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 email@example.com
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 – firstname.lastname@example.org