Oct 22 2014

Weekly Roundup in Education Technology: #Gamergate, Wearable Technology and More

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Education technology is rapidly moving, sometimes divisive and always interesting, especially to us working in Higher Education. Every week, we share and comment upon a selection of interesting articles, posts and websites relating to education and technology we stumbled upon during the week. Do comment, recommend and share!

Technology’s culture of misogyny is an education technology issue - Audrey Watters

“It’s an education technology issue, in part, because of the expectations that we all are supposed interact online – for profession, personal, and academic purposes. What does that look like for girls and women? You can’t just tell us to “not read the comments” when the threats against us escalate.”

With the #Gamergate scandal getting increased public attention in Britain, Audrey Watters* summarises the #Gamergate issue and its impact on ed-tech in two of her weekly round ups. Trolling impacts on the safety and dignity of users (particularly female users), not just on gamified educational platforms, but also on discussion forums, comment boards and any other communication platform where harrassment can occur and identity can be compromised. This could be a serious issue for the ed-tech community, one which threatens a key tenet of online education; student engagement. We will explore the topic and its implication for education technology further next week.

Technology is not going to fix our education systems - Dr. Madhav Chavan

Dr. Madhav Chavan notes that while technology and the way we use it is non-linear, our education systems are designed in a linear way. While technology may not be able to “fix” education systems, he argues, it can help us to break free from their constraints – if we are willing to rethink education on a larger scale.

Innovating education through wearable technology  – Brad Spirrison for Huffington Post

5 short, inspiring examples of how wearable technology can innovate and improve education

Competency-based learning: The next revolution in online education? – Michelle Weise for Harvard Business Review

This recent contribution compellingly analyses the weaknesses of MOOCs that merely transfer existing content and course design onto the web. However, the claim that the future of online education lies in short, competency-based courses is perhaps more controversial. After all, existing university courses are often (or should be) designed around specific competences and the “skills needed by employers” referred to are hardly clearly and unambiguously defined.

Technology: Cultural resource or slave for our lifestyle?  – Sally Davies for Financial Times (subscription required)

Timely reflections on the future of technology – could “techno-hippies” make us think about using technology as a tool to improve society?

 

*Audrey Watters will be giving a lecture as part of LTI’s NetworkEd series on February 11, 2015. You can subscribe to our blog or follow us on Twitter to keep informed about LTI’s events.

Posted by: Posted on by Malte Werner Tagged with: , , ,

Oct 21 2014

LTI Funding opportunities for 2014/15

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Grants are available for academics to innovate teaching and learning at LSE under the categories below:

Innovation grants - projects that rethink traditional teaching models and use technology to encourage active and collaborate learning, these can include flipping lectures, gamification, using mobile devices or social media. More details and case studies from previous applicants can be found here:
LTI Innovation grants information
LTI Innovation grant application form information

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E-Assessment – projects that enable innovation in assessment through the use of technology, these can include formative and or summative e-assessment, e-marking and e-feedback. More details and case studies can be found here:
E-Assessment grant information
E-Assessment grant application information

EAssessment grants image

Students as producers – projects that allow students to collaborate and create content, these can include filming and digital story telling using ipads and cameras. More details and case studies can be found here:
Students-as-producers grant information
Students as producers grant application information

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Calls for proposals are now open – for more details on how to apply and how the process works go to our website and view the online grant application form.

If you wish to discuss your idea, prior to your application with a member of LTI please email: lti-support@lse.ac.uk

Posted by: Posted on by Geraldine Foley

Oct 20 2014

LTI NetworkED seminar series – Josie Fraser 22/10/14

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LTI NetworkED Seminar series
Josie Fraser ‘Digital Literacy in Practice: Making Change Happen’
Wednesday 22 October 5:00pm – 7:00pm, NAB2.06

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Josie Fraser will be talking about her experiences of working on the Digi Lit project.
As the 10th largest city in the UK Leicester is one of the most ethnically diverse cities in Europe, with huge amounts of children living in relative poverty.  Josie has had to deal with issues of access and what it means to provide education that is available for all and works for everyone in the community.  Set up as a partnership between the council, De Montford University and 23 secondary schools the Digi Lit project is an attempt to work within existing power structures while making sure that learners are not being left out.

See our events page for more details: http://blogs.lse.ac.uk/lti/lti-events/

The event is free to attend and places can be reserved on the staff via the training and development system:  https://apps.lse.ac.uk/training-system/userBooking/course/7419982

The seminar series is open to all at LSE, but will also be live streamed to enable an audience from around the world to listen to the talk and to participate using a variety of technologies.  To view the live stream and for more details about the NetworkED events go to the LTI website: http://lti.lse.ac.uk/events/networkED-seminar-series-18.php

Posted by: Posted on by Geraldine Foley Tagged with: , , ,

Oct 15 2014

Weekly Roundup in Education Technology

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Education technology is rapidly moving, sometimes divisive and always interesting, especially to us working in higher education. Every week, we will share helpful, interesting or controversial tweets, websites and articles relating to education and technology. Do comment, recommend and share!

Mediocrity v. innovation - Paul Taylor

“Why do we apply scrutiny to people working in innovation in a way we don’t to other functions like Operations, IT, Communications, HR or Finance?”

Regardless of whether or not the term “innovation” is overused or devoid of meaning, Paul Taylor’s rallying cry against mediocrity deserves some reflection. Perhaps not just the “innovation” sector, but a lack of scrutiny across all sectors deserves our attention.

Learning about learning technology through learning technology - EdX

Talk about practicing what you preach: A MOOC about MOOCs (and other learning technology), so to speak, culminating in a pitch for a new educational technology. The MOOC started last week and we will make sure to have a look at how it progresses.

Getting student privacy right - Adriene Hill

“Like everything else these days, education runs on data. Our kids’ data. Every digital move they make in school, on homework websites, and apps can be tracked. And it’s not always clear where that information is going or how companies are using it.”

A timely reminder that privacy is as (if not more) essential in the field of education technology as elsewhere.

Our brains rewired – Douglas Coupland

Last, but not least: Douglas Coupland’s (Author of Generation X and Microserfs) reflections on his experiences inside Alcatel-Lucent and how the internet has rewired our brains certainly make for an interesting short interview.

Posted by: Posted on by Malte Werner Tagged with: , ,

Oct 13 2014

Secondment to International Programmes

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This week I am starting a two day a week secondment to LSE’s International Programmes, the department that is responsible for degrees and diplomas studied by 45,000 students based around the world and accredited by the University of London. I know something about their work as for five years or so I was a Fellow at UoL’s Centre for Distance Education. I will be working in the International Programmes office on Monday and Friday for the next 6 months.

I’m going to be working to develop a teaching course including a digital literacy programme aimed at teachers. The teachers are based at affiliate institutions around the world as many students studying for a University of London qualification also receive institution from an affiliated institution. The idea is to offer this group a teaching certificate and although it won’t be a full blown PG Cert, it will cover many similar elements to a teaching course in higher education. The challenge is that much of the course will be taught online as the teachers are based around the world, although I do get to visit Singapore in January to deliver workshops to the teachers. The plan is that the course will have digital literacies embedded in to it, to equip teachers for 21st Century teaching. It will also explore the challenges of teaching in the digital age and assumptions about the concept of students as ‘digital natives’. I will be looking for existing courses and OERs for ideas as I know there are plenty of existing courses on this theme. Models like 23 Things also seem to offer ideas about the approach we could use to delivering the content. In addition to teaching about digital literacies we want to use a variety of appropriate technologies with the teachers to encourage them to share ideas and be reflective about their teaching.

My first step will be carrying out a search to find out about similar existing courses and to find a suitable teaching model. I also need to devise a curriculum and find out more about the teachers, their current practices and use of technologies. It’s very exciting starting a new project and today feels like the first step on a new adventure! I will be working in LTI on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday on my regular job, but there are of course many parallels, particularly as we are launching the second year of the Student Ambassadors for Digital Literacy project, with 4 undergraduate departments this year! I am also sure that many of the LTI workshops can be adapted for the teachers working with International Programmes.

Posted by: Posted on by Jane Secker

Oct 10 2014

LTI Staff Survey 2014

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In July this year we conducted our annual staff survey about our services, i.e. the support and guidance we provide and the technologies we promote/ support. The survey tells us what academics think of our workshops, what else they need from us, what they think about the benefits of using educational technologies as well as what obstacles to using them exist, and more. You can find the fairly short report on our website.
Two things stood out for me that I would like to raise here. 1. “lack of time”, an issue that has cropped up in our surveys since at least 2010. This isn’t unique to our staff, nor is it only related to learning technology, and it isn’t a modern phenomenon either: we are all time-poor, “there are only so many hours in a day”. Hence, one must prioritise, and it seems that to engage with the benefits of educational technologies isn’t high on everyone’s list. We can only hope to raise the profile of our work even more to tip the scales in our favour. 2. A final comment explains that “I get the impression you are trying to push a solution for a problem that doesn’t exist, i.e. too much tech does not necessarily get students to study better, or for learning to improve”. That second clause is of course trivially true: we would never say otherwise. But that is exactly why we do not push technologies for their own sakes only. Rather, our role as learning technologists is to explore the benefits of technological solutions to problems that we know do exist. For example, we know that students feel that they don’t get consistent feedback, so we offer staff a variety of ways of providing better feedback, more conveniently, e.g. through moodle (including use of voice tools for audio feedback). Or we do know that students like to revisit aspects of lectures that they didn’t understand at the time. If staff agree to be recorded, we offer a lecture capture system that allows students to review those lecture sections. And we allow staff to take control of how they release these lectures, too. We know that very large lectures can be alienating and aren’t particularly good learning opportunities. So we offer ways in which lectures can be changed to make them more engaging, by introducing video elements, or using instant voting systems to allow students to think through their learning together.
But at no moment do we push any of these and certainly not if we haven’t at first identified a problem to which these technologies might be a solution. If you think that we are too pushy (perhaps we have been too enthusiastic in conversations?), then do always feel free to come and speak to any of us, engage us in the debate, explain to us what we can improve about how we go about embedding educational technologies. That is the main purpose of our annual survey, but if we get to speak with you in person, that’s even better!

Posted by: Posted on by Sonja Grussendorf

Oct 9 2014

The dream of the 90s is alive in Portland: Innovative pedagogies and living the dream

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Sometimes, as we navigate the perilous waters of higher education reform and renewal we get sidetracked into debates about detail.  How do we define open? What do the letters in the MOOC acronym really mean? Which systems help us replicate the practices we have entrenched in our teaching rooms?  Despite our best intentions, these sidetracks can sometimes come across as a case of technology leading the debate ahead of pedagogy.  Arguably, this can be rationalised to some extent by the fact that as a sector we have often struggled with and sometimes openly resisted the debates surrounding innovative pedagogies.   This is not to say there has not been a debate in some quarters (and not just amongst the beltway) but I would not feel afraid to say that in most institutions the forms of teaching and learning that were in place decades (centuries?) ago remain dominant and defended or excused in a variety of ways.

 

The clear intention of the e-Learning and Innovative Pedagogies Conference, held at Pacific University in Oregon was to engage in a process of sharing and significant debate amongst practitioners around these very issues.  With participants from all corners of the globe (Australia, Middle East, US, UK, Asia, Europe, Africa and South America) the discussions were incredibly robust and engaged.  Finding a narrative for HE and for the LSE through this was challenging and rewarding pursuit.  Representing schools, FE, vendors, private trainers and teaching/research intensive universities, the delegates shared experiences, small and large shaped by their own unique engagements with the sector.

 

Inspired by the work based learning (through assessment rather than recognition) experiments of the University of Wisconsin the theme of flexibility kept reoccurring.  Their programme (called UW flex) allowed people with significant work experience to complete courses using a combination of online competency based resources and rigorous assessment at an accelerated self-pace with flexible entry points, recognising the learning that comes from experience (very similar to the WBL model of Middlesex University).  For me, this idea of flexibility, whether it be in the idea of an empty room, devoid of rows (or square walls), or in the way in which the VLE can be reinterpreted as a tool of interaction not delivery or administration, is critical to our understanding of what can constitute a new pedagogy for the post-digital age.

 

How much will we let 21st tools shape the way we teach?   These tools have already shaped society (although interestingly this was a twitter free conference).  It was argued in a number of forums that pedagogy must dictate the use of technology.  I have espoused this very line more times than I can remember. However, what happens when the pedagogy won’t bend?  What happens when learning, interaction and engagement don’t fit the way we want to structure teaching and assessment?  This was a significant challenge faced by a number of people at the conference.  Delivering business education in China where many sites are blocked, arts education in Japan (where students are more engaged in their mobiles than their interaction with staff) or trying to teach advertising in Southern California where all the key industry players are in New York present challenges to the way we construct and execute our pedagogy.

 

I presented a paper based on this blog post which argued that there are a number of disconnects that demand a debate about what constitutes a pedagogy for the post digital age.  These included the way learners identify, acquire and verify knowledge, the way we prepare them to ask the right questions (as opposed to requiring the right answers) and the impact of the increasing variety of spaces that catalyze and fertilise learning (that are located outside the lecture space).   In the light of this paper, and my engagement with the others that I saw over the two days (including two very practical keynotes from within the Pacific University faculty), I kept coming back to flexibility.  Learners will want to engage with our institutions in a variety of ways, requiring us to have both macro approaches to learning informed by modes of agile micro flexibility.  What might this look like at scale? That is the challenge for higher education in this post digital age.  Certainly, some of the more entrepreneurial providers have started to apply a start-up approach to these problems, fracturing the educational offering, tailoring it specific industry contexts and providing it in manageable and viable chunks (once again, the UW Flex model represents one possible future).

 

In summary, it shouldn’t take a conference for these debates to be seeded.  They should be happening in lunchrooms, staff meetings, student committees and conversations.  They should be central to the way we all talk about teaching and learning.  The greatest outcome this conference could have hoped for was the challenging of established orthodoxy…technology and pedagogy are instruments of change, they are not always sequential and they are not always scaffolded into each other.

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Posted by: Posted on by Peter Bryant

Oct 8 2014

Questions for clickers

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At LSE we use the voting system called Turning Point so I went along to the 2014 Turning Point conference in Manchester to find out what other institutions are getting up to with voting technology.

Peer instruction

The keynote speaker was Dr Eric Mazur, Professor of physics at Harvard University.
Unsurprisingly as the developer of peer instruction teaching he was a very engaging lecturer and soon had everyone in the room animatedly discussing physics concepts.  Dr Mazur demonstrated how PRS can be an effective way to get people engaged and excited about learning.  Rather than simply being quizzed students are required to discuss and explain their answers with each other before the question is re-polled.  This builds in time for learners to reflect on the concepts in the lecture and if you frame your questions right, the ability to transfer knowledge from one context to another.  Data from Dr Mazur’s lectures indicates that students are better at learning from each other and even those that originally have the incorrect answer often clarify their thinking when articulating it to others.

Flipping roles – student sourcing questions and answers

One of the most important aspects of using voting in teaching is coming up with good questions.
Dr Simon Lancaster Professor at UEA argued that concept based and challenging questions are essential to get students to invest in the voting process and his talk demonstrated that questions that divide participants and invite debate get the most responses. He urged lecturers to ‘flip roles’ and source the clicker questions and possible answers from students themselves. In addition to asking your own students to suggest questions he recommended ‘PeerWise’ as a free online resource: http://www.peerwise-community.org/

Asking questions in qualitative subjects

A range of ‘PechaKucha’ style presentations by humanities lecturers at University of Manchester gave several examples of academics who are using voting technology even when there isn’t always a ‘right answer’. They found that voting activities helped them to:

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See the video with examples from lecturers here: http://www.humanities.manchester.ac.uk/tandl/resources/resource.php?id=88

Team based learning using clickers & scratch-cards

The final session discussed ‘team based learning’ (TBL) that is going on in the University of Bradford. Much like flipping, they have attempted to move the subject knowledge out of the classroom so that contact time can be used to work on problem solving using the course content. They use a purpose built room and rather than lectures or seminars they have one session which is divided into three parts:

Individual preparation + team discussion + class discussion

Self testing using clickers

Students are set preparatory material to review ahead of the class. Students use the clickers to carry out individual tests at their own pace which make sure that they have done the preparation. The advantage of using the clickers is:

  • The results are linked up directly to the VLE so teachers can view the responses as they are submitted and work on feedback on common problems while the students are working on the next task.
  • Students can access their marks and the correct answers almost instantly after the class.
  • It is self-paced so students with learning difficulties can take as long as they want on each question and so far has eliminated the need to make individual arrangements.
  • It minimizes cheating as students sit different versions of the test paper.
  • It encourages students to complete the preparation before class. N.B. These individual scores are summative so marks are all recorded on the VLE and used to calculate the final mark.

Team discussion

  • Students work in groups to discuss the questions and reach a consensus on the solutions – using scratch cards to check their answers and calculate their teams score.
  • N.B Teams have 24 hours to submit an appeal to any question if they believe the content is wrong or the question is poor.
  • The teacher then goes over concepts that were not well understood using the results from the individual testing.

In class activities

  • Teams use the knowledge from the first two exercises to work on significant problems.
  • Every team works on the same activity and then reports back to the whole group with the reasoning for their choice enabling instructor facilitated discussion. ‘Often in justifying their choice , or arguing with a team that selected a different answer, teams achieve deep learning of the concepts in the initial reading and enhanced their ability to apply that knowledge to a problem’.

If you are interested in using voting technology in your classes or lectures please see our website for more details or contact lti.support@lse.ac.uk.

Posted by: Posted on by Geraldine Foley Tagged with: , , , ,

Oct 6 2014

Students and technology – what they use and would like to use

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With the freebie and alcohol fuelled excitement and chaos of fresher’s week behind us, LSE’s new students have (hopefully excitedly, potentially groggily) started their first full week.

For many students, studying at LSE will be nothing like any educational experience they have ever encountered. With different uses of technology in further education and other higher education institutions, we were interested in finding out which technologies students already used in their learning, and which technologies they would like to use in their learning at LSE.

So on our stand at Orientation week, we asked students to write down just that. We used the term technology flexibly, and allowed students to come up with their own definition of what technology meant to them.

Here’s how they responded:

Continue reading

Posted by: Posted on by Arun Karnad

Sep 29 2014

Supporting researchers with information literacy: Czech good practice

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I’ve just attended an Information Literacy seminar held at Charles University in Prague, (founded in 1348, so around 500 years older than LSE) although the meeting was at the more modern Faculty of Social Sciences. I was invited to give the keynote which opened the seminar and to speak about the support for research students we offer in LTI, working with colleagues in LSE Library. The IVIG seminar, which is an information literacy seminar, was organized by the Association of Libraries of Czech Universities, Institute of Information Studies and Librarianship of the Charles University in Prague, and SPRIG Civic Association. I have made my presentation available on Slideshare.

The programme was really interesting and it isn’t that often you get to meet over 60 Czech academic librarians. The group arranged for an interpreter to help me out, as the entire day was (unsurprisingly) in Czech. I had been invited following meeting Hana Landová, Lenka Bělohoubková and Ludmila Ticha last year at the ECIL conference in Istanbul. Their information literacy group has made great progress furthering good practice in the Czech Republic and the seminars they organize are very popular.

The focus of the seminar was supporting PhD students and early career researchers and there were presentations from a wide range of universities. Overall I found the issues they were discussing were very similar to those we experience in the UK, such as how to promote workshops to PhD students and also how to evaluate their effectiveness. The sessions being offered by Czech librarians were quite similar to those we run in LTI and LSE Library: literature searching, managing references, citation analysis, copyright issues. A couple of differences I noticed were several people talked about offering courses to PhD students on the publication process and on writing an academic (or scientific) paper. Courses on the writing process are run by LSE’s Teaching and Learning Centre, but combining this with issues of open access and identifying high impact journals in your field could be really interesting. Petra Dědičová from Brno, University of Technology was one speaker who had a particularly impressive programme of support for PhD students, with a complimentary Moodle course. However, I was also impressed with the use of BYOD (bring your own device) in workshops for PhD students described by Kristýna Paulová from the Czech University of Life Sciences, Prague. They reported no technical problems and this seemed like an excellent idea for a BYOD pilot with LSE students. You can read a longer post about the seminar on my own blog, but I’d like to thank the group for inviting me to Prague for a fascinating event to a beautiful city.

Posted by: Posted on by Jane Secker