Lost in Disruption #DMLLExpo

IMG_4596The Disruptive Media Learning Lab at Coventry University is one of those places that when you enter it you start saying “WOW”.   I was there yesterday for their “Lost in Disruption Expo“, invited to give a keynote with Jacqui Speculand (raising her hand above) who is their Principal Project Lead. I met Jacqui when she came to Southampton University for our Open Badges in HE conference in March, although we had been in touch via Twitter we had never actually met before but our common interest in the use of Open Badges meant we had so much in common.

I have to say something about their Lab space.  On the top floor of their Lanchester Library (another link, we have a Lanchester building at Southampton University) named after Sir Frederick Lanchester   an important engineer of his time and soon to be featured as part of a Heritage Funded project at Coventry University.  This space is a complete conversion of the third floor of the library.  As soon as you open the door you feel inspired to learn. It has that feeling of open space it is light and well laid out with jazzy spaces for sitting, I think they called it the “Google hill” a wooden tiered structure for sitting and holding talks.  There are spaces for collaboration, sectioned off by huge whiteboards, tastefully designed and used by students all the time.  I have created a little video about the space here.  It is the sort of space that you are probably best describing with images so I’ll let that video speak for itself.  One of the takeaways I had from the space was that it was well designed, well used and because of the light and the layout it made you want to learn.  It is so true that your environment has a huge impact on how you feel and your behaviour.   Part of the space belongs to the DMLL team.  That is also a revelation.  The team consists of Subject Librarians, Teaching staff, Education Developers, technical innovators, I call them that, they are not their real titles but they are not Learning technologists, they don’t look after a VLE and get people to use it.  They are much more than that, the team is like an innovation engine, all working together, to explore ideas and get it right.  Jacqui mentioned that it was a safe space to fail, somewhere to try out a concept, tweak it and adjust it before it is no longer a project, where is can be rejected or adopted by the university. You so need that.   In addition to all of these people they had student interns working with them, and some of them they took on to be members of staff.

The Expo itself was held in the space, ably Chaired by Helen Keegan. There are teaching rooms all round the edges of the space, some with glass walls and some as regular spaces but all have Apple TV, so the use of iPads to connect wirelessly is in place and has been for some time.  Each of these rooms can be booked via the devices on the walls using Outlook as the booking system.  No need to complicate it by using the regular university-wide booking system.  We were talking in “The Grass” an intimate tiered space, covered in fake grass.  It was a completely different experience to talk to 60 0r 70 people and being able to see all of them.  People were not just sitting up, but they were relaxed and listening, genuinely listening, it was much more engaging to talk and listen here, again, because of the environment.  Yes, we could have a room with 70 people in it.  It is not the same, even the grass had something to do with it!

The talks were excellent – I listened to Brian Lamb talking about how the VLE has been designed to put is into the silos that we are trying so hard to get out of.  He also talked about “Splot“, a tool he has created to make it so much easier to write.   He spoke of Sandstorm, a collection of open access apps that are a toolbox of web-enabled tools for academia.   Jim Groom (DS106) talked about how we need to be more aware of how our data is used, he talked about lots of things including “A domain of ones own” project at University of Mary Washington to encourage academics to write more about their work so that they raise their academic profiles but they own their presence, and it is syndicated to the university.    MOOCs and their corporatisation. And he showed us the “back to the future” 80’s console room.  I could go on and on.  Both Brian and Jim gave inspiring talks , I even listened to the podcast by Jon Udell on the way home on the train.

There was so much to see and listen to I hope we can see it all again.  I missed some sessions because I was preparing for my talk, but the tweets looked really interesting.  They asked me what my takeaways were from the day and I said about the space because that just hit you as it was so different from the ‘usual’.    But I also think that it is essential for progress and for the students to experience something like that.  You need the space to explore and develop, and to meet the challenges of the new world of Higher Education.  We can’t keep doing what we have always done. We will become irrelevant and students need to have the benefit of this in their own space before they face the real world.   I hope that I can go there again and show others, and to work with the Innovation Engine that is the DMLL team.

The day captured in social media (Storify)

 

Up to much Fiona?

I have been remiss in recording where I have been talking and where I will be going over the year (2016), as I keep being asked I thought I’d give a little synopsis of where I have been and where I am yet to go.  My conclusion is that I am up to quite a lot, but it’s all good and useful for the work I do at the University of Southampton.

So, here goes

January

I gave a keynote to academics at the Open University in Milton Keynes.  I was talking about interesting and innovative solutions to common issues using technology enhanced learning.  The talk was entitled ‘Action not words’ just because the idea was that active learning was the key issue. These are my slides, not always useful because I use a lot of images but I have been asked for them anyway.

JISC Stakeholders forum – I was invited to this as part of my role for ALT.  This is interesting because I gain a perspective of FE, HE and also other education providers (apprenticeships etc) which is always interesting.  JISC are very interested in supporting at varying levels and to determine what their ‘offer’ should be.  Interesting times.

Women in Tech conference

Loved this.  I met awesome women and some cool men, all supporting equality of opportunity for careers in tech.  I was a panel speaker, talking about how digital literacies, in particularly communicating effectively online, supports women to promote themselves.  The panel was great, I was with YouTuber,

Fashion tech specialists, engineers and Mashable. Other speakers included Sky TV, Laterooms.com, Techcity UK and BBC.  Worth going if you can make the next one.  Look for the #WinTech16

February

At the University of Southampton, our Student Champion Network Group are part of the HEA Strategic Enhancement Programme activity.  I attended as a member of that group to meet with other partners and to hear about their activities. In particular it was good to hear about other student partnerships as well as internationalisation projects.  I also go to meet Sam Elkington who is the Academic Lead for Assessment and Feedback.  We had  a chat about incorporating technology enhanced learning into activities and what we are already doing with open badges.

The StoryStephan Caspar, Media Lead in ILIAD at the University of Southampton invited me to go to this innovative event. It was very diverse and held in Conway Hall which is a great venue. We heard from podcasters and archivists, including Wolfgang Wild and Helen Zaltzman (Podcaster).  They even had Werewolf biscuits.

ALT Committee meeting (London) – I love these because everyone is committed, enthusiastic and very positive. We had an interesting talk from a director of the Tinder Foundation (the training people not the dating people!) This activity fits very nicely with work I am involved in at University of Southampton, which is so often the case with ALT.

Big Bang Data exhibition – this was an educational trip for the iChamps to see how data can be visualised and hopefully bring to life some more of the technical implications of how we use data.  It was very interesting and was part of their CPD for their roles as champions of digital literacies.

 March

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Designing and Delivering a Quality HE Curriculum

I was a speaker for Inside Government Conference ‘Designing and Delivering a Quality Higher Education Curriculum’.  In particular my talk focussed on the value of digital literacies skills and how the use of students as partners for this development is important. Everyone loves the open badges at the moment and we use it to gather evidence of activities.  I met Professor Peter Lawler from Manchester who talked about their University College Curriculum Innovation model which is really nice.  There was a lot of interesting and useful talks, and a lot of interest in our iChamps.

Open Badges in HE – this was the day of the Badges.  Organised by a collective of awesome women and hosted by the University of Southampton we held a conference about the use of #OpenBadgesHE

Biennial International Conference on iPads in Higher Education – I am a speaker for this conference in San Francisco from 16-18th March.  I am going with Judith Lock and iChamp Charlie Cosstick.   We are all presenting papers on the use of iPads with the iChamps and for the projects that they work on.

April

I will be attending my residential for my PhD in Lancaster Uni at the beginning of April.  That will be great, I finally get to meet the other students on the programme and I have never been to Lancaster before (it’s a long way!).

I’ve been invited to talk on behalf of ALT as a special keynote Inside Government conference  on transforming learning with mobile technology in London.  On the same day I am attending the Apple organised mini conference in the pm back at Southampton. This is focussing on the use of iPads for medical education.

The Disruptive Media Lab (I love that name)  in Coventry University  have asked me to come along and talk at their conference. I think we are planning to present together so we can cover Open Badges.  So that’s going to be fun.

June

There are ALT meetings and also I have been invited to be keynote at a technology enhanced learning conference at the University of Portsmouth.  The programme looks brilliant and I am really excited to go along and talk there. I haven’t been there for a very long time so it will good to go along there again. I think the last time I was there was for a Second Life event which tells you how long that was.

I have just had a paper accepted for a conference on ePortfolios and experiential learning in Edinburgh in June.  That will be awesome.  I am hoping that my fellow colleagues from the University of Southampton can come along as well as I have submitted the paper about our project piloting the use of Open Badges and ePortfolios.  The conference is still accepting proposals, and looks like it will be a busy three days.

 

 

 

 

Do you like Cheese? Polls for the masses – Twitter gets interactive

“Do you like Cheese?” one question on everyones lips.  I knew that they were coming but wasn’t sure when, then over the weekend, I saw a Tweet via @EricStoller who drew my attention with his tweet poll.

I’d seen the links to Twitter Polls but not been able to do this myself (it wasn’t available) but then they arrived over the weekend. The first problem, what question to ask? I’ve been working with academic teams who have tonnes of questions that they wanted to ask their students, but I had nothing. Seems like I wasn’t the only one. There were plenty of tweets that reminded me of the early days of twitter.  The equivalent of the “What are you doing?”  prompts that create typical responses, hence the “Do you like Cheese?” question, always my goto question when I don’t know what to ask.

I pulled in a collection of responses here: TwitterPolls

I think these will pass and in particular, having asked my own question on the use of Open Badges, there were a couple of things that struck me.

  1.  Your networks are even more important now.  Following people on twitter that are like minded, or have something useful to contribute will mean that any question you ask will get better results.
  2. Engagement – through the one question on open badges I had responses from people that I wasn’t aware were interested.  My one and only qualitative response from the British Museum wouldn’t have happened, had I not asked that question.  It seems to me that the more interesting the questions the better the engagement.
  3. It’s not just for brands.  Of course, social media marketing gurus will see the potential and there is nothing wrong with that,  if you are following people that just push information at you then you probably should have a think about what you are trying to get from your networks.
  4. Education wise – have a poll for feedback on the session; who would you vote for?; What is more important?;  Is this answer right or wrong?;  the possibilities are endless.  Unfortunately, the customisation options are limited but that will improve.
  5. Value:  What is the value of the question?  Think about your responses and what you can do with it.  For in session discussion?  It won’t replace polling software like Socrative or Poll everywhere but it could be a good way of experimenting with this type of interactivity with students.
  6. Use images and other twitter usernames and hashtags in your question if you are trying to get a wide coverage.  That could stimulate further questions and could open up questions that you hadn’t thought about.
  7. Don’t over use it.  Golden rule: Everything in moderation.

Exploring ‘Teaching in a Digital Age’

Teaching in a Digital Age - Tony BatesI came across this wonderful open access book from Tony Bates ‘Teaching in a Digital Age’ I am still reading it but it is so completely relevant to the agenda for many of us that I had to share my thoughts here.  There are twelve sections all relating to aspects of online educational practice, from blended learning to Moocs there is something here for everyone.  One thing that I really like is that this book has made me think much more about digital literacies and their place in higher education.  I am particularly focussed on developing digital literacies skills at the University of Southampton and have been working with student iChamps to support this agenda.  I’ve noticed though that it is not necessarily a requirement to be ‘digitally minded’ to be effective online.   That term ‘being effective online’ probably is redundant anyway as so much of life is conducted through the web that it is an expectation and not an exception.  But then Tony nailed it when he talks in the first chapter of the skills for the 21st century.  These are not what I always considered them to be, solely digital literacies,  but skills that allow for the rapid pace of change in a knowledge society.  In this chapter he presents the Conference Board of Canada’s set of skills:

  • Communication skills
  • the ability to learn independently
  • ethics and responsibility
  • teamwork and flexibility
  • thinking skills
  • digital skills
  • knowledge management

Of course, all of the above have always been desirable but the task now is to map this set of skills to digital effectiveness.  This is something our students are already working on in collaboration with my colleague, Jane Stephenson from the University of Southampton Library senior leadership team and something that we can work into our new strategy.  The book is rich resource of evidence based practice and research that leads you onto a path of discovery for so many ideas around the online space.  I highly recommend it and look forward to discovery nuggets of inspiration that can enable me to support our online activities at Southampton.

Education Innovation comes to Maghreb

Digital Technology is something that many of us have been working with for some time. We realize the benefits for education and have developed knowledge and understanding about how we can make the best use of this for education and research. I have just been speaking at the Maghreb Digital Learning and Innovation Conference in Tunis, Tunisia with the British Council and 100 enthusiastic interested academic staff, students, policy makers, social entrepreneurs and international technology experts all eager and enthused about doing the same thing within their countries.

The conference aimed to provide a number of outcomes for the people of Maghreb, essentially it was about bringing people together and, as the British Council pointed out, ‘Create opportunity’. The days were fully packed with a variety of talks and inspirational speakers which were all designed to provide the delegates with ideas and solutions to the problems that they faced in their own countries. One of the biggest takeaways from the conference for me was the huge amount of good will and camaraderie within the room. Each table was allocated to specific delegates and we were placed there in order to support each other over the days of the conference. Each table was given a ‘Team Challenge’ and on the final day we were to present our solution in a Dragons Den type activity. The winner would win a lovely British Council Innovation Award and their ideas would be presented at a Maghreb policy forum by a member of the British Council in January. As leader of Digital Literacies in the Institute for Learning Innovation and Development at the University of Southampton, I was to support ideas and prompt our team to think innovatively and work together on our challenge.

My table (Team 7) included senior leaders, advisers and policy makers for their countries. Our challenge over the three days was to present a roadmap for introducing the UNESCOICT Competences for teachers in Higher Education. This was actually more fun than it sounds and in terms of creating a community the idea of team challenges was an brilliant way of ensuring that we all worked together for a common goal. Throughout the conference as we listened to the talks we could see how they may fit into what we were going to be presenting at the end of the conference.

I spoke about engaging with educators and students through the Champions model that we have been developing at Southampton and I introduced the idea of awarding Open Badges for staff development and for student development to encourage participation with the UNESCO ICT Competences. Others also took ideas into their own challenges and that was very rewarding, as it showed that the conference actually made a difference, and the ideas weren’t wasted.

Overall it has been a great experience to be part of such enthusiasm and willingness to get involved and bring digital literacies and skills to the Maghreb region. There is certainly scope for further development and engagement for ALT as a community of expertise and for Universities in the UK who have great academics and can really inspire and support the adoption of technology for education.