I’ll look ahead to the 2020s tomorrow but briefly it’s useful (for me at least) to consider the last 10-years or so.
Perhaps not unsurprisingly a lot of the consultation discussion has focused on the VLE. A student’s digital learning environment is, of course, much broader than institutionally provided systems (and today our institutional systems extend way beyond the VLE).
Looking back 10-years or so… could we ever have imagined today’s digital learning environment?
Err, yes. And no.
Ten-years ago I was at the LSE and for the majority there I’d say the institutionally provided digital learning environment was very much the VLE, some library e-resources and desktop-based software. From 2005-8 we investigated, piloted and implemented Moodle (replacing WebCT). Alongside that we dabbled with blogs, elgg (remember that??) and a little later I think, Second Life.
Ten years later and the 2016 VLE is little changed. Overall usage has grown, and the VLE’s use for e-assessment in particular, but what the systems actually do, look-like and enable… not so much. They are certainly recognisable. One area of change, in terms of systems, has been the arrival of new online tools and services, which have extended the institutional digital learning environment. I’m thinking of lecture recording and e-portfolios in particular.
Why not? It’s easy to blame the systems shortcomings and they could be better. But innovative practitioners who want to try new things, can do, even if it requires some clunky work-arounds. The inertia and lack of change ultimately comes down to people and the approach to teaching and learning at our institutions.
Two big changes
The big change we (certainly I) didn’t foresee in the mid-2000s was the social media (aka web2.0) explosion and the participatory nature of the Internet we have today. It was September 2006 when UK universities first got access to Facebook and not until 2008 that Twitter really took off. The bigger digital learning environment has changed dramatically in contrast to university provided tools.
A change we knew was coming, which is central to digital learning environments today was mobile. (Although personally in 2010 I suggested the iPad would never catch-on).
That will have to do for today. Tomorrow I’ll finally get to the #ngdle questions that Jisc are asking, the overarching one being:
What should the next generation of digital learning environments do?
Update: Never got around to writing that post and answering the questions. The time has passed. Oh well.
Some thoughts on the Jisc co-design consultation. Hopefully I’ll get beyond part 1 before the initial consultation closes on Friday.
There’s a lot of social media chatter about #codesign16 at the moment which is the Jisc Co-design consultation. So first things first… what are Jisc asking and why…
Essentially they are trying to decide what their future R&D project focus should be and which might be turned into technology services for their ‘members’ (aka subscribers).
Jisc are currently focused on three research and development projects:
research data shared service
They are looking for the next set of projects and the co-design consulation is part of this process. It aims to produce:
Ideas for technology services that we could deliver to Jisc members to help them improve education and research
Jisc have proposed 6 areas for the community to discuss, some of which (three?) will be taken forward when the winners are announced in February 2017, followed by projects from March onwards. The 6, in no particular order, are:
What does the imminent arrival of the intelligent campus mean for universities and colleges?
What should the next generation of digital learning environments do?
What should a next-generation research environment look like?
Which skills do people need to prepare for research practice now and in the future?
What would truly digital apprenticeships look like?
How can we use data to improve teaching and learning?
That’s it for now. In part 2 (hopefully tomorrow) I hope to share some thoughts on the one that interests me most – number 2 or #ngdle
For now, having read up on the ultimate purpose of #codesign16 – ideas for technology services – one wonders would Jisc considering entering the VLE, sorry DLE market.
My keynote & highlights from the 2014 University of Hertfordshire Teaching & Learning Conference.
I was delighted to be invited to speak at Hertfordshire’s conference on Learning & Teaching Innovations. For my keynote I was asked to look forward and outline the likely impact of technology on the HE learning landscape in the next 5-10 years. Crystal Ball stuff. More of that in a moment.
It was an excellent conference, and I have to say (sorry City, sorry LSE) easily the best university Teaching & Learning Conference I have attended. It was well-attended, almost 300 staff I believe, but what really stood out was the enthusiasm for teaching and for TEL. This came out in both the presentations and the discussions.
In a similar vein my favourite session was one on the use of Pecha Kucha for assessment. I’ve written about Pecha Kucha before but this was the first time I’ve seen it used for summative assessment. In the session we were treated to two PKs – one by the tutor, David Turner and then an excellent (Grade 83%) one on Bill Shankley & Cultural Identity by one of the students. Having tried it before myself I cannot stress enough how good both PKs were as I know how difficult it is. Four of the students then answered questions on their experiences. They had found the assessment tough, more work than other assignments but hugely rewarding and beneficial – not just for their academic studies but also in terms of confidence for forthcoming interviews for example.
Blended – not particularly new nor innovative, but there is a real renaissance in online learning at the moment, in part due to the hype around MOOCs. The next few years will undoubtedly see a significant increase in the online aspect of the face-to-face / online blend.
Gamification – the application of gaming mechanics & psychology to education, such as ‘rewards’ as a motivating factor. Digital Badges are an example of this.
Learning Analytics – the collection, analysis & reporting of data about learners and learning contexts. Student (progress) dashboards are one aspect of this but there are many applications, for example the use of analytics to inform curriculum re-design.
Students as Producers – variously interpreted but essentially learning activities involving the creation of digital resources (beyond text) by students that are shared with peers; usually collaboratively and with some autonomy/student choice.
I gave a short ‘intro to MOOCs’ talk at the St Mary’s University College E-Learning Staff Development day on 17th July, organised by friend & ex-colleague Hervé Didiot-Cook. The slides don’t tell the whole story of course but they will give you a good idea of what I covered. More about the event in Easy Tools Please on TED team blog.
Report from the UUK May 2013 event: Open and online learning: Making the most of Moocs and other models.
This Universities UK event was aimed at senior staff in Higher Education (VCs, Pro-VCs, Registrars, Deans, Directors & the like). The delegates were mixed. I’d say around 50 UK HEIs were represented, by some of the above, but also a decent number of learning technology folk. The presenters included 4 VCs & the Universities Minister, David Willetts.
2) To MOOC or not to MOOC… that is not the question
I think the day’s central question was not whether to MOOC, but how to respond to MOOCs & the changes they may bring. What’s your institution’s strategy going to be to deal with the changes ahead?
Will you look to optimise the campus experience by embracing digital & increasing quality contact time (Don Nutbeam, VC, University of Southampton)?
Will you develop a broad portfolio of on-campus/off-campus/no-campus offerings (Jeff Hayward, VP Knowledge Management & CIO, University of Edinburgh)?
And of course, will you offer MOOCs? If yes, then is ‘which courses?’ a strategic decision or whoever fancies it?
3) Reasons to MOOC
Martin Bean (VC, Open University) suggested a number of reasons an institution might want to engage with MOOCs:
Stimulating innovation (see 4)
The University of Edinburgh, the only HEI to have already delivered a MOOC on one of the big US platforms describe their objectives as: gaining outreach to new audiences; experimentation with online delivery methods at large scale; reinforcing our position as a leader in the use of educational technology in HE. More on this & lots of statistics in their report published earlier this week: MOOCs @ Edinburgh 2013: Report #1
4) Teaching Innovation
While there has been wide criticism of the pedagogical quality of the new MOOCs, Wendy Purcell (VC, Plymouth University) suggested that digital developments are putting teaching upfront & central. She sees an opportunity for a positive repositioning of the value of teaching and development of new pedagogies. Sian Bayne (Associate Dean, University of Edinburgh), the only speaker to have taught a MOOC, commented that her Edinburgh Digital Cultures MOOC had offered a space for pedagogical innovation and that teaching it was invigorating.
The world of MOOCs is full of partners. Universities are partnering with delivery & marketing platforms such as Coursera & Udacity. Companies such as Pearson are partnering with them to proctor in-person exams (eg find a test centre for your edX MOOC). The sponsors of the UUK event were Academic Partnerships & 2U. Slightly different services, but both working with universities to develop & deliver online courses. David Willetts hopes that MOOC & industry partnerships will develop & potentially help with the UK skills gap (such as computer science).
6) Future (Learn)
Futurelearn is the under-development UK MOOC platform owned by the OU. It includes 20 university partners as well as the British Library, the British Council and the British Museum.
I was really looking forward to hearing more about Futurelearn with both Martin Bean & the launch CEO, Simon Nelson speaking. We didn’t learn much. Despite their claim that ‘this is not simply re-purposing existing content’ we heard little about building on the OU’s experience of learner support or delivering ‘teacher presence’; a challenge that speakers from Edinburgh & 2U had highlighted. Nor did we learn anything about the new platform. However, Stephen Jackson from QAA, did appear to confirm that FutureLearn will offer proctored exams.
7) Future (Unknown)
Udacity founder Sebastian Thrun has predicted that within 10-years job applicants will be touting Udacity degrees. Emma Leech (Director of Marketing & Recruitment, University of Nottingham) reminded us that Thrun’s claims go further; he has suggested that in 50 years there will be only 10 institutions in the world delivering higher education and Udacity has a shot at being one of them.
Crystal balls aside, it’s an exciting & challenging time ahead with new players, new partnerships & business models starting to emerge. One thing is clear, whether it’s MOOCs or enhancing campus courses, learning technologies & technologists have a central role to play.