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.
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.
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.
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: email@example.com
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.
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.
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.
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
A couple of weeks ago I had the pleasure of spending the day with Head of Business School, Jeremy Richards to go through the course design process for one of the modules on the new Leasing and Asset Finance, MA.
This kind of course design can be described as a course or learning design retreat. It is a day, or two depending on requirements, where the teaching team can get away from their desks and the distractions of the day to day. With support from a range of specialist staff they build or re-design taught modules by working through learning design activities which focus on elements of the module; all building up to a storyboard, an action plan and some prototype learning activities.
In practice, Jeremy found that the first stages of the process worked well, and helped to either re-define, refine, or solidify ideas that have been thought of before the workshop. We were building a module that had already been validated so were limited in terms of things could we change ie. learning outcomes, assessment weightings etc.
First of all we worked through the ‘Mission Statement’ part of the process where Jeremy boiled down into a couple of sentences what the overall aim of the module is. Doing this helps to focus the mind on the essential aspects without getting caught up with the details.
Next up, we jumped straight into an activity to think about how the module will be run, and what the main ethos, or the main ‘look and feel’ of it is. We did this by going through the Jisc / Open University Learning Design Initiative card sort activity where we sorted the cards into three piles; the ‘yes’, the ‘maybe’, and the ‘no’ piles. The idea is to decide if the wording on the card is something to include in the design of the module, or not. Once we had the three piles, we were ruthless and narrowed it down to 6 ‘must haves’. You can also create your own cards if there isn’t one that describes something you need.
enables the teaching team to work towards a consensus on the type of learning experience they want to create
provides a common language to help talk about how they like to teach – particularly for teaching strategies that are based on more of a tacit experience. Sorting the cards stimulates discussion about them: what do you mean by …? how does that work? why is that the best approach? This discussion is useful for skill sharing and ideas for personal development, as well as narrowing down the most effective approaches for the context.
brings the learners into the heart of the conversation, as choices need to be made about what learning approaches they might use, and what kinds of support they might need.
helps to ensure that the team are considering all the elements that make up a balanced module.
Next up comes ‘constructive alignment and backwards design’. The idea behind this stage is to jump to the end of the module, or stage within the module, and think about what it is that you’re aiming for the student to have achieved, how they might get to that point, and what knowledge they need to have or gain to get there. This focuses the mind on the aims and outcomes of the module, and how the team will help the students achieve them, whilst starting to flesh out the initial vision for the module into a more structured pathway.
The first building block in this stage focuses on the learning outcomes for the module. The learning outcomes can be considered the most important element of the module as they define the parameters of what will be covered, help the student to understand what’s expected, and what will be assessed.
Because the learning outcomes had already been validated for this module we were very limited in terms of what could change, so we had a chat about them and made sure they’re set at the correct level, and the language and relation to assessment is appropriate in relation to the previous tasks above. If the outcomes had not already been validated then this is where we would spend time designing them. Bloom’s taxonomy action verbs come in handy when deciding on appropriate language to describe the level at which the students need to work.
Next up, we went through the assessment design stage. Assessment tasks are designed in relation to the learning outcomes above and the look and feel. We talked about the ways in which we do and do not want to assess the students, the kinds of attitudes and behaviour the assessment should encourage eg. leadership, risk-taking, and then how self and peer assessment will be build in. At this point we also thought about how technology will be used to facilitate the tasks.
The Storyboarding activity is fun and engaging and can often be the one element that takes the most time. This was certainly the case with the Leasing and Asset Finance module we were working on. We used flip chart paper and post-its to create a timeline of the module, mainly focusing on it from the point of view of the student. We thought about how the module should be broken down and what the main aims of each element of it should be. Then we started populating the timeline (using different coloured post-it notes) with activities, resources, tutor responsibilities and assessment points to create a holistic overview. From this you get a sense of the workload and are able to move the post-its around to plan contact time and make sure that appropriate time is allocated to a more complicated element of learning, for example.
The main aims of storyboarding out a module are around sequencing, alignment and coherence by mapping out the themes, learning activities and assessment items – what students need to know, how they will learn it, and how they will show that they have learned it (that constructive alignment idea again!). The idea is to create a logical sequence of activity, or learning journey, that allows the student to build knowledge, skills and understanding so that they can be demonstrated through assessment. We then look in detail how that learning might happen, and what kinds of activities can be put in place to support it.
This is as far as we have got up until now so the next stages will come later. We will start to work on the learning activities themselves. Are they activities that can or should happen inside or outside the classroom; online or face to face; will technology be used to facilitate them? – it’s important to incorporate technology into your teaching to develop digital capabilities/literacies. EdTech can help with this as it’s important to remember that part of this process to develop your skills as well! So, we will build at least one online activity in Learning Space in the session so that expertise in the room is used to support its development, and there will be an activity that can be used in the actual delivery of the module.
We will also develop an action plan to plan out the development of the rest of the activities and the delivery of them.
We’re looking forward to it!
Get in touch with us if you would like to organise a course/learning design session for your course or module.
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