Learning Technology jottings at Goldsmiths

Thoughts and deeds

Archive for December 2010

learn.gold and more – drop-in sessions for staff

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Drop-in sessions to find out about learn.gold, Mahara and other learning technologies, including e-voting, multimedia for learning, designing online peer learning, deterring and detecting plagiarism, e-assessment and feedback, conferencing and more.

Around Goldsmiths, learn.gold, its portfolio and group-work counterpart Mahara, and other technologies are being used for:

• Conversations and debates
• Tutor and peer feedback on assessment
• Surveying and polling
• Collaboration and peer learning
• Presenting in different media
• Meeting and conferencing
• Tutors setting, collecting, assessing and feeding back on work
• Building portfolios
• Deterring and detecting plagiarism
• Organising and communicating
• Representing courses online
• Making resources available
• And much more

We are here to help you get started or become more advanced and ambitious.

We know that colleagues are very resourceful, but some of you have told us that you feel you are muddling through. We can help you save time and effort, future-proof your course areas, find not-so-obvious short cuts, and reconceive activities to take advantage of the online environment.

If you have any questions about learn.gold, Mahara or other learning technologies, or if you’d like to meet up with us to discuss ideas, organising sessions for your department, or to plan a new initiative, come and see us.

N.b. we’re varying the weekly times to improve colleagues’ opportunities. Please see the Goldsmiths Events Calendar for ongoing dates.

See the Goldsmiths Events Calendar for dates and times.

Written by Mira Vogel

December 22, 2010 at 17:41

Styling Moodle

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A presentation by Matthew Cannings.

Recommended for anybody feeling overly constrained by the appearance of their Moodle (here, learn.gold) area.

Written by Mira Vogel

December 14, 2010 at 18:17

Posted in learn.gold

Moodle 2.0 – some screen capture videos

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From moodle.org 17 back-to-back videos introducing Moodle 2.0, to which we intend to upgrade this summer.

Written by Mira Vogel

December 3, 2010 at 11:55

Posted in moodle

Which ICT innovations could be disruptive to current higher education?

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One of the things about working in the area of e-learning is that you’re exposed to so many radical innovations that you have to be careful to keep your perspective about the difference between where they are and where we are now (while also, of course, being unendingly enthusiastic about the possibilities).

So when the JISC Observatory posed the follow question:

“We invite you to contribute to a brainstorm on the question: “Which ICT-based innovations are potentially disruptive to current models of higher education (forms of teaching, assessment, course structure, estate, research and research management, student management, etc…)?”

I wondered what the responses would be.

The survey consists of some paragraph responses, followed by some drag and drop questions which get you evaluating other (anonymous) responses. It’s interesting to see what other people thought. The deadline is December 10th 2010, so there’s plenty of time to think about it and respond.

I committed myself to two predictions. The first was to do with the open access movement and I wrote the following:

“It’s probably going to be this that focuses educational policy-makers’ minds on what makes higher learning distinct from the provision of materials and knowledge objects, and stimulates a diversification into the genuinely constructivist approaches to teaching and assessment that are already widespread in creative subjects like Design and Drama. If open access wins out over the current holding patterns of commercial providers, HEIs won’t have to provide materials for students any more – there will already be plenty out there, and in fact offering them on a plate will be denying students an opportunity because I think the HEI educator’s role (coming into sharper focus) will be much more about helping students identify good questions, turn those into objectives, work out what they need to do meet those objectives, find good supporting resources (material, human, infrastructure, etc) and put them into service. Assessment will still be about currency, accuracy, completeness etc, but much more it will be about how students can see clearly, work systematically and hunt out meaning in the glut of information.”

Of course, many educators already work like this – but in the face of opposing pressures such as forms of assessment, fees, some interpretations of the employability agenda, and some students’ expectations. Natalie Dohn (2009) writes about the consequent inertia of higher education institutions and their enduring view of learning as acquisitionist, having an “individualistic, objectivistic view of knowledge and competence” as “an individually possessed object which can be transferred between practices” as if higher learning could be boiled down to skills.

The second prediction was to do with the onlinification of the lecture. I wrote:

“There’s going to be a renewed interest in distance learning which will be mainly to do with the financial impetus to investigate new markets. The sector will begin to deeply understand the difference between technology-enabled distance learning and face-to-face learning, and the strengths and limitations of each. I think one-to-many lectures where students sit together but without interacting, will become rarer and rarer, limited to presenters who are both eminent in their area and also phenomenal live educators that way. Lecturing as we know it – where students sit silently listening to a academic at the front, without interacting together – will start to seem like a missed opportunity. I think what will happen is that students will be required to watch and listen to anything that can be transmitted in advance of the contact sessions, and it will only be carrying out these weekly tasks which enables them to fully participate in their course. Students will be required to work hard in every session, and they will be interdependent on each other. Face to face students in some disciplines will be joined by students connecting at a distance, and there will be a heightened appreciation of the role of togetherness in learning, which will begin to be educationally designed for. I worry that this will lead to segregation, by income, into face-to-face students who can pay for more opportunities to interact in person, and distance learning students who will have less interaction.”

I could have also mentioned freely available online communication and authoring tools (including multimedia editing and mashup tools) which will allow for different forms of assessment, and help to place more emphasis on process of authoring rather than just the finished product.

I ran out of steam for the next written answer questions, but then arrived at an interesting drag and drop question where you decide where to position others’ responses in relation to an epicentre of impact. Other people had mentioned open access and open data, and then there were mobile technologies and cloud computing, but the responses I positioned closest to the centre were the things whose use would prevent us from reproducing what we are already doing, or which I thought might dramatically catalyse existing social phenomena. I was bamboozled by the idea of brain enhancement. Sounds too expensive to be disruptive any time soon.

For a mixture of futurology and here-and-now see also this year’s Edge World Question Center’s annual question: how is the internet changing the way you think?

I’ll post the findings here once they’re published.


Dohn, N.B., 2009. Web 2.0: Inherent tensions and evident challenges for education. International Journal of Computer-Supported Collaborative Learning, 4(3), 343-363.

Written by Mira Vogel

December 1, 2010 at 20:26

The Welcome Project – improved induction at Goldsmiths

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Induction in higher education has traditionally been front-loaded at the beginning of the first year when we bombard students with information over one short week, after which they’re expected to know all they need to participate fully in their course and in student life. It’s been a class mistake of confusing being told things with knowing those things.

Consequently academic and academic support colleagues at Goldsmiths successfully proposed a project on induction as part of the Higher Education Academy’s Enhancement Academy Programme, and completed ‘The Welcome Project’ to design a new form of holistic induction which extends from the point of a students’ first inquiry well into their courses, anticipating needs, joining up the work of the different stakeholders at Goldsmiths, and diversifying communication modes.

Watch a video in which the people involved talk about the aims and outcomes of Goldsmiths’ Enhancement Academy project. The induction conference mentioned towards the end happened in September 2010, and you can see the presentations archived on Goldsmiths Learning Enhancement Unit site.

See other institutions’ Enhancement Academy Projects on different aspects of higher learning and teaching.

Written by Mira Vogel

December 1, 2010 at 12:26