Falmouth in Focus: Computing for Games

In this series of articles we’ll be casting our gaze over some examples of practice currently being undertaken at Falmouth University. We work extensively with a variety of subjects and often find that the learning experiences are as diverse as those teaching on the courses.

This month we’re focusing on Computing for Games, a relatively new course located within the Games Academy. The course had its first intake this academic year and is the only Bachelor of Science degree to be offered at Falmouth University.

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EdTech recently met with course leader Michael Scott to discuss some of the tools and initiatives used as part of taught delivery on the modules. Peer support was a common theme that arose during our discussion with students encouraged to make use of Slack throughout the course. Michael has set up sub channels for each module and student groups are invited to also set up their own channels that relate to project teams. Students are also encouraged to use Slack alongside delivered sessions to discuss topics covered in the lecture.

Michael also described the role of Slack in setting formative tasks to the students, “Active learning through engagement and reflection is very important, so I regularly set tasks where each student does some work and then posts their approach to tackling that particular task to Slack”, using this method they’re able to view each other’s work and create a dialogue around their own solution, while also reflecting on the responses of peers.  

Michael put some of the success of peer communication down to small group size and it will be interesting to follow how this translates into larger cohorts as the course grows in size.

Another tool particularly prevalent across Computing for Games is Github, a powerful platform for developers that can be used to share projects and work collaboratively with code. Michael has found a way to utilise the ‘pull request’ functionality of this tool to provide formative feedback to his students, “When students create a pull request, I am able to post comments directly within their code, so I go through projects and write inline feedback within Github to provide instant feedback to the students on their works-in-progress”.

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As with many of the subjects at Falmouth we tend to see many industry specific tools permeate into the courses, it’s not surprising that Computing for Games are incorporating specialised tools into taught delivery, especially as it prepares students for an industry where knowledge of their use is expected.  

So what’s next for Computing for Games, Michael has expressed an interest in finding a solution for viewing live streaming of code for workshop demonstrations, “At the moment I project what I’m doing at the front of a session, but it would be good to provide a link to students so they can stream what is happening and follow on their own machines”, the ET team are now looking into potential live streaming options like codeshare.io that would facilitate the functionality Michael would like to see added to his seminars.

If you’re interested in implementing any technology into your teaching or would like further information on the tools discussed, please get in touch.

etsupport@falmouth.ac.uk

A Lens on… Inclusivity

In this series of articles, the Educational Technology team will be providing an insight into existing practice using technology for learning and teaching at Falmouth University and various projects being undertaken within the sector.

This week is World Autism Awareness Week and in deference our lens shifts to Inclusivity and Inclusive Educational Practice. The effects of recent cuts to funding for Disabled Students (DSA) mean that institutions must re-appraise the ‘reasonable adjustments’ that the Equality Act (2010) requires to be be in place.

Inclusivity, by definition, means that everyone regardless of origin, background or ability is included in whatever activity it is that is being delivered. So, inclusive practice is about making sure that technology is used to create activities and materials that everyone can access and make use of. But it is also about using pedagogical techniques that ensure everyone can get involved and their contributions are valued equally, whilst making the most of individual strengths for the benefit of the whole group.

Inclusive practice within teaching may include providing online course content in a variety of formats and making this accessible on a variety of devices. The Open University have recently implemented a system to present VLE content in accessible formats and tools such as Gitbook facilitate publishing material in web, pdf and ebook formats. You might also find our post on re-designing learning content for online delivery useful in this regard.

Where large amounts of text are used, Educators might consider a screen capture using Snagit or an audio recording with Vocaroo. A transcript should also be provided and for video, services like Youtube and Vimeo provide automated closed captioning. For presentations, recording a Movenote to accompany the powerpoint will enable students to refer back to the lecture material and you might encourage your students to make use of tools like Cogi to record their own notes.

The JISC/NUS Digital Experience Benchmarking Tool provides examples of institutional inclusive practice that ranges from ‘developing to ‘outstanding’.

Key to an ‘outstanding’ institutional approach is to involve students with a diverse set of needs in developing the digital environment and that all technological investments consider the impact on access, inclusion and equality.

JISC have also published some helpful guides on getting started with accessibility and providing an inclusive HE experience. The inclusive HE would; ensure that lecture/seminar materials are available online prior to the lecture, provide an institutional means of lecture capture, support students in note taking and in their own lecture capture and provide policy on the creation of learning materials and accessibility standards.

Many universities have already made progress in promoting inclusion, Oxford Brooks, Plymouth University and the University of Sheffield are just some of the institutions who have provided guidance for staff to help develop better academic practice in this area.

At Falmouth, the team are working with our BA (Hons) Business Entrepreneurship staff and students to reimagine large text resources, traditionally given as core reading. Learners are co-creating video, audio and interactive images formats that make the learning more accessible and facilitate development of new skills in media production.

Accessibility is also a core consideration for Moodle, the software behind Falmouth’s Learning Space and the Moodle community publish information on how the platform meets particular global standards for access and inclusion. Birmingham City University have also added some guidelines for accessible Moodle courses.

If you are interested in developing your inclusive digital practice, please check out our good practice principles from this IDPD post and contact the team.

Further Reading

What equality law means for you as an education provider – further and higher education (2010) Equality and Human Rights Commission

Bhagat, D & O’Neill, P (2011) Inclusive Practices, Inclusive Pedagogies: Learning from Widening Participation Research in Art & Design Higher Education CHEAD/ Ukadia Croydon

Inclusive curriculum design in higher education (2011) – Higher Education Academy

Exemplars of inclusive digital practice from the JISC Digital Student Project (2015)

A Lens on… Assessment

In this series of articles, the Educational Technology team will be providing an insight into existing practice using technology for learning and teaching at Falmouth University and also at projects being undertaken within the wider HE sector. Our previous articles have looked at the process of Feedback and Open Education.

As we enter the summer term it seems only right to have a look at the process of assessment. This time of the year is heavily associated with assessment as students hand in final pieces of work before the end of the academic year. As a University specialising in creative arts, the submissions from our students are as diverse as the courses studied, it’s our role as technologists to support a wide range of submission formats when it comes to online hand-ins. 

 As with 98% of Universities, Falmouth uses Turnitin as a tool for online submissions. Turnitin allows students and staff to check work for citations and text matches across a variety of sources including online journals, websites and books. Although the tool can be used to identify potential plagiarism it also allows students to understand how to correctly cite referenced work by visually identifying any text which has been matched to another source. Allowing students to view ‘originality reports’ in this way has received some criticism in the past, although others feel it’s a useful aid to develop academic writing.  

In addition to Turnitin, a file upload function is in place at Falmouth University that handles a variety of formats submitted for assessment via the VLE. This can include data, image and video files and facilitates commenting and feedback from academic members of staff. 

In the past we have also used external media platforms such as Vimeo to handle assessed materials. In the case of Vimeo, students uploaded video content and tagged work with unique module codes so staff could easily search and mark material.

As the methods for documenting, collecting and recording work diversifies, it’s our job as a team to ensure the digital assessment process is as streamlined as possible. We’re always interested to hear from other Ed Tech teams who have implemented successful assessment methods or tools, if you’d like to share a workflow that’s worked well for your students please get in touch!       

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