Blended learning course II week 2

It is a reflective thinking week for me. The course focused on blended learning innovation and how technology can help for the challenges the VET (Vocational Education and Training) sector are facing.

First, reaching more learners, more flexibly. Without learning the course content, I would say to make learning materials easy-to-accessible and widen the distribution channels are key to reach more learners. Through the course, I realised that developing collaborative learning will improve learning opportunities. Learners can take the task on their pace (synchronously or asynchronously). The teachers can reuse the learning designs and reduce their time on creating learning materials from scratch each time. The UCL Moodle Hub is a good example that shows how Moodle course design looks like, and how learning designs are shared and available for wider audience/teachers.

Second, developing independent learners. Many possible ways here such as peer review that is well facilitated by teachers, reflective learning activities and collaborative learning activities, and flipped learning activities. A combination of these ways will offer students different learning experience. Technology plays a valuable role in fostering independent learning and making teacher’s time more productive. For example, we can use the Learning Designer Tool to modify designs, share design ideas and reuse good designs. Students are able to access learning materials pre-/post- classes and learn at their own pace. To achieve this, it’s necessary that teachers know the best practice of using the VLE systems, the IT services make sure the technology works and fits the teacher’s purposes. The learning design needs to facilitate independent learning activities.

Third, reducing the costs of innovation. Encouraging people to share their learning designs, materials and good practices is important here. Cross-institutional collaboration is increasing gradually. I don’t have many evidence for its benefits. However, my experience with the JISC projects/programmes (cross-institutional collaboration) is positive. For example JISC Digital Literacy development programme and Jisc Digital Student. My perspective is that we need to work on how we can change institutional cultural and adaptiveness, and how we encourage people do so before OER policies are ready in the institution.

My another take-home tip is from the case analysis of “Prospect Training“. To take account of two important barriers to learner use:

  • (a) they made it downloadable, so it could be used on-site in any location, not being reliant on the internet, and
  • (b) they made it device independent, so that it works on any mobile device

More resources:

  • Good Things Foundation is a social change charity that supports socially excluded people to improve their lives through digital.
  • OER Commons is a digital public library and collaboration platform that aims to make high-quality education accessible, and to grow a sustainable culture of sharing and continuous improvement among educators at all levels.
  • Kahoot is a free game-based learning platform that makes it fun to learn – any subject, in any language, on any device, for all ages.
  • Explain Everything is an interactive whiteboard app that allows users to annotate, animate, narrate, import, and export almost anything to and from almost anywhere. An infinite collaborative space.
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Inclusive learning and teaching environments course – week 3

This is the last week of the course. It focuses on how we can use technology to encourage collaboration in a range of learning situations and the emergence of the ‘technology power user’. Again an amount of learning materials are covered. I’d like to summarise it into five aspects.

First, preparing to support online learning inclusively. Aiming to ensure that the education is as inclusive as possible for disabled students.

JISC has provided guides to supporting online learning. It is imported to make online students feel they are connected with the institution.

Well-designed course activities can make them feel involved, but it’s useful to provide additional online social spaces, such as dedicated discussion forums or regular live chat sessions, to encourage interaction. This also provides an opportunity for students to feed back about the course and their learning experience.

Provide accessible support materials. For example the “Essential Digital Skills and Awareness” resources on the Southampton Solent University website.

The Journal of Inclusive Practice in further and higher education, Issue 5.1 Special Edition (2013) included ten research articles about the disability services in educational institutions.

The SCOPE website lists information of assistive technology and services for disabled people.

Second, considering accessibility when using social media, multimedia, mobile, mind mapping, and cloud technologies. Social media technologies allow people to connect and share information easier. Multimedia technologies allow people to interact with learning materials through multiple ways. Mobile technologies increase the flexibility of reaching online resources without location limits. Cloud technologies make backup, recovery and store documents easier. Mind mapping technologies provide another way for people to present their learning outcomes.

It is necessary to mention the JISC Digital Student Project again. Ray’s story shows how social media technologies can help his learning.

Many universities started to adopt social media and media technologies in teaching. For example, Queen’s University provides Social media accessibility of Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube.

Apple, Windows, and Android mobile phone system providers all published accessibility support guides.

Inclusive design is an important part of accessibility and usability. The University of Cambridge developed an Inclusive Design Toolkit which has helped me to understand the terms of ‘Design for all‘, ‘Universal design‘ and ‘inclusive design‘.

Third, considering accessibility in assessment. Thinking about offering different assessment modes and different choices within tasks to allow students to show their learning outcomes. JISC’s Making Assessments Accessible is the handy guide to get started.

Creating accessible examinations and assessments for disabled students article provides some useful suggestion for inclusive assessment. It is from the SHEFC-funded Project – Teachability: Creating an accessible curriculum for students with disabilities.

Plymouth University students and academics talked about their experiences of inclusive assessment and gave their advice on best practice.

A short video created by the Universal Design for Learning (UDL) introduces the way of designing assessment.

Inclusive teaching resources: Offer Flexible Assessment and Delivery generated by RMIT University is a useful guide for people to design, deliver and assess learning inclusively.

Introduction to Accessible Standardized Testing aims to provide design guidelines for building accessible standardized testing tools for Open Education Resource (OER) authors. It is from the Floe Inclusive Learning Design Handbook, which is a part of the Floe Project produced by the Inclusive Design Research Centre at OCAD University.

Fourth, thinking about “digital wellbeing“. Digital wellbeing is defined by JISC as follows. It brings the concerns such as workload, lack of time to explore digital approaches, stress and information overload, the responsibility staff take for the wellbeing of students, cyberbullying, and managing time.

The capacity to look after personal health, safety, relationships and work-life balance in digital settings.

Fifth, what can I do in my practice? I think it’s important to be aware of the inclusive teaching and learning as the first step. When I create new materials, bearing in mind the “born accessible” is the key. Talking to people about the inclusive teaching and learning when I support them is a slow but necessary way to make it happen.

More useful resources and tools:

Important developments in technology for Higher Education from 2017 to 2021

A diagram to summarise the important developments in technology for Higher Education

Inclusive learning and teaching environments course – week 2

This week, we had overwhelming information on the topic – how we can develop inclusive learning and teaching environments.

First, we need university-wide strategies and disability policies that help staff to understand the Equality Act 2010 or relevant Disability Act requirements and guide staff to realise and change mechanisms to support disabled students. These are two examples of Cornell University and University of Plymouth which show how they have suggested staff to foster inclusive teaching and learning environments. I think the checklist for inclusive teaching (from University of Playmouth) is particularly useful. It should be a part of the baseline (or sometimes called minimum standards) for VLE and relevant learning technologies in supporting online activities. It should guide not only the academic staff but also all support/professional staff.

Second, can technology helps? Yes, but we need to know limits of a technology, policies supporting disabled students, and teaching approaches. For example, the following statement is on a list of suggested good practice of communication in an inclusive way. It shows technology is not the first solution, we need to change our approaches before use a technology.

Notes or slides uploaded to a content management system or virtual learning environment 48 hours before the event.” (section 2.2)

Then we discussed the use of technologies such as lecture capture, presentations, note taking, TTSe-books, e-journals and students support.

So how about supporting students in different subjects such as STEM, Arts or Architecture? Think about the learners who are with mobility limits, hearing impairment, colour-blinded, or dyslexia, how assistive technology can support them in undertaking reading, assignment, writing, typing, or presenting? Through a few real learner cases, we discussed what should improve, what technologies can be used and what resource formats creators need to generate. My immediate taking includes:

Timely, the latest Inclusive Teaching and Learning in Higher Education as a route to Excellence guide identified 5 risks of adopting a strategic approach to reasonable
adjustments and what possible mitigating actions the HEP can take
.

Resources for us to understand inclusive teaching and learning:

Tools for supporting inclusive teaching and learning:

 

Blended Learning Course week 5

The last week of the course is about wider issues around blended learning: digital skills, inclusiveness, and flexibility. I didn’t expect that it is short and pass quickly.

I wasn’t aware of the Agored Cymru’s Essential Skills Wales provides standards for employment in today’s workplace. It includes essential skills for learners (Level 1-3 – Application of Number, Communication, Digital literacy, Employability, Skills for work and life) and essential skills for practitioners (Level 3 – Digital literacy, Employability, ESOL, Literacy, and Numeracy; Level 2 – Supporting Adults and Young People in Essential Skills). The resource I refer to the most is the JISC Digital Student project of exploring students’ expectations and experiences of using technology. I have learnt what I have done, I could do, and can do for students’ experience in my work through viewing the students’ stories.

I haven’t tried the Open University Being digital Self-assessment pathway, but it looks like a well-designed group of activities for helping learners to assess their digital skills and check if their online learning is effective.

The most impressive statements for me are below. It’s not very new, but it’s very useful to see the research evidences.

Learners’ digital experiences are strongly dependent on the confidence and capabilities of their teachers, but currently staff workload and career pathways are hindering staff development. (Digital Student: Further Education: FE learners’ expectations and experiences
of technology – Synthesis report
)

We must be careful that the educator’s ‘flexibility of time’ is not taken to mean ‘elasticity of time’. This is an absolutely critical issue for the successful introduction of blended learning. The effects on teacher workload are typically ignored in education strategy and policy documents, in the false assumption that going online is cheaper. It can be, but only if it is managed in a long-term and innovative way, which it rarely is. (section 5.5)

The JISC guide to using the assistive and accessible technology in teaching and learning is a handy resource for us to support inclusive teaching.

The Technology Outlook: Community, Technical, and Junior Colleges 2013-2018 is an US project report. It listed top ten trends impacting technology decisions and top ten most significant challenges. In this week I also attended an Educause webinar which shows the technology shifting to meet students’ learning requirements. It is worth reading the analysis. I jot down the impressive statements for me from the two reports as follows.

People expect to be able to work, learn, and study whenever and wherever they want. (p.17)

Education paradigms are shifting to include online learning, hybrid learning, and collaborative models. (p.17)

The workforce demands skills from university graduates that are more often acquired from informal learning experiences than in universities. (p.18)

The demand for personalized learning is not adequately supported by current technology or practices. (p.19)

Too often it is education’s own processes and practices that limit broader uptake of new technologies. (p.19)

The empirical evidence strongly suggests that blended learning conditions (where at least a quarter of course content is delivered online) produce significant gains in student learning. (section 4)

In addition, I have to thank Professor Neil Morris and Professor Diana Laurillard make the course interesting and easy to follow, share good practice tips, and open learning materials to wider audience. Many useful materials about blended learning are available from the University of Leeds.

More resources and tools:

Blended Learning Course week 4

It’s a busy week as I started another course “Inclusive Learning and Teaching Environment“. Both courses are interesting and useful which I enjoy taking. However, I feel I was tied up in most of my spare time. I definitely spent more time than the suggested 3.5 hours. I feel a bit ease after read Diana‘s tips – “Give yourself permission to ignore the rest!”.

This week aimed to help us to learn designing a blended learning course.

How can we embed technology effectively in the curriculum? The DADDIE model is a useful approach to planning and rethinking the way we support learning. I remember my colleague once introduced us to use this model. We perhaps already work through some of these steps when designing a course. However, we may not think strategically through each step to ensure that the course aligns well with the defied learning outcomes and addresses the learners’ requirements. I found an OER online book Teaching with Technology, which introduced a Backward design approach to curriculum design. It helped me understand when the assessment and learning activities design should be started in the design process and why. Also, it reminded me the ABC curriculum design method which I learnt from the ALT conference.

I really like Diana’s interpretation of “incorporating digital technology into the assessment process”, which linking to the curriculum design and the technologies that I already know: assessment tools, e-portfolios and digital feedback. It helped me to rethink how I have supported the use of the technologies.

What’s the difference between flipped learning and blended learning? So far, I have learnt that both approaches apply technologies. For example, flipped learning uses technologies for supporting self online learning before students come to class. Then in the face-to-face classroom, the knowledge learnt online is applied in the session, and technologies can be used to support activities in classroom too. Blended learning uses technologies for supporting self-online learning and face-to-face learning alongside each other in order to provide a comprehensive learning experience in a session. There are overlap, but they emphasise different pedagogic focus. These resources are very helpful for us to understand both approaches.

The most important learning in this week was to design a blended learning activity using the following structure.

  • Title
  • Age group and/or curriculum level
  • Intended learning outcome
  • The sequence of activities
  • An outline of the formative assessment for the activity

It was easy to follow because the activity allowed us to learn constructively (see the steps below). But it was not easy to complete. I did jot down different technologies I could use and activities I could deliver. However, with the criteria, the learning outcomes and assessment in mind, I ended up to simplify it and choose the most useful technologies for supporting the activities. I knew why I choose them and why I didn’t use other technologies.

  1. review a design example using this structure and discuss it according to the most important criteria;
  2. considering the criteria given, to design an one-hour blended learning activity;
  3. publish my design for others to review;
  4. reflect on this activity.

As usual, I list the more useful resources I learnt here.

The third day note of #ALTC 2017

Keynote Speech

Peter Goodyear‘s keynote speech was about learning space. He talked about designing different types of knowledge. My understanding is what he mentioned here is explicit knowledge. Can we design implicit knowledge? He used five examples of learning spaces to state that learning space we create should be for students to shape their own learning spaces. It needs to be designed to be easy for individual learning, for staff supervision and for everyone in the room to connect to each other. He also mentioned the idea of different levels of learning spaces, and call our attention to the barriers such as languages and concepts we used. Peter also pointed out in research we often have findings that rely on correlations between two elements. However is this the reality of what students are doing in classroom? Student learning isn’t well supervised in the room! What we did was just not to disrupt in the environment. His research of using Activity-centred analysis and design (ACAD) framework to help learning design shows how the way changes from focusing on learning goals to focusing on learning activities. It’s quite true to use design as reasoning for what actually students do in the space.

Morning Sessions

A very useful session for me is to learn the ABC (Arena Blended Connected) curriculum design from Natasa Perovic and Clive Young’s (UCL) “Presentation: Our rapid blended learning design method is ACE! [1728]”. As they introduced, “ABC is built on University of Ulster’s ‘Viewpoints’ approach and based on Diana Laurillard’s notion of six “learning types” from her well-established Conversational Framework.” This is a practical approach to help people to work together to design learning activities. I need to spend time on knowing the background and understanding how we can design staff engagement workshops using this approach.

I’m impressed by the TRI_IT (The Technology Related Innovation-Implementation Tool) that the University of Nottingham has developed. Richard Windle and  Adam Pryor (Loughborough University) presented in the session of “TRI-IT. You might like it. A tool to support innovation adoption in Higher Education. [1782]”. I will certainly try it and see in which context, I am able to construct a learning pattern with technologies deploy within it. I quickly browsed their HELT Open website. Their evaluation toolkit called my attention. This is something I am thinking to develop in supporting our learning resources.

Afternoon sessions

There were not many people attending the afternoon sessions. The most useful session for me was Rob Cullen’s (Manchester Metropolitan University) talk of “Teaching and Learning Conversations (TLCs): Building and sustaining a webinar community of practice. [1740]”. As it said on the website “The TLC is an exciting informal cross-institutional collaboration to provide joint CPD opportunities for everybody teaching and/or supporting learning in Higher Education.” They use Adobe Connect to run a series of open, informal, monthly interactive webinars which have built an active online community of practice. I am interested in the approaches that they used for webinar activity design as this can be a good example for our ALT Wales community to form and grow.

In addition, 7 colleagues from Cardiff University presented their wonderful work.

Presenter Session Resources
Laura Roach Reuse repurpose, recycle: Utilising existing technology to reduce staff workload in Higher Education [1714] video (from 53:35)
Christopher John and Geraint Evans EasyPoll: Risks, obstacles and instrumental success factors to developing a bespoke learning technology tool within UK Higher Education [1752]
Dewi Parry, Matt Smith and Karl Luke The Phoenix Project – Interactive Learning [1691] interactive learning
Karl Luke Using actor-network theory as a lens to explore lecture capture practices in and across spatial (re)configurations [1661]  Slides
Rebecca Ferriday The way to Academics’ Hearts is Through their Minds [1602]
Geraint Evans and Dewi Pary Developing professional networks for Learning Technologists at Cardiff University [1774]

 

There are a lot of learning and reflection after the three days. I am sure I will check back my notes of resources from the conference. I noticed that many institutions are developing learning design approaches, including students experience-focused pedagogical methods, engaging academic staff, students as partners, CPD, and community of practice. I also noticed that designing new “learning space” becomes a trend; many universities are working on reshaping teaching spaces with requirements for developing a clear strategy at the same time. The ALT is really a useful community for me. It will be the 25th conference next year.

Useful resources and tools I learnt in the day:

One thing I learnt so far is to be impactive. I haven’t done this very well. I remember in 2014, I talked to someone I met in the conference that I don’t understand why people who I don’t know follow me on Twitter. She responded: I don’t know, I suppose they agree your tweets, or maybe they thought they get useful resources from your tweets. I am kind of person who do not like to be noticed, but I realised what “impact” means from this year’s conference. Through twitter, blogs, talks, and published papers, people become influencer. I think this is a leadership skill.

After writing my notes, I worked out what is in the canvas ball. It does not tell me the future, but it does call my curiosity, and make me wonder what’s inside by looking at it from outside.
IMG_20170908_110520

The second day note of #ALTC 2017

Keynote Speech

Siân Bayne’s keynote speech encouraged us to rethink the value of anonymity and leave space for un-nameability and ephemerality through presenting her research study on Yik Yak. The Yik Yak was popular as an anonymous messaging app among youngsters and undergraduates, and it’s closed up in May 2017 due to the problems with cyberbullying which anonymity plays a key role. Surprisingly to know that “40% of students in Higher Education have witnessed online cyberbullying in their social media networks”. On the other hand, anonymity brings “unreachability” which can “enable particular  forms of equality” (see Siân Bayne’s references). I agree what she said “…not only they did this for branding themselves but also more or less compulsory to be on Facebook to function socially…” I gradually reduced my posts on my Facebook as I sometimes feel I was on Facebook only for keeping the connection with my friends all over the world, otherwise there is no better way of keeping the connections. I will read the article “You are the Product” to learn how personal data are used by Facebook. I came across the Tor project, which aims to protect people’s data against a common form of Internet surveillance. However, I wonder how secure of using services like Tor will be.

Morning sessions

It’s good to see Fotios Misopoulos’ presentation of “Effectiveness of Learner-to-Learner Interaction in e-learning: An instructors’ perspective [1776]” (University of Liverpool). It showed a study of dimension of interactions that proves students using discussion board get better grades if they are encouraged to participate in a way that (1) having questions lead to common interested topics, (2) having questions that bring different views to debate, or (3) having questions students link to their own experience and stories.

I was particularly interested in Vicki Holmes and Adam Bailey’s (University of Reading) presentation of “Right Here! Right Now! Placing pedagogy at the heart of web-conferencing [1783]” as I have been involved in the Blackboard Collaborate project in Cardiff University. It will be good to compare how they have supported the technology from early adoption stage to business as usual. They had a 2-year project and chose the early adopters who had impact on students learning experience by adopting the technology. From their online support resources, I can’t see many differences from what we have offered to our users. However, their three groups of use cases are something I can look at in depth as we didn’t list our use cases in this way. They suggested good practice from these aspects: clear purpose, design for interaction, presentation techniques and prepare students. They also shared the things they learnt from the project: the technology increased flexibility, improved communication, attendance is unaffected, positive student feedback, staff learning curve, and the importance of audio.

Redesigning the learning space seems one trend that most universities are working on. Although I didn’t intend to attend sessions about digital learning spaces, I learnt it briefly from the session of “Rethinking Lectures in Redesigned, Collaborative, Learning Environments [1784]”. Beth Snowden and Bronwen Swinnerton (University of Leeds) presented how they have designed the lecture theatre using three dimensions approach: pedagogy, space, technology and how user feedback was. Their case studies of the staff/students experience of the new lecture theatre can be seen online.

Catherine Naamani (University of South Wales) talked about a grounded theory study of students experience of digital classroom in the session of “It isn’t all about the technology: An exploration of the impact of learning space design on collaborative approaches in the digital classroom. [1803]”. I had a chance to be in the digital classroom as the part of the Digital Classroom Roadshow once. I liked the flexibility between changing groups to control presenting screens. I liked the easiness of accessing to an online group and team working. However, I dislike the fixed facilitates. It’s costy, immovable, and bonded within the space. The presentation included her findings such as staff perspective focused on technology rather than pedagogy; preparation is the key, and manage dominant groups in the classroom, technology barriers, staff development and confidence building and accessibility issues.

Afternoon sessions

In the afternoon, I attended two 1-hour workshops. I attended Thomas Cochrane’s “Mobile VR in Education Workshop [1641]” session because I am interested to see how VR can be used. I haven’t been involved in any work using mobile VR and it’s a good opportunity for me to understand its usefulness. The session details are accessible. Due to a poor WiFi connection, my experience of trying the mobile apps wasn’t as good as I expected. But I see the potential of using VR tools. I immediately thought we can use the technology to create open day virtual tour and the University maps and locations. We can also use it to create health and safety online training.

It was pity that not many people turned up in Julie Usher and Vicky Brown’s session of “EnABLing the Institution: a holistic approach to enhancing the student experience [1677]”. I quite like the activity in the session. Their work has been recognised and won the ALT team award this year. The session details are below.

More useful resources and tools I learnt in the day:

ABL
10 top tips for A.B.L. [Active Blended Learning], University of Nottingham