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New ways of thinking

Emma Fletcher
Technology Enhanced Learning Advisor
York St John University

Highlights of EDUCAUSE 2017

Emma Fletcher was funded to attend this event as a 2017 UCISA bursary winner

As a UCISA bursary award winner, I was able to attend this year’s EDUCAUSE 2017 conference. Some of the highlights included several general sessions as well as break-out sessions and a visit to the exhibition hall.

The general session for the second day of the conference was given by Katherine L Milkman, an expert in behavioral economics, and covered decision biases or choice architecture (which has some similarities with nudge theory). She covered the six principles to promote improved decisions:

  1. Set helpful defaults
  2. Prompt people to plan
  3. Leverage social norms
  4. Create accountability
  5. Capitalise on fresh starts
  6. Allow pre-commitment.

Other highlights from that day included:

The final session of the third day of the conference was the general session “Developing Students who have Different Kinds of Minds” delivered by Temple Grandin, a professor and author, talking about ‘visual thinkers’ and ‘pattern thinkers’. During the presentation, she talked a lot about her own experiences, thoughts and opinions.  She also discussed education at K12 and how children with different minds can struggle especially with fewer opportunities for hands on learning.


 

 

 

 

Overall, I enjoyed the conference experience although it was, at times, overwhelming due to the sheer scale of it. I personally found the breakout sessions more engaging and useful than the general sessions, although I still have FOMO about the parallel sessions I didn’t get to attend! The conference hashtag was full of reflections and discussions during the conference and is a good place to catch up.

Breaking the ice and digital literacies at DigiPedLab 2017


Beccy Dresden
Senior TEL Designer
The Open University

 

 

 

DigiPedLab Vancouver 2017 – Day 1

Beccy Dresden was funded to attend this event as a 2017 UCISA bursary winner

Breaking the ice

(One minor quibble though: not enough coffee on Day 1!)

At any really cool educational event these days, there has to be Lego, right? Well DigPedLab was no exception. As an icebreaker, each table was given a box of bricks and bits, we were instructed to introduce ourselves to our neighbour and, based on what we said and the available Lego, they had to create an avatar for us. The lovely Greg Chan gave me abundant shiny hair and a dog: what more could I ask for? NB My less-than-beaming smile below is due to horrific jetlag and a dislike of being photographed, not dissatisfaction with my avatar!

 

I can’t resist sharing this one with you too…

A speech and a song

To formally kick off the institute we were treated to an amazing, inspiring speech and a traditional song from a Kwantlen First Nation elder (the institute was sponsored by and held at Kwantlen Polytechnic University’s Richmond campus, just outside Vancouver).

DigPedLab co-founder Sean Michael Morris then made us laugh by commenting that this event wouldn’t have happened without Trump – the Virginia Institute,  which took place a week or so after Vancouver’s, was meant to ‘bring everyone together in one place’, after three separate DigPedLabs in 2016, but the President’s travel ban made it impossible for some key participants to get to the USA in 2017.

Morning session – Literacies track

Bonnie Stewart kicked off the digital literacies track with a bit of activity: getting us to vote with our feet (Runaround style!) on a digital literacies ‘survey’ and emphasising (with reference to Lisa Simpson) that there were no ‘right’ answers.

 

(Click on image to enlarge)

 

 

 

These were my favourite questions/answers…

I need to find resources to teach/write with. I do the following:
0=nothing. Last year’s notes are fine.
1=check the library
2=Google stuff
3=crowdsource my digital network

I know what the following mean/do:
command f
404
PLN
swipe right
LMGTFY

When I Google myself I find:
0=Google myself?
1=An ax-murderer with my name
2=Vaguely embarrassing pictures my buddy tagged on FB  3=Traces of my work on the first search return page
4=A fair & cultivated representation of who I am and what I do.

As you can probably imagine, this activity caused lots of laughter and a few revelations.

We then sat down and went round the room briefly introducing ourselves and explaining our experience/interest in digital literacies. The Literacies track had proved extremely popular, so rather than being a small group, there were actually nearly 30 participants for Bonnie to wrangle. Two Brits apart from me – David White from The University of the Arts London, and Penny Andrews, a PhD student at the University of Sheffield (and a brilliant follow on Twitter) – a professor from Puerto Rico, an educator based in the Austrian Alps, and the rest from North America, a mix of librarians, academics, educational project managers, IT folk, and even a practising attorney. This diversity was one of the many things that made DigPedLab so attractive to me: I wanted my western European, middle-class, middle-aged, cis white female perspective to be thoroughly challenged. Over the course of the weekend, it certainly was.

Digital literacies defined?

Having let off some steam and started to get to know one another, the teaching began in earnest. As I write this, I’m looking at Bonnie’s PowerPoint, and wondering what I can possibly say that’s more useful/informative than just sharing her slides verbatim, but I’ll try to limit myself to just a handful, and share my observations/responses to them.

(Slide courtesy of Bonnie Stewart. Click on image to enlarge)

The cluster at the top left represents the institutional model, whereas the bottom rightish cluster is the present. The idea of education as market is not necessarily progression, and these shifts are only loosely tied. Dealing with data/ information/ knowledge abundance is arguably the biggest challenge for digital literacies to overcome.

 

 

 

Key points to remember in the context of digital literacies:

  • (access to) content does not equal literacy
  • web does not equal digital
  • tech does not equal digital literacy.

The concept of ‘literacy’ is changing, because there’s so much more than literature now, and the goal of education is handling data, rather than just accumulating it.

Bonnie then summarised what she planned for us to explore over the next three days.

 

(Slide courtesy of Bonnie Stewart. Click on image to enlarge)

She gave us a timeline of literacy: from considering it as a threat to the knowledge of classical scholars in 400 BCE, to the control of knowledge via the spread of printing presses throughout Europe in 1500 CE, to the management and synthesis of knowledge we’re dealing with in the present day. A quote from educational researcher Doug Belshaw neatly encapsulated this:

 

 

“Digital literacies are not solely about technical proficiency but about the issues, norms, and habits of mind surrounding technologies used for a particular purpose.”

Or, as I noted it down at the time, thinking about technologies vs being a techie!

Bonnie highlighted more benefits of developing your digital literacy:

  • improving your capacity to analyse a medium’s affordances
  • identifying ‘thinking tools’ to help you manage knowledge abundance – I think this is a particular challenge for those of us working at the interface of education and technology, where abundance can all too easily become overload.

This led us on to thinking about networks…

The power of networks

 (Slide courtesy of Bonnie Stewart. Click on image to enlarge)

 

 

 

 

 

…and another fun stand-up activity about one-to-one, one-to-many, and many-to-many interactions, and how we become network nodes, forming webs of visible (and invisible) connections.

 

(Slide courtesy of Bonnie Stewart. Click on image to enlarge)

 

 

 

 

Finally, we discussed the ‘price of admission’ to these networks: public identity. Bonnie’s references here ranged from Jon Ronson’s So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed to Walter Ong’s work on oral traditions vs literate traditions:

  • oral traditions – participatory, situational, social, formulaic, agonistic (conflict based), rhetorical (vs the ‘artificial memory aid’ of writing)
  • literate traditions – interiorised, abstracted, innovative, precise, analytical, indexed.

If I understood correctly, how this relates to social media is that we experience the instant message, the tweet, in an oral way – although they are textual verbal exchanges, they register psychologically as having the temporal immediacy of oral exchange (Ong, 1996). But the flipside of this is that because these ‘speech-based activities’ on social media can be captured as if they were print literature, we end up with a call-out culture that treats flippant remarks like gospel.

 

(Click on image to enlarge)

 

 

 

 

The takeaway from this session for me? Digital literacy is about knowing how to manage audience, visibility and publics.

 

Technology Enhanced Active Learning and Active Learning Spaces

Emma Fletcher
Technology Enhanced Learning Advisor
York St John University

EDUCAUSE 2017

Emma Fletcher was funded to attend this event as a 2017 UCISA bursary winner

At the recent EDUCASE 2017 conference, which I was able to join courtesy of a UCISA bursary, I was able to attend a session on Active Learning Classrooms (ALCs), named by EDUCAUSE as the top strategic technology of 2017 due to the popularity and innovation of ALCs. Active learning classrooms (ALCs) are designed to create affordances that support active learning pedagogies (which research has demonstrated are better when compared with more passive types of learning).

Presented by D. Christopher Brooks and Malcolm Brown (from EDUCAUSE), Melody Buckner  (University of Arizona), Adam Finkelstein (McGill University) and Sehoya Cotner (University of Minnesota), the session explored the research around ALCs as well as looking at the teaching practices that work best in them. There were examples from research, at the University of Minnesota, where the traditional teaching (large lectures) was compared with smaller ALC style teaching. This showed that students in traditional classrooms achieved as expected, however ALC students outperformed against their expected grades. One message that came out of the session was that potential of ALCs can only be realised if you have good teaching. Changing the space may mean that the instructor doesn’t know how to teach in the new space (teachers may try and use the traditional lecture style in the new spaces so, for example, students would have their back to lecturers) and active learning gains are achieved by academics teaching to fit the learning space.

Goals of the Active Learning Initiative

The third day of the EDUCAUSE conference, had a  further technology session presented by Virginia Lacefield, Enterprise Architect at University of Kentucky, looking at ‘Evaluating the Impact of Technology-Enhanced Active Learning Classrooms on Students and Instructors: Lessons from our First Full Year’.

Between 2014 and 2016, the University of Kentucky had opened 17 new Technology Enhanced Active Learning (TEAL) spaces at the university and carried out an evaluation of the impact of these on teaching, student learning outcomes and retention. The data collected consisted of surveys from both students and instructors as well as classroom observations and course grades. The classroom observations (adapted from the University of Minnesota developed instrument) were timed observations where every five minutes they marked down what the students and instructor were doing.

The observations showed a great deal of variation between classes. The findings of the staff survey showed that 18% of staff did not plan to use active learning strategies and 29% of staff planned not to use the TEAL equipment. 126 of the courses taught in TEAL had enough data points for comparison, 35 of these courses had significant grade differences for all students (29 had a positive difference favouring the TEAL sections, six had a positive difference favouring the non-TEAL sections). When they looked at retention, they found that there was significant correlation between number of TEAL courses taken and second year retention. As a result they are increasing the support for staff to help support the use of TEAL, such as technology/pedagogy open houses, scheduled one-on-one support appointments, giving advance notice of classroom assignment and communicating about available support resources.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Other highlights of the EDUCAUSE conference included:

 

 

 

Preparation for EDUCAUSE 2017 #EDU17

Emma Fletcher
Technology Enhanced Learning Advisor
York St John University

 

 

 

Emma Fletcher was funded to attend this event as a 2017 UCISA bursary winner

As a UCISA bursary winner for 2017, I got the opportunity to attend the annual EDUCAUSE conference, this year held in Philadelphia, PA.

Before setting off for America, I downloaded the EDUCAUSE app, which was invaluable over the course of the conference. This allowed me to look at the agenda for the conference and start to identify some of the sessions I wanted to attend. The conference had general sessions as well as parallel sessions over the three days I was attending. The sessions were divided into tracks, with driving innovation in teaching and learning being the main one I focused on. Inevitably, whilst attending the sessions I chose, I worried I had selected the ‘wrong’ ones!

I arrived in Philadelphia a few days before the conference, to allow me to acclimatise and get my bearings. This was my first trip to America. Philadelphia itself is a lovely city – I would definitely recommend a visit.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The conference location was a short walk from my hotel, so I headed there bright and early on Wednesday morning to register and collect my badge (which I personalised with stickers at the ribbon station). The venue itself, the Philadelphia Convention Centre, was huge! My step count over the course of the conference can attest to this! The EDUCAUSE staff were friendly and welcoming, with someone on hand to point you in the right direction (which was likely with such a sprawling venue and a number of parallel presentations).

 

Bitcoin: trust and technology


 

 

 

 

Ed Stout
Support Services Manager
Leeds Beckett University 

EUNIS 2017

Ed Stout was funded to attend this event as a 2017 UCISA bursary winner

The final keynote session of the EUNIS 2017 conference from Nikolas Guggenberger, RWTÜV Foundation Assistant Professor of IT Law at University of Münster School of Law, took on an interesting look at ‘Trust by technology from a legal perspective’ in the form of a deeper investigation into public Blockchain, the technology behind crypto-currencies such as Bitcoin. Very early in the presentation, Nikolas had us asking ourselves “what causes us to trust something or someone?” which seemed quite an intriguing question as it isn’t one that I had particularly spent time thinking about before. My initial thought was simply that it is something I personally build through experience but is that really an option in the anonymous world of virtual currencies?

Nikolas gave a number of us less educated on the workings of public Blockchain, an insight into what it is and how it functions. Blockchain is a distributed, decentralised database, which particularly came into the public domain since the origin of the most successful crypto-currency, Bitcoin. It uses maths, cryptography and a network of distributed users (PCs) to ensure the authenticity of a transaction that can be verified by the whole community. The members of the community that verify this authenticity can take a small transaction fee for playing their part in the process (this is known as mining).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The huge potential of a public Blockchain is yet to be fully unlocked but the principle in use removes the need to trust third parties such as banks during transactions and instead relies on the trust of the Blockchain itself. The scope of trust by Blockchain was illustrated by Nikolas in the diagram below:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Nikolas offered us a very interesting insight into the potential of Blockchain and some of the legal considerations from his professional view point. It became evidently clear that there is a huge scope for benefits to be realised beyond that currently using Blockchain and that these could become a standard in our future. I found it a highly interesting keynote and one to investigate further in the coming weeks and months.

This blog post first appeared on http://www.edstout.co.uk/2017/06/27/day-3-reflections/

 

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/

Open Education

 

 

 

 

 

Ed Stout
Support Services Manager
Leeds Beckett University

EUNIS 2017


 

 

 

Sheila MacNeill, Senior Lecturer in Digital Learning at Glasgow Calendonian University and Vice-Chair of ALT, led a very interesting keynote ‘Open Education – the Never Ending Story‘ at EUNIS 2017 with a discussion around what “Open” meant to us. We were all invited to submit the first word that came to our mind related to our understanding of what “Open” meant within an interactive Menti word-cloud. It very quickly became apparent that there is a very broad range of thoughts on the matter and that is was a very personal view.

 


 

 

 

 

 

In January 2017, the Open Education Consortium announced 2017 to be the “Year of Open”. Open Education has been progressing positively since the Budapest Open Access Initiative was  formed in 2002 and benefited from the Cape Town Open Education Declaration of 2007 and the Paris Open Education Resources Declaration in 2012. The underlying principles of Open Education are the beliefs that “everyone has the right to education” and that “education is a public good”.

We are seeing a continually increasing number of Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) offered since their inception at Stanford University in 2011 covering a wide variety of courses. Sheila suggests that Open online learning does have a role to play within our educational landscape and that these courses are having an impact.


 

 

 

 

Shelia spoke about David Wiley’s 5Rs of Openness with Open Educational Resources (OER).

  • Retain – the right to make, own, and control copies of the content
  • Reuse – the right to use the content in a wide range of ways (e.g., in a class, in a study group, on a website, in a video)
  • Revise – the right to adapt, adjust, modify, or alter the content itself (e.g., translate the content into another language)
  • Remix – the right to combine the original or revised content with other open content to create something new (e.g., incorporate the content into a mashup)
  • Redistribute – the right to share copies of the original content, your revisions, or your remixes with others (e.g., give a copy of the content to a friend).

A particularly pertinent closing to Sheila’s keynote speech related to an entity she refers to as “the Nothing”. “The Nothing” is a suitable metaphor for our current society and the problems which we face in it. Coincidentally, Sheila was giving her keynote on the day of the UK election and with that outcome now known, alongside the current climate of politics within the US (with its fake news/alternative facts) and recent questionable election outcomes including that of Brexit and Trump, I can’t help but feel aligned with Sheila’s concerns.

Sheila has kindly made a number of relevant and related resources available as below:


 

 

 

 

 

 

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

Digital Skills for a New Generation


 

 

 

 

Ed Stout
Support Services Manager
Leeds Beckett University

Day Two EUNIS17

Day two was another great day at EUNIS17.   Following an early morning fear of conference burn out, having been up late writing up my notes from the Wednesday sessions, I took the option not to make the day quite as manic/tiring as my first day. Day two of the conference was opened with three highly interesting keynotes.

Martin Hamilton of Jisc opened his keynote ‘Life on Mars: Digital Skills for a New Generation’  with a look into the future. What careers do we think are going to play a new role in the future and what should we as HE institutions be doing to ensure that we successfully leverage/support these? When we think of our current course offerings, are we considering DNA editors, drone engineers or even asteroid miners? Should we be? Well, quite possibly. We need to ensure that we are “equipping today’s learners for tomorrow’s world,” Martin tells us, and ensure that we support the “digitally disadvantaged to achieve their potential.” These three mentioned careers are already available in our transforming marketplace; are we helping them to achieve their career aspirations?


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

So, what more does our future world hold for us? Martin felt it important that we not only focus on the future, as there are elements of the present, which we may not be best supporting to enable our students to meet that future. With “every self-respecting billionaire” investing in a space programme, maybe we should take note.  Space X have developed a rocket that would have previously been sent into space at a cost of $100 million, never to return. They’re now making space exploration “affordable” by the launch and safe return of rockets to Earth!! Is this the sort of development of the future that we in higher education should ensure we do not simply overlook?

SpaceX – First-stage landing from THAICOMB mission May 2016.

Could robots actually play a big part in future? In Japan, SoftBank have invested in the development of a humanoid robot they call Pepper. “He” is intended to be able to interpret emotions and effectively respond to questions. As you can see in the below video, emotional robotics may be in their infancy but they will need highly trained professionals to take them on to reach their potential. A gap in the mass HE market maybe?

Pepper the ‘emotional’ robot visits the FT | FT Life.

Martin explained how the technical world is changing the everyday jobs we have been accustomed to. With over 3,000,000 truck drivers in the USA and over 300,000 taxi drivers in the UK, advancements in vehicular automation is very likely to have an impact. It isn’t just Google with their WAYMO project that are investing. Tesla car owners have already driven over 140,000,000 miles on autopilot. Self-driving cars are here! With this technology now available in the present, we in HE must be aware that the post-graduation jobs market is shifting and so with it our students’ needs/demands. Martin also made reference to how Amazon have realigned their warehouses and distribution centres with over 45,000 robots (BettyBots)completing orders in a “human exclusion zone”. These are jobs that once would have been completed by humans and now make up 12% of Amazon’s workforce.

High-Speed Robots Part 1: Meet BettyBot in “Human Exclusion Zone” Warehouses-The Window-WIRED

Given the pace of change, we need to make sure that our institutions are assisting our students’ needs to re-train. Maybe we need to be re-focusing on training for careers in robot script writing, self-drive car engineering or robotic engineering. Our vision for the future will be the defining factor that shapes our successes.

For anyone wishing to view Martin’s full presentation, he has recorded and made it available on YouTube here:

This blog post first appeared on http://www.edstout.co.uk/blog/

 

 

Benefits of receiving a UCISA bursary

Vicky Wilkie DSC_0007

 

 

Victoria Wilkie
IT Support Specialist
University of York

 

 

 

 

 

Six months ago I was awarded funding from UCISA to attend the CILIP conference in Liverpool. At the time I was on secondment to the IT support office at the University of York, but my previous (and now current) position was as a senior library assistant at the University Library. I was particularly interested in finding out how the two teams could work more closely together, and also how I could support colleagues in doing this. One key area I looked at when I returned from the conference was ways of merging best practice from both teams and integrating these systems to assist staff with the changes. Lending Services already had a wiki where they stored and updated information for staff. I worked with colleagues in the IT support office to develop an ITSO wiki that could be used by library and IT staff in the day to day running of the merged desk.

Social media

One of the main things I took away from the conference was how useful a resource social media can be. This usefulness took place on two levels; the first was with our interactions with users. At York we are fortunate enough to already have a communications team that look after our social media accounts. They take the time to interact with our users, but also with other universities and related services. They make sure that enquiries are answered, but they also keep the interactions fresh, funny, and relevant, which has resulted in some very positive feedback. In order to complement and promote the work our comms team are already doing, I took inspiration from one of the conference talks to focus on informing our users about the different methods of social media we use to interact with them, and how this might assist them with their studies.

The second level focused on how useful social media can be to professionals wanting to share and research new ideas in the field. During the conference, I used Twitter to disseminate my ideas and engage in debates around the subjects that were raised. I started following a range of different people in the sector, and saw the issues that were impacting on them and their users. One real benefit of social media was that it allowed me to follow themes and ideas at conferences that I was not able to attend, and find out issues that were impacting service desks from different counties as well as from a range of different sectors, from Twitter users around the world.

Collaboration

Andy Horton and Chris Rowell’s talk ‘The Twelve Apps of Christmas’ was especially interesting to me, given that I knew one of my tasks upon returning to the library would be helping with the integration of basic IT support at the library helpdesk. Their enthusiasm really inspired me, and made me assess the different training we could give to staff to help them integrate the new processes. Although we have only just started with this, the overall feedback from staff has been very positive, and we are keen to take this on board to find more ways of updating and improving training, and ensuring that it is as efficient as possible to help staff develop their skills. Collaboration was something I was very interested in, and I was surprised to see how much collaboration was already taking place, especially between library and IT departments. What I took away from the conference was that collaboration is the way forward for service desks; we strengthen each department by working together, and it was wonderful to see how many other places are already doing this.

The final major point that I took from the conference, and that has really impacted on my approach to work, was the idea that we need to celebrate our successes more. As a service desk sector, we have a tendency to focus on what we could have done better and how we can constantly improve. Whilst it is very important to ensure that we continue to progress services, it is also important to focus on what we have done well and where we are really standing out. Since returning to the library, I have worked hard to highlight times when I think that staff have been doing an exceptional, job as this motivates and encourages the whole team.

To sum up, going to the conference allowed me to look at my colleagues and really appreciate the successes we have. Looking at it from an organisational point of view, it made me assess the ways in which our different teams could work more closely together to ensure that our users get what they really need. In terms of the sector, it made me more aware of what my colleagues around the world are doing. It allowed me to share ideas with other people who are working in libraries and IT. It also made me look at the different types of service desks in education. Before  the conference, I had a tendency to focus on HE desks, but since then I have been in contact with colleagues who work in public libraries and FE colleges, looking at what they are doing and how we can work more closely together to improve the sector.

 

Benefits of receiving a UCISA bursary

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Salman Usman
Academic E-learning Developer
Kingston University London

 

 

I attended the EUNIS Congress 2015, and a pre-conference workshop on electronic management of assessment (EMA), from 9-12 June 2015. Both the events were hosted by Abertay University, Dundee. My attendance at the aforementioned events was made possible by the UCISA bursary scheme. This report details the benefits that receiving a UCISA bursary had to my professional development, to my institution, and potentially to the HE IT community.

The conference and associated workshop have contributed greatly to my professional development. They have provided me with valuable insights into current and emerging trends in Technology Enhanced Learning (TEL), as well as approaches to research in TEL. With the fast-changing world of technology, and my workload over the last few months, it has been hard for me to keep on top of the latest developments in TEL. In view of this, the conference provided me the time and opportunity to catch up. With a recent move to online coursework submission and feedback at my institution, and an increased emphasis on providing students with formative assessment opportunities through technology, the EMA workshop was particularly useful for comparing, evaluating, and informing my institutions’ approaches and practice.

The highlight of the event was the fact that it was pan-European, with delegates from over 20 EU countries. Therefore, I was provided a rare glimpse into the European TEL landscape. I also received some useful tips on taking notes electronically, and on travelling to conferences. Additionally, although I have been supporting academics in using Twitter in their teaching practice, it was the first time that I had used Twitter myself at a conference. I have realised that it is a great way to not only keep up with other concurrent sessions and the audience response, but also to remain in touch with fellow delegates – the Twitter handle is the new business card. I met some great people, and feel that I am better placed to identify partners for funding bids and future collaboration on TEL projects.

I wrote four blogs for the UICSA website detailing my account of and reflections on the conference and workshop. The process of writing blogs was very useful, as it prompted me to reflect on what I have learnt and gained. The blogs were disseminated by UCISA through Twitter and the UCISA JISC mailing list, and also through the EUNIS website. I hope that the blog posts were found useful by those who read them. The blogs were also shared with members of my faculty’s education committee. I also shared some of the e-learning and learning design tools that I came across at the conference and workshop with my faculty through a monthly newsletter on TEL, and with colleagues in a central university department related to academic development.

The conference hosted a wide range of suppliers and service providers of e-learning services. These included learning management systems, lecture capture, assessment and feedback tools, and plagiarism detection tools. My institution was carrying out a review of its learning technology provision at the time, and, being a member of the learning technology review group, the conference and exhibition provided timely insights in current technologies and trends.