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Making Pedagogy (Three Short Papers 0013, 0216, 0192)

10:30 - 11:30 on Thursday, 8 September 2011 in 8.60
0013 Embedding Graduate Attributes in University practice Jessie Paterson, Gavin McCabe, Helen Whitham
0261 Taming IT….One Click Closer Mike Worth, Steve Gayfer
0192 iTunes U: Corporate channel of free educational resources Terese Bird
0013 Embedding Graduate Attributes in University practice Jessie Paterson, Gavin McCabe, Helen Whitham

The work of the QAA Enhancement Theme “Graduates of the 21st Century” [1] emphasises that the value of a degree extends beyond subject knowledge – to include the “qualities that graduates acquire during the course of their learning that are based on personal experiences and social values.” (Moir 2010) The University of Edinburgh has developed a key set of graduate attributes [2] that we believe every student should develop during their time at the University. These are being mapped within a “graduate attribute framework” so that the key skills and attributes acquired by the students may be more easily recognised and valued. The results of this are being embedded within the individual degree programme specifications to add subject-specific perspectives and ownership.

The School of Divinity currently has a compulsory first year “academic skills” course. This course is solely online, with content (including library, IT, writing skills) provided as a series of modules containing resources and exercises. The course has been re-designed for AY11/12, retaining its primary function of basic skill development, but focussing on the mapping between the modules and the graduate attributes. In addition, students will be introduced to graduate attributes in their wider sense and how they fit into the University experience.

The course content for the academic skills course will continue to be provided via the University's WebCT VLE. However, the University is also introducing an e-Portfolio tool (PebblePad) as a core component of PDP. This will be called at strategic points, to provide the scaffolding for students to recognise and reflect on their development.

This new approach will be evaluated through the use of course questionnaires and focus groups in the forthcoming academic session and consideration will be given to further embedding to ensure that students recognise its value and continue to engage throughout their academic life.

This paper will describe our experience of embedding the graduate attributes into the academic skills course.



0261 Taming IT….One Click Closer Mike Worth, Steve Gayfer

Can Joint Practice Development enable practitioners to make learning technology work for them to enhance learner experience and improve efficiency? (Laurillard, 2008)

This action research study aimed to test Joint Practice Development (JPD) – a process of knowledge transference based upon relationships of equality, mutual trust and respect – as a means of developing teachers’ use of IT.

The methodology included:

  • An on-line survey to establish a datum point.
  • Before and after video interviews with managers and participants.
  • Working as peers with participants to build trust-based relationships that would enable effective transfer of knowledge.
  • Using participants with a range of IT skills, including colleagues with whom we had established work relationships and those with whom we had not worked before.


To gain a fuller insight we, as researchers, engaged in the process of JPD with 4 practitioners from 3 institutions to address the issues they had identified. These included:

  • Devising and delivering a sign language vocabulary of woodworking terms.
  • Filming and delivering a practical painting and decorating module.
  • Creating on-line quizzes to inform assessment for learning.
  • This approach enabled us to better understand the issues around the establishment of trust-based relationships and helped us identify the following findings:

  • Lecturers value the support of peers very highly.
  • Collaboration between colleagues with pre-existing trust-based relationships yields positive results quicker than new partnerships.
  • Self-esteem and equality are essential to positive outcomes. One participant said, “I wasn't made to feel like an idiot.”
  • Participants’ individual initiatives develop a sense of ownership, which is essential to effective Continuing Professional Development activities. (Becta, 2009)
  • Practitioners are keen to learn new skills, especially if these are gained through fulfilling their own projects.
  • Sufficient time is essential to establish relationships and to see schemes through to completion.
  • Although a very small study, results suggest that JPD could be an effective vehicle to improve teachers’ IT skills.  Notions of ownership and management support for bottom-up initiatives are worthy of further research to understand better how these can be used to further facilitate JPD activities.

    0192 iTunes U: Corporate channel of free educational resources Terese Bird

    iTunes U is a subset of the iTunes store, enabling universities and other learning institutions to make available free learning materials in text, audio, and video formats. It launched in 2007 for US universities and 2008 for European universities. To date, over 800 universities have joined, as well as schools, museums, and other educational institutions. Universities pay nothing for their iTunes U site, but they supply the server space, content, and manpower to produce and store content. In August 2010 Apple reported downloads had topped 300 million. (Apple 2010). Geng Marshall and Wilson(2011) found that participation in iTunes U brought large quantities of traffic to their podcasts, and that both current Oxford students and external learners including teachers reported educational benefits from listening to and viewing the podcasts.

    The fact that iTunes U is run by a corporation makes it a curious player on the free educational resources field. iTunes U material is not exactly open, yet it is free; the distribution system is in a sense proprietary, yet works by means of free, cross-platform software; its single-point search function is superior to those of browser-based repositories, and its ease of use and reputation for good quality material result in high download numbers and a great many satisfied users. In their paper Open Educational Resources – Opportunities and Challenges for Higher Education, Yuan, MacNeill and Kraan (2008) include iTunes U in the category of open educational resource (OER) Tools and Services.

    The University of Leicester Beyond Distance Research Alliance SPIDER project (Sharing Practice with iTunes U Digital Educational Resources) is studying the iTunes U implementation of four universities: Open University, Nottingham, Oxford, and Leicester. The project is modelling good practice and reporting on the impact of iTunes U-distributed materials. This presentation will outline the philosophical and practical steps to be taken by a university considering iTunes U deployment, report on impact, and compare iTunes U with other channels of OER distribution. In the current colder and more challenging higher education climate, it may be the strange bedfellow of a large corporation that will produce unexpected and greater benefits for learners.