ALT

What is NMIS-Skills

#ALTC Blog - 06/08/19
Screenshot from https://www.nmis-skills.org/home/development-team

A post by Joe Wilson and Lewis Ross, NMIS skills.

NMIS-Skills is part of the wider National Manufacturing Institute Scotland project. NMIS aims to “to be a distributed  industry-led international centre of manufacturing expertise. Industry, research and the public sector will work together to transform skills, productivity and innovation”.

A barrier to engaging and upskilling the workforce was the lack of digital skills of trainers and lecturers working across the manufacturing industry  specifically in relation to content creation, collaboration and sharing. They also lack a virtual space beyond institutional IT systems to co-ordinate the sharing of materials. 

To tackle this problem Skills Development Scotland (SDS) put out a tender for the delivery of digital skills training and the building of a community of practice. City of Glasgow College (CoGC) put in a bid and was awarded the contract based upon an innovative model. 

Using an instance of G Suite, with a Google Site at its heart, a resource could be created at a very low cost that could be handed over to a team of administrators/ambassadors from across the educational community at the end of the initiation phase.

To model best practice around collaboration and co-creation, all of the core materials would be open and easily repurposable through a CC BY 4.0 license and delivered using technology that could be accessed by all, including commercial organisations. The principles were designed to be in line with those of  Open Scotland and the Open Scotland Declaration. As the project got underway the Scottish Funding Council published their digital strategy to 2021 enshrining these principles too.

The digital skills interventions were chosen via analysis of the new Professional Standards for Lecturers in Scotland’s Colleges and Jisc’s Building Digital Capabilities framework. The resources were built around repurposed materials from a unique PDA in Technology for Enhanced Learning and Teaching delivered by the CoGC and mapped to the CPD frameworks around digital delivery. The focus on some simple interventions relevant to all staff in FE , HE and work-based learning. Additionally, the site would provide a deep set of links to free training opportunities from a range of providers around the themed interventions.

Technology Used

All technologies used for the project were free to use or open resources, with the exception of  the registration of our domain name, nmis-skills.org. The learning content was created in an instance of G Suite, which is free for educational institutions and charities. 

The slide decks for the webinars were created using templates from Slides Carnival, which are licensed under CC BY 4.0. Icons were sourced from Flaticon under a CC BY 3.0 license. 

Images were mainly sourced from Unsplash, which feature a licence that allows the use of works and creation of derivative works without the need to ask permission of or crediting the original author. The only caveat was that images could not be used to create a similar or competing service to Unsplash.

Zoom was chosen as our webinar platform for three reasons. Firstly, it ran directly from a downloaded .exe file or a browser plugin, so could work within most institutions’ IT infrastructures. Secondly, the team already had experience of using the platform. Thirdly, Zoom had a free version where meetings can only be 40 mins long. However this was long enough for a chink of learning content and we turned this restriction into the planned length of our webinars.

Webinars were recorded using Zoom’s built in tools and then uploaded to a dedicated YouTube channel so that viewers could watch at a time of their choosing. 

Lessons Learned

Our open methodology is sound and easy to adopt. By working closely with Google we have built a resource that is easily co-owned and we have broken out of the institutional silos that can easily restrict developments of this type. As our G Suite is outwith the control of an institutional IT department, we have full control of creating user accounts and hosting content. This gives us the flexibility required to work with colleagues across a wide range of institutions while maintaining regulatory control. The community aspect comes with detailed guidance.

In addition, open practice was central to our project bid. This ensured that everyone was onboard from the start and that open methodologies did not need to be retrofitted, with all the negotiations this usually requires.

Our model of creating downloadable Google Slide decks and YouTube videos of the webinars is a useful method for disseminating information. We have seen that the outputs are used more asynchronously, as we had relatively few live participants in our webinars compared to views of YouTube videos.

Our method of short chunks of learning is perhaps more of a viable alternative for vocational learning than the lecture capture model currently being adopted in many Universities. Rather than hour long monologues, our model encourages short interactive presentations that better suit vocational learning.

The outputs can be easily managed: the platforms adopted are free , the technical skill needed to set to set up, record and archive are relatively low. 

Engagement remains the thorny challenge. It is hard to reach the specialist practitioners who will eventually use the forthcoming resources from Edinburgh University and other NMIS partners. 

The project has attracted a lot of interest from other organisations who have a cross institutional constituency and need a more sophisticated approach around collaboration and the sharing of learning materials. We are certain more initiatives of this kind will develop.


Written by Joe Wilson @joecar and Lewis Ross, Lewis.Ross@cityofglasgowcollege.ac.uk.

Joe Wilson

Lewis Ross

If you enjoyed reading this article we invite you to join the Association for Learning Technology (ALT) as an individual member, and to encourage your own organisation to join ALT as an organisational or sponsoring member.

Categories: #ALTC Blog, ALT

Learning Technologist of the Year 2019 Community Choice Award: Voting now open

#altc 2019 - 05/08/19
The ALT Learning Technologist of the Year Awards 2019 will take place on 4 September, at the University of Edinburgh.  Voting is now open for the Community Choice Award. Find out who the finalists are and cast your vote. ALT Learning Technologist of the Year Awards 2019 are proudly sponsored by Edina. Established in 2007, […]

ALT Annual Conference 2019 - registration closing in two weeks

ALT News - 02/08/19

Excitement is building for the ALT Annual Conference 2019, which is now just a month away. Hosted in the city of Edinburgh and spread across three days, the event is seeking to confront and challenge established assumptions, approaches and accepted truths in relation to key dimensions of digital education, focusing on the following conference themes:

 

Categories: ALT, News

Maren Deepwell marendeepwell in conversation with Sue Beckingham suebecks

#ALTC Blog - 01/08/19

This time I am delighted to be talking to Sue Beckingham, National Teaching Fellow and Principal Lecturer in Business Information Systems and Technology, LTA Lead in Computing at Sheffield Hallam University as well as one of the highly anticipated keynote speakers of the 2019 ALT Annual Conference, taking place 3-5 September, in Edinburgh.

Maren: Tell us about what you are currently working on?

Sue: The last month has been consumed with marking, moderating, preparing for the exam boards and writing module reviews. It was good to take a few days out to attend SOLSTICE Conference at Edge Hill in my role as Visiting Fellow where I co-ran a session with my colleague Prof Peter Hartley on ‘Communication revisited – new perspectives and their implications for our practice in learning and teaching.’ This gave us an opportunity to shine a light on the use of new technology for learning and how we could communicate with students, for example through chatbots to provide 24/7 answers to FAQs and hologram lectures to bring in speakers from afar! We are also working together on new editions of two books Peter has written ‘Success in Groupwork’ and ‘Interpersonal Communication’, to bring in the use of technology and social media. Technology wise I am re-exploring the use of augmented reality and how this can be used to evoke curious learning and animated videos to share information.

My interest in the use of social media for learning is always at the forefront and I love having the opportunity to develop student partnerships. The SMASH (Social media for Academic Studies at Hallam) team formed in in 2016 will be looking to share an open web site of resources and activities they have co-created. This project has resulted in a collection of opportunities for the students to present their work at conferences and a recent publication co-written titled ‘A SMASHing approach for developing staff and student digital capabilities within a Community of Practice‘ in the Journal of Educational Innovation. I’m excited to see how the students take this project forward in the new academic year.  

I am involved in the BCSWomen Lovelace Colloquium and about to take on a new role to co-facilitate the social media channels. This is an annual conference for women students of computing and related subjects, which provides a forum for networking, sharing of ideas, and advice from academia and industry about careers in computing. As a female working in a department that is predominantly male I truly value opportunities to network and this event brings many women together, both staff and students.

Last but not least is #SocMedHE19, an annual conference with a Social Media for Learning in Higher Ed focus. A seed planted in the summer of 2015 resulted in the inaugural event that December at Sheffield Hallam University with Eric Stoller as keynote, co-facilitated with Helen Rodger and Alison Purvis. After three iterations the baton was passed to the wonderful Rachel Challen at NTU and this December the brilliant Dawne Bell and Sarah Wright at Edge Hill University will lead the event. I’ve continued to contribute as part of the organising team as well as presenting with my students. Do take a look at and consider submitting a proposal. https://www.edgehill.ac.uk/clt/conference-2014/social-media-for-learning-in-higher-education-conference-2019/

Maren: What influences your work? 

Sue: The NSS, TEF, and more recently the Augar Review all contribute to an ongoing analysis of the way we work; as do restructures, cuts in budgets and new policies. Whilst not an advocate of incessant change, I do see the value of new interventions that will enhance the student experience and be both inclusive and accessible. Taking time to step back and reflect on my own practice is important; and I frequently seek inspiration from my peers through the use of social media and my international network which extends way beyond my institution

Maren: Current recommended reading?  

Sue: Hot off the press and highly recommended is Social Media in Higher Education: Case Studies, Reflections and Analysis edited by Chris Rowell and is available to read online for free! The book is split into seven sections: professional practice, teaching and learning, leadership, building networks, innovation and finally the personal journey; so has something for everybody. I contributed one of the chapters which is about developing a professional online presence and effective network.

Maren: How do you make your to-do lists.. analogue or digital or both? 

Sue: Both! I use the notes app on my phone and when working collaboratively with colleagues we have made use of Google Docs, Trello and Slack. I’ve tried a few other apps like Todoist but frankly I still like post-its and my notebook! That said I am going to revisit OneNote next academic year, having seen a colleague use this.

Maren: On work travel, you are never without..? 

Sue: Tech wise I’m never ever without 

  • my iPhone, charger, and for back up my ‘recharge’ in case there is nowhere to plug my charger cable in to
  • a notebook and pencil
  • my Kindle if there is time to read. 
  • I may also take a laptop to work on (and of course its charger).
Maren: Which learning technology makes the biggest difference to your work (and why)? 

Sue: It is without doubt my smart phone and access to the social media spaces that I use to connect with my learning network. Yes I can also use my iPad, laptop or desktop, but it is my phone that gives me the connection whilst commuting to work, in between meetings, and other snatches of time. Every day I learn something new that is valuable and relevant to my practice from so many wonderful educators who openly share their practice via social media.

Maren: Who are your learning technology heroes?

Sue: Ooh where do I start? The #altc community as they openly share so much. On Wednesdays at 8pm I am constantly learning from the #LTHEchat community both the guests that lead a topic relating to learning and teaching and those who engage in the conversations. Thinking about individuals, there are so many… I couldn’t call out just a few. That’s the fantastic thing about this community – everyone has the opportunity to contribute and be a learning technology hero through sharing their perspectives on learning and teaching and how technology can support this.

Maren: If you had learning technology superpowers for a day, what would you change? 

Sue: From a practical perspective I would deploy free and secure WiFi everywhere! 

I’d like to relook at the IT spend on PCs and provide all students with an “intelligent device”, which would become their personalised, interconnected virtual learning hub. This would hold a profile of their academic and personal life, syncing all their work to their tutors, connecting to university services with options to communicate in text chat or voice, and linking to their extra-curricular life and their peers. Students would also submit work and get feedback on this device and have a space to reflect using multimedia that feeds into a professional development portfolio. These are not new concepts but currently are fragmented as they happen in different spaces. I expanded on this at the Jisc Network Conference, where I was invited to join a panel to talk about what a university would look like in 2030. I told some of my MSc students about this idea and one contacted me with a view of investigating this as a PhD. Watch this space!

Maren: What are your favourite hashtags?  

Sue: I’d say #altc which is a constant stream of so many interesting conversations relating to learning technologies and #LTHEchat which is a weekly conversation on all things learning and teaching. Each week there is a different theme and a guest leading the conversation with questions. If you’ve not come across this do follow @LTHEchat and take a look at https://lthechat.com.

Maren: What’s the best way for someone to learn more about what you do?  

Sue: I’d suggest follow me on Twitter (@suebecks) or via one of two blogs I write. One is about Social Media for Learning; the other is my own musings about my own learning journey and the work that I do. I also have a site called the The Project Based Learning Toolkit that I created as an output from a project.

Maren: Thank you, Sue, I really excited to see your upcoming keynote #altc!

If you enjoyed reading this article we invite you to join the Association for Learning Technology (ALT) as an individual member, and to encourage your own organisation to join ALT as an organisational or sponsoring member.

Categories: #ALTC Blog, ALT

Meet our Exhibitors for the 2019 Annual Conference

#altc 2019 - 01/08/19
A big thank you and a warm welcome to all our exhibitors for the 2019 ALT Annual Conference: Association for Learning Technology, Blackboard, Immersive VR Education, Jisc, Keylinks, Myshowcase.me,  Rapidmooc, RM Results, Surpass by BTL, Turning Technologies, Turnitin, Urkund, and Vevox. We are sure you will enjoy meeting them in Edinburgh. The exhibition hall will […]

Broadening access to digital education: is there another way

#ALTC Blog - 01/08/19

A post by Stuart Allan, Director of Online Learning, Edinburgh Business School (Heriot-Watt University), @OpenPlanStuart

Reports of ‘the death of the VLE’ have been circulating for long enough for it to become a kitsch subject in ALT circles. But the institutional VLE – whether as a monolithic system or a central column into which other technologies are integrated – remains a ubiquitous presence in most universities.

Meanwhile, in spite of bold proclamations (mainly from tech firms) about how ‘technology is increasing access to quality education on an unprecedented scale’ (edX), significant global digital divides remain. Online courses are still accessed mainly by the privileged few who already have good access to education and technology, and a drive towards interactivity and synchronicity arguably exacerbates the impact of this inequality (Hillier 2018; Sheail 2018).

When they acquire and adopt digital technologies, are universities doing enough to consider the needs of students who have low-quality or intermittent internet access, or are less able to access synchronous classes due to geographical, technological or financial constraints? Many of the 9,000 students at my institution (Edinburgh Business School, EBS) could be described in this way; around one in four live in Africa.

So when we began thinking about a new environment for digital education in 2017, reflecting on global digital divides was a key concern. The first step was to conduct research with our global student body to gather feedback on their prior experiences and future needs, as well as data on their levels of internet access. Overall, only 43% of the 1,132 respondents to our student survey described their internet access as ‘full and unrestricted’; the majority of students who said they had limited internet access lived in southern Africa.

Armed with a set of technical requirements, which flowed from a value-driven vision for our future online pedagogy, we met with several VLE vendors then conducted a formal procurement process. However, we found that the platforms we analysed were not fully aligned with the needs of our students in three main ways:

  1. offline study options were generally lacking;
  2. surprisingly, smartphone optimisation was patchy in some cases;
  3. online content was generally siloed by mode (i.e. text pages, videos, quizzes and discussions were accessed via separate menu items), and this structure seemed very difficult to override via customisation.

We felt that these issues severely limited our potential to create the accessible, rich, intuitive and collaborative experiences many of our students were looking for. Worse, it seemed that these limitations would disproportionately disadvantage students who had limited internet access.

So while we did select the best candidate from the VLEs in the procurement process, instead of customising it ‘out of the box’ we decided to integrate it and other ‘best-of-breed’ technologies underneath a custom-built student interface (see Brown et al. 2015). This approach was only possible because we had an in-house IT team with expertise in software development and user experience design, who have spent the last 18 months developing the student interface.

In my poster and GASTA talk at ALT-C I’ll reflect on this process, as well as proposing some scenarios that could make it a little more straightforward for others to take a similar approach in future.

In the absence of digital technologies that are designed specifically with their needs in mind, students with limited internet access will continue to be excluded from digital education and instead forced towards campus models or print-based correspondence courses, or even miss out on education altogether.

I’d argue that this issue is too important to be left solely in the hands of technology companies. If we’re serious about addressing inequality of access to digital education, technologies must be anchored in the needs of those who would otherwise be marginalised or excluded. This will require leadership, collaboration and investment across the sector.

References

Brown M., Dehoney J. and Millichap N. (2015) The Next Generation Digital Learning Environment: A Report on Research. Available from: https://library.educause.edu/~/media/files/library/2015/4/eli3035-pdf.pdf

Hillier M. (2018) Bridging the digital divide with off-line e-learning. Distance Education, 39 (1), 110–121.

Stuart Allan, Director of Online Learning, Edinburgh Business School,Heriot-Watt University @OpenPlanStuart


If you enjoyed reading this article we invite you to join the Association for Learning Technology (ALT) as an individual member, and to encourage your own organisation to join ALT as an organisational or sponsoring member.


Categories: #ALTC Blog, ALT

Discover Edinburgh at the ALT Annual Conference 2019 #altc

ALT News - 31/07/19

Have you booked your place for the ALT Annual Conference 2019 in Edinburgh? As well as offering an exciting and packed programme and social events during the Conference, we have also put together a great guide of things to do in and around Edinburgh during your visit.

Categories: ALT, News

Twelve Doug Gowan Fellows invited to ALT s Annual Conference 2019

#altc 2019 - 31/07/19
Funding from the Doug Gowan Memorial fund (in memory of Doug Gowan, President of ALT, who passed away in February 2016)  gives Learning Technology professionals in the UK the opportunity to travel to ALT’s Annual Conference they might otherwise be unable to attend. We were delighted to receive a record number of applications, 17 in […]

Discover Edinburgh at the ALT Annual Conference 2019 #altc

#altc 2019 - 30/07/19
Have you booked your place for the ALT Annual Conference 2019 in Edinburgh? As well as offering an exciting and packed programme and social events during the Conference, we have also put together a great guide of things to do in and around Edinburgh during your visit. With the help of our ALT Conference Committee, […]

#altc Meet our 2019 Sponsors

#altc 2019 - 30/07/19
  We are delighted to announce our sponsors for this year’s ALT Annual Conference 2019: Blackboard, EDINA, RM Results, Positive Internet Company, and Vevox. Limited sponsorship opportunities and exhibition spaces are still available, so if you’d like to find out more, check the website for further details or reasons to get involved. This year’s Conference is being […]

"Digital Accessibility as a right - FHEDAWG guest webinar with Greg Gay"

ALT Events - 25/07/19

Barriers in digital information can prevent people with disabilities from participating as full members of society. It’s surprising that digital accessibility practices are still rarely taught as part of formal education. Digital accessibility is integral to enabling all learners in today’s information society. Teaching digital accessibility as part of college and university curriculum is important.
    
To fill the gap, Ryerson University has created five practical online courses and corresponding interactive, modular, and open textbooks aimed at raising awareness of digital accessibility globally.

Categories: ALT, Events

Academic online identity and social media

ALT Events - 24/07/19

Whether you are a serial poster, super scroller or logical lurker, there are opportunities for everyone to think about how to get more from social media.  This session will help you think about your academic identity online, providing opportunities to think about the way you network and what your social media is capable of doing for you.   Sarah will be sharing practical strategies and approaches that have been tried and tested, whether you want to engage students in sessions, reach a larger network with your research or want to connect with a wider community. 

Categories: ALT, Events

CMALT Webinar for Assessors

ALT Events - 23/07/19

At this session we will provide information and support to CMALT assessors, providing an overview of the assessment criteria, advice on how to complete an assessment, and an opportunity to see how the assessment process works.

There will also be time for individual questions at the end of the session.

Categories: ALT, Events

Call for Papers: Research in Learning Technology Special Collection on Mobile Mixed Reality Enhanced Learning

ALT News - 23/07/19

ALT and RLT are pleased to announce a Call for Papers for an update to the Special Collection on ‘Mobile Mixed Reality Enhanced Learning'.

Mobile Mixed Reality (MMR) is a rapidly developing technology that is being implemented in many different learning environments. A lot has changed already since the publication of our 2018 Special Collection on MMR, and this update to the 2018 special collection on MMR for 2019 will highlight the latest research in this domain.

Categories: ALT, News

Guest Post: ALT 2019 A novice abstract reviewer s tale by Alan Williams

#altc 2019 - 22/07/19
Why offer to review abstracts anyway? When I saw a call for reviewers for ALT 2019 I asked myself “Is this something that I am capable of?”. Yes, I’ve worked in higher education for well over a decade – I’m a late starter having worked in the NHS for two decades – have subjected myself […]

Student competition to create ALT’s Awards 2019 – Update

ALT News - 22/07/19

 

Lisa Mclaughlin is a 2019 graduate from the B.A.(Hons) Textile Design course at Hereford College of Arts. She was delighted to win the ALT award-making competition this year. This article gives you some information about Lisa’s work, and hints at what the awards will look like (they are currently under production). To give you a clue about the source of the print on the awards, this short post gives a little bit of information about Lisa’s practice.

Categories: ALT, News

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