Tag Archives: HE

Developing ideas in pedagogical transparency for staff and students

Brandon Davies
Junior Audio-Visual Technician
City, University of London

Spotlight on Digital Capabilities, June 2018

When I applied for the UCISA bursary scheme, I immediately identified “Spotlight on Digital Capabilities”, as an ideal conference for what I feel is a most urgent and interesting point of contention within the higher education system today. The potential and ambition within the realm of future teaching-enhancing techniques is intense, and the conference further embodied this.
In my blog, I’m going to focus on two talks from the conference, with which I most connected. I will then expand that consolidation of information into my own thoughts on digital pedagogical applications.

Certification for IT training: options and approaches – Gareth Johns

The talk by Gareth Johns on options and approaches for IT training was eye opening.  The options presented brought together a vital mix of ingredients essential to constructing a sustainable system for engagement, efficiency and certification validity.
The MOS Course (Microsoft Office Specialist) is an official course run and certified by Microsoft themselves.  Using this as a benchmark for digital capabilities is a fantastic way to give staff and students a goal that is not just useful for working within the university, but an incredibly useful skill as a whole. Having a highly recognized qualification as the goal, helps add to staff and students’ employability skills for their career, as well as increasing the efficiency with which digital technology is used, and furthers the transition into modern teaching spaces.

Employability as a result of proficiency

As an Audio-Visual technician myself, the vastly increasing use of digital technology within teaching spaces, can be bewildering for staff and students.  However, these spaces have the potential to provide an increasingly communicative, inclusive and engaging form of teaching. Simply setting the MOS course as a goal is not enough.  At Cardiff Metropolitan University, Gareth has implemented interactive pages on Moodle, in which a more bespoke and broken down version of the course lessons can be taught. This, as well as regular seminars, creates a far more friendly environment and approach for learning the necessary skills required for passing MOS. Using real spreadsheets that staff and students interact with, helps bring home how useful these skills can be in day to day life. This contextualisation, as well as additional practice software such as G-Metrix, creates the infrastructure necessary for an intuitive and accessible course.

Developing a holistic institutional approach to digital capabilities development – Karen Barton

Karen’s talk opened my mind to a totally different approach to digital capabilities development, an holistic approach. Rather conveniently from my alma mater (University of Hertfordshire), Karen immediately separated herself from other approaches by viewing the situation from a larger perspective.
This picture from her slide perfectly demonstrates the side effects of a non-centralised approach to providing answers. With too many parties providing their own solutions, the result can be an overcrowded and inefficient environment.

 

 

Having a specific investigative objective from senior management, as one would expect, seems to have gone a long way in progressing Karen’s work. The use of a pilot programme as a result of the extensive resources allocated, is a great way to slowly refine the scheme before being finalised.
Five other universities have signed up to Hertfordshire’s pilot, a collaboration benefiting everybody. At Hertfordshire, the total redesign of the VLE has given the team there an opportunity to apply different pedagogical practices into the most commonly used software around the university. This has provided an exceptional opportunity to increase the accessibility and efficiency of the scheme. Such long-term integration of digital capability approaches, enables an accretion of infrastructure to the point where the very fabric of being a part of the university exposes you to the certification course and its requirements. Many different speakers from a variety of universities pointed out the use of Lynda.com and Karen was no exception. I’d recommended my university (City, University of London) consider the use of Lynda. I’ve used Lynda for personal development in the past and can speak only highly of it.
Here are a few ideas I have for increasing the success rate and enthusiasm for an IT certification scheme.

Don’t Fall Behind in the Digital Age

Marketing Ideas:
  • Giving a focus on the employability aspect of the course is vital; certification within digital capabilities is hugely beneficial in the modern job market. Indicate the need to stay ahead in the digital age and not fall behind, reinforce the accreditation from Microsoft. The opportunities for lecturers to save on valuable teaching time by becoming increasingly proficient with digital technology within the classroom, is an additional marketing focus.

Increase your chances of a higher salary!

  • Holding a prize within the course for exceptional students and staff could also be hugely beneficial to providing additional incentives.

Conclusions

Homogenising the wide variety of ideas and approaches from the conference is not an easy task.  However, what I’ve mentioned goes a long way to solidifying my own approach to a task requiring a great deal of re-wiring across higher education as a whole, which has no easy solution.
I’d like to thank all the speakers from the conference and UCISA for giving me the opportunity through the bursary scheme to attend. I hope to share my findings with staff at City, University of London, and encourage conversation on an incredibly interesting and complex subject.
Interested in applying for a UCISA bursary? Then visit UCISA Bursary Scheme.

What’s the reality with Virtual Reality?

David Vince
Senior Product Development Manager, Learning and Teaching Innovation
The Open University

Realities 360

As a senior product development manager in the Learning Innovation team at the Open University, my role is to work with colleagues to enhance teaching and learning through developing new products (i.e. tools and platforms) and supporting processes.
Earlier this year, I received a UCISA bursary enabling me to attend Realities 360. It bills itself as a hands-on event for early adopters and learning technologists to investigate first-hand Augmented Reality (AR), Virtual Reality (VR) and other simulations for learning which fall under the umbrella term of Extended Reality (XR).

What’s the reality with Virtual Reality?

Here are my reflections from Realities 360:
  1. What’s the problem VR can solve?
VR technology is still emergent. So, how do we use this new technology to do something existing tools, tech and media, don’t already enable without risk of being accused of ‘technology drive’ (as opposed to ‘pedagogy driven’) solutions? My personal take is that neither are desirable and, in fact, they need to be mutually supportive which leads nicely on to the following…
  1. Human-centred design
Find your problem. Opt for a user centric approach. IDEO have a design kit to get you started developing empathy with users and gain better insights into their needs/context. If your product has value to your users, they’re more likely to adopt it.
  1. Start small, pilot, evaluate and (re)iterate
It’s easy to be critical of emergent technologies. Best practice hasn’t emerged so we’re all learning: start small, learn and then (re)iterate.
  1. ‘Just because you can, doesn’t mean you should’
This is something that has been said within our team but something Linas Mockus and Joseph Scott, Instructional Designers at Penn State World Campus, Penn State’s online campus, pointed out twice in their presentation entitled ‘Is online education ready for VR and 360 video’. Linas and Joseph are and plan to make their research findings public. In the meantime, you might want to take a look at the news pages of Penn State’s website.
Higher education has been slow to adopt VR but there seemed to be plenty of like-minded colleagues from higher education in this session. At present, AR/VR simulation conferences seem to have a bias towards the training sector but there’s an obvious need for mechanisms for educators to share practice and learn from each other.
  1. xAPI might be your new best friend
VR experiences generate a lot of data as they’re computer mediated. Some of this is structured data, such as responses to in-experience questions however, there’s also unstructured data, such as what users are looking at, determining the meaning of their responses (e.g. sentiment analysis) etc. The ‘x’ in xAPI is short for “experience,” and gives a deeper level of behavioural insight taking things that aren’t structured and giving them structure, e.g. by recording who did what, what was done, what it was done to (i.e. an object) and a host of contextual data.
xAPI is well worth considering to get a better insight into what your learners are doing and gauge that learning has taken place by designing in activities/tasks that you set out to monitor. This will improve the experience and reduce reliance on those in-experience questions which I’ve seen lots of over the past few days.
Thanks UCISA for the bursary enabling me to attend Realities 360. During my time here, I’ve met colleagues travelling from as far away as South Africa who, like me, haven’t found conferences closer to home that fit the bill.
This blog first appeared on the Open University, Learning Innovation blog
Interested in applying for a UCISA bursary? Then visit UCISA Bursary Scheme.

What does the digital age mean for teaching and learning?

Alice Gallagher
Senior Product Development Manager
The Open University

OEB 2017: Highlights and reflections

The talks and sessions I attended at OEB 2017, courtesy of a UCISA bursary, were hugely varied, and offered the opportunity to engage with different perspectives to my own. This can be fascinating and enlightening, but also challenging. There were talks that really struck a chord, and others that jarred for me. It can be difficult to reflect back on the latter, to try to understand where that disconnection comes from.
In these blogs, I’ve grouped my thoughts into the keynotes on the first day, some of the highlights, and lowlights, of the rest of the conference and my critical reflections.

Keynotes

Aleks Krotoski – The Tales they are A’Changin

Aleks is a familiar media figure and gave a very engaging and entertaining talk about the nature of storytelling and how it has changed. She moved though subject areas as varied as the Bible, Star Wars and My Little Pony! Essentially, the point she was making (I think), was that stories used to be guarded by gatekeepers, but the rise of the digital age has moved us to the extreme of fanon (fans creating new stories which then become part of the mainstream/canon). This made me think about the shift in power, and the democratisation of the Internet. However, how do you apply that to a learning context? Collaboration and co-design are wonderful democratising concepts in teaching and learning, but isn’t there always the role of a teacher in some capacity? Even if you move away from the traditional ‘imparting of wisdom’ teacher/student dynamic.
One message that came through loud and clear for me was that uncertainty can lead to reinvention. A central theme of the conference and a positive opening message.

Follow-up session (Aleks Krotoski)

I attended a follow-up discussion session with Aleks, which focused on how we might apply storytelling in our own professions. Although I went into the session thinking about how I might be able to use storytelling techniques in developing learning materials for students, it soon became clear to me in the session that the real story I needed to tell was to my academic colleagues. I work in learning innovation, and one of the biggest challenges of my role is explaining what the future of digital learning might be like. By making digital learning the subject of my story, I could use storytelling structural devices to get across my message.
Where was the world before we started?
What is going to change? What are your goals?
Raising the stakes (engagement)
Main event (answers question)
Resolution (world as it is now) – share truth in specifics
Until recently, I couldn’t see how I could use this kind of storytelling in my work. Sometimes you have to conform to familiar language to persuade people to listen, and sometimes you need to break the mould to be heard. It feels like the moment to break the mould might be around the corner. I have been keeping this storytelling structure in my back pocket for just that moment!

Abigail Trafford – Longevity learning technology

Abigail gave a fascinating talk about learning in later life. This is not an unfamiliar notion to me. At the Open University we traditionally cater for students in all walks of life. However, what I hadn’t really considered were the different needs of older people in preparing for the future. Abigail talked about the emergence of adolescence, and its role in helping young people prepare for adult life. As life expectancy increases we are seeing a new stage of life appear. That new stage comes after the tasks of adulthood are complete, but before old age. New, healthy decades in the middle of life that people need help in transitioning into. How can we help them develop new skills, prepare for their next career? How can we innovate in part-time, flexible study to cater for the needs of this age group?
I have recently been involved in some research with students into learning behaviours. One of the outcomes of this work is the dispelling of the notion of ‘digital natives’. Digital capability when it comes to learning seems to have no correlation to age. We looked at behaviours around digital preference and technological self-efficacy, and found a pattern in the behaviours of those new to HE and those with more experience, has nothing to do with age. The more we understand about students’ capabilities and needs, and the less we stereotype, the more we can innovate and help everyone fulfil their potential, at whatever stage of life they are.

 

Pasi Sahlberg – Myths and facts about the future of schooling

I really enjoyed Pasi’s talk. He is clearly a very skilled teacher and was able to entertain, inform and educate a huge room full of delegates very skilfully. His talk focused in on the OECD study of the education policies of different countries. From his Finnish perspective, he commented on the features of successful and not-so-successful education policies. As you might have guessed, Finland has been coming out on top! It was fascinating to compare the features of the education policies of Finland and England. Practical and research evidence shows the approach of Finland and others like it works better, not just in academic performance, but also health and well-being.
Finland England
Cooperation Competition (between schools)
Risk-taking and creativity Standardisation
Professionalism De-professionalisation of teaching
Trust-based responsibility Test-based accountability
Equitable public education for all Market-based privatisation
My reflections on this talk were perhaps more personal than the others. I have one child at school and another about to start. My daughter has just taken her first SATS, aged seven. I distinctly dislike the approach to education forced on schools in England: the testing, the focus on mental arithmetic and spelling. Although I support their schoolwork, at home we focus on creativity, problem-solving, reading for fun, emotional intelligence. I was so pleased to hear I was not alone in this approach, and to keep going, despite ‘traditional values’ government policies.
Videos of the conference can be found here including the Keynote presentations.
Interested in applying for a UCISA bursary? Then visit UCISA Bursary Scheme.

I love it when a plan comes together – working on the UCISA IT Comms Toolkit

Anna Mathews
Head of Policy and Projects
UCISA

 

 

The UCISA IT Comms toolkit – a resource for higher and further education institutions

As the project lead, Sarah Peace, Head of Desktop and Printing Services at the University of York explains, “The aim of this Toolkit is to provide the UCISA community with a resource that anyone involved in IT communications can use. Whether you have an embedded communications team, a central university team or it’s everyone’s responsibility, there’s always room for improvement, and we hope that even someone who has worked in comms for several years can learn from this resource.”

The Toolkit www.ucisa.ac.uk/ITcomms is split into four sections: why communicate?, how to communicate, when to communicate and who to communicate to. But perhaps the most valuable part of the Toolkit is the resources section – a repository of graphics, templates, strategies and videos that colleagues in higher and further education are invited to explore and repurpose, or as Sally Bogg, Head of End User Services at Leeds Beckett University has it, please do “pinch with pride”.

There are quite a few things that I have really enjoyed about this project, to the extent that process may have become more significant to me than the final output. This is because:

  • before we commenced drafting we talked – and I mean really talked – about comms and who is doing good work on this in the sector, horror stories of when we haven’t communicated well ourselves, and everything in between;
  • I’ve seen at first hand the motivating effect of involving younger colleagues in a UCISA activity (for example, recent graduates seeing what roles they might progress into, through talking to more experienced members of the project team);
  • I’ve had the opportunity to work with graphic and web designers from one of UK’s most creative universities (thank you, University of the Arts London);
  • we used what at times seemed like every collaborative tool going to envisage, draft and hang a product together from scratch in a few short months, and kept the energy going (thank you, Sarah) with a crack team from all over the country most of whom are captured in this short, informal video.

We’ll continue to add to the Toolkit throughout the year, so that we have examples from as many different mission types and comms functions as possible. Therefore, if you have anything that you are able to publicly share please send it to me for potential inclusion. We are happy to have duplicates for examples that are already there, and we are also looking for comms materials and documents for IT projects, and with business change.

What do you like, what do we need more of and what are we missing? Please drop me a line at execsec@ucisa.ac.uk or leave a comment below.

UCISA bursary – one of the most rewarding experiences of my career

Ben Sleeman
Service Development Assistant
University of Greenwich

AETM Conference 2017 and university visits, Melbourne, Australia

Attending the Audiovisual and Education Technology Management Conference (AETM) in Australia, made possible by a bursary from UCISA, was one of the most rewarding experiences of my career to date.

Learning from peers

USICSA’s bursary scheme has supported the development of my career by giving me exposure to a conference where the other delegates have management responsibilities for audio visual technologies and the development of AV in teaching and learning spaces. This was a great opportunity to meet and network with AV teams from across Australia and with AETM members attending the conference from New Zealand.
The support from UCISA also gave me the opportunity to see how AV and IT technology is being converged to make effective and efficient use of technology in education outside of the UK.
During the trip and since my return I have shared my university visits and AETM conference experience via social media (Facebook and Twitter), the UCISA blog , via photos, 360º VR photos and interviews with members of the AV teams at each of the universities I visited. This information has been shared with others within higher and further education, including the UCISA community – for example, I am in touch with another bursary winner interested in AV developments, Ed Stout – as well as members of AETM in Australia. My UCISA blog posts have been shared via internal communications at the University of Greenwich. I have also shared the information about the social media pages I have been blogging to with my team and the first and second line teams at the university.

Insight into implementation of AV

The first week’s visits to five universities gave me an insight into how AV is implemented in Australia. The universities I visited were: Deakin University, Monash University, RMIT, Swinburne University and the University of Melbourne.
The differences in AV implementation ranged from which manufacturers had been used (some of which was due to geographical location and distribution), through to the remote equipment monitoring systems and the development of AV systems (in some cases, using universities’ own IT/AV teams and converging their skill sets). It was also interesting to see the mix of support models in use, with AV supported by internal teams in some institutions and by external companies in others.

AV projects

The AETM conference gave me yet more exposure to AV projects that have been undertaken and how they are managed in universities across Australia and New Zealand, as well as presentations from AV manufacturers. The conference also included presentations and tours around the teaching and learning spaces of the host university, the University of the Sunshine Coast, to show case their AV installations. This included a tour of the CAVE2TM, which provides a near-seamless 320-degree, immersive and panoramic 3D virtual environment, USC Nursing, Paramedic, House Simulation clinics and Law Moot court.

IP solutions

Of particular interest from a personal development point of view was that IP (internet protocol) based solutions are either being trialled or have been established at all the universities that I visited: IP solutions for wireless BYOD, audio over IP via AES67 for lecture capture, AV over IP to replace tradition HDBaseT and assistive hearing technologies over Wi-Fi. They seemed to be ahead of UK institutes, however I have seen this to be more and more the case in the UK from visits to other institutes and round table events, where AV over IP has been discussed as well as the development of AV IP technologies showcased at Integrated Systems Europe show (ISE).

Next steps

With this in mind, I am hoping to improve my knowledge of network infrastructures to help think about AV projects from both an AV and IT/IP point of view. The bursary has given me the opportunity to see how the AV world is moving further into the IT world and has influenced my decision to investigate the possibility of applying for a place on a Master’s Degree course in Computer Systems and Network Engineering.
Interested in applying for a UCISA bursary? Then visit UCISA Bursary Scheme.

Interview: How Deakin University caters for BYOD and wireless collaboration

Ben Sleeman
Service Development Assistant
University of Greenwich

AETM Conference and university visits, Melbourne, Australia

 

In this final blog covering the AETM Conference Australia and a series of interviews with Jeremy West, Senior Audio Visual Engineer and Tech Lead in the eSolution Team, Deakin University, I talk to Jeremy about BYOD provision at Deakin and how they are looking at solutions to allow students to interact in lectures via BYOD. Jeremy also talks about the extensive wireless collaboration across the university’s estate.


In my series of interviews with Jeremy, we discussed a wide range of AV areas including:

A big thank you to Jeremy and the team at Deakin University for showing me around their estate and giving me the opportunity to see how their AV solutions work currently and with an eye to the future supported by the eSolutions team.

Interested in applying for a UCISA bursary? Then visit UCISA Bursary Scheme.

UCISA welcomes blog contributions and comment responses to blog posts from all members. If you would like to contribute a new perspective or opinion on a current topic of interest, simply contact UCISA’s marketing manager Manjit Ghattaura via manjit.ghattaura@it.ox.ac.uk

 

The views expressed on UCISA blogs are the authors’ and do not necessarily reflect those of UCISA

Interview: Lecture capture at Deakin University and the Echo solution

Ben Sleeman
Service Development Assistant
University of Greenwich

AETM Conference and university visits, Melbourne, Australia

During my visit to a number of Melbourne universities in November, I carried out a series of interviews with Jeremy West, Senior Audio Visual Engineer and Tech Lead in the eSolution Team at Deakin University. Alongside attending the AETM Conference, the trip allowed me to visit not only Deakin University but Monash University, RMIT, Swinburne University and the University of Melbourne to explore further their AV solutions.

In this penultimate interview of the series, Jeremy talks about the lecture capture solutions at Deakin University including streaming of lectures, the use of tracking cameras and source switching. He also discusses how much of the teaching and learning spaces are covered by the Echo solution they have in place.

Interested in applying for a UCISA bursary? Then visit UCISA Bursary Scheme.

UCISA welcomes blog contributions and comment responses to blog posts from all members. If you would like to contribute a new perspective or opinion on a current topic of interest, simply contact UCISA’s marketing manager Manjit Ghattaura via manjit.ghattaura@it.ox.ac.uk

 

The views expressed on UCISA blogs are the authors’ and do not necessarily reflect those of UCISA

Interview: Digital signage solutions and content management at Deakin University

Ben Sleeman
Service Development Assistant
University of Greenwich

AETM Conference 2017 and university visits, Melbourne, Australia

Ben Sleeman was funded to attend this event as a 2017 UCISA bursary winner
As part of my trip to Australia to attend the AETM Conference, I was able to visit Deakin University. In this interview with Jeremy West, Senior Audo Visual Engineer and Tech Lead, eSolution Team, at Deakin, I discuss the university’s digital signage solutions. Jeremy outlines how the signage is managed across the university from a content and integration point of view.

Below are the other areas we discussed during my visit:
Interested in applying for a UCISA bursary? Then visit UCISA Bursary Scheme.
UCISA welcomes blog contributions and comment responses to blog posts from all members. If you would like to contribute a new perspective or opinion on a current topic of interest, simply contact UCISA’s marketing manager Manjit Ghattaura via manjit.ghattaura@it.ox.ac.uk

 

The views expressed on UCISA blogs are the authors’ and do not necessarily reflect those of UCISA

Everyone has a voice

One of the key aims of UCISA’s strategic plan for the next five years is to provide members with more opportunities to express and share insights and views. UCISA’s blog pages are one such forum. Here UCISA Marketing Manager, Manjit Ghattaura offers an open invite for blog contributions along with a few tips on writing your posts.

 

THINKING OF WRITING A UCISA BLOG POST?

Want to know a secret….? You don’t have to be a word wizard to contribute a post to UCISA’s blog pages – just someone with a view or insight to share.
You may want to see if other members are experiencing the same issue. You may want to celebrate and share a success. You might simply want to get something off your chest.
Whatever your reason, by contributing a short post to UCISA’s blog pages you have the opportunity to share ideas with peers, spark new conversations and provide colleagues across the country with the kind of tips that make the working day that much easier.
We want to hear from you. We want you to have your say. So where to start?
We’ve just produced a helpful guide to writing a UCISA blog post that you can download here. As you see, it’s much more about overall format and feel than writing tips – and that’s because what really matters is being engaging, being informative and offering your unique personal perspective.
If you strike when the inspiration hits you, writing a post can be very easy. Next time something is on your mind, take a moment to make a note and let that idea leap onto the page.
To create your post, just take those notes and build on them. It shouldn’t take long. We recommend a post runs to a maximum of only 500 words. 
You could start with a story or a personal reflection. You might give your take on a thought-provoking question. A new statistic, survey or media comment might have set your thoughts running.
Whatever muse has spurred you into action, just take to the keyboard and send it through to me, Manjit Ghattaura at UCISA Marketing. We will consider each blog carefully and notify you if and when it is likely to be published.  Whatever your topic, I’m sure you’ll be pleasantly surprised at the number of other members who will really appreciate and value what you have to say.

 

Key take-outs:

  • Any member can put forward a post for consideration for publication

  • A new guide to writing blog posts for publication on UCISA’s website is now available here

  • Be informative, be engaging. Offer a personal perspective

 

UCISA welcomes blog contributions and comment responses to blog posts from all members. If you would like to contribute a new perspective or opinion on a current topic of interest, simply contact UCISA’s marketing manager Manjit Ghattaura via manjit.ghattaura@it.ox.ac.uk

 

The views expressed on UCISA blogs are the authors’ and do not necessarily reflect those of UCISA