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Chair: Amber Thomas

Creation and adoption: Creating Course Content: Enhancing the Student Learning Experience without Overloading Academics -- 36 -- Short (oral) Paper
September 11 11:30AM

A 2011 student survey at the University of Exeter revealed an interesting problem. Whilst student satisfaction with the virtual learning environment was very high, there were notable comments in the survey data around the desire to revieve more high quality media rich online learning resources. The University in it's TEL strategy (Exeter, 2010) as two aims which include:

  • Create a culture of sharing and reusing quality content
  • Promote innovation and creativity in the use of technology enhanced learning to enhance the curriculum

To address these aims and the student feedback funding was secured for four staff within the existing e-learning team whose role is to enhance the undergraduate experience of online learning across the institution. Curriculum enhancement work had already been started and a model based loosely on the 3E model of Enhance, Extend, Empower (Smyth 2007) had been adopted.

Enhancement of the VLE platform, and Extending the capabilities and skills of staff was already taking place through existing projects and embedding the TEL strategy, the aim of the new team was to Empower staff to create high quality, media rich materials.

The challenge for the team was how to improve and enhance the student learning experience in such a way that was cost-effective, sustainable and had sufficient economies of scale to permit development across over 2000 existing undergraduate modules.

A number of interlinking activities have taken place over the past year to support the planned curriculum enhancement:

  1. The appointment of the core central team (Exeter Online Learning) charged with creating high quality multimedia learning objects.
  2. Investment in a training and support infrastructure to enable academics to create their own multimedia learning objects using a defined “toolkit” of open source or free authoring resources, supported by the central team.
  3. The purchase of 10 “surface tables” in a £250k initiative designed to extend the range of teaching and learning opportunities using digital media in face to face delivery.

Results:

  • By March 2012, only sixth months after the establishment of the Exeter Online Learning Team, over 30 modules have detailed designs for over 200 learning objects. Already a number of learning objects are deployed for student use students and they have yielded positive feedback. One academic commented:
  • "The students have been really impressed with the videos and have commented positively on this particular way of using ELE to deliver learning content.”

  • By September 2012, the team will have made available an instance of XERTE (University of Nottingham/ JISC) to further extend academic staff engagement in the creation of media-rich learning materials. Pilot testing of the XERTE toolkit and focus group evaluations have been undertaken with strong evidence of an improved learning experience for students.
  • With the launch of the Forum (a new innovative learning and social space) the surface table initiative has 50 academics timetabled for 30 hour per week in the surface table suite. This serves over 2000 students per annum using a curriculum enriched by multimedia learning objects generated by the central team or by academic staff.
  • Engaging academics can only prove fruitful if there is a commitment to relieve them of significant workload. The model for development of multimedia learning objects by a central team has proved to be scalable and the process efficient – but it is costly. 360 credits worth of learning objects is approximately £120,000 per annum. Clearly, the scale of investment required to significantly enhance the quality of all modules in the VLE, using a central team, may be prohibitive. Therefore, the XERTE “toolkit” strategy of providing the resources, training and support for the academic community, linked to the use of surface tables as a key medium for their development, is pivotal to significantly enhancing the student experience without adding an excessive workload to academic staff.


    Creation and adoption: Learning from the early adopters: the digital practitioner framework. -- 87 -- Short (oral) Paper
    September 11 11:30AM

    The radical and transformative potential of Web 2.0 tools to impact on learning has been discussed by, amongst others, Downes (2005), Siemens (2004), Davidson and Golberg (2009), Williams et al. (2011), Cormier (2008), Goodyear (2002). Their promise is of participative, emergent learning in which students are producers of knowledge, connected in learning communities. This paper examines how Web 2.0 tools are being used in teaching and learning in a ‘post 1992’ university. The paper is based on the findings of a phenomenological in-depth study which utilised a small sample of lecturers and focused on their personal journeys in relation to making changes in their pedagogic and broader academic and professional practices. The focus is on the experiences of lecturers who are using Web 2.0 tools in their teaching and learning practices, Rogers’ (1983) ‘early adopters’ and ‘innovators’.

    Ecclesfield and Rebbeck's (2011) notion of ‘digital practitioner’ is employed and conceptually extended by considering how lecturers’ skills and practices become routinised as the tools are appropriated. The paper suggests a framework, based on Sharpe and Beetham's (2010) work on students’ digital literacies, which depicts a hierarchical relationship between lecturers’ access, skills, practices and attributes.

    The paper concludes that early adopters have similarities, independent of the subject that they teach, in terms of their beliefs and attributes: they are willing to experiment with change: they are confident in their approach to Technology Enhanced Learning: they understand the radical pedagogical possibilities of the application of Web 2.0 tools: they balance risks associated with adopting new practices with an understanding of their potential: they are willing to invest time in exploring and evaluating Technology Enhanced Learning. The motivation that drives the early adopters to adopt new Technology Enhanced Learning practices is their commitment to enhancing their students’ experience by making the learning more participative and collaborative. They believe that Web 2.0 practices have the potential to support this objective. The implications for lecturers’ development and the implications for learning from the early adopters are also discussed.


    Creation and adoption: Moving into the mainstream: Researching the institutional introduction of EVS, from the realm of the enthusiasts to supporting the later adopters -- 246 -- Short (oral) Paper
    September 11 11:30AM

    This paper reports on the early findings from a part JISC-funded project into Evaluating Electronic Voting Systems (EVS). While the use of EVS has been widely researched and reported by those who were previously using EVS or similar systems from 2003 onwards e.g. Draper, Davis, Nichol, Oliver inter alia, the adoption of the technologies was typically focused in single academic schools or departments. At the University of Hertfordshire the enthusiasm for using EVS was first taken up by a local group of researcher-practitioners reporting on the use of EVS in Radiography, Engineering and other academic Schools. The early work both in Hertfordshire and elsewhere was generally both concentrated in and led by those who might be described as technology enthusiasts as defined in (Moore, 1991). Since 2009, there has been a growing body of more recent research into EVS use in the university classroom of which this is a part (see inter alia Lorimer and Hilliard, 2009).

    The University of Hertfordshire has invested extensively over the last couple of years in large-scale deployment of EVS technology to enhance assessment and feedback. This builds on earlier research carried out by members of its Blended Learning Unit (BLU). Since September 2010 more than 7,000 EVS handsets have been purchased for use in campus-based programmes across the university. Researching the move to the mainstream adoption of the EVS technology has included a reflection on how to provide extra staff support and training, as well as on students’ expectations and views on the use of EVS in class. Additionally, investment in the infrastructure has been undertaken to enable the seamless use of EVS technologies in all teaching rooms, whether lecture theatres, seminar rooms, or workshop areas.

    This session reports on the views of staff and students recently surveyed and interviewed on their use of EVS. It considers whether the barriers and hindrances which were anticipated by some reluctant late adopters of the technology have now been overcome. The authors see this as a local ‘confrontation with reality’. The reporting on this research includes reflection on the nature of the ‘scaffolding’ introduced to encourage those less familiar with technology in the classroom, and the management of the perceived overload for those developing additional test questions, as well as reflecting on the students’ perceptions of the deployment of large-scale technologies.

    The authors believe that this session will be of interest to colleagues (practitioners and policy makers) who are considering the challenges of moving from local autonomy in the choice and deployment of technologies to the adoption of an institutional-wide specific technology. They welcome the opportunity which the session will offer for discussion and comparison with other conference participants about their own experiences of researching academic and student responses to large-scale technology introduction. They anticipate the outcome of this discussion will also be of benefit to session participants.


    Creation and Adoption: The Head in the box’ – using tablet technology to support learning and teaching -- 26 -- Short (oral) Paper
    September 11 11:30AM

    Higher education is undergoing unprecedented change and universities must adjust to meet the needs of students, within a competitive market. Excellence in teaching and learning is therefore fundamental to ensure that we enhance the educational experience of all and make learning more flexible and accessible. Technology has a key part to play in supporting the core processes of learning, teaching and assessment and providing effective modes of delivery and the reality is that mobile devices are now a significant part of the grain of everyday life (Pettit & Kukulska-Hulme 2007). New generations of students presume that universities will make use of these new resources (Prensky 2010) and Ipads have been identified as having the potential to transform learning (Smith 2011).

    The purpose of this project was to pioneer new ways of enthusing learners in class based settings, to meet the needs of a diverse student population by exploring the use of ipad2 tablets within the Faculty of Health, Psychology and Social Care at Manchester Metropolitan University. The focus was on promoting active engagement with classroom based activities. As such the ipads have been used to encourage collaborative learning, allow instant replay and review of skills performance and promote interaction within large lecture theatres.

    The faculty purchased a stock of ipads which are available through a booking system to all academics. Members of staff are invited to submit a short proposal outlining details of how they plan to use the ipad and to request the installation of apps as appropriate. The proposals are reviewed by the project leaders to ensure that the aims are achievable within existing institutional parameters. Once the proposal has been reviewed and accepted members of staff are given the opportunity to attend a short tutorial on ipad functionality so to equip them with the necessary skills to use the ipad effectively within the classroom with students.

    The motivation for carrying out this study was to explore the students learning experiences of using the ipads and the staff perceptions of the value added. With this in mind the project was evaluated using a mixed methods design carried out via focus groups and comment notes of both staff and students. Feedback to date has been overwhelmingly positive.

    We will discuss the successes and challenges raised by the project, as well as future developments and potential wider implications for ipad usage.


    Badges, Facebook and eportfolii: ePortfolios for Employability – Promoting Career Learning through Business Engagement -- 40 -- Short (oral) Paper
    September 12 9:00AM

    The HE White Paper ‘Students at the Heart of the System’ concludes that “The relationship between universities and colleges, students and employers is crucial to ensuring that students experience the higher education they want while studying and leave their course equipped to embark on a rewarding career"(2011, p45).

    Introducing the Key Information Set for September 2012 has highlighted the stark data requirements for demonstrating numerical employability statistics to prospective students, and Higher and Further Education institutions are responding by pitching their energies into addressing student employability across all academic disciplines. Thus, the Higher Education sector is ever more challenged with embedding employability into its learning and teaching.

    How student expectations will be manifested is not an exact science, but increasingly the question students are asking is ‘will I get a good job?’ What can institutions do now to respond and do they have the structures in place?

    This presentation will describe project work at the University of Nottingham which aims to join employability learning with business engagement to deliver mutually satisfactory and cohesive outcomes for student, university and employers, acknowledging their different starting points and finding common ground to promote career learning and knowledge exchange.

    Increased opportunities for placements and internships are integral, as is raising student accessibility to employers. Institutions seek to widen business engagement activities to encompass not only the large ‘milkround’ employers, but also the small, medium and social enterprises, 3rd sector and local entrepreneur communities who comprise a significant employer base, not always considered by students.

    Correspondingly, universities hold vast arrays of knowledge, skills and research of interest to these groups who in turn can offer employability learning opportunities to students, but these are often hard to access, compounded by the diversity of business engagement, career and teaching and learning processes within a large institution. The SHED project aims to join people and technologies from these areas to develop career learning and professionalism spaces for students, using ePortfolio for recording and showcase skills and interests, offering an interface for students and employers, thus contributing to student learning about employer sectors and transferable skill demand. A sister project, ESCAPES, is improving the placement learning processes from a student perspective, and embedding new practice for career learning, placement preparation and reflection through ePortfolios, thus embedding professionalism and career learning into the student's course.

    Through these projects, the CIePD has sought the student voice on career learning and employability. Discussions with small businesses have revealed usability and accessibility issues in engaging with Universities. Further investigations are also underway to develop institution and community gateways to maximise professional learning through development of an online space where career learning can emerge from the boundary of University and Community.


    Badges, Facebook and eportfolii: Open Learning Badges and Higher Education – Threats and Opportunities -- 281 -- Short (oral) Paper
    September 12 9:00AM

    Predictions on the imminent demise of existing higher education institutions due to the growth of online learning have been made for quite some time. However, these institutions have proved to be very resilient, even integrating online learning technologies to improve their teaching and increase their geographical reach. Many have attributed this resilience to the their effective cartel in accreditation and some have suggested that rather than leading to the decline of higher education, online learning may only lead to a dis-aggregation, where institutions will still control the accreditation process. “Open Badges” is an attempt to build a micro-accreditation system that allows organisations to award accreditation, in the form of electronic badges with associated evidence, for small chunks of learning and that can be used by individuals to display skills. The Mozilla foundation and others are currently working on the development of an open source ecosystem for badges which has the potential to become a trustworthy parallel accreditation system outside the higher education system (Mozilla Foundation et al, 2011). Such an accreditation system could lower the cost of awarding reliable accreditation for courses (and other learning experiences) and this, alongside the ability to display actual skills, may result in a rapid uptake by independent training providers as it gains recognition among employers. To succeed, this ecosystem needs to address issues such as, authentication, reliability, robustness, cascading and the quantification and aggregation of awards. If this succeeds, it will increase the competitive pressures on higher education (Ossiannilsson and Creelman, 2012) and could enable a completely separate education and training system that might reduce the relevance of formal higher education. However, it may also be an opportunity for higher education. If it can integrate this badge ecosystem into its own accreditation system, it may be able to take better advantage of the availability of Open Educational Resources, reduce costs in Accreditation of Prior Learning and its own assessment and accreditation systems, as well as more effectively display the skills of graduates. Such cost reductions may help deflate the controversially suggested education bubble and maintain the relevance of formal higher education institutions for undergraduate education.


    Badges, Facebook and eportfolii: Facing reality in a Further Education context – Using Facebook to create learning communities without the cost of a hosted solution -- 222 -- Short (oral) Paper
    September 12 9:00AM

    This paper will address the challenge of creating learning communities that are student focused and enhance learning interaction in a resource constrained environment at a Further Education (FE) college. It contributes to the evidence of the quiet revolution that social networking is having in the creation of sustainable online learning environments in contexts without the resources to provide bespoke solutions.

    There exists research which argues that students are hostile to the notion of institutional intrusion into their online social interactions (Jones, Blackey et al (2010)) while other research argues that social networking tools can create a rich and active learning environment in which students are fully engaged (Woodward, Jones & Blackey (2011)). This paper attempts to bridge that dichotomy based on the experience of Creative Industry students at a FE College.

    The paper uses a social ethnographic approach to explore the dimensions of relationships in a project being used to enhance learning interaction at a FE College. It uses a reflexive approach to explore the practice and outcomes of the learning opportunities in relation to the perceived ideology of social interaction mediated by social networks.

    Of the students studying the courses in Music Technology and Popular Music Technology 100% already had Facebook profiles. The project used the closed groups feature in Facebook to link learners and staff. The closed group option was selected to provide a location that was course-based and did not break the boundaries between working and social-life that ‘friending’ learners of Facebook can cause.

    The research identifies that the group shared materials and information freely, and by so doing created an identity for the group which exceeded anything that had occurred in their existing communications network. The students’ perception has been that the group has improved the range and flexibility of communication and provided an effective hub for communicating and learning between the staff and learners. The staff perception is that the students communicate within the group in a more engaging way than they had outside of Facebook in the past. They have been able to used the environment to post questions (and comments), share ideas, photos, websites and videos for inspiration; sharing in a way they have not achieved in face to face environments.

    The research indicates that the learners and lecturers involved have seen a real benefit of their interaction to their learning and teaching. It shows that models of learning interaction are accessible, and economically attractive, in smaller scale provision in FE.