Archive for March, 2015

AACE’s list of Ed Tech folk

Wednesday, March 25th, 2015



I often say to people that social media has changed the way I work. I have been blogging since 2007, following very good advice from my colleague at the OU, Martin Weller, he said to try and blog on a regular basis, think of things to blog about (reflections on papers or conferences, working up ideas, summarising interesting resources, drafts of papers or book chapters) and also to follow some key bloggers (which I do, you can see who on my blogroll). I was lucky enough that my first post was picked up by George Siemens, which led to an immediate increase in the number of people reading my blog. Soon after I started Tweeting, not always the easiest thing to get the hang of, but I was lucky enough to connect with many others at the OU. I started facebook at about the same time. I tend to use Twitter mainly for professional things, disseminating my research or finding useful links and resources. Facebook is a mixture of professional and personal (be warned there are lots of pictures of cats and food). Cooking and travel are two of my passions; so a few years ago I started a personal blog.


I can’t believe the number of people I am connected with through these sites, I have 8135 followers and follow 2301 people on Twitter. People ask me how on earth I keep up with all of this, the answer is I don’t; I dip in, I look at particular people’s tweets, I interact with people who @gconole me, and I search on hashtags. I have 1328 friends on facebook! I have a different level of interaction with people on both of these social networking sites, my connections are like an onion, at the core are people that I interact with on a regular basis, who will always like my posts, comment or retweet. I have lost count of the number of people who I have met face to face that I feel like I already know because of our interactions online.


My style is very open, a result of my personality and the nature of my job I guess. Blogging has truly transformed my research practice, it is relatively easy to write a 500 word blog post on a nascent idea, which you can then work up into a paper later, I recently did this with a piece on a new taxonomy for MOOCs. Despite having worked at six institutions I feel very much part of a global community of peers. So social networking is an important daily part of both my professional and personal practice.


I was really chuffed to be listed in the AACE list of 20 top people in Educational Technology to follow through social media. I know many of the people on the list, and indeed would count them as friends as well as colleagues. Social media has enriched my life in so many ways; I love the two-way nature of these sites, and the way people are so generous and willing to share and help.

Seminar in the castle!

Wednesday, March 25th, 2015


As part of the DiTE (Diversity in Teacher Education) project we are running a series of seminars. Todays was given by Kate Reynolds (dean of education) and Pat Black. The focus of the seminar centred around two key questions: What is a qualified teacher and what is PGCE? And what are the associated policy issues? A key question is what is the future of teacher education? What is the impact of the diversity of routes into teacher education now available and what does it mean to be a teacher and what is the role of universities in teacher education?


Pat summarised some of the teacher initiatives of the past few years and associated policy perspectives. She mentioned in particular the November 2010 white paper on the importance of teacher education, highlighting the following recommendations:

  • Teach first to expand
  • Outstanding schools to be given role
  • Bursaries for training
  • More time in the classroom
  • National framework for training
  • State funded schools


She also referred to the 2011 report on training next generation of outstanding teachersOf particular note of course is the Carter review, which looked at teacher education. Carter undertook a review of initial teacher training (ITT). The core aim was to identify which core elements of high quality ITT across phases and subject disciplines are key to equipping trainees with the required skills and knowledge to become outstanding teachers. In addition, he looked at how to improve the transparency of training offers and access to course


Pat also referenced the report on the establishment of a new college of teaching referenced in the a world class teaching profession report, which I blogged about recently. She also mentioned the A manifesto for teacher education report, which states that:

Our schools and colleges need to be able to recruit qualified teachers who are experts in teaching and learning as well as subject specialisms.








Tools to facilitate collaboration

Monday, March 23rd, 2015


Image vialis 40mg times,serif”>Bild: CC BY-NC-SA Some rights reserved by Opedagogen


Nice blog post today by Alastair Creelman on collaboration. He begins by arguing that ‘Learning involves collaboration and interaction…’ He points to a guide that has been published, which describes the following facets of collaboration:

  • Collaborative writing
  • Shared workspace
  • Curate
  • Plan
  • News gathering
  • Screencasting
  • Network
  • E-meetings
  • Research

The guide describes tools that can be used to enable each of these; for example Google Drive for collaborative writing or Twitter for networking. A very useful and practical guide!

The power of social media

Monday, March 23rd, 2015


Image from


A posting on fb by Ebba Ossiannilsson this morning prompted me to think about how I find information, get ideas and write. I always tell my PhD students that it is important for them to develop a clear strategy for doing their literature review. This includes brainstorming appropriate keywords to search on google and on relevant research databases, following references cited in papers, but also reading key blogs – in our field people like George Siemens, Martin Weller, Terry Anderson and others comes to mind – are your ears burning guys? But social media also provide a wealth of opportunity to find useful stuff. Twitter in particular is a great source of information, and despite the trivia posted on fb (pictures of cats and food come to mind, as do trivial quizzes…) there are often useful links, including the one from Ebba this morning. Of course social media is two-way – you can’t just take, take, take; it’s important to also respond to other people’s requests for help. And I love the serendipitous nature of social media, just coming across things accidently, that make you think or augment something you are already doing. So I often start the day curled on the sofa, with a cup of tea, surfing around fb and Twitter, replying to other people’s posts or retweeting. I feel privileged to be part of such a great global community.

Diversity in Teacher Education

Thursday, March 19th, 2015


Image from


I have just taken over leading the DiTE (Diversity in Teacher Education) project at Bath Spa University. In this post I will summarise the main focus of the project.


There is a major policy debate nationally - and indeed internationally - about the efficacy of different approaches to teacher education in the light of the challenges of preparing teachers for twenty-first Century schools., search and in particular the  binary opposition of university-led versus school-led approaches to the training of teachers.


The project consists of four phases:

  • The first phase is producing a picture of the landscape of teacher training and in particular the different routes. It will cover dimensions such as the: duration, level, cost, location and leadership of the provision and the demographic characteristics of the tutors and students involved in the different routes to Qualified Teacher Status (QTS).
  • The second phase will involve in-depth exploration of the characteristics of a sample of different types of provision in terms of their aims, structure, qualifications and, most crucially, the student experience. The sample will include HEI-led partnerships offering BA(QTS) and PGCE courses.
  • School-Centred ITT schemes, Teach First provision, School Direct and School Direct Salaried routes and the Troops to Teachers programme, and also perhaps those following the Assessment Only route to QTS including unqualified teachers recruited directly to Academies or Free Schools.
  • The third phase will entail specifying and measuring any differential outcomes and effects of the different training routes studied in Phase 2. An attempt will also be made to determine different rates of employment and whether teachers trained on different routes have differential effects on pupils’ learning outcomes.
  • The fourth phase will focus on dissemination and recommendations to policy makers. It will contribute to a broader understanding of processes of professional formation in teaching (and potentially allow comparisons with other professions).


The working environment

Wednesday, March 18th, 2015


Now into my second month at Bath Spa University and I already feel as if I have been here forever ;-) Very impressed with the working environment. Stunning campus, nice office now complete with pictures. But there are a number of other things I am impressed with. Printing on the go (I know it’s nothing special but very convenient), just send your file go to the nearest printer, swipe your card and voila! Lots of recycling schemes, recycling bins everywhere. IT services are not only pleasant and friendly but efficient. Mac Book Pro up and running in no time, and now iPad Air (which I just love!) and mobile. Everyone uses Google Gmail and good drive for sharing. There is a good culture of sharing calendars as well. None of this is rocket science, but it all makes for a good working environment!

Learning to learn

Tuesday, March 17th, 2015


Picture from the Innovating Pedagogy report.


I read a blog post this morning, pills which argues that learning to learn will be the most significant classroom innovation in the next ten years, for both teachers and students. It’s always dangerous to make predictions about the future; none of us could have possibly imagined the impact the web would have had on all aspects of our lives. Mobile devices and tablets, and almost ubiquitous wifi, means that we have information at our finger tips 24/7. The blog post lists the following facets of learning to learn:

  • Learning how to learn will mean being able to find, filter, evaluate, categorize, store, remix and create information… no matter how much information is available or in what format, media, or language it is available.
  • Learning how to learn will mean being able to work and learn with (not just about) people at a global scale… no matter what geographic distance, time zone, culture or language.
  • Learning how to learn will mean being able to understand the different purposes of a variety of tools and platforms and being able to harness the power of these tools and networks so you can fluently switch between them or combine them … no matter how new or old the platforms or tools.
  • Learning how to learn will mean to adapt to new forms of media… no matter if this means letting go of nostalgic attachments or customary workflows or routine habits in reading, writing and communicating.

This resonates with the OU’s 2014 Innovating Pedagogy report which lists learning to learn as one of the ten key developments that are likely to have a significant impact on learning and teaching in the next few years. The report states:


We are always learning. Throughout our lifetime we take on board new ideas and develop new skills. What we find difficult are learning what others want to teach us, and managing our learning in order to achieve particular goals and outcomes. Self-determined learning involves learning how to be an effective learner, and having the confidence to manage our own learning processes. ‘Double-loop learning’ is central to this process, for double-loop learners not only work out how to solve a problem or reach a goal, but also reflect on that process as a whole, questioning assumptions and considering how to become more effective. This helps them to become self-determined learners with the ability to seek out sources of knowledge and make use of online networks for advice and support.


Amongst the resources lists is an excellent article  by Lisa Marie Blaschke - are your ears burning Lisa? ;-)

Developing students’ digital literacies

Monday, March 16th, 2015

There is a nice JISC report out on ‘Developing students’ digital literacy’. They define digital literacies as ‘the capabilities, which fit someone for living, learning and working in a digital society’. They list the follow seven elements:

  • Media literacy – critically read and creatively produce academic and professional communications in a range of media.
  • Information literacy – find, interpret, evaluate, manage and share information.
  • Digital scholarship – participate in emerging academic, professional and research practices that depend on digital systems.
  • Learning skills – study and learn effectively in technology-rich environments, formal and informal.
  • Communications and collaborations – participate in digital networks for learning and research.
  • Career and identity management – manage digital reputation and online identity.
  • ICT literacy – adopt, adapt and use digital devices, applications and services.



They put forward a series of guidelines for improving students’ digital literacies:

  • Reviewing what support is available for digital literacies
  • Link digital literacies in with other priorities
  • Create a buzz
  • Get people talking
  • Provide support in the curriculum
  • Encourage students as change agents

The journey from Chemistry to e-learning

Friday, March 6th, 2015

Conole career trajectory from Grainne Conole



On Monday I am giving a talk as part of International women’s day. The focus is on my career trajectory. It is interesting now and again to stop and reflect on your career, find the key trigger points and the reasons for changing direction. Like many people I have had more than one career. I started life as an Inorganic Chemistry lecturer, having completed a PhD in X-Ray Crystallography.  I stumbled across Authorware Professional, a tool for creating multimedia resources and I was hooked! Then when the web emerged I created one of the first Chemistry websites for my students. In the mid-nineties I moved into a central role and set up the Learning and Teaching Innovation and Development unit, to help teachers make better use of technologies and be more innovative in their teaching. I broke from Chemistry finally in 99 when I went to Bristol to head up the Institute of Learning and Research Technology. Whilst I was there we grew from 30 to 80 people, through funding primarily from JISC. I took up a chair in Post Compulsory Education and Training at Southampton in 2002, moved to the OU in 2006, then Leicester in 2011. And now of course I have just started at Bath Spa.


I was awarded an HEA National Teaching Fellowship in 2012, the application required me to articulate the impact I have had on students, teachers and the international community. I structured my application around 4 phases of technology development: multimedia resources, the Internet, Learning Design, and social and participatory media. A copy of my applicant with more details on this is available here. I feel very privileged to be working in this area, and being part of a fantastic international community of peers.


Digital technologies have so much to offer to enhance the learning experiences, but there are still significant challenges; new approaches to design can help, as can effective use of Open Educational Resources and Massive Open Online Courses. We cannot even begin to envisage what the educational landscape will be like in the future, all we can be sure of is that it will continue to change and evolve and technologies will continue to have a significant impact on learning and teaching.

Designing MOOCs

Wednesday, March 4th, 2015


I attended the kick off meeting of an Eramus+ project, LoCoMotion in Delft on Monday. The project is creating a MOOC on designing MOOCs. The project is lead by Brian Mulligan from Sligo Institute of Technology. The other partners are from the Netherlands, Germany and Spain. We had a wide ranging discussion around the vision of the project and the associated practicalities. One of the first things we need to decide is what platform to use. We are looking at a number but looks like the front-runner at the moment. The MOOC will be 8 weeks long, with 5 hours of learner each week. We agreed on a number of pedagogical principals:


  • ·      Each week will consists of 3 hours of core activities and 2 hours of extension activitiesThe MOOC will be active and learner centred
  • ·      Peer discussion will be encouraged, as will sharing of experience (we anticipate that many of the participants will already have participated in MOOCs)
  • ·      There will be a short introductory video each week, outlining the focus for the week
  • ·      The use of social media will be encouraged through Facebook, twitter, etc.
  • ·      We will design the MOOC to have an explicit reflective perspective.

Each week will be structured as follows: video plus content, quizzes, discussion on the platform and use of social media.

At the moment the plan is to cover the follow:


  • ·      Orientation week, introducing participants to the platform and how the MOOC will run
  • ·      Low-cost MOOC technology, including criteria for choosing a platform media hosting and creation of content
  • ·      Low-cost MOOC pedagogies and design, including tips on good practice in masssive live delivery and designing for multiple languages
  • ·      Institutional services, including support, skills and quality assurance
  • ·      Accreditation and mobility
  • ·      Review and the assignment

  • It should be an interesting project, and I must say Delft was a lovely town!