Falmouth Digital Experience Tracker

Monday 5th December sees the launch of our Digital Experience tracker at Falmouth University. With Jisc, we’re joining over a hundred educational providers internationally to benchmark our student digital experience.

At Falmouth we’re also offering the opportunity to win an iPad Mini for taking part.

Students can fill in the 15 minute survey and forward their completion receipt to digital.experience@falmouth.ac.uk for a chance to win.

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We’re opening the tracker until Jan 30th and will be updating the digital signage around campus with response rates and themes. In February, those wishing to continue the conversation will be invited to focus groups to discuss some of the emerging issues and plan how to tackle them.

In April we’ll get an idea of the bigger picture through a comparison with other Universities and be able to benchmark our own Digital Experience at Falmouth.

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.

Falmouth in Focus – Professional Practice

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 Professional Practice sessions, that run alongside or as part of undergraduate modules.

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Mark Williams, Learning Technologist within Educational Technology discusses his involvement:

For the last few years, I’ve had the opportunity as the team’s Point Of Contact for the Falmouth School of Art and Academy of Music and Theatre Arts to work with students on our Fine Art, Theatre and Acting degrees on the theme of digital capabilities and building up an ecosystem of tools that support our professional practice.

The workshops cover aspects of digital identity, social media practice, horizon scanning and the intersection of art and technology and are aimed at students are who are considering their professional digital identities and creative outputs online.

For the Online Ecosystem workshop with Stage 3 students, I use a default session plan and presentation format which is updated for each session, and as part of open educational practice, everything is licensed through Creative Commons. I’ve recently added some contextual notes, so people can reuse/remix if they like. The sessions take direction from the students, so discussions relate to the subject area; especially those around target audiences and examples of current practice utilising technology.

Topical resources like the internet in real time help contextualise the session and provides an insight into the mass of creativity, content and data that we are sharing. Prior to the sessions students provide examples of social media and technology practice in their areas; such as Amanda Palmer’s work rethinking the relationship between artist and performer.

Depending on how long the session has been timetabled for, an optional task takes the form of planning and delivering a two minute Elevator Pitch on a new product that may or may not relate to the discipline. The focus here is on the ways in which technology can support promotion, communication and collaboration and the skills we might require in order to use it.

Feedback has been wholly positive. There exists a broad range of digital practice amongst students, particularly in the area of social media and these workshops have enabled those that are more experienced to support those that wish to know more. It is also an incredibly useful way to understand how we occupy the digital landscape; in the time since set up the workshops, mobile device ownership has increased from roughly 50-100% and technologies such as SnapChat stories and YikYak have emerged, facilitating new ways to broadcast and communicate information.

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