The 38th Heads of E-Learning Forum (HeLF) meeting was held at the University of Birmingham on 9th June, 2016. It was the first HeLF event I have organised as a new member of the HeLF Steering Group.
The focus of the meeting was Enabling Strategic Change and it included a panel discussion on TEL strategies, groups discussions on policies and frameworks, as well as 5 short presentations. There are resources from the meeting on the HeLF website. I was really pleased with how it went on the day and particularly with the large number of people I managed to encourage to present and facilitate sessions – 14 in total. So many thanks to Mark Gamble, Fiona Strawbridge, Chris Turnock, Peter Bryant, Stella Ekebuisi, Catherine Naamani, Sue Gill, Brian Irwin, Uwe Richter, Alicia Mcconnell, Sarah Hayes, Sarah Davies, Rob Howe, and Amber Thomas, for making it a successful day.
Dashboards, metrics and interventions, my overview of Learning Analytics presented at UWL’s Academic Partnerships Conference.
I presented this on March 17th 2016 at the annual UWL conference for staff from our Partner institutions. As expected there was a lively discussion when we got on to the issues and challenges section of the presentation.
An Overview of Learning Analytics
Click image to view presentation (new window)
I ended my presentation with a summary of the recommendations from the Higher Education Commission’s January 2016 From Bricks to Clicks report. There are 12 recommendations in total. These are the five I highlighted:
Consider introducing LAs driven by improvement of L&T processes & student engagement
Support LAs with clear codes of practice including fully informed consent
Review internal data management. Ensure data is fit-for-purpose
Ensure digital literacy, capability and data management are integral to overall strategic plan
Towards the end of this event the conversation moved off MOOCs and onto online learning more generally which was most welcome. But let’s deal with MOOCs briefly before moving on to some challenges ahead.
Despite the passage of time (18-months), which includes the launch of Future Learn, this morning it didn’t feel like the conversation around MOOCs had changed much since I blogged my report (7 things about MOOCs & UK HE) from a UUK May 2013 event. OK, that’s a bit unfair, the hype has certainly died down.
The last session of today’s event was where the real challenges ahead were aired. This was the best session with the panelists, in particular @bobharrisonset & @HelenBarefoot, as well as @MarkRussell from the floor, making important points which might be paraphrased as:
Online is central in the future of education
MOOCs may be one small part of that but they shouldn’t be the focus of our discussion or actions now.
We need to focus on both capacity- and capability-building to ensure our institutions are in a position to deliver online education (whatever off-campus / on-campus blend that may be).
Three key area to address are staff digital and online teaching skills, student digital and online learning skills and our institutional processes (which are generally set-up for campus-based, single entry, fixed period courses rather than online provision).
This will require strong governance and leadership.
It is a big cultural not technological challenge.
A couple more things from today:
Amara‘s Law – highlighted by @urbangenie “We tend to overestimate the effect of a technology in the short run and underestimate the effect in the long run”
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.
A look back at social media use at the ALT-C conference over the years. Very much personal recollections, certainly not a definitive history. Later today I’ll be heading to Nottingham for the ALT-C conference #altc2013 It’s ALT’s 20th conference which makes me feel like a relative newbie to the field of learning technology. My first ALT-C was in Sunderland in 2002, about which I remember very little – David Puttnam and the Stadium of Light. My first Social Media ALT-C My first social media fueled ALT-C was 2008 in Leeds and I think that’s the conference where social media first featured heavily. There was stuff going on before that (e.g. see #altc2006 photos on Flickr, #altc2007 RSS Yahoo Pipe) but a minority sport I think (I didn’t attend between 2003 & 2008, so can’t be sure). By 2008 I’d been messing quite a lot with blogs, wikis, Facebook, RSS and the like – I’d run my first social media workshop in 2006 “Social Software: Blog it, Digg it, Poke it!”.
At the time of #altc2008 one of my tools of choice was Netvibes. Ahead of the conference I created this ALT-C 2008 Netvibes page and compiled an OPML file (collection of RSS) from it for others to subscribe to. I also created a conference wiki with Kris Roger (an LSE colleague) & Athina Chatzigavriil (UCL & future LSE colleague) to collate comments from delegates to help us write the 2008 Conference Review for the ALT Newsletter. The conference also featured Crowdvine which continued to be used as the conference site until last year. Crowdvine made a a lot of use of RSS and enabled delegates to add their various social media channels to their profiles e.g. my 2008 profile. The 2008 conference also saw the development of a conference Fringe with the introduction of F-ALT. I particularly remember the Edubloggers meet-up where I first met many people who have since featured heavily in my social media network. Talking of which, Twitter also arrived on the ALT-C scene at the 2008 conference with 310 hash-tagged tweets. See Twitter at ALT-C below. While ALT’s Youtube channel now features recordings from 2008, they weren’t actually added until 2011. I helped Seb Schmoller set-up the ALT YouTube channel in 2009 and the first uploaded video was Making Group-Work Work from the 2009 conference. Working as a WPC at ALT-C For the 2010 & 2011 ALT-Cs I was one of the four Web Participation Co-ordinators. This was a new role on the conference programme committee tasked with helping make the most of the online aspects of the conference including social media, crowdvine and the live streaming. I didn’t attend the 2010 conference in Nottingham in person but was very active from afar and did a lot of tweeting from the official @A_L_T Twitter account which I’d helped get off the ground in 2009. Twitter Usage at ALT-C Although Twitter featured earlier, as the chart shows it was 2009 that it really took off as the backchannel tool of choice.
These numbers have been taken from topsy.com and for each year I’ve counted the number of tweets tagged within the same calendar year that included #altc20xx, altc20xx, or #altcxx. Despite a slight dip last year there has already been much more pre-conference tweeting in 2013. At the time of writing – lunchtime, the day before the conference, there are 1186 tweets for ALT-C 2013. I suspect the number of tweets will increase again this year despite the growth of other networks such as Google+. Top of the Tweeters
2007 – @mmetcalfe (1 tweet)
2008 – @andypowe11 (51)
2009 – @jamesclay (252)
2010 – @dajbconf (333)
2011 – @digitalfprint (423)
2012 – @digitalfprint (403)
Updated 08/10/2014 with the following tweet from @mhawksey: