PGCHE Summer School

It’s that time of year again where the Falmouth PGCHE is nearly at an end, and its Summer School takes place. The week long timetable consists of workshops, practical sessions and activities for the participants.

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Last week EdTech were invited to contribute for a day in a similar way as last year. The day was split into two parts; the first focused mainly on the application of technology in teaching, and the theory behind it. We promoted a participative session and had some activities planned out.

First of all, participants were asked to Google each other and then introduce the other person based on the information they found out. It was interesting to see the results of these searches, some revealed surprising information, and some revealed that there are still people out there who avoid putting information about themselves online!

Next we had some thought provoking discussion around the digital footprint and how it affects personal and professional identities. This led into digital capabilities and how we (as mentors and teachers) can promote effective use of technology for more than just engaging in social media activities. We discussed how EdTech can help to scaffold learning to make the best use of technology, and facilitate the use of proven methods of course/learning design to ensure alignment and appropriateness.

We then introduced the room to David White’s Visitors and Residents concept and we all took part in mapping out how we engage with digital tools. It highlighted some interesting decisions we all make regarding our use of tools, particularly social ones, and how we either ‘lurk’ or contribute (and leave a mark). We considered how we apply these decisions in our professional practice and how they affect our digital footprint, but also see how the networks and tools we use create a flow of information about us, our practice and activities.

The morning ended on a fun note to sum up. We used Kahoot to recap some highlights of the day and promise some fun for the afternoon session.

We used the same ‘Hunger Games’ activity as last year; we split into teams where one member remained behind at ‘HQ’ and the others went out into the ‘arena’ to scavenge for prizes. The person left behind at HQ received clues as to the location of each prize and needed to relay it to their team members in the arena using only digital tools (ie. not phone calls or SMS texting). Prizes could only be claimed by taking a selfie with the prize and posting it to the dedicated @District1Fal twitter account.

The activity is a demonstration of using technology immersively whilst highlighting the challenges and benefits to using mobile technology and the apps available, and the reliability of WiFi on campus. Things to be mindful of when designing learning and teaching activities for your students, and when thinking about students’ expectations and assumptions when they come to University. Have a look at the Storify summary of what we got up to.

Altogether an enjoyable and useful day for both us and the participants (they told us so!) and we are already looking forward to 2017!

Falmouth in Focus: Creative Advertising

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 Creative Advertising within the School of Communication Design and one of the first pure Creative Advertising undergraduate degrees in Europe.

Jono Wardle, Senior Lecturer in Creative Advertising, discusses his use of tools and technologies to support the student experience below, based on building a response to the Jisc Digital Benchmarking principle ‘use digital systems to build a sense of belonging’.


I am focusing on the ‘use digital systems to build a sense of belonging’ benchmark because I’ve seen how digital systems can sometimes isolate some students, for whatever reasons, and I believe we have managed to go someway to enhance our students’ sense of belonging (and overall student experience) by using the most appropriate digital platform for all students today – Facebook.

Five years ago I was frustrated that some students failed to pick up their emails regularly or that their email boxes were so so full they couldn’t access them. I knew that they used texts all the time so I tried SMS messaging but there were technical difficulties on site (lack of signal!) and I couldn’t send links very easily etc. Then I tried Facebook (FB). I have never used Facebook before but my colleague and I set up a course page and asked all the students to sign up to it. At first there were suspicions, as some institutions were actually using FB to spy on their absent students,  so we showed the students how to manage their privacy settings and vowed never to try to look at their own pages. Next we made FB student groups within the course and got our past graduates to join an alumni group as well.

Students and staff could post anything they wanted as long as it was course/subject related either on our wall or to their group. General questions from students ranging from “when’s the hand-in?” to “does anyone know who created the original Volkswagen campaign?” appeared on a daily basis. Students started to support each other, rather than going directly to tutors. The dissertation students started their own discussion group and  a social sub-group formed for organising ‘extra-curricular activities’. Staff could post links and important information, room changes could be shared instantaneously with targeted groups and individuals and the course began to run a lot, lot smoother. A real sense of community began to emerge, especially with alumni chipping in too.

I have learnt a lot from student postings when they find new innovative work online and share it with the cohort and we post work placement opportunities and competitions. Also, FB has been very useful on study trips for keeping in touch with each other real time via smart phones. In short, the course couldn’t run as well as it does without it. (100% student satisfaction last year.)

There has been a mixed response from members of academic staff on other courses but as far as I’m concerned if it works, it works. I think the institution feels uncomfortable about using FB, but to me it’s like feeling uncomfortable about using Youtube as a learning tool because of it’s association with the evils of big business or frivolous kitten videos.

Most importantly, it works for our students. I think the key to successfully using online ‘tools’ is following where the target market (students) goes rather than trying to impose methods/tools in an institutional way…


This is a really intriguing real world example of creating a sense of belonging through technology. Institutional technologies, don’t always support social learning and Facebook, particularly the groups functionality, seems to work really well. Involving students in the process, is important to the NUS and the HEA and is broadly a feature of ‘outstanding’ practice in the JISC/NUS Digital Benchmark tool. Engaging in relevant social web technologies in a professional manner is also an important skill for staff and students to develop.

The approach to learning technology is key here. You could just as easily be using Twitter, Slack, WordPress etc etc, but by working with students and iterating as you go along, you find the perfect middle ground.

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

Reviving module content using Learning Space reports

Inbuilt within Learning Space is the option of multiple reports that track activity within a module page. This monitoring feature can be particularly useful if you are wanting to gain an insight into the popularity of content or to track use of a activity, such an assessment hand-in point. 

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Tracking engagement and module activity helps teaching staff to reflect on the activities and resources made available to students through the learning environment. As an example using the Activity report academic staff are able to check the amount of views per resource, along with most last accessed information. Using this information staff are able to assess and evaluate content, in addition to keeping resources current. 

Reports can also be used to track an individual’s engagement, highlighting their activity or actions of a specific resource. Additionally real time reports are available should you need specific information, detailed to the minute they are particularly useful for monitoring online assessment. 

Should you wish to make use of the report function within Learning Space we’ve created a guide to give an overview of all the options available, and as always the team are on hand to advise if you have any questions or queries. 

Guide – Using Reports to Evaluate Module Content

etsupport@falmouth.ac.uk      

MoodleMoot 2016

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Moodle logo by Oliver Tacke

MoodleMoot is the annual conference for users of Moodle and the 22nd-24th March saw the UK event take place in Dublin. Falmouth’s Learning Space, like the majority of VLEs in the UK is built upon Moodle, so it is an excellent opportunity to find out more about upcoming features and how other HEIs are using the platform.

The first day usually takes the form of a HackFest, where participants explore and develop with Moodle functionality. Key themes for this year were Learning Analytics, Assessment and MOOC Design.

The main conference begins on day two with themes including Adoption where Middlesex University talked about inclusive learning, academic and professional service partnerships and analytics tools like Tableau to monitor and drive engagement. Within the Develop strand, the Open University presented on their new theme and also developing a tool to deliver VLE material in multiple formats which provides better accessibility for students. Check out the OU #Mootie16 write up for more. The importance of User Experience (UX) design and usability testing was also raised. Administration covered Southampton Solent’s approach to rollover and why they don’t undertake it (each module having a start and end date, students and staff can then access old modules up to 3 years).

Other interesting presentations came from Dublin City University on their measures of Blended Learning in moodle which include; content transfer, assessment, interaction and collaboration. UCL have been trialling ‘My Feedback’ to present students with one source of feedback across assessed activities. Cranfield University are using Open Badges to improve TurnItIn Inductions and Portsmouth are looking at ways to manage large file submissions for creative subject areas. Portsmouth’s current approach is to use Google Classroom in conjunction with moodle, something we had also demonstrated for Falmouth last year.

The Moodle website documents some of the major features of the platform. Contact the team if you are interested to use these within your course. In addition, twice a year the community runs a the Learn Moodle MOOC that helps educators create courses and learning activities and peer review the work of colleagues across the globe.

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