ALT–C 2016: A Last Look Back

“CB_080916_ALT_433” by Association for Learning Technology. Creative Commons licence CC BY-NC
CB_080916_ALT_433” by Association for Learning Technology. Creative Commons licence CC BY-NC

The Association for Learning Technology held its 23rd annual conference at the University of Warwick from 6-8th September 2016.

Here are some further takeaway points from the conference in particular focusing on use of video in learning and teaching which was a key strand flowing through the conference.

Video in Learning and Teaching

Smith (2016), from the Open University, proposed using live video, in this case the tool Periscope, to teach practical tasks on his CISCO network course, as part of a flipped classroom approach. His advice, if you are planning to do something like this, is to find out when ‘live recordings’ are convenient to students, and to advertise this well in advance to ensure adequate viewing. In this case, early evening was the best time. Periscope was a great tool as it is easy to set up, provides good quality live video, as well as providing recorded videos afterward. Periscope is not the only tool available, ‘Facebook Live’ is another, but it does require a user to follow your Facebook page.

Begklis (2016), from Imperial College London, had a few key points for video production:

  1. Ask a few key questions before you go out and make the video (i.e. Do I need a video? Why are you making one? What kind of video? and What are the learning objectives?)
  2. Keep a pace of 140-180 words per minute. The video should be no longer than 4-6 minutes long.
  3. Present an opening hook to attract your audience. Break your concept into three.
  4. Use simple conversational speech.
  5. Consolidate learning through asking questions, or setting a task for students to complete.

Further details surrounding video design and production can be found in Koumi (2016), available at the following address: http://jackkoumi.co.uk/gfp-video-production.pdf.

Metcalfe (2016), from the University of Plymouth, had the following advice when delivering lectures to large groups of students via a webinar tool (up to 500 students):

  1. Don’t run it as a traditional lecture.
  2. Familiarise your students with the software you are going to be using.
  3. Record sessions for later recap.
  4. Make it interactive (i.e. ask more questions, be responsive to questions, add activities, use polls and include breakout activities).
  5. Lastly, for large sessions, have a colleague to assist. They can coordinate questions and respond to any technical difficulties a student may have.

Students tends to assume that they know how to make the best use of lecture capture. Metcalfe, therefore, presents some useful guidance on how students use lecture captures for learning.

Apart from video, there were a number of other themes including VLE design, learning analytics, use of e-portfolios.  Some of which were covered in a previous post by Lynne Burroughs. However, there were two sector-wide launches during the conference.

The Student Voice Highlighting Change

JISC, the UK’s not-for-profit organisation for digital services and solutions for the Higher, Further Education and skills sectors, launched the second pilot of their digital experience tracker at the ALT conference.  Led by Helen Beetham, Sarah Knight and Tabetha Newman (JISC, 2016), the tracker is a short survey, delivered through the Bristol Online Surveys platform, to allow evidence gathering from learners about their digital experience and make better provision regarding their digital environment. This tool also has an added advantage of giving institutions who partake an opportunity to benchmark their practice against others.  While this is an opportunity for institutions to look forward, there has already been some results from the pioneer pilots.  A synopsis of some initial findings has since been published.

Benchmarking of TEL across UK HE

Lastly, during the conference, UCISA launched their results of the 2016 Survey into Technology Enhanced Learning completed by 110 Heads of e-Learning across the UK HE sector.  The report states that enhancing the quality of learning and teaching remain the key driver for considering using TEL, while availability of TEL support staff is the leading factor encouraging development of TEL. Lack of time and Institutional culture continue to be the biggest barriers.

For a detailed report, please visit the USICA pages.

References

Begklis, F. (2016), Pedagogic video design: A framework for producing instructional videos. Session 1344, Association of Learning Technologies Conference, University of Warwick, 6th to 8th September 2016.

JISC. (2016), Student Digital Experience Tracker. Available at: https://www.jisc.ac.uk/rd/projects/student-digital-experience-tracker (accessed 1st October 2016)

Koumi, J.  (2016), Guidelines for video design and production. Available at: http://jackkoumi.co.uk/gfp-video-production.pdf (accessed 1st October 2016)

Metcalfe, D. (2016), Evaluating webinars as a tool for delivering lectures and seminars at a distance in a healthcare setting, Session 1347, Association of Learning Technologies Conference, University of Warwick, 6th to 8th September 2016.

Smith, A. (2016), Using Periscope to teach Wannabee Network Engineers. Session 1258, Association of Learning Technologies Conference, University of Warwick, 6th to 8th September 2016.

UCISA. (2016), UCISA TEL Report 2016. Available at: https://www.ucisa.ac.uk/groups/asg/news/20160906tel (accessed 1st October  2016)

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ALT-C 2016: A Few Reflections

“CB_080916_ALT_433” by Association for Learning Technology. Creative Commons licence CC BY-NC
CB_080916_ALT_433” by Association for Learning Technology. Creative Commons licence CC BY-NC

On the 6th,7th and 8th September 2016 I was one of the learning technologists lucky enough to attend the Association of Learning Technology (ALT) Annual Conference at the University of Warwick. The conference theme was ‘Connect, Collaborate, Create’ with many parallel workshops on different topics. The keynote presentations were interesting and engaging and I was particularly struck by the keynote by Jane Secker (LSE) titled ‘Copyright and E-Learning: Understanding our privileges and freedoms’ (Video of this presentation available on YouTube). Jane argued that copyright is about ethics and respect for others ideas and is a fundamental part of information and digital literacy. She argued that creative commons licences were critical in preserving our ‘open commons’.

One of the topics of the workshops throughout the conference was learning analytics (LA). The JISC definition states “learning analytics refers to the measurement, collection, analysis and reporting of data about the progress of learners and the contexts in which learning takes place”. Whereas the Higher Education Academy stipulates that “learning Analytics is the process of measuring and collecting data about learners and learning with the aim of improving teaching and learning practice through analysis of the data”.

One of the presentations I attended was titled ‘What can we learn from learning analytics? A case study based on an analysis of student use of video recordings’ presented by Moira Sarsfield and John Conway from Imperial College, London. They presented the results of their research into students use of video recordings of lectures across a range of subject areas. Their research found that students use of lecture recordings varied considerably with some students viewing parts of the lectures, whilst others viewed all the lectures. Interestingly, the time of the year students viewed the lectures also varied with some subjects using the videos for revision more than others. As a result of the research there are actionable insights to provide advice for students to view recordings early and maintain application through the course. However, student success was not directly correlated with viewing lecture recordings in this research. As we are launching a pilot of lecture capture next year it was interesting to consider the analysis that could be made of the student viewing to help improve teaching and learning.

Another presentation I attended was titled Embedding ePortfolio in the Curriculum and was presented by Emma Purnell from the University of Plymouth. She outlined their use of the PebblePad workbook at the University. We have had PebblePad for 3 years at CCCU, but it has been used primarily within the Health and Wellbeing and Education Faculties. These case studies included use in a Business module to provide evidence of students skills and use for collaboration and group work for employability. Plymouth University have begun a project to provide a workbook for all students for each graduate attribute that could be shared with their personal tutor. This institution-wide project illustrates how an e-portfolio can be used to support learning for all students.

Overall it was an interesting and thought provoking conference to attend. As is often the case at conferences, one of the most useful things was to be able to meet and network with colleagues from other institutions.

ALT-C 2015: A Few Reflections

“CB_ALT_080915_194” by Association for Learning Technology. Creative Commons licence CC BY-NC-SA
CB_ALT_080915_194” by Association for Learning Technology. Creative Commons licence CC BY-NC-SA

Introduction

The Association for Learning Technology (ALT) holds an annual conference each year. This year was the 22nd annual conference that took place on 8-10 September 2015 at the University of Manchester. This year’s theme was “Shaping the Future of Learning Together” which focused upon the following areas:

  • Harnessing the power of the crowd – collaboration and connectivist learning;
  • Social media in learning and teaching;
  • Open educational practice;
  • Learners as agents of change;
  • Participatory approaches to the development of learning technologies.

The conference was host to almost 500 delegates from around the world and ran 185 sessions over three days (ALT, 2015). Simon Starr and I attended the conference and presented a session called “The Chamber of Fear: A Role Playing Approach to the Recruitment and Selection of Learning Technologists”, you can read my reflections on how our session went on my personal blog.

Rather than report verbatim on the 33 sessions that I had attended, what I would like to do is to offer some of my reflections on some of those sessions that resonated with me.

#1: A new model to describe e-portfolios

In John Couperthwaite’s session, “Nailing jelly to the wall: defining and describing eportfolio”, he discusses the thorny issue that surrounds the “conversational confusion about e-portfolios”, much of it stems from how an e-portfolio is perceived. Strivens (2015) suggests that there are three types of e-portfolio:

  1. Type A (Represent One’s Self)
  2. Type B (Presentation of Evidence), and
  3. Type C (Demonstrate Achievement)

This largely draws upon the early work of Barrett (2004). John’s colleague, Shane Sutherland of PebblePad, offers a different solution, the “e-Portfolio Format Model”, which “suggests that an e-portfolio is the product of the interplay between the audience, the message being conveyed, and the content it presents” (Sutherland, 2015). In this model, the e-portfolio can be conceived as either “Me-Portfolios” or “Task-Portfolios”, of which there are a number of related purposes:

  • Me-Portfolios (tends to focus on the author)
    • Personal
    • Professional
    • Promotional
  • Task-Portfolios (tends to focus on an activity)
    • Process
    • Project
    • Placement
    • Production
    • Pedagogical

Whilst this might be a useful step in helping people to conceptualise what an e-portfolio is, there is still, I think, a lot of work need to be done in demonstrating the “value” of an e-portfolio.

#2: An approach to developing digital capabilities for staff

Liz Bennett & Sue Folley, from the University of Huddersfield, reported in their session, “A positive and participatory approach to developing digital capabilities”, about a one year strategic project to investigate and develop the digital literacies of academic staff at their university. A particular focus of the project was to try and achieve high levels of confidence and skill for those academics who might be classified as the ‘late adopters’, those who are not usually the innovators or early adopters of technology (Rogers, 1983). Much has been made of the notion of “digital capabilities” by JISC, the HEA and the QAA. The University of Huddersfield had embedded digital literacy for staff in their current Learning & Teaching strategy.

The team used a “Trojan horse” approach to staff digital literacy by embedding it within a 2.5 hour Curriculum Design workshop in a bid to change academics belief systems around the value of learning technology. Adopting an appreciative enquiry approach and using the JISC ViewPoints cards developed by the University of Ulster, the team got the academic staff to think about their curriculum; how it fitted within institutional agendas; look at issues identified by the academic team; involve cross-functional teams (Learning Technologists and Librarians); look at how technology could be meaningfully incorporated within their redesign; and identify support for it.

This is a very interesting and powerful way to develop staff digital literacy skills through the intervention of a curriculum design workshop. As was noted by the presenters, a 2.5 hour workshop is not sufficient. Somewhere down the line, institutions need to create some valuable space and time so that academic staff are able to engage with far-reaching agendas in a friendly, but critical, environment.

#3: The Student Dashboard

Ann Liggett and Ed Foster, from Nottingham Trent University, ran a short 15 minute presentation called “The Student Dashboard: An Innovative Collaboration in Learning Analytics” (a variation of their presentation can be found here). Their presentation related to a pilot project, involving 500 students and over 40 tutors, whereby the institution wanted to use an assortment of student support systems more effectively to support the student journey. This ‘dashboard’ provided views for both students and staff and drew data from a variety of sources such as:

  • Student biographical information (e.g. enrolment status)
  • Evidence of student engagement, which include:
    • door swipes (where appropriate)
    • Library book loans
    • VLE usage
    • dropbox submissions

Future enhancements to the ‘dashboard’ will feature student attendance and e-resource usage. Furthermore, the ‘dashboard’ provides a mechanism that compares individual student profiles with that of their cohort and generates a simple ranking, from high to low. This has, apparently, prompted 27% (135) of the students to become more engaged with their studies.

In addition, tutor alerts are automatically generated for attention of personal tutors, if a student has no engagement at all for a fortnight or fails an assignment. However, the presenters were not entirely sure if the tutors were using the ‘dashboard’ in a consistent way. Unsurprisingly, it was noted that there were ethical issues that needed to be addressed in dealing with such ‘big data’.

Learning Analytics, as it is called, has been quite prevalent in the US for some time and is beginning to make inroads into the HE sector from the likes of JISC and the HEA. Potentially, this can give tutors an almost 360o perspective of their students, drawing upon a vast array of data that could help tutors to better support their students, thus helping towards dealing with student retention and attrition.

References

ALT. (2015). Press release: Annual Conference 2015. We have the power to shape the future of learning – together. Oxford, England: Association for Learning Technology (ALT). Available at: https://www.alt.ac.uk/news/media_releases/press-release-annual-conference-2015-we-have-power-shape-future-learning [Accessed 22.9.2015].

Barrett, H. (2004). “Selecting ePortfolio Software”. ePortfolios for Learning blog, 01.06.2004. Available from: http://electronicportfolios.org/blog/2004/06/selecting-eportfolio-software.html [Assessed 22.9.2015].

Rogers, E.M. (1983). Diffusion of Innovation. 3rd Edition. London, England: Free Press.

Strivens, J. (2015). “A Typology of ePortfolios”. RAPPORT: The International Journal for Recording Achievement, Planning and Portfolios, 1(1), pp. 3-5. Available at: http://joom.ag/I58p [Accessed 22.9.2015].

Sutherland, S. (2015). “Reflections of the Typology”. RAPPORT: The International Journal for Recording Achievement, Planning and Portfolios, 1(1), pp. 6-10. Available at: http://joom.ag/I58p [Accessed 22.9.2015].