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. Some of our previous articles have looked at Assessment, Creative Education and Learning analytics.
With September comes the start of a new academic year and as we welcome back returning students our focus also shifts to those who are new to the higher education environment. As part of the initial induction process students will more often than not be expected to engage with digital software and tools as they become familiar with their course. Library systems, institutional email, virtual learning environments and timetable systems all require access to a digital environment and while students are having to engage with these systems at an institutional level there are many more services and platforms that can be used socially.
Thinking about the way you interact with digital services requires some thought on digital identity and the digital footprint you leave behind after engaging with tools. For many students using digital tools is essential to developing their identity as creative arts practitioners, for example will you be wanting to publicise or sell your work through social tools? Will people be searching for you using your name or a pseudonym? Will you be keeping personal and professional social accounts separate?
Have you ever Googled yourself anonymously? Think about the content that appears in the results when your name is searched for. Does it represent your professional life or your personal? Are the images that appear of you appropriately representative of your professional profile?
At Falmouth, we have recently worked closely with our Creative and Music, Theatre and Events Management and our PGCHE students to encourage a conversation around Digital Identity at the start of their course. Our first presentation and workshop is part of a professional practice series that runs alongside a 3 or 4 year undergraduate degree.
JISC’s considers Digital Identity alongside Digital Wellbeing as an element of our Digital Capability; encircling our interactions with technology for creation, learning, information management and communication.
A project emanating from the University Mary Washington and being delivered by Reclaim Hosting asks students and academic staff to take back their digital identity forming a Domain of Ones Own. The concept encourages you to delve a bit deeper and consider what makes up your digital identity as you form it and how use of technology impacts your life.
Over previous years we’ve collected information and blogged about the apps that students have found useful to help with their study at Falmouth University.
Now its the turn of the staff, we frequently hear of apps that professional services and academic members of staff have found helpful with their support of students. We formally collect some of these apps during the PGCHE Summer School.
Over the last few years these have been added to a PGCHE Apps Anonymous listly list but we wanted to take the time to go through a few of our favourites that have proved most popular among staff at the University.
Skype – A firm communication favourite and one that needs little introduction. Useful for hosting tutorials and commonly used with students on placement who wish to catch up with staff while they’re away.
Evernote – Used by staff and students alike Evernote is an organisational tool that constantly evolves. Fantastic for note taking and collecting your thoughts it can be used on desktop as well as mobile.
Trigger – Another organisational tool that automates many of the tasks available on your phone. Available only on android it includes features such as turning off your wifi when you hit a certain level of battery remaining, and automatically sending text messages at certain times of day.
You Tube – An unsurprising appearance from You Tube on our recommended list, frequently used across the University to aid teaching.
Stitcher – An audio service that brings together thousands of radio shows and podcasts. Signin to create custom playlists and recommendations. Audio apps have featured highly on both the staff and student lists proving that audio podcasts and radio are still very much in demand.
If you’d like to add your recommended apps to our staff list please get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org
As the end of another academic year draws to a close it’s the perfect time to reflect on another years worth of teaching and perform some housekeeping on your learning environment module areas.
In the course of the year external links to other areas may have changed and assignment briefs might have altered so it’s important to check your modules to make sure all content is up to date and relevant to a new cohort.
The temptation might be to hide content or move it to the bottom of the page, ultimately this will become confusing for other staff and students in the long run so we’d recommend deleting any content no longer relevant to keep your pages looking fresh and up to date.
As part of our archive process a snapshot of the environment is taken every August so there will always be a reference to past content if needed, a module’s content evolves from one year to the next so the addition and amendment of material is to be expected.
For parity of student experience across the learning environment all modules should adhere to the minimum module content guidelines; further details and tips on how to implement these can be found in Learning Space.
To add any new documents simply ‘turn editing on’ and drag and drop files onto the page, external links can be added by choosing “Add a resource or activity > Add URL”. Section text can be amended by selecting “Edit this section”. Detailed guidance can be found in our help documentation if needed.
If you’re not sure where to start or would like some additional information regarding Summer Housekeeping please get in touch with the team – email@example.com
The Teaching Excellence Framework (TEF) published by the department for Business, Innovation and Skills aims to ensure that teaching standards are maintained at a consistently high level in HE. The TEF has been criticised for the metrics based approach (NSS scores, employability statistics and continuation rates) to defining teaching excellence, and even though those criticisms have been acknowledged by introducing human elements into the process they will only serve to “soften the edges” (Gill, 2016) of the approach.
The TEF isn’t explicit about how institutions and individuals make improvements to teaching, but in response to the initial government Green Paper, the Association for Learning Technology (ALT) has requested that intelligent use of Learning Technology and an understanding of the issues by senior managers is explicitly incorporated into all framework iterations from now on (Deepwell, 2015).
One response to the TEF is to encourage teaching staff to undertake a formal teaching qualification if not already obtained, this is something particularly supported at Falmouth. This might include completion of a Post Graduate Certificate in Higher Education or awarded Fellowship to the Higher Education Academy. Both qualifications require submission of an evidence based portfolio to achieve accreditation. Within our department we are actively involved in the PGCHE course, informing sessions around technology enhanced learning and delivering content making the team crucial to supporting any TEF metrics that are put in place.
Like many other educational practitioners we await further developments with the framework and will be keeping an eye on how other Universities are adapting to support the TEF.
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. Our previous articles have covered a wide range of topics including Inclusivity, Digital Literacy and Course Design.
This week we’re focusing on Creative Education, a subject the Ed Tech team are more than familiar with. Falmouth is the highest ranked University for arts in many of the University league tables; The Guardian University Guide 2016, The Sunday Times League Table 2016 and Complete University Guide 2017. As such we have experience working with many diverse subjects spanning arts, media, performance and design to name a few.
Additionally the university has a dedicated MA in Creative Education which focuses specifically on educational practice and research being undertaken within the creative arts.
Many of our academic staff have come from professional practitioner backgrounds and bring their own experience of industry to the HE environment. This can make for really exciting interventions where technology and arts combine to create meaningful learning experiences. We’ve recently blogged about some of these current activities, such as Project Tango and Slack for assessment.
Unsurprisingly the abundance of specialist academics allows for diverse approaches to teaching and learning to exist within the University. Working closely with academic teams allows us to have an excellent overall view of the types of teaching practice occurring on modules at Falmouth and their impact on student learning.
Both of these example projects recognise the importance of discovery and play as part of creative educational experiences. Children are taught the benefits of discovery through play at a very early age, companies such as Tech Will Save Us introduce coding concepts to children through physical construction of technology. While for adults, Lego advocates its serious play method (LSP) to encourage individuals to creatively engage with concepts and ideas using Lego construction.
From a staff development perspective having a safe constructive environment to experiment and trial creative educational approaches is essential. So pause, reflect and find a creative experience that might work for you in your teaching.