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Designing Learning Landscapes: Mobile, Open, Inclusive Conference – Goldsmiths, University of London

The following are my notes (below the programme) taken from this conference. I will try and publish the live during the day but these will be subject to edits. These are my notes but I welcome comments and people pointing out where I missed things or even got them wrong.

I will be presenting during the Morning Panels in Panel 4: Assessment.

Conference Programme

Friday 30 May, 2014

Event Time Speakers and Panels
Registration and coffee 9.15–10.00
Welcome 10.00–10.05 Michael Young, Pro-Warden (Students and Learning Development), Goldsmiths
Opening Keynote 10.05–11.05 Andrea Sella, Professor of Material and Inorganic Chemistry, University College London
Morning Panels 11.15–12.15
Panel 4: Assessment – I will be in the one!
Lunch 12.15–1.00
Discussion 1.00–2.00
CONTESTED TERRITORIES:  A wide-ranging debate on technology and learning and teaching in Higher Education
Alejandro Armellini, Professor of Learning and Teaching in Higher Education, University of Northampton
Diana Laurillard, Professor of Learning and Digital Technologies, Institute of Education, University of London
Belinda Tynan, Professor and Pro Vice-Chancellor, Learning, Teaching and Quality, The Open University
Afternoon Panels 2.00–3.00
Closing Keynote 3.15–4.15 John Fothergill, Professor of Engineering and Pro Vice-Chancellor, Research & Enterprise, City University
Plenary 4.15–4.45 Sue Dixon, Associate Pro-Warden (Learning Enhancement), Goldsmiths

My Notes:

We’re starting out in a nice new lecture theatre – but as it commonly is – there are very few power points and they are on the walls the other side of the steps.  I know this doesn’t bother most people, but why can’t people build them in to the floors under seats?


Nice introduction and welcome to the day by MY.  Excited to listen to everyone today.

Opening Keynote:

Andrea Sella (AS) – My Learning Landscapes
As a Chemist he was presented with a problem of teaching large numbers of life scientists.  He started to use WebCT to help. He created a forum, an archive and interesting links. 

 AS showed an example of the sort of bad site:

AS asked how they could use Facebook for teaching and was shot down and made to feel like it was the devil.  AS was trying to transform a VLE into something that was attractive enough to pull the students into it.
Trying to build something different:
Key needs:

  • clear communications
  • clear guidelines
    • The students are expected to look at / engauge
  • clear boundaries
  • clear expectations
  • useful resources
  • interesting activities
  • answers
  • questions
Build your site consistently – 
  • use a consistent layout for your course
    • students like to be able to expect where to find items
  • Key components need to be in same place and easy to find
  • Split material into sections
Five types of forums:
NEVER answer emails if not about a personal matter – make the students post to the forum as others will have the same question
  1. Directives from the great leader
  2. Admin Q&A
  3. Section specific fora
    1. (e.g. lab, NMR, p-block)
  4. Fun and Frolic
    1. Place to post links on loosely related content
  5. Wishlist Forum
    1. Place the students can say this course could run better if…
4&5 really help students get involved.
How do you make forums work?
  • Reply promptly and enthusiastically!
AS shared a forum post by a member of staff that showed how not to use forums!  (asked not to share)
  • Use profile pictures
    • staff and students – people respond to seeing it and it makes the posts more personal.
  • Google Map “Where were you born?”
    • Students responded and added their own
    • This lead to conversations starting
  • Force initial subscription
    • Students will them see that there is activity
  • Reply to course material more slowly or with “anyone out there have any suggestions?”
    • This is a way of saying I’ve seen it but tries to get responses from others
  • Allow students to rate posts
  • Continue to provide posts in the fun and frolic forum
Add page banners – helps identify page
Using the calendar – stuff them is continually appearing as the course goes on.
RSS feeds again help make your page dynamic – you don’t need to update – the site does.  Best prac is to open in a new window (_blank).  Allows for course window to still be there when they finish with the feed.
Use a student built glossary:
Requires students to post 1 or 2 items minimum

  • Needs to be seeded
  • Needs to be edited and commented on
  • Needs rating
  • Includes FAQ
All of this helps the site dynamically change and draw students back to it.

At UCL typically provide handouts. £60K per year on paper in AS’s dept.
AS has stopped handing them out and puts them on the VLE in a way the also forces them to print 2 slides per page.  This pushes responsibility back to the student.

Revision Questions

  • banks for questions
  • Different styles / formats
  • Crucial advantages:
    • Immediate or deferred detailed feedback to each answer
  • Feedback must be varied, informative and surprises!!
  • Can make specific subject-based questions e.g. use of SMILES strings for chemical formulas
Banks can be used for both revision and exam
Quizzes can be turned into a game with highscores
Use confident-based marking – when you put an answer down you indicate how confident you are
Students report revision quizzes as essential
use peerwise – that can provide useful source of new questions to add to the existing bank
Problem: Keeping track of questions (600+ questions that are untagged)
Final assessment

  • Students see a mix of seen and unseen questions
  • tests are conducted on students own devices in lecture theatre
  • a back up cluster is needed for computer glitches
  • economies of scale
  • All lectures recorded
  • Students rate “Time machine” as useful – essential
  • Ability to record videos at desktop opens many new possibilities esp. Flipping
  • Khan academic style
  • Useful for pre-labs, intros, safety
  • Viewing rises when accompanied by a quiz
  • Provide post-exam feedback videos
Promoting engagement
  • Add YouTube videos – curate
  • F&FF work well
  • Dedicated Facebook page is better
    • students are big users of Facebook for study support
  • Twitter has novelty
  • course account or hashtag
where do we go
  • The challenge of MOOCs
    • how do we find ways to give students more face time?
  • the growing pyramid
    • No money – get more students – not enough staff for tutorials – get more staff – no money – get more students…..
  • student demands
  • we need to stop and ask questions
    • what are we teaching?
    • why are we teaching it?
  • Running an e-learning site properly takes a lot of time
  • It takes time to change colleagues to use this
  • Thinking that e-learning is a way to free up staff time is a delusion from people who don’t teach
Great presenter – a lot of great ideas and suggestions.  I think I need to try and use more of these ideas.

Hasn’t use LinkedIn to connect to industry
Students all get the same questions just randomly ordered – hasn’t explored random question selection from banks.
Feels we will always need a framework and the current one is called the VLE – the name might change but the framework will still be needed.
Doesn’t use Peer assessment in course -but has used small components in other areas.  Would love to show students what others have put in their exam – e.g. putting very little and expecting to pass.
What is the best skills a secondary school could put into the students?  Independance.  Marks become more important than learning.

Panel 4 – Field and Mobile Assessment – Tim Smale

Sorry I can’t blog and present at the same time – but I will post the link to my presentation here just before I present. OK forgot and posted it after – sorry.

Panel 4 – Group work and formative assessment for social work students

Role play and audio feedback via the VLE – video.
Collaboration between Drama dept. and Mental health course to produce role playing scenarios.  Sessions were recorded and placed onto the VLE for students to review.  Both groups of students got a lot from the task. Allowed for powerful reflection.  Students didn’t always want to listen back to the recording in the start but found it useful once they did.

Were looking to make sure students were safe and could provide effective practice before going out on placement.  20 minute assessment.
Used audio recording of each session.  Uploaded onto the VLE for students to listen to before the produced a 500 word reflection on the session.
Staff could then mine the recordings for key areas for improvement and further learning.
Provided students with a glimpse of what their placement might be like.
Found some students who struggled with written assessments did better with this sort of assessment.
Action learning approach
Was great to have high quality and clear audio
Was great feedback to staff as the recordings allowed them to assess what was and wasn’t being taught well.


Discussion – Contested Territories

I’ll try and comment on the Key points.
Diana Laurillard

  • Simple starts with e-Learning – using computer models to demonstrate mathematical problems / simulations.
  • Innovations these days are coming thick and fast and it is hard to keep up with them.
  • For MOOCs to work you need to help emerging markets to engage with them.
  • Biggest problem for universities these days is to reduce cost to students.
    • Technologies could help with this.
  • Teaching is like engineering more than science or arts.
  • Need to develop the technologies for sharing ideas and innovative ways of teaching.
  • Learn from each other.
Belinda Tynan
  • Do we want all of our staff to be video editors and web designers?
  • It takes time to learn to use these technologies and staff may not have this time.
  • We try and make new technologies do what we already know / do and not re-evaluate how we might teach / learn.
  • CPD – how do you keep up?
  • VLEs are now the backbone of HEIs but are usually poorly planned.
  • What is the point of the content on mobile devices?  We need to look at making use of the technology to enhance learning and not another way to deliver PDF’d lecture notes.
  • JDs need to reflect the level of skill now required to use these technologies
  • We have a personal responsibility to learn and to move with the changes in this field.
  • If you do not engage with technologie because you fear it will replace you – maybe it should!
Alejandro Armellini
  • Started out as a language teacher. The school had one computer which ran DOS. They purchased software from the UK that ran on floppy disks.  Student were lining up to use this.  This got AA thinking “What else could be done”
  • We used to ask everyone to switch off their phones, these days we ask them to keep them on.
  • Have you ever strategized for book / paper / chalk / OHP based learning?
  • Should we strategize for use of TEL?
  • Do you remember the promise of 3D worlds?
Pilots don’t work – Scale first and learn as you go.

6: Technologies to support students in work placements

Simon Leggatt (University of Greenwich)

  • iPad Project:
  • Could they use iPad for connecting disperse learners and teachers?
    • Portable, all in one
  • Intended uses:
    • Joint observations
    • Peer Observations
    • Moderation of assessment
    • Remote observations of teaching
    • Self recording for self evaluation
  • Intended outcomes:
    • Modelling and proliferation of best prac.
    • development of reflective capacity
    • increasing trainees confidence with ICT
    • saving on travel costs
  • Preparation
    • Ethics and SG
    • Funding
    • Hardware and application testing
    • Participant selection and training
    • Drawing up a matrix of observations / timeline
Demoed some of the recorded footage
  • Students liked not having an examiner in the room – dynamic changed.
  • Connectivity in areas is an issue.
  • Allowed for deep reflection
  • Increased confidence in use of ICT
  • Conclusions:
    • Greatest use is as a tool to reflect.

Amanda Kipling (Goldsmiths, University of London) and

  • Students required to produce a portfolio of evidence.
  • Massive portfolios were coming in (3x lever arch folders each)
  • Started to use mahara
  • Students started to share their portfolios with each other
  • Used same idea for helping students who were on placement based learning
  • allowed students to use it as a diary for quickly jotting down notes / reflections / feelings
  • Allowed them to go back and re-work later before sharing
  • Allowed students to lift bits and bring them into their assignment.
  • Because students shared their portfolios it allowed them to comment on each others and get ideas from each other for their own projects.

Closing Keynote

John Fothergill, Professor of Engineering and Pro Vice-Chancellor, Research & Enterprise, City University

  • Going to look at three case studies:
  • Case 1
  • online business simulation
  • wanted them to improve the communication and presentation skills
  • Incorporated into the design of the module
  • Brought a company in to help develop this online ‘game’
    • establish roles
    • Plan
    • Decision making
    • review and report
    • poster event
  • useful test to help students think about their own roles within a team.
  • 30 companies competing
  • didn’t talk about passing but winning
  • charged £1M per question after initial trial / training
  • Case 2
  • Optical Fibre communication system
  • used BB as VLE
  • divided course into four sections
  • Each section had learning units, quiz and face-to-face session at the end.
  • Summative tests at the end of each section

  • Podcasts made BBC news when he rapped his podcast
  • e-tivities
    • Gilly Salmon inspired
    • actually works in getting students to work online together
    • Showed GS’s 5 stage model
  • Students can and will work anywhere and at any time
  • Student liked the ability to rewind and replay lecture most.
  • Case 3
  • Had low attendance ~50% and high dropout rate
  • Brought in electronic register
    • scanned student card barcode
  • Paced the students to make sure they stayed engaged and checked that they were learning / understanding
  • took two 15 credit modules and made 1 30 credit.
    • broke this into 4 and gave a test between each.
    • forced students to revise what they had learnt
  • End of year test result increased by 16%
  • Also forced staff to start engaging with BlackBoard


Good summation of the day and the comments I’ve included above.

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