Tuesday, 17 November 2015

Try something new and borrow our equipment

By Rebecca Sellers

Many staff would like to try using technology to support their teaching but many are put off by having to pay for something that they might find doesn't work for them or find there is too much choice and don't know where to start. This is where CLT can help, we have a range of devices available to loan to staff and can talk through the wide range of options available to see what might suit your situation best.

Below is a description of each of the items we can loan out and the apps that we have available on them. The technology can be booked using this form. 

If there are apps or technologies that are not listed and you think it might be useful to support staff please get in touch. We are always looking at how we can best support staff to try and embed appropriate technologies in their teaching. 

We have a case that contains 16 identical full size tablets. These have been used in a number of ways in classes including for polling software, to do research activities in class, to gather feedback through an online form. We also use them with staff to show how to use apps such as Turntin to mark online.   

The apps available on the ipads are:

  • Turnitin
  • Blackboard grader
  • Blackboard Learn
  • Google  sheets/docs


Android Nexus tablets
We have 2 cases of Nexus tablets each containing 14 tablets. These tablets have a 7" screen.  These are ready to go with internet access. 

Throwable microphone
The catch Box throwable microphone is interactive microphone that can be thrown around a classroom or lecture theatre making a more engaging Q&A session and allowing quieter speakers to be heard. 
CatchBox Box.jpg

We have a total of 8 laptops that can be loaned out singularly or as a set. They have standard Microsoft programmes on and interest access. These laptops also have Panopto for screen recordings. 

If you would like to try them in your teaching or as part of a staff development session please get in touch. 

Monday, 16 November 2015

Think Taxonomies are boring-? Then think again….

By Sue Smith 

Calling module leaders, course teams and course designers! Do you want a useful tool to help you with writing course and module learning outcomes?
Think Taxonomies are boring-? Then think again….
We all love classifying and sorting things- from sock drawers to library books to animal breeds….
Do you need a useful tool to help you organise and design a course with suitably levelled assessments and appropriate activities?

If so, you might want to use our updated Taxonomy of Assessment Domains which has recently been revised by a University Short Life Working Group.
Academic staff from all our Faculties worked hard at simplifying the language, drawing out the development of learning expected from students at each undergraduate and postgraduate levels of the taught courses and on the research courses award.
They also worked to integrate our graduate attributes (being enterprising, digital literacy and having a global outlook) and came up with some good ideas if you are struggling with how to make them more visible in your undergraduate courses. Click here for some useful graduate attribute related help and how you can link them to the required domains.

Even better if you want to get all interactive and drill down to understand each domain better then use this designed by The Centre for Learning and Teaching’s own learning technologist, Becky Sellers. It is proving to be a useful, fun teaching tool for less experienced staff to practice their course design skills.

Wednesday, 4 November 2015

CanvasCon at the British Museum.

By Rebecca Sellers

On the 20th October I caught a very early train to London to attend the Canvas conference at the British Museum. As an institution we are currently using Blackboard to provide our VLE and there are no short term plans to change this. The reason to travel to the conference was to keep up to date with other options on the market and see some of the features that we might want to consider. Also it always useful to see how other institutions use and manage their VLE's and interact with them.

The conference was held in the British Museum which was an imposing place to walk into. The actual venue was a lecture theatre under the main building.

The sessions started with information about how the product had been developed and the company had grown. The company is still relatively small in the number of staff it employs but continues to grow. The next speaker was from Hult Business School and talked abut the huge amount of data they had gathered and how they were using this better develop their system and support students. The analytics package they had developed to help identify students that were struggling or who had not engaged with a number of activities was beginning to shape how they developed their support mechanisms and reviewed programmes.
The next speakers were from Wolsey Hall School and spoke about how the system supported their online and distance learners. They had a lot of experience of working with this group of students and spoke highly of the platforms ability to be flexible for their needs .

Next it was lunch time, and instead of a buffet we got a lunch box prepacked with food. The contents was a sandwich, popcorn, macaroons and a can of fizzy pop. Although the contents was nothing special the branded metal lunch box was a very nice touch as everyone went home with a branded object that they probably had to carry on show due to the size of it.

The afternoon was made up of parallel sessions. The sessions that i attended were for people new to Canvas. The one that stood out was from University of Birmingham and detailed how they had changed from one VLE to Canvas. Due to the similarities between the system the staff found it easy to move to the new system. One thing that I took away from the session was that they rushed the change of system and would recommend a better planned move so that everyone could be trained and used to the new system when the old one was switched off. This is a lesson to learn and remember if we change any system or bring in a new institutional piece of software. 

Overall the conference was interesting and stimulating, it is always good to see what other products are on the market and how other institutions use their VLE's to support learning. The issues faced about uptake and knowledge of staff, the consistency  of provision and the engagement of students are sector wide and not limited by institution, discipline or the platforms used. I think this is important to remember when looking at new or replacement tech.  

Metacognitive behaviours in Australia

by Susan Smith

I have been in Australia at the International Society for the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning held in Melbourne.
I have also been part of the International Collaborative Writing Groups  and we met prior to the conference for a couple of days of structured activity to plan a research project and a series of papers about student metacognition and learning transfer. I wanted to share some of our thoughts about our metacognitive endeavours.
Eight groups were part of the ICWG. The groups formed in May and met virtually over the summer to focus their topics and develop an outline prior to the face-to-face meeting this past week. Our group’s topic was The Student Learning Process, and we focused our efforts on how metacognition would support the transfer of learning from one situation or context to another. We believe the transfer of learning is one of the ultimate goals of education because it supports lifelong learning and employability.
The group’s work on how metacognition supports the transfer of learning will be revealed when it’s published, but meanwhile, we will share some ways that metacognition was part of our experience of facilitating the group. Here are some pictures The first shows our group working: from left to right, Lauren Scharff, U. S. Air Force Academy, Susan Smith (Leeds Beckett University, UK), Lucie S Dvorakova (Honors Student, University of Queensland, Australia), Marion Tower (University of Queensland), Dominic Verpoorten (IFRES-University of Liège, Belgium), Marie Devlin (Newcastle University, UK), and Jason M. Lodge (University of Melbourne, Australia), [John Draeger from SUNY, Buffalo State University, is taking the pic]. The second gives you a sense of the overall setting, showing multiple groups all kept to task by ICWG coordinators, Mick Healy (University of Gloucestershire, retired) and Kelly Matthews (University of Queensland).

We defined metacognition as the intertwined awareness (self- monitoring) and self-regulation of a process/skill, specifically with the goal of developing that process or skill. We actually noticed our group were using metacognitive behaviours ourselves in some aspects of our work- particularly in our assumptions, the use of language and relating to the breadth of the project.
Assumptions about education: Our discussion revealed differences in the structures of the university systems in different countries. When discussing how students might use their learning in one course to inform their learning in another, the two North Americans on the team tended to think about transfer learning between a diverse set of courses across a broad liberal arts core curriculum in addition to transfer across more closely related courses within a major. Because undergraduate education in Australia and the United Kingdom tend not to be structured around a broad core curriculum, members of the team from these countries tended to focus on transfer learning within a particular field of study.
Use of Language: Given the international character of the group, self-monitoring and self-regulation allowed us to navigate differences in language and underlying assumptions. For example, through our discussions, we learned that academic faculty might be referred to as ‘staff,’ ‘tutor,’ ‘instructor’ or ‘professor.’ Individual courses might be referred to as ‘classes,’ ‘modules’ or ‘units’ of study.
Management of Project Scope: Both transfer of learning and metacognition are vast areas of study. Given the wide variety of experiences and individual interests in our group, we explored a wide array of possible directions for our paper, some of which we decided we would table for follow-on papers (e.g. how student level of intellectual development might impact transfer of learning and the creation of a “toolkit” for instructors that would help them support transfer of learning). Moving the conversation in fruitful directions required that all of us remain mindful of the task at hand (i.e. working towards a 6000-word article). Self-monitoring allowed us to detect when an interesting discussion had gone beyond the scope of our current article and self-regulation more quickly brought us back to the task at hand.
The international character of the writing group added a depth and richness to the conversation, but it also increased the likelihood of misunderstanding and the challenge of group management. Self-monitoring and self-regulation allowed us to overcome those challenges.

Monday, 2 November 2015

Digital lunches #1 and #2

This post is a quick summary of the first 2 Digital lunches a new series of staff development sessions. 

The first session covered making MyBeckett more mobile friendly, looking specifically at the Mobile Learn app.

There was a good turnout and I was well supported by member's of the Learning Systems Team.  However, the internet and MyBeckett were unavailable during the session due to a network issue outside the university's control. This meant the hands-on session I had planned could not take place and I had to improvise and talk through the features I wanted to demonstrate and take questions from the floor. Even with this set back I think all staff took at least one new piece of information away with them. 

The staff that attended the session were very understanding that the issues were beyond my control and that they were having the same issues with their MyBeckett sites. It was a little frustrating as it was my first solo training session  and it didn't go to plan at all but these things cannot be helped and it demonstrates that tech can fail even for those of us who are meant to be 'techy'.
The link to the resources created from the session can be found here.  

The second session focused on the wide range of online feedback methods that are available to staff. There are a wide range of tools and finding the right tool is dependent on what the students are submitting written, video, presentation etc ad whether is it formative or summative. In September 2015 a new policy was brought in that all written work for students in levels 4 and 7 should be submitted to Turnitin for text matching. This policy here does not stipulate how staff should mark or provide feedback to students. We talked about how you could use Panopto to provide voice overs and demonstrations for exercises such as critically assessing journal  articles. We also looked at using Google docs to work together with students on assessments such as dissertations to create an ongoing dialogue of feedback and reflection to support them. Members of the students union attended the session and commented how useful they had found Google docs and sheets for creating group work. They have also created a guide for students on feedback and these are available in hard copy from the Students Union or CLT. The resources from the session are available here.

A link to book on future sessions is available here.