations
  • Strategic benchmarking
  • Developing professional partnerships for students
  • Digital identity via badges
  • Post-grads talking to under-grads
  • Programme advisory board for digital scholarship
    • Authentic content
    • Local examples of good practice
    • CPD fellowship development for staff
    • Reaching students prior to arrival…e.g. online via a MOOC
    • Through Curriculum for Excellence planning
    • Sabbatical employment of students within appropriate teams (TEL, IAD, Careers etc.)
    • Exploit social media advice for students
    • Some systems are challenging because they embody challenging practice and cannot be simply moderated by an ease of use mantra

Ms. Beetham commented that Southampton University has a programme policy for inclusive review. Other thoughts that sprang to mind were whether student councils here at The University of Edinburgh would be interested in having a lead role in similar initiatives for student digital skills or whether we should consider developing a student ‘study family’ that included elements of interdisciplinary composition and not solely for research skill development.

Some of the data from the recent HELF mobile survey and UCISA 2014 TEL survey were shared, although for the latter on a confidential basis prior to publication (so cannot be linked here). The HELF survey findings noted that mobile device purchasing by HE respondents were largely locally managed, with iPad’s remaining the most popular platform. There was a mixed picture in terms of Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) policy development. I reflected on our own drive to renew the personal response system offering and how such a policy might support our objectives.

Following a break out session, where I found that many other institutions enshrine broad inclusive input to course and programme review through policy, I noted the need to speak with our student representatives and academic leaders about our own approach.

The penultimate session of the day involved our own Anne Marie Scott describing the data analysis that colleagues here at The University of Edinburgh have developed for understanding patterns of MOOC user behaviour. Some key point being:

  • 18-24 year old state career development as a MOOC participation driver
  • MOOC retention is heavily influence by ‘sticky topics’ such as Equine Nutrition here in the UK
  • Subject and teaching staff planning and engagement remain key drivers for participant behaviour
  • Online discussion is often grouped by language
  • There is little evidence of mastery learning to date, with completion perhaps being driven by more pressing social situations or whether completion was ever the intention?

Anne Marie described some of the implications of MOOC data analysis including:

  • Ability to energize and get colleagues talking
  • Support for research
  • Enabling partnerships and sharing, with possible funding bid implications
  • Building staff skills
  • Informing on-campus analytics and management information
  • Guiding future plans

Evidence and techniques involved have been openly published:

The participant high satisfaction rate underpinned some sense of key participant outcomes having been met.

In the final short session Andy Ramsden from the University of Suffolk described their Open Badge Generator, based upon Martin Hawksey’s CETIS code and using Google forms and spread sheets (see Andy explained that provided the matching email address is provided in the Mozilla Backpack, the badge recipient gets and email and URL link to their newly earned badge. The system provides a register of badge recipients and Andy hopes to integrate this within Mahara. Any describes some of the expected benefits of badges at his institution:

  • Paving the way for flexible learning pathways
  • Informing validation
  • Supporting mobile education
  • Motivating students
  • Alignment to Higher Education Achievement Reports (HEAR) and MOOCS.

Having chance at the end to speak to Andy, I also discovered that Suffolk and the University of Stafford have good documented policy regarding wider participation in course and programme reviews. I made a note to contact Andy on this at a later point.

I left with the overwhelming sense of genuine sharing and community that this group of people has for improving student experience at their institution and across the HE sector.


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