Archive for the ‘General’ Category

Learning Design and Curriculum Mapping

Tuesday, November 14th, 2017

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As part of some consultancy work I am doing at the moment I am collating tools and frameworks for Learning Design. This blog post provides a summary of what I have uncovered.

 

Improvement in course design and course review processes has elevated in importance at most Australian universities in the past decade. Learning Design and Curriculum Mapping have emerged as important tools to ensure that courses are designed effectively and map to both institutions and professional standards. Academics need support to design and map their courses.

 

Learning Design aims to help academics make pedagogically informed design decisions that make appropriate use of digital technologies. The Larnaca Declaration on Learning Design provides an overview of the emergence of the field and the underpinning philosophy.[1] The Larnaca Declaration outlines the following as factors of importance for the need to have more effective and robust design decisions:

 

Educators face many changes – such as expectations of adopting innovative teaching approaches, alignment of teaching to external standards, growing requirements for professional development and difficulties in balancing a complex range of demands from different stakeholders.

 

Government and educational institutions also face many changes, such as the rise of the knowledge economy and the need for different kinds of graduates, a shift from knowledge scarcity to abundance, and the impact of technology – especially the internet via open sharing of educational resources and massive open online courses (MOOCs).

 

In the context of these changes, effective teaching and learning in the classroom (and beyond) remains central. How can educators become more effective in their preparation and facilitation of teaching and learning activities? How can educators be exposed to new teaching ideas that take them beyond their traditional approaches? How can technology assist educators without undermining them? How can learners be better prepared for the world that awaits them?

 

A number of Learning Design tools and frameworks[2] have been developed to enable academic to make informed design decisions. These include:

 

The 7Cs of Learning Design framework, which has a set of resources and activities around: conceptualising, content creation, fostering effective communication and collaboration, consolidating (promoting reflection and students evidencing achievement of the learning outcomes, combine (looking at the design from different perspectives) and consolidating (implementing the design in a learning context).

The 8 Learning Events Model (8LEM)[3] which describes eight aspects of learning (create, experiment, explore, debate, practice, imitate, receive and metacognition).

The Hybrid Learning Model is an adaptation of the 8LEM and includes a set of cards and support guides. It aims to capture, describe, reflect on and plan good practice in teaching and learning.

The Learning Activity Management System (LAMS) is a tool for designing, managing and delivering online collaborative learning activities.[4]

The Creative Connections Cards[5] which is a practical tool to generate new concepts and visuals for any communication design challenge.

The Joint Information Systems Committee (JISC) in the UK initiated a Curriculum Design programme and undertook a review of Learning Design tools.[6] It also has a comprehensive site, the Design Studio, which showcases JISC resources to support Technology-Enhanced Learning and Teaching practices.[7]

The Learning Design Support Environment (LDSE) helps scaffold teachers decision making from basic planning to creative Technology Enhanced Learning (TEL) design.[8]

The Phoebe Pedagogical Planner is a wiki-based system for enabling academics to design learning opportunities.[9]

The METIS Integrated Learning Design Environment (ILDE) integrates a number of existing tools to create multiple Learning Design artefacts.[10]

RMIT has a set of cards to support course design.[11] Each card focuses on a particular type of learning activity, such as supporting group work or reflecting and demonstrating understanding. The reverse side of the card then details how this can be achieved and what tools might be used.

ABC Learning Design is a workshop where participants work in teams to create a visual ‘storyboard’ outlining the type and sequence of learning activities (both online and offline) required to meet the module’s learning outcomes.[12] It uses a paper-based format . Six common types of learning activities are represented by six cards: acquisition, inquiry, practice, production, discussion and collaboration.

The Learning Design suite of tools enables teachers to share their teaching ideas. It is intended to help teachers see how a particular pedagogical approach can be migrated successfully across different topics.[13]

 

The development of tools for Curriculum Mapping are more nascent. Most of the tools are paper-based or spread sheet based. There are very few examples, to my knowledge of online sophisticated tools equivalent to CourseSpace to do Curriculum Mapping. Some examples include:

 

The Curriculum Mapping tool at the University of Manchester.[14] This has two views; a list view and a map view, individual elements can be chosen and then the link to intended learning outcomes, activities or other aspects of the curriculum are shown.

Although primarily aimed at the school level, the following site[15] has a useful series of resources for Curriculum Mapping,

Also aimed at the school sector is the TeachHub set of resources.[16] The site states that a Curriculum Map can be built in a spreadsheet or using a tool such as Atlas Rubicon.[17]

Carnegie Melon University have developed an Excel Curriculum Mapping tool.[18]

The AMEE Medical education guide describes the process and components of Curriculum Mapping.[19]

The Indiana department of Education has created two Curriculum Mapping tools: tools for Designing Curriculum Through Mapping and Aligning and tools for Curriculum Development and Implementation.[20] The site lists a number of commercial vendors who have developed Curriculum Mapping tools.

The AG LTAS tool maps the curriculum against a set of user designed statements.[21]

The University of Wollongong has developed a Curriculum Mapping model.[22]

Deakin University have developed course maps, which are visual tools to help academics understand the structure and rules of a course.[23]

Weave Education has a set of tools to support accreditation management.[24]

Curtin University has developed a set of tools and resources for Curriculum Mapping. These include a Needs Analysis Tool which captures a 360 degree perspective from key stakeholders including current students, recent graduates, employers and industry experts, and benchmarking partnerships. The Needs Analysis includes two surveys: eVALUate Graduate and eVALUate Employer. A third survey captures the course teaching team’s self-reported capability to assess graduate attributes and employability skills in related professions.[25] 

The Subject Overview Spreadsheet developed at UTS SOS is a tool for curriculum mapping to plan for student graduate attribute development across a whole course.  It collects data for subjects, then produces a series of tables so that course teaching teams can view the types, weightings, and distribution of intended graduate attributes and assessment tasks. It may also be used to map features of the UTS Model of Learning such as research-integrated learning. The tables are used to identify ‘gaps’ or ‘overloading‘ in the assessment design so subjects can be adapted to provide a more appropriate balance for the students. This data can be provided to the Faculty accreditation committee to monitor assessment and assurance of learning across courses.[26]

MIT has an interesting visualization tool for Curriculum Mapping.[27] It provides a visualisation, showing links between accrediting bodies, pre-requisites, courses and disciplines. 

IdR has a similar visusalisation tool based on Adobe flash.[28]

A paper from Bond University provides an overview of current paractics in mapping graduate attributes in the curriculum.[29]

MyCourseMap from Curtin University is a visualisation tool to help make the curriculum more explicit.[30]

TOCDM is an open source Curriculum Mapping tool.[31] It allows flexible curriculum unit page customization.

 



 

[1] https://larnacadeclaration.wordpress.com/

 

[2] A review of five of the main Learning Design Pedagogical Planners is available https://www.slideshare.net/grainne/chapter-15-pedagogical-planners. This describes the key features of each tool.

 

[3] http://www.labset.net/media/prod/8LEM.pdf

 

[4] https://www.lamsinternational.com/

 

[5] https://www.creativeconnection.cards/

 

[6] https://www.webarchive.org.uk/wayback/archive/20140614105211/http://www.jisc.ac.uk/whatwedo/programmes/elearningpedagogy/learningdesigntools.aspx

 

[7] http://jiscdesignstudio.pbworks.com/w/page/12458422/Welcome%20to%20the%20Design%20Studio

 

[8] https://sites.google.com/a/lkl.ac.uk/ldse/

 

[9] http://www.phoebe.ox.ac.uk/

 

[10] https://ilde.upf.edu/about/

 

[11] https://docs.google.com/presentation/d/17t1vd2Lh77-_QcsOx-ZWnKZyK4Tvb06ftkpeo8Qb-4k/edit#slide=id.g185ca70375_0_423

 

[12] http://blogs.ucl.ac.uk/abc-ld/

 

[13] http://learningdesigner.org/

 

[14] https://cmt.mhs.man.ac.uk/

 

[15] http://sde.ok.gov/sde/curriculum-mapping

 

[16] http://www.teachhub.com/how-create-curriculum-map

 

[17] https://www.rubicon.com/

 

[18] https://www.cmu.edu/teaching/assessment/assessprogram/tools/Curriculum%20Mapping%20Tool.html

 

[19] https://amee.org/getattachment/AMEE-Initiatives/ESME-Courses/AMEE-ESME-Face-to-Face-Courses/ESME/ESME-Online-Resources-China-Dec-2015/AMEE-Guide-No-21.pdf

 

[20] http://www.curriculum21.com/pd/curriculum-mapping/archives/technology/

 

[21] http://www.agltas.edu.au/resources/curriculum-mapping-tool/

 

[22] https://www.uow.edu.au/curriculum-transformation/themes/index.html

 

[23] https://www.deakin.edu.au/students/enrolment-fees-and-money/enrolments/course-maps

 

[24] http://weaveeducation.com/

 

[25] http://c2010.curtin.edu.au/task2.html

 

[26] www.assuringlearning.com/resources/SOS_Curriculum_Mapping_Tool.docx

 

 

[27] https://gmap.csail.mit.edu/gmap/public.html

 

[28] http://www.idr.gatech.edu/detail.php?tab=1&id=1

 

[29] http://epublications.bond.edu.au/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1029&context=tls

 

[30] https://www.mycoursemap.net.au/wp-content/uploads/MakingCurriculumVisible.pdf

 

[31] http://todcm.org/

Making the social learning conference: social…

Friday, September 29th, 2017

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I’ve just had a Skype call about the social learning conference in Sydney that I am doing a keynote for at the end of November. This is being organized by OpenLearning in partnership with MEIPTA:

OpenLearning is an educational technology platform formed by academics, which provides the technology and pedagogical support for universities, to move beyond traditional instructivist education towards constructivist teaching and learning strategies, which fosters student knowledge co-creation and knowledge transfer.

The website for the conference states:

The two-day conference will bring together academics, educators, researchers, instructional designers, technology specialists and government officials to participate in lively discussions, keynotes, and interactive workshops which will provide extensive networking opportunities.

The conference will explore social constructivism in computer-supported collaborative learning.  The four main themes will be:

  • Community, Contribution and Connectedness: Fostering communities of practice, designing for social presence, and informing effective online facilitation.
  • Beyond Content and Quizzes: Moving beyond content transmission and testing towards creating online learning environments for active learning, co-construction of knowledge, and social constructivism.
  • Behavioural Learning Analytics: Using analytics to analyse student interaction, and to inform design, effective online facilitation, and tools for self-regulation. It may also encompass designing analytics to effectively support academic research
  • Rethinking Assessment: Moving towards authentic assessment and documenting online learning experiences in e-portfolios.

My keynote is on the first topic ‘community, contribution and connectedness’. I want to explore what affordances are associated with open and social practices and what this means for the broad spectrum of educational offerings; from informal and non-formal to formal learning. The session will be followed by a two-hour interactive workshop, which will provide time to reflect on the keynote, along with a tailored session on using the tools associated with the 7Cs of Learning Design framework to explore how to design for social learning.

In the conversation with Sarah Sahyoun from open learning, we brainstormed ideas for making the conference interactive and engaging. Obviously, the follow-up interactive workshop sessions associated with each keynote will help with this, along with active use of the conference hashtag (#OLConf2017). In addition, the conference organisers are planning to set up a ‘conference course’ on their platform as a space for participants to engage before, during and after the conference. There will also be interactive demo sessions for participants to share good practice. It reminded me of the way in which we used cloudworks to support the PLE conference in 2012. Ricardo Torres Kompen and I did an ‘unkeynote’, we invited key experts in the field to submit short videos to the cloudworks conference space reflecting on what their thoughts on PLEs were, Stephen Downes provided a useful comparison of PLEs to LMSs. The ‘unkeynote’ then acted as a conversation space around these resources.

Obviously a successful conference depends on a number of factors: engaging keynotes, high-quality papers, a variety of session types (presentations, workshops, demos, posters, etc.), lots of opportunities for networking and of course good food and coffee! But nowadays I would argue that equally important is effective use of social media; an active Twitter hashtag, a space to collate resources and provide opportunities for debate, opportunities for people to participate remotely and ideally some participants live blogging and reflecting on the conference. I am very much looking forward to the conference and will be interested to see how this balance of face-to-face and virtual interactivity works.

Fostering a research community

Tuesday, July 25th, 2017

 

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I am currently looking at ways of fostering an educational research community and thought I would share some of my ideas here. It is worth beginning with a definition of what educational research is i.e. ‘the systematic collection and analysis of data related to the field of education’. Education is a complex and multi-faceted field and there are many areas of focus for research, but I think the following are particularly important: student learning and the student experience, teacher training and support, fostering a variety of teaching methods, exploration of classroom dynamics, use of digital technologies, and learning across different contexts (formal, informal and non-formal learning). It is also worth reflecting on the main components of research, which are: articulating a research problem, developing an appropriate methodology, data collection and analysis, dissemination and publication, and identifying further areas for research.

 

I think there are a number of facets of fostering a research community. The first is to clarify a particular centre’s research distinctiveness. The second is to put in place a range of face-to-face and online activities to both support individuals and research groups and to promote the work externally. Finally, it is about putting in place a range of internal and external activities to align the work with related research. Research distinctiveness includes articulating the main areas of research, how they are related and any cross cutting themes. It is also important to clarify what are the main theoretical underpinnings and associated methodologies. The next stage is to build a research profile. This includes individuals describing their research interests and showing how these relate to the themes of the centre. Individuals need to be active in their research community, through participation in face-to-face events and through online activities. For example, a conference is an opportunity to do much more than just listen to the work of others or present research findings. It can be used to seek out and engage with other experts, to form collaborations, to get feedback on research work, to get an up to date picture of the research field. The face-to-face event can be complemented by the use of social media, for example following and using the conference hashtag, or writing blogs summarising some of the interesting conference presentations. Other forms of events include involvement in relevant professional bodies and participant in policy debates.

 

In terms of fostering and supporting staff development, a range of activities can be put in place. For example, supporting individuals to clarify their research interests, identifying targeted staff development and articulating and reviewing research targets. Workshops can be a practical means of developing skills. Examples might include workshops on writing papers or securing external funding. Seminars and webinars can focus on interesting current research, either by members of the centre or external researchers. Peer support is also valuable for example reading groups, critiquing draft papers or peer mentoring.

 

Nowadays, having a distinct online presence is imperative. This includes having a clear and up to date website. Social media is valuable in terms of the currency of activities and promoting the work to a wide audience. Of particular note are blogs and Twitter. A departmental blog can be used to both showcase current research and describe related research. Similarly, a departmental Twitter ID can be used to provide up to date news on the work of the centre. See for example the National Institute for Digital Learning’s Twitter stream. Individuals and research groups can use blogs and Twitter ID in a similar way.  

 

Once the centre’s research distinctiveness is articulated it is useful to align this with related research, both across the institution and more broadly. A vibrant portfolio of PhD students and visiting scholars really brings a research centre alive in my opinion. Research should also inform any teaching the centre is involved with and might also lend itself to the development of a consultancy portfolio. Externally it is useful to align with key strategic partnerships. In education clearly this will include local schools and collages, but might also include relevant local or international initiatives. Engagement with the broader research community is essential, this might include presentation at conferences, reviewing papers or undertaking special issues of journals.  

 

A research community doesn’t just happen… it needs to be strategically developed and fostered. 

Call for papers

Saturday, July 22nd, 2017

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I have just come across this interesting call for papers for an edited volume in Assessment for learning in the CLIL classroom. The editors are Mark deBoer and Dmitri Leontjev. A background to the special issues and details of how to submit are described below.  

Content and language integrated learning (CLIL) has a dual focus: simultaneously promoting the content mastery and language acquisition, an amalgam of both subject learning and language learning, flexible and adaptable to many contexts (Coyle, Hood, & Marsh, 2010). This implies that foreign/second language plays a dual role in the CLIL classroom, on the one hand, being the medium of instruction and, on the other hand, the target of it. The efficacy of such instruction for language acquisition has been studied rather extensively, research findings showing the positive impact of CLIL on language acquisition (Marsh & Wolff, 2007) and providing a holistic educational experience for the learner.

That said, there is much less emphasis on assessment in CLIL research, so much so that there is no clear understanding or systematization of the process of assessment in CLIL (Coyle, Hood, & Marsh, 2010). In language teaching, summative and formative assessment is ubiquitous. However, the premise of CLIL is the use of language to mediate subject matter and subject matter to mediate the language, knowledge being co-constructed in social interaction. These tenets call for a monistic view of assessment, teaching, and learning in the CLIL classroom. Thus, dynamic assessment (DA), Learning-Oriented Assessment (LOA), or emerging embedded or transformative assessment theories in online learning communities are strong candidates for assessment practices in CLIL. Furthermore, teaching practices will essentially be ineffective without a solid theoretical foundation of these assessment practices.

This edited volume will aim at conceptualizing CLIL and establishing the theoretical basis/bases for assessment practices in the CLIL classroom. It will focus on the theoretical perspectives of assessment linked with CLIL in foreign language or second language contexts, or in tool-mediated online learning management systems.

We welcome theoretical, conceptual, and empirical contributions pertaining to the state-of- the-art research in CLIL assessment in both foreign and second language contexts with the specific emphasis on assessment that supports learning and/or is considered to be indivisible from teaching and learning. While the language of the contributions should be English we encourage submissions reporting on assessment in CLIL where target of instruction are languages other than English. 

Akita International University - Japan

Proposed Schedule:

Friday, 29th September 2017

Expressions of interest and extended abstracts to be submitted via email (See submission guidelines below)

January 2018

Successful authors will be invited to submit full papers for peer review. Submission guidelines will be provided at this time.

Monday, 30th April 2018

First full chapter submission deadline

August/September 2018

Final submission deadline for revised/resubmitted chapters

March 2019

Anticipated publication date

Extended abstract submission guidelines:

Submission of extended abstracts:

Please send extended abstracts by email with subject field titled ‘Assessment in CLIL’ by Friday September 29th 2017. Submissions after this date will not be accepted.

Extended abstracts should be mailed to:

clil.assess@gmail.com

Your extended abstract should include: Document 1: Proposal

Ø Proposed title
Ø Proposal of at least 500 words, with no subheadings

o Explain the assessment approach in CLIL
o Provide rationale
o Give the guiding questions for the research
o Briefly explain the results of the research (if available)

Document 2: Other information

  • Ø  Provide an estimated length of the completed chapter (in words)
  • Ø  Provide an estimate of the number of tables, figures, graphs and diagrams in the chapter
  • Ø  Let us know if there is a need to include any coloured images
  • Ø  Provide biodata o Name
    o Affiliation
    o Contact E-mail address 

Key trends in Technology Enhanced Learning

Saturday, July 22nd, 2017

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I recently came across a Horizon summit looked at the future of education and in particular the wicked problems/challenges education faces. The three-day summit bought together global leaders and thinkers to brainstorm the future of education and associated challenges. There are a plethora of factors impacting education, but I think of particular note are: globalisation, technologies and a changing work place.

The summit listed a number of challenges and made suggested for how these could be addressed. Firstly that we need to rethink teaching to better prepare students for the future. Secondly we need to re-image online learning (and I think also campus-based learning and in particular the design technology enhanced learning spaces). Thirdly we need to allow for productive failure. Interestingly this is also listed as one of ten things of importance in education by the most recent OU innovating pedagogy report. Finally we need to innovate as part of the learning ethic and ensure our institutions are agile and responsive to the external market and associated drivers.

This got me thinking about what the key trends in Technology Enhanced Learning (TEL) might be and how we can make more effective use of a spectrum of use of digital technologies from more effective use of the tools associated with Virtual Learning Environments (VLEs) to more innovative and cutting edge technologies.

There are a number of useful sources that give us an indication of emergent technologies. These include the much cited New Media Consortium annual Horizon report,   which for 2017 lists the following as important:

  • Blended learning design
  • Collaborative learning
  • Growing focus on measuring learning
  • Redesigning learning spaces
  • Advancing cultures of innovation
  • Deeper learning approaches

The OU Innovating Pedagogy report for 2016 list the following ten things that are likely to be important in education in the near future:

  • Learning through social media
  • Productive failure
  • Teachback
  • Design thinking
  • Learning from the crowd
  • Learning through video games
  • Formative analytics
  • Learning for the future
  • Translanguaging
  • Blockchain learning

Finally Gartner’s hype curve attempts to position technologies along a spectrum of ‘hype expectations’.  Garnter suggests the following  10 technology trends 2017: 

  • Applied AI and advanced machine learning
  • Intelligent Apps
  • Intelligent things
  • Virtual and augmented reality
  • Digital twins
  • Blockchains and distributed ledgers
  • Conversational systems
  • Mesh App and service architecture
  • Digital technology platforms
  • Adaptive security architecture

I would suggest the following as overarching factors and key trends. In terms of overarching factors it is evident to me that TEL will continue to become increasingly important in terms of supporting formal, non-formal and informal learning. Furthermore today’s learners face an uncertain, but constantly changing and dynamic future. They will be doing jobs that do not even exist today. Therefore, we need to shift the focus from knowledge recall to the development of transferable skills and competences, such as critical thinking, problem solving and teamwork. We need to help them develop strategies for meta-cognition, or learning about learning, and help them to become lifelong learners. Also it is evident that the learner experience will change as a result of digital technologies, see for example Pearson’s – ‘The future of education 2020’, which includes a number of vignettes of learners of the future (for example Simone’s story). Finally, I believe that there will be a spectrum of educational offerings: OER/MOOCs, online, blended, face-to-face, one-to-one tuition. Key trends of importance to my mind are the following:

I would argue that there is a spectrum of ways in which digital technologies can be used in education, from more effective use of the tools associated with VLEs to more innovative use of technologies. VLEs have a range of tools to support communication and collaboration, the present administrative information and learning content and to enable students to submit assignments and receive feedback. These include: discussion forums (to provide structured discussions), blogs (to encourage reflection), wikis (to enable collaboration), and e-portfolios (to support students in gathering evidence of their achievement of learning outcomes). The EDUCAUSE 7 things you should know about…. series of reports provides a useful and practice guide to a whole host of different tools, including the ones just mentioned. In addition to more effective use of VLE, other technologies can augment the learning experience. Examples that are routinely used include use of OER or MOOCs on topics related to the students’ course, lecture capture and to record and store lectures, podcasts as a means of lecturers discussing particular topics, use of social media to enable students to communicate with peers and the broader expert community, and use of mobile devices to enable learning anywhere, anytime, webinars. Looking back at the trends in Technology Enhanced Learning described at the beginning the list of augmented technologies is only likely to increase, potentially given students an even richer and enhanced learning experience.

Principles of learning to design learning environments

Thursday, July 20th, 2017

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I’ve just come across this interesting publication ‘The principles of learning to design learning environments’.  It focuses on a set of principles, these principles maintain that learning environments should: make learning and engagement central, ensure that it is understood as social, be highly attuned to learner’s emotions, reflect individual differences, be demanding for all while avoiding overload, use broad assessments and feedback, and promote horizontal connections. One to explore in more depth…

More on openness

Thursday, July 20th, 2017

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After being on a panel on open learning at the Future of EdTech conference in London last month, I wrote a blog post working up my ideas and contributions on the day. Cristina Preston from mirandanet who was also on the panel did the same. The MirandaNet Fellowship is a professional education community. The website states that

 

It has forged a unique approach to professional development for teachers. Working in partnership with school practitioners, academic researchers and funding agencies (governmental and non-governmental) and educational product developers the MirandaNet Fellowship has developed an active, participatory and research-oriented CPD framework it has named iCatalyst.

Handbook of learning analytics

Wednesday, July 19th, 2017

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Learning analytics has emerged as an important new field of Technology Enhanced Learning and has grown quickly since the first Learning Analytics and Knowledge (LAK) conference held in Banff, Canada in 2011. The Society for Learning Analytics Research (SOLAR) website provides a useful overview of the field. It also hosts a learning analytics journal and runs various conferences and events. A new edited collection ‘A Handbook of Learning Analytics’  has just been published, with chapter contributions from key researchers in the field. It is divided into four sections:

  • Foundational concepts
  • Techniques and approaches
  • Applications
  • Institutional strategies and systems approaches

The tools and techniques associated with learning analytics can help identify students at risk, as well as help improve learning and teaching processes.  Together the chapters represent a rich overview of the state of the art in learning analytics research. Chapters explore different facets of learning analytics, such as: a focus on predictive as opposed to explanatory modeling to measure learning and teaching. content analytics, discourse analytics and emotional analytics. There is an interesting chapter on learning analytics dashboards that can help visualise learning traces to give users insights into the learning process. These dashboards can:

  • provide feedback on learning activities,
  • support reflection and decision making,
  • increase engagement and motivation,
  • reduce dropout.

Of particular note is the chapter that focussed on the use of learning analytics for professional development to make both formal and informal learning processes traceable and visible to support professionals with their learning. The final section looks at institutional strategies. The first chapter in this section looks at the challenges of institutional adoption. One of the chapters in this section begins with the following powerful statement which is at the heart of the vision associated with this exciting new research field:

 

Learning analytics holds the potential to transform the way we learn, work, and live our lives. To achieve its potential, learning analytics must be clearly defined, embedded in institutional processes and practices, and incorporated into institutional student success strategies

 

 

Towards personal learning

Saturday, July 15th, 2017

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I came across this downloadable book by Stephen Downes via Paul Prinsloo. The title is great ‘’Towards personal learning - Reclaiming a role for humanity in a world of commercialism and automation’. Stephen is well know for being an advocate of Personal Learning Environments (PLEs) and personal learning, and is a regular keynote on these and related topics. Stephen did a nice video explaining the difference between PLES and VLES as part of the PLE conference in 2012. The first paragraph sets the scene:

 

In the five years after Connectivism and Connective Knowledge was posted we saw the phenomenon of MOOCs appropriated and commercialized, the rise of artificial intelligence, analytics and personalization, and the ubiquity of mobile devices. It’s all pretty much what was predicted, and yet the reality feels so different. We’re not in an age of breathlessness and hope, as we were even in 2012, we’re in an age of anger and cynicism.

 

He lists a number of reasons for why he focused on personal learning:

  • The first is the idea of autonomy in a connected world.
  • A second is the idea that we need to reorganize knowledge in such a way as to better prepare people for a complex and changing world.
  • A third is the tension between commercial good and social good, especially with respect to open learning and open content, but also with respect to society and values generally.

I haven’t had the chance to read the book yet, it’s over 750 pages! However skimming the content list it looks like a really rich and interesting read. 

 

TEF results… some shake ups…

Friday, June 23rd, 2017

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The results of the Teaching Excellence Framework (TEF) are now out and there are some interesting shake ups. A guardian article has the heading ‘Top UK universities miss out on gold award in controversial TEF test”. The London School of Economics, Southampton, and Liverpool universities only achieved a bronze award. The article quoted the Russell group as saying that the TEF was not a measure of “absolute quality”. The group has raised concerns about the process used to arrive at the decision to award institutions gold, silver or bronze. Oxford and Cambridge were both awarded gold but so too were a significant number of new universities, such as Coventry, Northampton and Nottingham Trent.

The TEF was introduced by the Government because it was felt that institutions were focusing too much on research and because there had been complaints from students that their degrees were poor value for money. The aim of the TEF is to provide a picture of teaching quality and learning outcomes in Higher Education to help prospective students make better-informed choices about which university to attend. The results are expected to have a significant impact on student recruitment, particularly international recruitment. Of the 134 universities and specialist higher education institutions that were given ratings, 32% (43) scored gold, 50% (67) silver and 18% (24) got bronze. The rankings for the TEF are based on statistics including: dropout rates, student satisfaction survey results and graduate employment rates.

Proponents of the TEF argue that it provides students with more transparency to inform their choice of institutions. They also state that it recognises excellence in teaching and rewards innovation.  Finally, given that students invest significant time and money in their Higher Education, proponents argue that they have a right to a high-quality academic experience.

There is significant controversy around the TEF. Concerns about the TEF include: its subjective assessment, its lack of transparency and with different benchmarks for each institution, removing any sense of equity and equality of assessment.

TEF chair Husbands argues that universities shouldn’t rest on their laurels and should use the TEF to improve what they are doing. He argues:

The teaching excellence framework (Tef) results give us a unique insight into teaching quality and student outcomes across what is now an extraordinarily diverse higher education system… No higher education system in the world has hitherto released such a fabulous resource for understanding teaching. Universities should use the results creatively to help them ask tough questions about what they do.

It is too early to assess what the impact of TEF will be, but it is likely to have a significant impact on institutions strategic priorities and the ways in which they support learning and teaching, in the way that the sister Research Excellence Framework (REF) has for research. Criticisms are likely to continue for a long time and no doubt many of them are true, any league table has fundamental flaws. However if TEF helps to make institutional offerings more transparent, and if it forces them to really think about what the student experience will be that their institution, surely that is a good thing…