Google Glasses, flipped classrooms and Digital Darwinism



Gillian Fielding
Learning and Skills Development Manager
University of Salford


EUNIS 2014 – Day 2

Michiel Boreel’s advice for CIOs and all managers

Day 2 at Eunis was no less intensive or interesting. Michiel Boreel’s keynote kicked off the day with an insightful view of ‘digital disruption’ (e.g. uber, Airbnb) and how these are changing their respective marketplaces, and how these will change our sector.

Michiel raised a valid point: we are often too busy to ask “why” (what is the value, what is the change, what is going to be possible) but focus on the “what” and “how”.  Technological changes are going to be the biggest driver of behavioural changes in society. Students/people want things “quick and easy” and now and from anywhere (see “What digital natives want from their library“). Having devices in “our pockets” (mine’s rarely there) and not desktop machines has rapidly changed our expectations. Michel reinforced UCISA’s Strategic Challenges emphasising the significance of “data”, suggesting “data is the new oil”. The phones in our pockets betray us by sharing where we are, what we are doing, etc. In LA the police are using data to predict crimes (PredPol), doing more for less. Looking to the future, Michiel predicted that by 2020 we will have 500 billion smart devices, e.g. smart pill boxes which alert us to when we should take them and GPs when we do not; and ‘moomonitors’ for monitoring a cow’s health and wellbeing and adjusting its food and medicine; ‘wearable’ tattoes and microchipped pills!

CEOs/IT and other organisation managers must recognise that technology is the most significant factor to affect businesses and it is changing faster than businesses can deal with it. “Digital Darwinism” is creating Zombie companies that will die. Apply Management 2.0 – build a flexible organisation, employ digital natives!

Research needs and IT

Nick Gibson of Unit 4 covered the challenges research departments have with IT e.g. funder’s requirements, greater need for cross-institutional systems and sophisticated audit trails. Nick has been working with Oxford and Cambridge Universities to provide sustainable and suitable systems.

Video, flipped classrooms and MOOCs

The benefits and issues of creating video content for online delivery and for flipped classrooms was covered by Carlos Turro of the Universitat Politecnica of Valencia (UVP) – see ‘Networked Teaching. The story of a success on creating e-learning content at Universitat Politecnica de Valencia’. Carlos outlined his view of a “MacDonaldisation of networked teaching” where ideas are gathered from the community to change the delivery and provide a menu of burgers and fries. UVP has installed 8 production studios for academics to use, along with templates and guidelines. They provide support which staff have to apply for. They also have 52 lecture halls with lecture capture. The benefits for students of the videos included viewing for “solving doubts” prior to exams. The recordings were also used for MOOC content, particularly useful to UVP as the South American market is very receptive to Spanish speaking MOOCs. A question from the floor asked how the staff and unions had responded to this. This had not been an issue as academics got paid a small amount. However the main reward for the 20% of academics who had participated proved to be the students’ improvement. Courses with PoliMedia got around 4% higher marks and groups with lecture recordings realised a 9% increase in grades.

 Linking Moodle and BYOD

Thierry Koscielniak from Paris Descartes University highlighted the benefits of making lessons interactive by using Moodle in combination with BYOD. Carefully timed questions which students answer on their own devices, i.e. after five or no more than 20 minutes.

Radical transformation of IT Services and doing more with less

James Davies’ session “Building a Collaborative Service Culture” outlined the University of Creative Arts’ implementation of ‘Bomgar’ to transform their IT Service. Bomgar is an IT Solution which works well on a multitude of devices and software. It enabled UCA to do more for less: to increase the number of first line resolutions; to give greater support to off-site users and international students; support previously unsupported devices, e.g. iPhones; and easily establish where faults lie (between vendors’ systems and their own systems). There was, however, the odd annoyance with its implementation – team members had to talk to each other!

Google Glass, telepresence robots and iPads

The final sessions of the day outlined the exciting research Umea University staff (Isa Jahnke, Anders Norberg, LarsNorqvist and Andreas Olsson) are doing with Google Glass, telepresence robots and iPads. We were enthralled not only with the technology but with the impact on the teaching.

One set of Google Glasses enabled dentistry students to be more effectively supported, assisted them to utilise their time better, and meant patient care improved (as they weren’t left unattended). There were hitches and considerations too, you had to think before you spoke, imagine that reaction you’ve all had to certain emails. Google Glass could have sent your reaction before you knew it! Eva presented a humorous adaption of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs – with wifi underpinning everything!

Google Glass doesn’t work on authenticated wifi like Eduroam and could be slow. The use of telepresence robots (made up with iPads) to undertake teaching observations and other assessments was discussed and certainly seemed to astound all present. Finally Isa Jahnke rounded off the day by enthusiastically presenting her theoretical model of “Digital Didactical Design model”. This was a fascinating approach provided a framework for practitioners and staff developers to adapt their teaching practice to incorporate technologies and the changing pedagogies. The concept of having to rethink and incorporate (more) multiple-layers for today’s classes rang true, with technology, learner centred activities, peer assessments, problem based learning, etc. Note to self: read Isa’s work and rethink my teaching.

Another day filled with thought provoking ideas.

The slides from all the presentations will be on the EUNIS website after the event.


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