Tag Archives: learning technology

Interview: Microphones at Deakin University, Australia

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

Whilst attending the Audiovisual and Education Technology Management (AETM) Conference in Australia, courtesy of a UCISA bursary, I also visited five Melbourne universities: Deakin University, Monash University, RMIT, Swinburne University and the University of Melbourne.

At Deakin University, I discussed the use of microphones in teaching and learning spaces with Jeremy West, Senior Audio Visual Engineer and Tech Lead in the eSolution Team (interview below).

This use of microphones is another evolving technology at Deakin, where they have been integrating, amongst other technologies, Shure beam-forming microphones sending audio over the network back to the DSPs so it can be fed back into the lecture capture system and hearing impaired solutions.

Other areas I discussed with Jeremy included Deakin University’s new audio video technologies.

Interview: Deakin University’s support of hearing impaired users in teaching and learning spaces

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

I attended the Audiovisual and Education Technology Management (AETM) Conference in Australia in November as part of the UCISA bursary scheme. During my trip I also visited a number of Melbourne universities including Deakin University.

At Deakin University, I met with Jeremy West, Senior Audio Visual Engineer and Tech Lead in the eSolution Team, and we discussed the university’s AV solutions for hearing impaired users.

Deakin are considering a range of new technologies and in collaboration with the digital futures team, they are looking at audio over IP solutions to give users access to audio streams via their mobile devices.

I have blogged about my conversations with Jeremy on a range of AV developments at Deakin University.

 

Keele University’s 3D Lab

Sebastian Barnes
IT Support Specialist
Leeds Beckett University

Sebastian Barnes was funded to attend this event as a 2017 UCISA bursary winner

SCHOMS Annual Conference 2017

After a morning of presentations on Day Two of the SCHOMS 2017 conference, which I was able to attend courtesy of a UCISA bursary, I went on to visit the conference exhibition.  After a brief look around one product caught my eye, the Sahara Clevertouch. The Sahara Clevertouch is an interactive touchscreen for education with an integrated Android system, 4k screen, airplay and onboard drawing, ideal for presenting to an audience or demonstration work within a class. It has professional casters, which can drop down to the ankles, as well as only weighing 94kg; this is considerably lighter than the c-touches (interactive touch displays) within Leeds Beckett. I tend to prefer Apple products and technology due to the intuitive nature of the interfaces, however this product has a quite smooth, quick, slim and easy to navigate user interface based on an Android system.

After a great exhibition, I had some lunch and then it was time for a tour of Keele University. One very interesting building, but not for the faint hearted was the Clinical Education Centre. This building is for medical students who can practice on fake and real dead bodies, however we were there to look at the technology. The technology demonstrated how well AV had developed over the years and the cost implications of it. We were also introduced to a 3D lab with virtual reality capabilities, hand crafted within Keele. I didn’t get to use this product, however I watched others. To use this a student would put on the headset and they would be within their own patient ward, having to deal with a variety of patients, reading records and attending to their needs. A great bit of kit which was ideal for medical student experience.

You can see me talking about this visit at UCISA’s Support Services Group Conference in the Student Panel session in July this year.

Next generation Digital Learning Architecture

 

 

 

 

 

Ed Stout
Support Services Manager
Leeds Beckett University

EUNIS 2017

Dr. Rob Abel, Chief Executive Officer of IMS Global Learning Consortium, came across from the USA to talk us through his thoughts on the future of Digital Learning Architecture in Higher Education at EUNIS 2017. He very quickly put strong emphasis on the importance of a digital transformation strategy within HE institutions and outlined that IT should be an enabler to teaching and learning innovation. Dr. Abel’s presentation had so much content, in truth it was difficult to keep up. He gave us an overview of the tools and technology in place within the HE market for teaching and learning as outlined in the photo below: (apologies for poor image quality)


 

 

 

 

 

 

An outdated architecture for learning had different systems uniquely silo-ed with little to no interoperability:


 

 

 

 

 

 

What if now it was quicker and easier to make systems work in harmony, to benefit the connected learner? Well, Dr. Abel, in collaboration with Malcolm Brown (EDUCAUSE Learning Initiative) and Jack Suess (University of Maryland), had previously written a paper in 2013 analysing “A New Architecture for Learning” which highlights the need for an IT department to be agile, flexible and allow for personalisation when integrating new innovative learning technologies. Seamless interoperability between both current and future developed systems is the key to success; not simply an over-reliance on a current Learning Management System (LMS), but an ecosystem developed beyond it. Dr Abel referenced a very useful paper produced by the EDUCAUSE Learning Initiative in 2015 entitled “The Next Generation Digital Learning Environment” which is worth your time to read and is available here

Dr. Abel then took the opportunity to take us on a high-speed tour of the benefits and impact of Learning Tools Interoperability (LTI), which include:

  • Reduced integration time and cost by a factor of 100-1000x
  • Ubiquitous across 70+ learning platforms
  • Hundreds of certified LTI apps of varying types
  • Foundation of interoperable edtech ecosystem.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

IMS Global have publicly released Caliper, a learning analytics interoperability framework that enables the collection, storage and transportation of data about learning. The Caliper framework removes the limitations of a single LMS system and opens up a broad range of benefits to be realised through the integration and interoperability of multiple systems. It is worth noting that it is being taken seriously by many HE institutions and partners, so is not one to simply toss aside without further investigation.

Seven things you should know about Caliper

This blog post first appeared on http://www.edstout.co.uk/2017/06/25/day-2-reflections/

Mobile learning

julie120Julie Adams
Academic Skills Tutor
Staffordshire University
UCISA DSDG (User Skills Group)

 

 

Learning Technologies 2015: Day 2 – Geoff Stead: Mobile delivery – putting the device in your hand to work

Geoff Stead is from Qualcomm, who make the chips in our phones. They are a huge organisation with 31,000 employees. Geoff described the work they have done to create an internal ‘app store’ for their employees and highlighted the most relevant parts of this. Qualcomm purposely avoided squeezing elearning modules onto a smaller screen and focused more on linking to performance support resources and apps that were free, or resources already subscribed to, as well as content developed internally. More information on the work of Geoff’s team is at the WorkLearnMobile site.

Qualcomm are obviously a very different type of organisation to HE – there were 15 people in Geoff’s team that worked on this and there are many more staff – but there were some lessons we could take from what they have done.

Some of the drivers for the development were ‘guerilla learners’ – those who don’t like to wait for corporate learning and development activities, but like to find stuff for themselves using Google, LinkedIn, social networks and mobile resources. I think we can all recognise these people, and are maybe like that ourselves! As more staff (and maybe students?) adopt this method of professional development we will need to look at how we can best support it.

There are already a number of institutions who have run one-off or regular ‘app swap’ events (for an example see one of the case studies within the UCISA Best Practice Guide from 2013 ‘Changing landscapes: The challenges of IT and digital skills training in the changing HE landscape’) and build resources to promote useful apps from these. These are useful and help to engage staff, but maybe don’t touch all who could benefit. Looking to see how we could bring useful apps to the attention of all staff is definitely an area worthy of further consideration.

Developing a resource for staff or students that highlights the apps available for various resources and systems we already have – library resources, systems such as lynda.com, free news/journal sites amongst others – would be something that we could do, even if this was not as comprehensive as our own app stores. I am certainly planning to see what I could do for my own institution, beginning with a LibGuide page as a starting point.

Learning Technologies 2015

The role of learning in human development

julie120

Julie Adams
Academic Skills Tutor
Staffordshire University
UCISA DSDG (User Skills Group)

 

 

Learning Technologies 2015: Day 2 – Professor Robert Winston – the expanding mind

This keynote was for many the highlight of the conference – one audience member commented during the question session that hearing Professor Winston alone was worth the conference fee! It is hard to capture the presentation effectively in a few words as he took us on a journey through human development covering the amazing development, creativity, power and adaptability of the human mind, using a wide range of video clips from his TV programmes, plus images and music.

I will try to capture some of the most interesting and relevant parts of the talk and try to look at how these might be of relevance to us.

Some fascinating facts:

  • The human brain is the most complex object in the universe with 100 million neurones – but we only use a small fraction of these. He showed an interesting video showing how we learn.
  • We decide within 0.3 of a second of meeting someone whether they are trustworthy!
  • Opera singers use more muscles than anyone else – including athletes – and use their brains in an advanced way, becoming highly competent with repetition. He believed that anyone could become a competent pianist with practice. Personally, I know that for this I would needs lots and lots of practice!
  • Every two of us have more brain power than any one Nobel prize winner. So we should collaborate more!
  • One of the most amazing facts to me was that there have only been around 5000 generations of modern humans. Thinking of how we have developed since the earliest stone tools to the technology of today, it seems an incredible change in a relatively short time with the most change happening recently. “Our minds are so developed, they are changing and expanding rapidly in a way that’s never been seen before,” he said.

He described the importance of visualisation in learning new skills and this made me wonder how new technologies such as wearables and immersives that have been mentioned in several sessions at the conference might impact on how our brains work and how we learn.

Finally, one quote struck me as very relevant to those of us who deliver any type of learning or training. Professor Winston said that when we left the room after his talk the structure of our brain would have changed, because we have learnt something. So remember that we are doing that every day to all those we teach.

Learning Technologies 2015

New technologies

julie120Julie Adams
Academic Skills Tutor
Staffordshire University
UCISA DSDG (User Skills Group)

 

 

Learning Technologies 2015: Panel Discussion ‘The hype and the happening’

The final session of day one was a panel discussion on the role a range of new technologies may have on learning. The panel was made up of Steve Wheeler, Donald Clark, Andrew Jacobs, and Denise Hudson–Lawson.

There was lively discussion and some disagreement amongst the panel over a range of new and emerging technologies. The areas looked at included: MOOCs; artificial intelligence; adaptive learning; touch surfaces; wearables; immersive; presence; 3D printers and gestural computing.

A lot of these were felt not to be of immediate impact for learning and development in general – although I suspect that some may impact on HE in slightly different ways to businesses.

Some of the key points made were about the poor completion rates for MOOCs. There was some feeling that this might not matter if people got out of them what they wanted. But I wonder how those running them would know if this was the case? It was suggested that MOOCs might just need more time to evolve and that they do have a role to play in expanding HE opportunities, especially for those not UK based.

Other areas identified as becoming important were artificial intelligence and adaptive learning algorithms. A comment was that Google search could be considered as sophisticated AI, because of its complex algorithms that ‘learn’ what we want to search for. Getting support within Excel on how to do certain things could be thought of as low level AI. This would seem to fit with the growth of the Internet of Things and smart devices.

Wearables was an area that was seen as having a lot of potential and although not many of us have such devices now this is likely to grow quickly. The Apple Watch was mentioned as something to watch out for! These were seen as having most potential in areas such as health care and vocational training, at least initially. Immersives (including devices such as Oculus Rift) take some of these ideas further and were seen as offering potential for cheap, efficient and quicker training, especially for dangerous situations or vocational training. This may be less applicable to HE, but some FE areas may find benefits in using these – once the price drops sufficiently!

However, the University of Glasgow recently looked at the potential offered by Google Glass – see article in the Times Higher Education section. This showed how the device helped break down barriers between staff and students, so may be an area worth investigating by other institutions.

I found it interesting to compare how some of these technologies mentioned fitted with other recent reviews of technology that may make an impact – such as those shown in the Infographic in the EdTech magazine article ‘10 online learning trends to watch in 2015’. Also, the topics which will form part of the Horizon report for 2015 do include some of these areas – especially wearables (within the next 2-3 years) and adaptive learning and Internet of things (4-5 years). So although these may not impact on us immediately it is certainly worth being aware of developments in this area and how they may impact on our roles in learning and training.

 

Learning Technologies 2015

Storytelling and video techniques

julie120

Julie Adams
Academic Skills Tutor
Staffordshire University
UCISA DSDG (User Skills Group)

 

 

Learning Technologies 2015: Day 1 – Mark Davies and Gemma Critchley

In the first part of this session film maker Dr. Mark Davies (tweeting as @SeeLearning) covered some of the key issues to consider when creating videos and some of the simple kit we can now use to get started. In the second part, Gemma Critchley (@GemStGem), Online and Informal Learning Product Manager at BP, described how they have used video to support staff development and showed examples of some of the most successful of these.

Mark outlined the three keywords for successful video: relevance, authenticity and expertise. A good story will engage us and give some kind of emotional connection. Especially for online learning where video gives the ‘humanity’ you would normally get in face to face sessions. In my own institution I have found this to be true with staff who deliver totally online courses reporting positive feedback from students when they have included a ‘welcome’ video or even just a narrated PowerPoint.

Steps to create these engaging videos are: find your story; get the right people to tell it; plan well; and connect to other resources. Videos should be short (five minutes max) and don’t need to be overly complicated. Mark had found that what worked best for him was to ‘layer’ content on a page – basically a mix of text, video and other activities. I suspect that most of our staff would already use this approach when including video in Blackboard or Moodle courses.

Most smartphones are now capable of high quality video and with just a few additions such as a compatible mic (such as the Rode Smartlav+ and a tripod, you could have all the kit required for around £200.

One interesting suggestion was the best way to ‘frame’ interviews to look authentic. This is to get the person being recorded positioned in the left or right of the frame, looking across the frame. I had not specifically noticed this before, but looking at any number of videos of people this is definitely the most widely used technique – and certainly used in all the BP videos on YouTube which include interviews.

A final suggestion from Mark was to use music to enhance the emotion – as long as it is not “corporate cheesy”! Suggested sites for this were The Music Bed and iStock audio. The examples Mark used from these sites were certainly a higher quality than some others I have heard, so may be worth exploring if you need music for a video project.

In the second half of the session Gemma described The Hub at BP. This is for performance support and just-in-time learning. It has around 200 videos with a mix of internal, user-generated and externally-curated content. Over half of BP staff used the site in the last year, and the site has developed using feedback from staff via social media and focus groups. She showed an example of a staff member in Brazil who was the first female supervisor that certainly included all the areas Mark discussed – very emotionally engaging, had a real story and used framing and music effectively. Unfortunately I can’t find a link to this within the BP YouTube site.

The Hub certainly sounded an impressive resource for staff and while I think it might be difficult for most HEIs to develop an equivalent for their staff development, I think it could be worth looking at a way to promote free video resources more widely; and the session reminded me that this was something I wanted to look at doing myself.

Learning Technologies 2015

How the cloud is revolutionising learning

julie120

Julie Adams
Academic Skills Tutor
Staffordshire University
UCISA DSDG (User Skills Group)

 

 

Learning Technologies 2015: Day 1 – Opening keynote

The conference kicked off with a welcome from Donald Taylor and a request to discuss with our neighbours our current workplace challenges. Despite my neighbours being from very different backgrounds to HE (insurance and healthcare) and the actual challenges different, we did find a similar underlying theme of uncertainty. This is the case for my own institution currently and in an election year is probably the case for many areas. It will be interesting to see whether the sessions over the two days can help address these challenges.

Opening Keynote – Professor Sugata Mitra: A brave new world: how the cloud is revolutionising our learning

Sugata started by looking at requirements of workplaces from the 19th and 20th centuries – military, clerks and manufacturing. Schools produced what was needed for these – workers had to be repetitive, follow orders, don’t think. An interesting thought: “Schools enabled empires for centuries. That world is now obsolete”.

He looked at how new technologies may be used in ways not initially envisaged. When the car took over from coach and horses it was not expected that the passengers would move to the driver’s position. New rules and equipment were needed to be able to cope with this new order. Relating this to learning – books and teachers took people to where they wanted to go. Now should the training ‘engine’ be in the hands of learners? Can they be driving their own learning?

And as driverless cars start to be developed – Sugata suggested we should think what driving means in context of driverless cars. He suggested that concepts can dematerialise, not just things. So can learning dematerialise?

He moved on to outline his previous work with the computer hole-in-the-wall experiments and more recently the Granny Cloud and the TED prize he won which helped with his School-in-the-Cloud concept and self-organized learning environments. These are spreading over the world with the key features of working together to answer specific questions. It is a chaotic environment, with a curriculum of questions, peer assessment, and certification without exams. He reported that the groups are self-correcting with strong social control and never got a ‘wrong’ answer.

Some questions for us to think about in HE and FE. Will this type of learning fit the students better for the world of work? If HE institutions get students from schools who have learnt like this, could we cope? How could we continue to offer this type of experience? Some institutions/courses may offer this more independent learning already, but can it be enhanced and expanded further? Would it work in all cases?

Learning Technologies 2015

Learning technology and the future: Gerd Leonhard

julie120

Julie Adams
Academic Skills Tutor
Staffordshire University
UCISA DSDG (User Skills Group)

 

 

Learning Technologies 2015: Day 1 – Parallel session

In this session Gerd Leonhard looked at a number of emerging technologies that could have an impact on learning.

Data and information are now ubiquitous commodities. We expect them to be ‘just there’ like water or electricity. The rate of change is getting faster and technologies are converging with the future not linear but exponential, complex and uncertain!

A point to consider is “we need to invest in what might be, not what is”. But how do we know what might be – especially what might be important to HE/FE in general, our institutions and our roles? There are reports such as the annual Horizon reports (2014 versions) and Gartner Predicts amongst others, which we should be aware of and consider.

One big new area that Gerd felt would have an impact is the convergence of technology and humanity. Thinking and memory are becoming lost to devices and apps. Do any of us know friends’ or even family’s phone numbers anymore? As more devices become ‘smart’ this reliance on devices could become worse.

Technology is changing how we see the world. ‘Wearables’ and augmented reality are becoming more common. Devices such as Oculus Rift and the just-launched Microsoft Hololens may be new and niche now, but that will change. If these become used at home and in schools/colleges we in HE may need to consider how this will impact on us and the expectations of our potential students.

Some of this can seem quite scary and Gerd posed the question “is it Hellven (both heaven and hell)?”. There is no one answer to this! Even with all this technology, he said, there is still a need for human interaction. Even with ‘always-on’ hypo-connectivity, people need periods of digestion, contemplation and introspection. This could link to the classroom or training environments where teachers/trainers still have a role. Which is definitely good news for those of us in those professions!

We need to have a ‘return to the right-brain’ – essentially more creative, non-verbal and intuitive – moving from data to information to knowledge and intelligence. Humans still need to pose the questions, which machines might answer, but humans have to interpret and make sense of the answers. To me this fits with the work Sugata Mitra talked about with the children in his School in the Cloud and SOLE, and also with the techniques already used in the more effective IT training courses, and in some HE classes too in areas such as problem-based learning.

I think that there are questions that will need to be considered over what role some of the more advanced technologies could have in HE:

  • Will business start to use these?
  • Do we need to give students the skills in using technologies that the workplace requires?
  • How can we incorporate these into learning – can we afford to? Or can we afford not to?
  • What about offering opportunities to use these to staff?

A final thought from Gerd: “We can’t learn to swim without getting wet”. We need to be immersed in a situation/technology to be able to use it effectively.

Learning Technologies 2015