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JISC Learning & Teaching Practice Experts Group Meeting – 23 March 2011

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Notes from the 22nd JISC Learning & teaching Practice Experts Group Meeting, 23 March 2011, Maple House, Birmingham.

See also

Session 1

SLiDA project – how are institutions creating and enabling opportunities that promote the development of effective learning in a digital age?

Rhona Sharpe and Greg Benfield (Oxford Brookes)

SLiDA stands for ‘supporting learners in a digital age’ – a project which explored which ways of supporting learners need or benefit from an institutional approach. Maintains awareness of the tensions emerging from previous studies – for example the skills gap between staff and students.

Output was web-based case studies co-created by 9 institutions (eg Edinburgh, London Met, Wolverhampton – institutions committed into developing digital literacies) with the project team.

The synthesis report expands on five key initiatives across institutions

  • preparing students for learning in a digital age (e.g. CoLab at Uni of Surrey)
  • enabling learners to use their own devices (Birkenhead)
  • Reconfiguring spaces for social learning
  • Listening to learners (e.g. University of Surrey; Student Voice representatives at Uni of Glamorgan)
  • strategic emphasis on course design for ‘blended’ learning

The project inadvertently found out how institutions were implementing their strategies including: student-led policy-making – students as researchers and scopers; seed funding for many different projects.

Sticker activity followed- place stickers on several activities undertaken by some of the institutions with JISC funding, described on posters around the meeting room: green=already doing it and evaluating it; yellow=planning it; red=not doing it – then brief presentations from project teams on the colour spread.

  • Greg on learning spaces – half are green, and the rest are more yellow than red.
  • Megan (Wolverhampton) – Strategic emphasis on course design (digital literacy) more reds; course redesigns mostly yellow.
  • London Met – listening to learner voices – engaging students and supporting digital literacy – a quarter green, quarter red, half yellow
  • Abingdon – digital literacies. Universal introduction and embedding development – yellow, then red, then green.

Break-out – I sat with the reconfiguring spaces for social learning group

  • Edinburgh’s huge investment in space – recognition of advanced digital technologies and simple ones e.g. tables as whiteboard surfaces.
  • IT suites hide students behind monitors – fixed learning spaces are a problem for social activity; but when flexible spaces are open, they become individual rather than social, because one group’s activity can disturb others.
  • power
  • eventedness: the coming together at the same time is special
  • will there be a new effort to use technologies to replace rather than enrich?
  • James Clay – for every lap top trolley (charging point) they have, they need three; flip-up laptop desks (showed picture); tried a star approach (all facing in). Changing rooms involves an internal charge there – no institution-wide bookable pool
  • Little territories within institutions designed in isolation. For example, if you go to your Scolarest coffee shop, you need to be drinking coffee if you want to use it as a learning space.
  • Front presentation spaces; experience;
  • The idea of contact time constrains the idea of ‘flexibility’ (but to what extent is a social learning space also a flexible learning space?)

Feedback plenary

  • Working out what digital literacy means in a given handout.
  • How do you involve large numbers of stakeholders?
  • SMT needs to buy in to produce a college-wide digital literacy induction; makes a big impact on retention; should not be optional.
  • Ownership
  • (Is it that ‘stakeholders’ need some prior knowledge before they can make apposite contributions? Or is it down to the interpretative skills of the planners and policy-makers.)

See also

  • New Feb 11 briefing paper on transforming curriculum design
  • Watch out for a new JISC-wide call for projects on digital literacy in staff and students
  • There’s a London digital literacy workshop on 26th May – open to all

Ruth Drysdale & Paul Bailey – how is technology supporting life long learning and workforce development?

13 projects on the Life Long Learning & Workforce Development Programme.

Technology is supporting credit framewrks and AP(E)L, mentoring, eportfolios, and engaging with employers.

Negotiated frameworks for validation and accreditation – Uni Glouc co-creating curricula with employers – piloted with 6 institutions.

Uni Westminster example of using institutional systems v. 3rd party tools to move from placement visits to online mentoring.

ePortfolio-based pedagogies. University of Hull student showcases. But institutional systems are still not fitting so well with students’ lifelong learning continuum.

Employer interaction – Uni of Nottingham incorporating open standard data feeds from learning systems into an employer portal (ACT – mention to Computing, Social Work, Ed Studies).


Breakout looking at the LLL&WD projects.

CCLIP – Liverpool – portal to disseminate cultural learning opportunities

Courses, events, etc. Partners: Tate and Philharmonic theatres; small and medium arts bodies.

Wanted a simple system; no duplicate data entry – used XCRI common standard (UCAS for example has a statement of intent to become XCRI compatible) to capture as much as possible from the partners’ existing information systems. A lot of diversity. Tate Liverpool’s IT is controlled by Tate London, making it hard to roll in new standards. Other organisations were smaller and more nimble, or could enter the data manually.

Each institution needs structures in place to use the portal – what goes in it, what doesn’t.

Searchable by organisation or by field (e.g. Chinese music, exhibitions). Links to host organisation’s booking system; always branded with host org’s branding; always renders a google map. Possible to set up alerts. Possible to use search data as business intelligence.

Questions – does activity convert to bookings? Early days – they need to know that because they are going to have to start charging.

Q – where does Liverpool end? Are online opportunities advertised there? They are currently discussing just that.

ePPSME – ePortfolio based pedagogies with Small to Medium Enterprises

Students did a ten week course exclusively on a portfolio tool. 20 credits.

Patchwork text methodology(?).

First units very much structured activities and content – templated as scaffolding. Units two and three began to use more of the ePortfolio function eg web conferencing (very much valued).

Managing access after the end of the course. Accounts are closed, so the end process for students is to export the ePortfolio.

Exporting was a bit tricky – collaborative work gets fragmented into individual contributions. Is the conversation of lasting importance, or is it ephemeral?

UWIC – workplace learning for Welsh students

Web conferencing, video conferencing and ePortfolios.

Adobe Connect web meeting has helped dental students because it affords close camera work (couldn’t this be achieved in a lecture setting?).

Experience Through Work module – reflective report and log. Challenges – thinking reflectively and evidencing that. ePortfolio deployed, with frequent formative feedback from tutors.

Virtual classroom online – open mic approach so students could interact – question and answer sessions, and discussions. Technology enables students to meet one-another – helped socially and professionally. (Q how was this managed?).

Q Ground rules – open mic worked. (I am surprised that it did – there was no moderator, only the single tutor – not sure how large the group was – must have been very committed to each other.)

Q What is an ePortolio – immersive learning experience and/or presentation tool

Middlesex University – MUSkET – Skills and Education Planning Tool

Diversity – experiential learning, short courses, degrees.

Challenge of inconsistent terms – course, module, programme. XCRI standard was the chosen solution, with a front-end to generate standardised course description from the headings of a given faculty. Word document can become standardised information model.

Algorithm can perform semantic comparisons between programmes. Bus Info Sys, Bus Info Tech, Bus Inf Mgmt – are they similar or different? Can help students to transfer, can help with business intelligence, can help employer-institution collaboration through shared terms – help to identify pathways. Helps fit courses with other courses through AP(E)L. Get an AP(E)L claim and compare to course requirements.

Looking for institutions to try these outs. They are setting up events to demonstrate the tools. Apr 7th at Middlesex – presentations from MU Institute of Workbased Learning.

Bradford – work-based learning project – benefits realisation project

Reflecting on national e-learning benchmarking pathfinder programme, took similar approach, applied to workbased learning, came up with a WBL maturity toolkit based on self-assessment, but possibility to work in CAMEL cohorts.

7 areas of focus, with criteria to gather evidence to self-assess maturity of each (see website):

  • institutional readiness
  • faculty/school/dept readiness
  • Programme design
  • Programme delivery and assessment
  • Partnership engagement
  • Learner experience
  • Effective use of techs

To use the toolkit, go through the following steps

  1. Plan – identify priority areas
  2. Hold a methodology workshop
  3. Identify evidence
  4. Collect evidence
  5. Levelling workshop – dialogue about evidence
  6. Analysis and reporting – generate ideas for change
  7. Change/actions workshop – develop action plans

Will help institutions which have a strategy for workbased learning but need to go about implementing it in an evidence-based, structured way. Helps to benchmark existing workbased learning, with wider sector engagement, and with change management. Westminster, UWIC, and a Scottish institution

Pineapple APEL Open University of Plymouth

Nobody recording any information about students entering courses based on an APEL claim. Lack of coherence about APEL approaches across institutions, and about evidencing APEL.

Pineapple as a result. Institutions do not have a single APEL process – there is a policy but there are many exemptions. Students cannot produce APEL six months before enrolment, because only when they have begun a course might they realise that they have already covered that particular aspect of their programme.

Pineapple is designed for students, admission staff and others with a responsibility for APEL. Flexibility is a requirement (N.b. it is ages since I have heard anybody say that flexibility isn’t a requirement.)

Pineapple is a simple form to evidence APEL has taken place, who has carried it out, comply with regs and keep external examiners happy.

There’s a demo version on that link.

ePortfolion implementation study (ePI) – large-scale involvement

Gordon Joyes and Angela Smallwood – Uni of Nottingham


Technologies for eportfolios now are interoperable – allow looking outwards as well as reflectively inwards.

Politics and economics today make powerful case for eportfolio processes and products: planning capturing storing reflecting synthesising sharing discussing giving receiving responding to feedback. Economic situation pushes us into a retrograde direction of monolithic technologies and environments which we can afford to maintain, as opposed to a multitude of interoperable web services.

Nobody uses the whole of a system at once; everybody starts somewhere with their own purpose. There is a multiplicity of purpose.

In eportfolio work there’s a lot of talk about top-down v. bottom up – evangelical concept v. real need.

Noticed that everybody seemed to reinvent the wheel, no matter how much reusable stuff they had access to. This prompted an investigation into threshold concepts. Threshold concepts – passing through a conceptial gateway which opens up previously inaccessible ways of thinking about something (Meyer and Land 2003).

Activity: what are the threshold concepts with regards to ePortfolio implementation? You need to grasp the threshold concepts in order to grasp the guidance provided – implementation shouldn’t be a game of chance. ePI arose from the need to investigate how the successful implementations (e.g. Birmingham City) had come about.

Some misconceptions:

  • misconception that there is a shared understanding of an eportfolio. There is no shared definition.
  • misconception one eportfolio is a solution all can share
  • misconception a single induction is all that is needed
  • technical support offered without pedagogic support
  • misconception that students are ‘digital natives’
  • misconception that students understand educational terminology like ‘feedback’
  • misconception that institutional provision is enough (without consideration of what students are doing before or after)
  • misconception that eportfolio is not disruptive

Many more on the slides.

Several institutions. No large-scale evaluation activity. 2004-6 first wave of implementation found that VLEs were poor portfolio tools – hence Pebblepad developed at Wolv; hardly anybody using VLE tools any more. 2007-11 second wave – carrying forward; 2009-11 – integration of portfolio tool with VLE e.g. Mahara and Moodle – looking for extra-curricular, intra-institutional use.

Developing a narrative around the key milestones. Birmingham City implemented Mahara using the successful model they had used with Moodle. Invested 20k in developing Mahara. In two years it gained nearly full use across faculties.


From peach sheet choose one concept and discuss

Concept – purpose is aligned to context to maximise benefits

PG orthodontic students. One team – three different programmes – all around assessing and supervising clinical cases – so used for external examiners as well as supervision and assessment. Entirely work-based learners.

Multiple purposes – formative and summative assessment. Students have been asked for feedback, but the design is very much the course teams. Students had asked for a way to exchange out of email. But the purpose is clear – students need to use the portfolio to be assessed and gain their qualification


What is revealed about the processes? Historicity – decisions depend on previous decisions. Designed earning activities? Culture – key roles of individuals. Communities – advocates and champions. Subject and ownership. Tensions – diversity of purposes and stakeholders.

A course perspective. Stakeholders can be internal and external (e.g. employers). Stakeholders are sometimes only connected by eportfolio use – they don’t always communicate. OR they can all agree to view eportfolios from the learner’s POV – make that the common view

Qu – a proportion of institutional teaching and learning processes have drifted into Web 2.0.

April 5th/6th cloudworks event.

C-Link – information search tool AI Unit at Uni Bradford, National Media Museum in Bradford – Peter Hartley, Peter Cowling, Stephen Remde


Students don’t make the most of their information searches. Google, Wikipedia – don’t cultivate skills and critical analysis. How do you interrogate Google search results?

C-Link maps relationships between 2 concepts. Maps get dumped into C-Map and then you can play with it.

Wikipedia is not yet respectable – BBC – “Academics to ’embrace Wikipedia’ – Imperial.

Advantages – discovers unknown links. Visualisation helps with conceptualisation.

Trialled it – students found it easier to use than conventional search. You can search A against A (search for concepts around A) and A against B.

“Michael Porter” and Dubai to discover why some management ideas crop up in the Middle East.

(You need to refine your questions before you search.)

Searches an archived version of Wikipedia; links concepts on the map to their wikipedia entry.

The visualisation is absolutely gorgeous.

Conformity and conformity – you get some of the surrounding concepts like Asch and Groupthink.

If you search from social constructionism to social constructivism you can see that the former comes from sociology and the latter from learning theory.

See also


Written by Mira Vogel

March 24, 2011 at 23:52

Posted in event, pedagogy

Tagged with ,

The Future of Pedagogy – The Concept and the Disaster

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Goldsmiths’ Research Group in Continental Philosophy – InC – is hosting a programme of three weekend seminars at the ICA, each followed by public talks by leading philosophers including Dr Alberto Toscano and Prof. Alexander Garcia Duttmann. These events – conveyed by R.Cavallini, D.Rugo, S.McAuliffe and D.Smith – will address the future of pedagogy and question whether teaching can still serve as a site for critical thinking. The seminars will function as focused events built around a set reading list, with the subsequent talks intended for a larger audience.

Find out more on the ICA site.

Written by Mira Vogel

September 2, 2010 at 17:59

DIY video – Steve Hull at DIVERSE 09

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Kris Rogers, learning technologist at LSE (I think of LSE as a kind of nature reserve for learning technologists – they are supported, enabled to experiment, and they get a lot done) blogged his experience at the 9th annual DIVERSE conference in Aberystwyth last month.

Lots of links out and – naturally – on the conference site you can get video, audio and slides for any of the presentations captured, with questions, via the Echo360 system, including a screen-reader version.

Kris recommends:

“… today’s most entertaining presentation was by Steve Hull from JISC Digital Media who gave a talk on the basics of producing good quality films using basic equipment, such as a Flip camera.”

Hull’s talk was titled ‘Improving the quality of visual media in education, or anyone can make a movie‘. Aided by some amusing examples of not-so-great practice (these aren’t quite optimised for Echo), he deals with technical, practical and theoretical aspects of DIY video, including: making the speaker stand out against the background; a bit of mise en scène, techniques for steadying the camera without a tripod); interviewing techniques, eg eradicating the ‘barnyard sounds’ of the interviewer through the development of non-verbal acknowledgement e.g. smiling and nodding; simple editing on freely-available software or, at a pinch, in-camera .

(Tangentially, this is DIY but is it edupunk? I can’t imagine a self-respecting punk would have been caught dead in a discussion about developing the quality of their self-expression. Maybe I’m too literal…)

JISC Digital Media is an advisory service and well worth a look – it’s FREE, FREE, FREE (and there is consultancy, with a view to embedding skills, which you can submit a proposal to get).

Written by Mira Vogel

July 9, 2009 at 11:17

Engaging academic staff in professional development for e-learning

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I searched the peer-reviewed literature on this topic, made a digest available via Google Docs and presented at a recent M25 Learning Technologists Group meet-up – slides downloadable from Slideshare.

Written by Mira Vogel

April 17, 2009 at 12:47

How I tag

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First of all, what are tags (which some people call ‘labels’, others ‘keywords’)? Here’s an example from the 2007 report from the Pew Internet and American Life Project:

“Tagging is the process of creating labels for online content. The mechanics are simple on most tag-centered websites and there is an Appendix to this report that links to some sites that cover more fully the mechanics of tagging. After creating an account on a site like flickr.com you can upload your photos to the site and then apply labels to the pictures that make sense to you – for instance, labeling a photo of a sunset as “sunset.” Once the labels are applied, anyone using Flickr’s search bar who types in “sunset” can find yours among the other pictures that are similarly named. You can also search the site using keywords and when you find photos posted by others that you like enough to want to retrieve later, you can apply your own tags to them. That might mean that you call someone else’s picture “sunset” even though he originally labeled it “clouds.”

Then, from any internet-connected computer you go back to the search box on flickr.com and type in the labels you created and find all the material you have tagged – both yours and the material from others that you have labeled your own way. Thus, typing in “sunset” will yield search results that take you to the pictures you tagged that way.

Not only can tags be personally useful to people who want easier ways to retrieve information that appealed to them, but tags also have a social dimension. Your tags on flickr are added to the millions of other labels on the site and that allows flickr to organize information better for other searchers who use those keywords – making this a classic example of bottom-up building of categories instead of top-down imposition of categories.

Your tags also allow flickr to highlight the most popular listings. These “tag clouds” illustrate the material that was tagged by others and tag sites usually showcase the most popular tags by increasing the font size and boldness of the type as flickr does here: http://www.flickr.com/photos/tags/”

Among many other places, I tag my photos in Flickr, my bookmarks in Diigo and del.icio.us, and stuff I author in WordPress (here) among many other places. I soon realised that despite tagging thousands of pages in Diigo, I still couldn’t go to Diigo and easily find what I needed when I needed it.

This made me realise that my tagging could improve.

Next, here are some tagging considerations – my own – which have emerged from long experience of tagging web resources for personal and professional use.

What are my aims in tagging?

  • Sometimes I’m keeping a record of a phenomenon over time
  • Sometimes I’m collecting examples of something
  • Sometimes I’m collecting ephemera which I won’t need after a certain date
  • I always want to find resources again – I need my tags to be sensitive and specific
  • Sometimes I want to share my tags, or build a repository of resources with somebody – then I want my tags to be meaningful to more than just me. I want them to be intuitive. In learning technology parlance, this is a collabulary rather than a folksonomy.
  • Sometimes I want to generate a quick list of resources (e.g. a reading list) and circulate that.

What I no longer do:

  • I never use tags like ‘e-learning’ any more. My entire job is to do with e-learning – that term is not going to help me find anything. Being general, it applies to too much to be useful. It’s a millstone – I have to waste time to use it consistently, but it doesn’t help me narrow down a search. Ditto tags like ‘racism’, ‘work’ or ‘news’ don’t work for people who are researching racism, work or news. They aren’t particular enough.
  • I no longer worry that I have ‘too many’ tags, because it started to seem like worrying that I had too many thoughts.

What I do:

  • I always tag with the year in which the given resource was created. If the topic is highly time sensitive, I may also tag with the month. This means that I can narrow down my search if I can vaguely remember the date. It also fulfils a historical function – it allows me to follow different phenomena over time.
  • I try to tag consistently. I know that if I go searching by tag 6 months down the line, I will hope to myself that my search results are complete.
  • I’ve begun to tag with media type, or document type. Again, this helps me narrow down my search to stuff like guidance, briefing, report, video, audio, satire, opinion, cartoon and so on – and any combination of these.
  • For opinion pieces I use names in my tags – I tag with the author’s name, or (if it seems important) the names of the people mentioned.
  • When tagging, I go with my first associations – assuming that they are the strongest ones.
  • I try to anticipate in advance how I might go about finding a given resource in the future – what would it help me with, and what search terms might I use?
  • If the web-thing in question has triggered a powerful reaction in me, that’s likely to be memorable. So I might tag with a word like ‘disgusting’ or ‘ludicrous’.
  • I sometimes incorporate analysis – tags like ‘utopian’ or ‘libertarian paternalism’
  • If I want to generate lists, I will tag with everything I’d usually tag with, but also a tag for that particular list. For example, our new web site (which is currently under development by the Web Team) will link to groups of our del.icio.us bookmarks, rather than hard-coding lists of links which we’d have to keep updated by making repeated requests to the Web Team.
  • I have tags to denote web things I most value – one of mine is ‘key argument’, which I use to tag blog posts which have a particularly illuminating conversation in the comments.
  • I periodically review my tags (and I have hundreds) to see if I can merge any, or if I’ve duplicated any concepts using different terms.

Basically, my tags are principally for me and/or colleagues. Realising that I cannot confidently anticipate my 6-months-later me, I try to anticipate my future needs and tag so that I can find my stuff again long after I’ve forgotten why I tagged it in the first place, and so that other people can find things too.

We’d really like to hear how you are tagging, and what you have learnt about tagging from experience.

Written by Mira Vogel

April 1, 2009 at 17:58

Posted in pedagogy, practice, web 2.0