Tag Archives: Digital capabilities

Is end-user training for Windows 10 needed?

Gareth Johns
IT Skills Development Advisor
Cardiff Metropolitan University

The autumn IT training schedule at Cardiff Met includes a Working with Windows 10 course. It doesn’t need to. We have never run training sessions for operating systems before, so why should Windows 10 be any different?

In many ways there isn’t any need for Windows 10 training; it is easy and intuitive to use. Unlike its predecessor, Windows 8, the Windows 10 user experience is good. The attempt to unify tablet and desktop UIs has largely been abandoned – there are no more hidden menus, windows are back to being windows that can be moved and resized and, most importantly, the Start menu is back.

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The Windows 10 Start menu at Cardiff Met

 

The Windows 10 Start menu does look different to the Windows 7 version, it incorporates live tiles for example, but it will be familiar to a Windows 7 user. The Start menu “skills” (perhaps muscle memory would be a better description) developed when using Windows 7 will be transferable to Windows 10. The same applies throughout the operating system. Windows Explorer is now File Explorer. Windows Favorites have been replaced with Quick Access. They look and behave differently, but they feel the same.

So why are we running a Windows 10 course? Firstly, there are some features of Windows 10 that will help users work a bit more efficiently that are not easy to discover. Jump Lists, for example. Jump Lists provide shortcuts to recent documents and sometimes also include other actions associated with that program (e.g. Internet Explorer includes Open New Tab). Jump Lists are accessed by right-clicking on a tile on the Start menu or Taskbar and can save users a few seconds when opening documents (the cumulative effect of which is considerable). But few users are aware that they exist, our training course will remedy that.

Secondly the course will give Cardiff Met staff time to acclimatise to, and build confidence in, the new OS. Frequently we use new software similarly to the old version. We proceed in the way we also have, because we don’t have time to step back to see if there is a better way to do it. The Working with Windows 10 course will hopefully give staff the time they need, with help available if they have any questions.

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OneDrive for Business is part of the Windows 10 upgrade at Cardiff Met

The third reason for developing a course is that our Windows 10 software “build” includes new software and services, so the training is not just about Windows 10. We are offering Skype for Business for the first time, Office 2013 has become Office 2016 and, crucially, OneDrive for Business replaces SharePoint My Sites. Our training course includes all these elements and allows staff to see how these new services work together in the Windows 10 environment.

The course also addresses one of our long-standing goals, sharing IT “Best Practice” with existing staff. Our IT induction programme achieves this for new starters; we advise them where to store documents, alert them to issues around account security and share practical tips for managing email. But up until now there has been no avenue for sharing this advice with existing staff – Working with Windows 10 allows us to do that. Hopefully staff will view the software upgrade as an opportunity to adopt Best Practice, and will finally find time to move their documents from hard drives to OneDrives!

The training will be available as an e-learning module, created using the excellent Adapt Builder and as a face-to-face course. Staff will be required to complete one form of training as part of their upgrade to Windows 10.

If you are interested in finding out how the training is received, I’ll be running a webinar for the community towards the end of the year, keep an eye on the Events page for details. In the meantime if you have any thoughts or comments, please share them below or catch me on Twitter @GarethPJohns

TEF and digital capabilities – do you measure up?

The second Digital Capabilities Survey will be open for responses in early October. It will be interesting to compare the results with the 2014 Survey and see what now influences the development of digital capabilities within our institutions.

One possible influence (although it may have come too late to have a significant impact on this Survey) is the Teaching Excellence Framework. The Technical Consultation outlined the number of criteria that institutions will need to demonstrate that they are meeting if they are to achieve Excellent or Outstanding ratings. So what are the areas where policies and activities relating to digital capabilities are likely to have an effect?

The first criterion listed under the Teaching Quality aspect is Teaching provides effective stimulation and encourages students to engage. Student satisfaction surveys are listed as a key piece of evidence, not only to demonstrate that the students feel that their teaching is stimulating and engaging, but also to demonstrate the way that such surveys and other student feedback relate back to staff development. Students expect lecturers to be able to teach using current technology; how good is the institution at equipping those lecturers with the skills they need? The need to provide continuing professional development for both academic and support staff is also highlighted in another criterion, that the Institutional culture recognises and rewards excellent teaching.

The focus of the TEF isn’t entirely on staff skills and abilities – there is a significant focus on student outcomes too. Two criteria in particular focus on this area – that students achieve their educational and professional goals and that they acquire knowledge, skills and attributes that prepare them to their personal and professional lives. Whilst the evidence for the former will be largely based on employment outcomes (I would expect the replacement for the Destination of Leavers return to be a key measure here), suggested evidence for the latter includes employer engagement in the curriculum, course accreditation by professional regulatory or statutory bodies and extra-curricular activities designed to enhance employability and transferable skills. Digital capabilities are an essential part of the skills and attributes a graduate will need – the emphasis an institution places on digital capabilities may depend on the level of external influence on employment outcomes. As the TEF matures, it will be interesting to see whether those institutions with a strong focus on student digital capabilities will achieve better ratings than their peers.

Finally, the TEF reinforces the Government’s commitment to widening participation. Institutions are required to demonstrate that Positive outcomes are achieved for students from all backgrounds, in particular those from disadvantaged backgrounds or those who are at greater risk of not achieving positive outcomes. In this aspect disadvantaged can have a multitude of meanings – institutions will need to identify and make provision for those who are digitally disadvantaged.

It may be too early for the TEF to have a major effect on digital capabilities strategies and activities. The 2017 Digital Capabilities Survey may identify those looking to steal a march on their competitors by implementing measures to improve their students’ and staff skills levels. Alternatively it may show that the TEF is not going to be a major influence with institutions already having measures in place. Time will tell. The survey opens in early October and we are currently identifying the lead respondent for each institution. If you are unsure as to whom the lead respondent is for your institution, please contact admin@ucisa.ac.uk.

digital detective #playlearn16

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Sue Watling
Academic Advisor,Technology Enhanced Learning
University of Hull
Member of the UCISA Digital Capabilities Group

 

This week I’m at the Birley Campus of MMU attending the Playful Learning Conference #playlearn16. Thank you @UCISA for the bursary which made this amazing experience possible.  I say amazing because playing games takes me right out of my comfort zone.

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Youngest son works here at Birley and while we were chatting about the conference, he reminded me how playing board games was an integral part of his childhood. Before this week I can’t remember the last time I opened a board game box. There’s lots of them here  week but now – as then  – computers are competing for attention.

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We used to have a ZX Spectrum when that was cutting edge – and a shoe-box full of games. Today eldest son still plays WarHammer but youngest is a digital gamer. Thanks to him I can talk about Grand Theft Auto, Heavy Rain and Witcher. Love the graphics but still much to learn about the multitasking demands of an Xbox console! I’m more of a vicarious game-player rather than a real one and with regard to play it’s more the creativity aspects which interest me. I’m part of the #creativeHE network and we’ve just finished another open online week. With the conversations still fresh in my mind, of the questions I arrived with on Wednesday was how play and games might link up with creative approaches to HE. In particular, could I find ways to be more creative with introducing staff to TEL and developing digital capabilities.  The conference isn’t over yet so there’ll be blog posts to follow which try and answer this. In the meantime I’m reflecting on the power of crowd sourcing to find things forgotten things.

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This week I was defeated by Google. It started with a poet and the title of a book of poems. I couldn’t remember either. All I knew was male with a cancer diagnosis, northern England, something to do with a year spent in a sheep pen or shepherd shelter, within the last decade and I thought I’d read about him in the Guardian.  I didn’t expect it to be a problem. After all you can find anything with Google – can’t you?

But it was and I couldn’t. On and off for a couple of days I tried variations of all the bits I could I could remember, confident Google would pick up something which would trigger what I needed.  It didn’t. Instead it was an lesson in how Google makes overt decisions based on popularity and how this can prevent any covert, deeper connections from taking place. William Wordsworth and James Rebanks  came up again and again. I learned some interesting asides like Yan Tan Thethera, an old english counting method, but could not discover my poet.

Then I thought – Library!

So I sent a tweet to @HullUni_Library who shared it with @hull_libraries from where it was picked up by @BookjacketsHQ who gave me the answer – all within minutes. Could it be Glyn Hughes ‘A Year in the Bull Box’. Not sheep but cattle. Yes – it could and it was!

image of a tweet with correct answer Glyn Hughes

Wrong beast but I’m not convinced it would have made much difference. When I briefly tried the same search terms, substituting cattle for sheep, still no luck. So thank you Lyn Fenby. I have the book of poems I needed for the final year of my creative writing course as well as discovering the rest of the work of Glyn Hughes who died in 2011 The Guardian Glyn Hughes Obituary.

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With hindsight the library (shown above reconstructed in Minecraft) may have been the most obvious place to start but turning digital detective was an automatic conditioned behaviour.

The implications for learning and teaching are reassuring. One of the affordances of VLE is alleged to be supporting student independence so using search engines is part of induction processes while a core element of digital literacy is the authentication and validation of online resources. Of course, the internet doesn’t have the answers. It’s how we use it that counts. With regards to my poet, it was people who made the difference and, like reliving the value of playing board games at this Playful Learning event, it’s good to be reminded how being human in the digital age is what matters most of all.

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This blog post originally appeared on the Digital Academic Blog

Review, Reflect and Remember – Playful Learning

sue_watlington

 

Sue Watling
Academic Advisor,Technology Enhanced Learning
University of Hull
Member of the UCISA Digital Capabilities Group

 

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The Hull team arriving at the Playful Learning Conference, 13-15 July 2016.

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On arrival* participants were inducted into the marble game which ran throughout the three days. Clutching our marble winnings we were able to register and inspect the construction – a bit like mousetrap for marbles – which we were invited to add components to.

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This was supplemented with text message tasks and challenges in return for – yes – more marbles. It was indicative of the amazing amount of preparation work which must have gone into planning and setting up the Playful Learning Conference.

Everywhere you looked  on the Spanish Steps on the ground floor of MMU’s Birley Campus there was something to do.

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The steps homed an assortment of objects and board games while over on the registration desk the ‘Sea You Sea Me’ activity buckets were waiting. Each bucket contained 30 items, all designed for teams to create a beach (with real sand, shells and water!) while having conversations and solving puzzles. 30 buckets = 900 individual component parts! Did I mention the phenomenal amount of work which went into setting up this conference?

Three Keynotes over three days and a total of 25 parallel sessions were interspersed with whole conference activities like the Storybook. I wish I’d recorded Nikky’s vibrant retelling of the process of  creating stories.  It ended too soon.

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Unsurprisingly Storybook involved yet another set of challenges. This time it was to unlock the chest whose treasures included a set of keys for yet more games!

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It was difficult to choose from the variety of parallel sessions; I went to six in total. Having recently experienced Lego Serious Play, https://digitalacademicblog.wordpress.com/2016/06/17/bricking-it, I was interested to compare this with the PlayDoh Plaza. Maybe it’s in the name but it felt strange to be asked to take part in activities so reminiscent of childhood yet they were both underpinned with constructionist and kinaesthetic pedagogies. When PlayDog was introduced to bio-medical students they’d also been unsure. The words in the images below show their feelings before and after a PlayDoh session. It shows the value of being prepared to try something different. We were asked to choose a colour and make a model which represented our work. The purple chains are my digital networks while the face is the digital monster – the one which appears in our worst technology nightmares when everything goes wrong in front of a room full of students. Interestingly, everyone I spoke to knew exactly what this felt like!

It was a time of new discoveries. I came across the word Shonky, discovered Makey Makey clips, answered questions with clues gained from QR Codes, used Poll everywhere and competed in a quiz using Kahoot. One of the most memorable workshops was Ugg-Tect; a game which uses gestures instead of words to give instructions for building models from coloured shapes. Ungungdo!

I also learned about data encryption; one of those topics you know about without really understanding the detail. We began with the Caesar Cypher; a mono alphabetic transposition code (and we got to keep the encryption wheels). We then moved onto the Diffie-Hellman Ken Exchange to generate an encryption key which was theoretically more difficult to intercept. This used an app which didn’t seem to be working as well as it could do or maybe it was just the digital monster rearing its scary PlayDoh head again!

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Other sessions included a digital form of Exquisite Corpse as an aid to creative storytelling, the application of pedagogical theory to a teaching practice card game, and exploring creative methods for solving learning and teaching problems. These involved dressing up (hat and sunglasses to go incognito), choosing objects (it had to be the ammonite) and making things (not sure what my pipe cleaner mesh represented but I found it therapeutic to shut out the world and focus on its construction).

There were also the escape room experiences, the Board Game Cafe demonstrations, different sporting activities including Neon Badminton, and Inbox Zero – which I missed completely – as well as the Treasure Hunt on the last morning. Meanwhile the marble challenges continued to run alongside everything else.

By the end of the conference I’d joined in so many different activities yet still only experienced a part of the whole event. I’d arrived with a number of questions about the role of play in learning and teaching e.g. how digital would it be, had the organisers assumed we’d all have wifi connected devices, how inclusive and accessible were the activities, as a non-game player would I have ‘fun’ and above all else what would I learn.

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Play is a misnomer. Because of its association with fun and games, rather than the ‘serious’ business of higher education, you almost need to ‘permission’ to do something so different. Yet what is play other than an alternative way to describe creative approaches to learning and teaching? Getting around the discontinuity can be a simple as re-framing an activity within a pedagogical theory. Maybe we need to find more ways to play in disguise!

Stepping outside the box – or recreating the size and shape of the box – can often mean taking a risk but if we don’t take risks now and then, everything stays the same. It’s only by challenging ourselves that we can develop and grow. A key message I took away was how it can be good to venture outside your comfort zones and do something you wouldn’t normally do. A ‘feel the fear and do it’ scenario. Only then do you discover what feels strange at first can soon become normalised if we repeat it often enough. The conference participants were a unique mix. They included computer scientists, gamers, creative writers and other artists, academics, academic developers and librarians. This made for some interesting exchanges of thoughts and experiences.

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I’ve taken away not only new connections but reinforcement of the value of having time and space to discuss learning and teaching. I loved how the parallel sessions were so interactive. There was very little traditional sitting and listening and I don’t think I’ve been to such an activity based conference before. For me, this definitely added to its value. With regards to the play element, if you interpret this as creative thinking then all educational conferences would benefit from its inclusion. At minimum it could be a strand or a themed component while at best it would be threaded throughout.

When we engage with ‘playful’ situations we seemed to have more discussion than we would have otherwise. It was particularly useful for beginning and continuing conversations with strangers. Whether you were staff or student facing, involved in supporting the student experience or working with CPD/academic practice elements, there was something at Playful Learning for everyone.  It was an inaugural conference. For something so new and innovative, this first time around felt like a resounding success. I’m sure I’m not the only one to hope there will be more to come.

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My thanks to UCISA for the bursary which funded my attendance. 

This blog post originally appeared on the Digital Academic Blog

Technology in Higher Education – best practice, skills and the student offer

Earlier this year, I attended the Westminster Higher Education Forum seminar on best practice of using technology in higher education and for future employment. The forum has members from both Houses of Parliament as well as representatives from universities and colleges. This short half-day seminar included 5 minute presentations from a number of speakers with time for questions.

Collaboration, collaboration, collaboration

One of the discussions, chaired by Baroness Morgan of Huyton, centred on the effective use of a social networking in teaching and highlighted the successful use of Facebook for new students. I think the important factor was the use of a student as one of the administrators looking after the closed group and videos made by students for students. This partnership proved invaluable – Professor Peter Strike, Vice Chancellor of University of Cumbria, said conversations were encouraged, in contrast to staff preaching to students, and this approach improved engagement. Another project discussed by Dr Laura Ritchie from the University of Chichester identified the use of informal learning spaces using social networks as a platform for collaboration and learning. She likened students’ experience with technology as tea and toast – they are exposed to it on a daily basis but the question is do they know how to use it effectively?

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Awareness of personal content shared online was discussed at length in the questions and comments from the floor and is still a factor that could affect a student’s employability if they are sharing images and conversations with the world that are not appropriate for future employers to view. Whose responsibilty is it for students to be aware of what they share online? Currently posts cannot be removed permanently and there is concern the social networking sites have access to personal data even after it has been deleted by the user. Dr Richard Harvey, University of East Anglia said a colleague had suggested to him the use of Twitter should be taught and found this comment outrageous. I think students may not require being taught how to use Twitter but many will need guidance on how to use it effectively and the consequences of not. Mark Kerrigan pointed out that the different levels of digital capabilities will mean that some students will need to spend time learning a new technology before they can engage with their study. The amount of time students spend mastering a new technology before studying the subject they were at university to learn can vary greatly.

MOOCs vs Face-to face

MOOCs seems to still be a buzz-word between HE professionals and the media with mixed opinions. MOOCs were suggested as a good approach for new students to measure their engagement before attending university to identify who does not engage and will need extra help. Face-to-face teaching is still recognised as a preferred approach by some students, as confirmed by Lawrie Phipps from Jisc. MOOCs have caused some heartache to staff when students have used the forum inappropriately. Michael Kerrison’s example of a student using the MOOC forum as a platform to air their own personal views of the US consititutional law was interesting. I think it can be tricky giving students free reign and terms of use should be put in place. But is this restricting their artistic licence?

Summary

Peter Tinson, UCISA’s Executive Director, mentioned the digital capabilities survey deployed by UCISA digital capabilities sub group identified the wide range of support provided for staff and students across the sector. I think there is a plethora of experience to be shared between practitioners. I am not sold on the idea that students can be taught digital skills per se but agree with findings from the survey – digital skills should be embedded within existing curriculum without being labelled as learning technology. It is important that the use of technology is just as important as how to use the tool itself and the impact of the web in everyday life, learning and the workplace. York St John University is currently auditing the digital skills training offered to staff and students and I am looking forward to a Digital Capabilities Framework being put in place to streamline the provision of digital skills teaching. I hope this will help improve the students’ experience and provide a good choice of what is on offer from the university as a whole in contrast to being provided from separate departments. I think adaptability and willingness to learn new things should be encouraged in this ever-changing digital world.

For the twitter conversation go to:
https://storify.com/NodWebb/technology-in-higher-education-best-practice-skill


About Annette Webb
Edited westminster

I have been an IT Trainer at York St John University since 2005 and am a Fellow of the HEA. I support staff and students at all levels on digital systems. I have recently completed a Masters degree and benefited from the experience of being a student in the 21st century. I have a keen interest in helping staff and students to use technology effectively.
This post was written by Annette Webb, Academic Technologies Trainer, York St John University and a member of the UCISA Digital Capabilities Group

Jisc Digital student event

I attended the Jisc digital student data collection and analysis workshop in London on the Wednesday 29th April. It was raining. I was directed to a brightly lit room, mostly due to the large windows with bare white walls. The room was furnished with six large tables, littered with Jisc information, and chairs stationed around them. At 10am it was filled with HE staff from all over the UK. I sat down next to two lovely ladies, one from The Open University and the other from Glasgow Caledonian University.

The day started with Sarah Knight talking about the #digitalstudent project and how Jisc were at phase 3, where they had already consulted with 500 staff and students from HE and 300 staff and 220 learners from further education about students expectations and experiences of technology. The remainder of the day was spent in a facilitated workshop.

We were told that ideas were needed from the sector and that there was no such thing as a bad idea. The day was not going to be laid back. We were going to have to work for our lunch, and work we did. It was filled with analogies, what ifs and concepts.

We were presented with the seven challenges in enhancing the digital student experience, taken from the Jisc strategic approach guide. Then came the Analogy exercise. We were asked us to think of commercial systems that could work well within the HE sector to enhance the student experience. There were many examples as we were encouraged to write as many as we could. One person suggested financial risk planning. The key attributes were profiling customers about their perception towards risk. They suggested that it could be used to profile students’ perceptions towards technology.

We had a noisy break as everyone was chatting to each other. Then the next exercise quickly followed: What ifs. We were given large block of Postit notes to write down our wish lists such as What if … we had a permanent student led (CAN) R&D unit run by student research interns or work placements or What if … we bought Facebook and used it for learning and What if… we could personalised every individuals approach to teaching or learning and enable them to work in their own preferred way. By the end of the session those lovely white walls, were no longer white but filled with our ideas on coloured bits of sticky paper.

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The day did not end there. We had fun drawing each other with our left hand, for light relief, before the meat of the exercises was served to us. We had to take the What ifs and develop them into concepts propositions. Two from each table were presented to the room and then stuck up on the wall, where everyone was invited to vote on the concepts. I looked out the window and the rain had stopped. After a summary of the day, the facilitators thanked us for our contributions and closed the workshop. It was an enjoyable day that went as quickly as the rain.

Footnote: Initial outcomes from the day are available on the Jisc website

Lorraine Barclay
IT Systems Trainer
St George’s University of London
UCISA-DSDG USG Committee member