Notes from the Blackboard Teaching and Learning Conference 2015

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The three days Teaching and Learning Conference by Blackboard was over. I wrote down some important notes based on the sessions I had attended.

  • Graham Brown-Martin’s keynote speech are based on his past two years work. He interviewed those educational leading thinkers, such as Seth Godin, Sir Ken Robinson, Keri Facer and so on. You may have a look at his website and his speech (which has similar ideas) on TED before it’s available on the Blackboard website. His new book Learning {Re}imagined is available now.
  • Dr Anne Campbell and Graham Storey from the Open University shared their course design for staff development training on Blackboard Collaborate, which is a good practice example.
  • The University of York (presented by Simon Davis) has developed their own Anonymous Assignment feature in Blackboard according to the user requirements. However, I don’t think we will do it. I would prefer to support staff by providing clear policies and demonstrating good practices. The session activity is available here.
  • The speech of Valerie Schreiner shows the focus of the Blackboard products. It includes portfolio, peer-to-peer assessment, calendar, LIS 2.0 standards, SIS (Students information systems) and grades, Blackboard Offline, Blackboard Analytics, Blackboard Grade App, Blackboard Student App. I like her emphasis on course design should consider four aspects: simple, continuous, mobile, and engagement.
  • Gilliam Fielding’s presentation shows the UCISA Digital Capabilities survey 2014. She pointed out that digital capability is role-based rather than technology-based. The executive summary was published in April 2015 and the full report will be issued in Spring 2015. You may also have a look at the results of UCISA Survey of technology enhanced learning 2014 that was published in September 2014.
  • The Blackboard Exemplary Course Program Rubric helps instructors and course designers to recognise best practices by considering four aspects: course design, interaction & collaboration, assessment, and learner support. The Blackboard exemplary course past winners are viewable here.
  • Calum Thomson presented Dr Rod Cullen and his research on webinars. We used to vote and see the vote results in the session activity. You may have a look at his presentation at the MELSIG event (which has the similar information) before it is available on the Blackboard website.

Technology in Higher Education Summit

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Technology in Higher Education Summit 2015 (Bett Summit 2015) is a space for higher education professionals to share ideas, future-gaze and streamline technology decision-making. 21-24 January 2015, London. Top themes are

  • Future-proofing your university
  • The changing landscape of technology
  • Behaviour change
  • Business forum
  • Mobile technology

ALTC2014 day3~ research& findings

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The third day in ALTC.

In the keynote speaker Audrey Watter’s talk, I learned a new term ‘Luddite‘. Her blog also provides the detail. This talk required a good understanding of English literature. I was a bit lost until she talked about psychologist B.F. Skinner and behaviourism.  Interesting points (1) we should concern our design of technology from the behavioursim and control perspective. (2) Technology actually does not change human that much apart from allowing us do things more efficient and quicker, for instance, we read from holding a hard copy of  a book to reading books from Kindle.

From Kulari Lokuge Dona‘s presentation, I learned the Carpe Diem method to design MOOC and the use of Open Badges.

Electronic management of assessment (EMA) – HelF Survey report 2011-2013. Not surprise that in the findings, 57% people said that Blackborad and Turnitin do not integrated well. In the session, we discussed what are the top 5 important elements in the Assessment process and what are the challenge and solution in the Assessment of your institution.

(image from JISC website)

It found that using collaborative tools can support the development of transferable employability skills – in the Simon Davis‘ talk. This session presents a study from the University of York  based on the Collaboration in Business Planning module and the CBI Education and Skills Survey 2011. is a 5 year project develop technologies that support informal learning, details see Debbie Holley’s talk.

Another interesting presentation is from Peter Reed talking about the different results between students and staff satisfactions based on Herzberg’s 2-factor theory and a SIEME model of student satisfaction (I haven’t found the resource of this model).

After the fantastic conference, I started to do things below:

  • Follow more people from the conference on Twitter and start to do more networking.
  • Thinking of how to spread the ideas and research findings, debates and resources into Cardiff University such as make a presentation in the VLEG meeting.
  • Take a close look at the resources such as survey, case studies, and projects that have been done by other institutions and organisations.
  • Take a close look at work that has been done by the Learning Technologist winners.

It’s impossible to talk to everyone and/or remember everyone that you have talked to in big conferences like ALTC.  I feel Google glasses will be very useful. It will help people to recognise other attendants, their names, job, twitter account, expertise, presentations, etc.

It’s been a good experience for me to meet so many people who work in the similar area and start to have a feeling of belonging to a “Learning Technologists” community. Many people have the title such as Learning Technology Adviser, E-learning Designer, E-learning Developer, E-learning Coordinator, E-learning Consultant, E-learning Trainer, E-learning Support Officer, Learning Analyst and similar. The area becomes increasingly recognised. Here is David Hopkins’ introduction and his e-book published in 2013 “What is a Learning Technologist?

ALTC2014 day2~ evidences & case studies

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It’s the second enjoyable day at ALTC 2014.

The first session I attended was the Augmented Reality from Allen Crawford-Thomas and Judy Bloxham (JISC RSC). It’s fun to try the apps and discuss about the potential uses. It brought new experience immediately. Blippar and Layar worked well on my mobile, but Zapper didn’t, similar to other people next to me. Heard the SAMR Model again in the session. Also to know an interesting term “calm technology” means interaction between digital technology and reality is designed for users without realising the technology. Their paper ‘Immersive Learning Experiences through Augmented Reality‘ is worthwhile of reading. I like the idea that makes the interaction between human and online resources more real, more like learning in the reality.

From Catherine Cronin’s talk, I got some useful resources: the book Networked, ds106 open courses posted by Jim Groom and his view “openness is ethos not a license.”, #iCollab – the international community of practice of students and lecturers, and Gardner Campbell‘s work on learning technology and education.

I had interesting conversations with people from different institutions and realised many universites/collages do have a bigger VLE support team, like 7-9 people plus people from pedagogical side of supporting.

The UCISA TEL Survey of technology enhanced learning 2014 is another timely resource. The findings will be very useful for us to review the services we provide to some extent.

Learn from the Learning Technologist of the Year Awards winners, Congratulations!


In addition, some new ideas for me:

  • Students may feel confused with online learning, and they need to have the sense of ‘belonging’ to the institution. (from Helen Anne Beetham‘s talk)
  • We need to bring in the minimum standards for the online learning (from Martin Lynch and Catherine Naamanis talk)
  • Electronic Management of Assessment (EMA) is importantly increasing(from Simon Kear‘s talk)

ALTC2014 day1~ practice & visions

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It’s my first ALTC experience. A busy day but still feel I should jot down my thoughts and things I’ve learnt at a quiet night.

A few things are different from my previous conference experiences:

  • So many interesting presentations are at the same time. Like Liz Bennett @lizbennett1 talked in her session about Web 2.0, you just need to identify ONE thing that drives your adoption of the technology. I need to pick the most interesting session and believe I can still catch up those second or third interesting ones soon.
  • The Conference package is simple, most are available online.
  • The technology is handy and easy to use, such as wifi, social networking through the ALT website.
  • Most people have an ipad or a laptop for taking notes instead of pen and paper.
  • Known and unknown people – you see people who you know on twitter or blogs maybe, seems you know them, but actually now you have a chance to talk to them and start to know them.
  • Writing blogs and tweets after/during sessions on my smart phone.

Jeff Haywood’s wonderful talk opens Open education visions and practice. The Top 3 motivators for integrating technology in the classroom are:

  • Clear indication/evidence that students would benefit
  • Release time to design/redesign courses
  • Confidence that the technology would work as planned.

I think the last motivator is the one that we fail the most. No single technology meets all needs and also technology is designed/created by human beings. So it has errors. We just need to accept it’s an element of technoloy, neither good nor bad. But often users forget it and when they have some bad experience, they concern and de-motivate their confidence about THE technology.

I’m glad to hear that Jeff also said the university needs to invest on learning designs, online assessment and learning analyses. Hopefully the universities realise the importance of these roles.

The QR Code session by Dan Jagger made me think about how subject-related requirements drive the adoption of the technology, whereas the ipad session by Damian Keil made me think how learners personalised requirements drive the use of the technology.

Learned the SAMR Model that enhances the technology integration.

Autotweet app helps to add tweets into presentations from Stefano De Paoli’s talk.  so many apps have the same name, I guess the URL for it is correct here.

“intellectual engagement = serious emotional and cognitive learning” from Dianne Yee’s talk about leadership practice.

Steve Williams’ presentations on enabling learning shows a picture of barriers and enablers at the institutional level and the personal level. Knowledge, experience, attitudes, culture, policy, resources, confidence, cost, time, personal interest, digital influence, and scalability, reliability & robust of technology are all on the list. Timely research. I’m looking forward to reading their published research paper shortly.

Key points from the Teaching and Learning Conference

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I attended the Annual Learning and Teaching Conference. It focuses on the Academic Support: Enabling Student Success.

The sessions will be available online soon like the last year’s conference on embedding skills in curriculum. The twitter conversation is #CardiffEdu.

I think it’s a good idea to note down the things that are more relevant to my role in supporting Teaching and Learning.

Firstly, the sessions show us good examples of how educators become “facilitators”, who are exploring approaches to engage students in teaching and learning activities, how students as learners become reflective learners, self-directed learners, or say, active learners. Very importantly, yes, students drives their own learning. For example, in Flipped learning, students learn (“content”) using their own time and practise more in classroom; Learning activities embed students reflection by going through pre-practical testing, practice to post-practical testing; Feedback process involves contact and non-contact activities so that students contribute to the approach and further lead students to be more reflective thinking and become active learners; Students as curators in selecting learning materials…

Secondly, policy clarification is vital. For example, making clear rules of how group work will be assessed so students know how should they contribute to the group coursework and how they will gain in the activity and why they will be assessed in certain way. Also, for example, who is the owner of the personal tutoring? It’s hard to answer, as both tutors and students need to participant with regard to their needs. Here, I think schools need to have clear policy.

Thirdly, technology and services are essential. We have see some examples of key technologies being used in teaching and learning activities, such as Campus Pack, Question Mark Perception, Turnitin, Blog, Wiki, FaceBook and Scoopit. One example is that WordPress works well for the school but Learning Central (Blackboard Learn) did not work as users expected. For me, this actually hits the point: Should schools drive the technologies being suggested/chosen in the University or the University Learning Technology Support experts drive schools to use certain technologies? When an e-learning platform does not work well with certain technologies, should we encourage schools to choose their own core e-learning platform and dismiss the core service? This probably will bring each school has their own e-learning system and their own support services, which is not what we want to see I suppose. Thus, the point is how can we provide a robust core e-learning system when technology constantly changing and user requirements constantly changing too? To choose a system should be driven by users (schools, lecturers, tutors, and students). We probably need up-to-date evaluation policy on our VLE systems so that it can bring in user requirements quickly and provide solutions back to users quickly.

A good question is how do we engage the students who do not participate to the activities or who do not use the technology we suggested?  Well, my view is to look closely at the students who like to participate and who dislike to participate. Research on different learning styles and different assessment approaches to different learning styles. Focus on the things do work and work well. The certain way that the students do not like to be involved, we have provide alternative methods for them, shouldn’t we?


IC4E 2012

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The 3rd International Conference on E-Education, e-Business, e-Management and E-Learning (IC4E 2012)

It is one of the leading international conferences for presenting novel and fundamental advances in the fields of e-Education, e-Business, e-Management and E-Learning. It also serves to foster communication among researchers and practitioners working in a wide variety of scientific areas with a common interest in improving e-Education, e-Business, e-Management and E-Learning related techniques.

Location: Hong Kong, China

Date: 5-7 January 2012

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