Group texting/SMS

We’ve updated the Student SMS functionality in Learning Space to facilitate sending of group texts.

So if students have added their mobile numbers to their profile and you have groups set up in the course/module you will be able to send a text to a group.

You might use this to contact project/year groups and each message is logged, so you have a history of the text and when the text was sent. Contact the team for more information on getting Student SMS set up.

A Lens on… play for learning

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.

Play is an essential part of childhood development. Play encourages social, physical, cultural, emotional and mental development and is enshrined in the United Nations Rights of the Child (UNCRC, 1989). It is defined as activity associated with recreational enjoyment or pleasure and can be voluntary or intrinsically motivated. It is appealing to play as it has less construct and there isn’t a right or wrong way to do it.

Play isn’t confined to childhood as Chrissi Nerantzi, Principal Lecturer in Academic CPD at MMU notes “Play helps us go back to who we really are as human beings, full of life, curiosity and wonder. Creatures who are not afraid to be different, even silly at times and ready to try different things.”

Within the University, space needs to be created to facilitate play. This could be through accredited routes such as a PGCHE or through educational development workshops. At Falmouth, we’ve seen constructs from PGCHE cohorts of paper aeroplanes and boats, giant bubbles, campus maps made of waste materials, pop up galleries and bridges built out of straws that have resulted from collaborative challenges and playful activities.

Technology can facilitate and encourage play through game based apps or by using devices to document processes, communicate and collaborate with each other. Our ‘Hunger Games’ scavenger hunt creates a space in which to play with communications technology and the team provide iPads and logins for common social networks, so staff can have a go without signing up for services. Using Open Source Technologies might also facilitate this. For example, you might set up Pinry to explore Pinterest like curation or Diaspora as a short messaging alternative to Twitter. Sandstorm also lets you play with a range of web tools, without having to install or configure them.

Play lends itself to a constructivist approach, where the learner is the information constructor and learning can happen through multiple attempts and failures. Lego Serious Play has been used in the business and education sectors for a number of years now and facilitates the creation of lego artifacts to promote shared understanding of a concept or goal. The first playful learning conference took place this year and there is also a G+ Community for playful learners.

Institutions and individuals need to make space to play, as it can help us reflect upon and transform our educational practices in new and creative ways. For more information on any of the approaches and tools listed, contact the team.

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Importance of collaboration in Educational Technology

Educational technology is a vast field, the individuals who work within this area are often as diverse as the topics they cover. From online assessment to user experience, learning design to technology best practice, we work in a diverse environment. Within the University environment there are several ways learning technology practitioners are embedded into an institution, most commonly this involves either having a centralised department, using a hub and spoke method or assigning individuals at a departmental level. 

How departments are structured ultimately affects how learning technologists collaboratively work together, and while this is important within the context of a University it’s often outside of your own institution that these opportunities become more valuable. 

The learning technologists, designers, educators and developers who make up the learning tech community are some of the most collaborative people I know. Keen to swap best practice advice and tips with others working in education and providing a sounding board for innovation and educational enhancement ideas. You only have to look at initiatives such as #LTHEChat to see the benefits of a collaborative virtual meeting of minds. 

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Similarly collectives such as ALT’s special interest groups (pictured above) make it possible for individuals to come together for a common goal. Making the effort to attend meetups and conferences either physically or virtually is a really important enabler for collaboration in any field. These connections can be especially useful should you need input from others who might have experience implementing certain technologies at an institutional level or if you want to bounce ideas around with someone else working in the same area as you.  

As a team we’re always up for collaborating and see its value in driving forward change in learning technology. Should you wish to get in touch we can be reached by email: etsupport@falmouth.ac.uk

#AltC 2016

This year, I had the opportunity alongside two colleagues from our Ed.Tech and wider ICT team to attend the Association for Learning Technologies conference. ALT are a professional network of those interested in Ed. Tech. across all areas of education.

I captured my experience on Twitter and by making notes in our team’s slack channel and I bring them together here in my Storify of #AltC 2016.

A lens on…Digital Identity

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.

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Digital capabilities: the six elements

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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.

Additional Resources:

Audrey Waters talks about DoOO in the context of a post-ownership society

https://klout.com – Improve Social Skills

http://www.open.ac.uk/libraryservices/beingdigital/objects/20/index.htm My digital Identity: making a good impression online

Falmouth in Focus – Fashion Photography

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 Fashion Photography within the Fashion and Textiles Institute. ET caught up with Senior Lecturer, Clare Ball to discuss how technology is used to enhance learning in the subject area and specifically in relation to the JISC/NUS Good Practice Principle, ‘Prepare Students for Digital Workspaces’ :

Image by Eliot Baker BA (Hons) Fashion Photography

As educators we need to ensure the systems we provide to support or enhance learning are actually systems that benefit the students, that are keeping current with methods used in industry environments and that connect with the ways students interact with technology, which is very different to the ways we might interact as tutors.

We ensure that we are integrating the use of the VLE (Learning Space) with all teaching, for example all content is available on the VLE and students are directed here as a point to ask questions in forums etc. as a method to encourage discussion and community.

We also encourage the use of mobile devices to document work and have designed an induction activity that tasks student’s with documenting the local area to help orientate themselves and each other. They post pictures to social media throughout the activity and it ends with an evening of games on the beach, so students are interacting with each other online and in person.

Alongside Learning Technologies, students are expected to be able to use industry standard applications, such as Adobe’s Creative Suite.  To fully understand a large post-production tool like Adobe Photoshop takes time and practice – therefore the teaching of this is embedded into every project with an encouragement to build on the techniques learned in these sessions.  We also give students the opportunity to practice skills under guidance and supervision in workshop sessions.

To ‘Prepare students for digital workspaces’ is something we concentrate heavily on in the 3rd year of the course as, for Fashion Photography, an effective online presence is essential to attract clients and promote work.  We support and encourage our students to develop their ‘professional’ social media sites and websites etc. to ensure they have a solid digital presence prior to graduation. However there is only so much that can be taught within each specific course. Many key areas mentioned in the JISC/NUS benchmarking document could not be covered within the course structure but would be massively beneficial, for example enabling “Students [to] produce professional quality digital artefacts and showcase these in public spaces”.  

I believe it would be a great benefit to students to have access to learning, support and guidance that would help them to further develop their online promotion as an extra curricular offer.  No student can be a master of all areas; website design and online marketing are huge areas to tackle on top becoming proficient in their chosen subject area and so having a specific resource that could offer this service I feel would ensure students from all subject disciplines could begin to have this professional quality of online presence on graduation.

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