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So far Sarah Ney has created 33 entries.

An evaluation of LSE’s new informal learning spaces

In the 2016-2017 academic year, staff at LTI undertook an evaluation of the use of new LSE informal learning spaces. The findings and lessons learnt can be found in our final report. Here are the highlights.

Background

As part of a School-wide objective to provide students with more informal learning spaces across campus, “forgotten” spaces were redeveloped and opened for the 2016-17 academic year. Staff at LTI led the design of 6 spaces – one at each landing of Clement House’s back stairwell- along with Estates, the Teaching and Learning Centre and AV services.

While each space was designed to fulfil a specific function, such as collaborative work or quiet study, they were also intended to be flexible so that students could own and shape them.

This work was also an opportunity for LTI to experiment with new configurations and technology to apply a variety of modular spaces for LSE’s future buildings. LTI’s report investigates the effective use made by students of the six spaces, and whether they match the design intentions. It also provided a context to understand how they fit into the overall experience of students with informal learning spaces at the School.

Click the picture for a description of the spaces

Findings

In spite of the fact that the effective use of the spaces did not always match the original design intentions, the spaces were welcomed by both students and staff and saw high levels of occupancy.

As far as use is concerned, students seemed to favour individual use of the spaces, even on those floors fitted with collaborative furniture. This was found to align with the most common approach to teaching and learning adopted at the School and also reflected in assessment, namely quiet study and individual working. It would be interesting to reassess the use of those and similar spaces once other modes of teaching and assessment are adopted as a result of the School-wide initiative to diversify assessment from next year.

With regards to the spaces themselves. students appreciated the calm and relaxed feel to the spaces and the range of equipment available to them.  Areas for improvement include noise levels (especially between classes) and a lack of work space (such as tables or chairs).

Report

More information about the spaces, findings and our analysis can be found in the full report: An Evaluation of Clement House Informal Learning Spaces.

LTI is currently working on the redevelopment of other informal spaces, as well as three rooms in various areas of the campus (more details to follow soon)

Findings from this evaluation and our previous new teaching spaces evaluation will inform the design of these spaces and the future ones.

We would love to hear your feedback, please use the comments below or email LTI to share your thoughts!

LTI’s Funding Opportunities: Results and New Call

Find out about the SPARK projects that were funded for the 2016-17 academic year and read about our new call for our large-scale IGNITE scheme, now open!

IGNITE funding call now open!

IGNITE! is one of LTI’s strand of funding offering support to large-scale, technology-informed initiatives at course or programme level.

Now in its second year, the 2017-18 call will focus on supporting applications that seek to engage with innovative approaches to assessment and feedback using technology.

Find out more about the scheme and how to apply on our funding web pages.

SPARK: the results are in!

This academic year 6 projects were awarded a SPARK! grant, LTI’s seed funding scheme that supports innovative teaching and learning projects.

Projects include students produced learning material and research, an initiative to improve assessment and feedback and data visualisation training.

 

Visit our dedicated pages for more information on each project. You will also find last year’s winners along with evaluation and other shared outcomes for those completed.

Blogging as a Method of Assessment

The past couple of years an increasing number of LSE academics started integrating blogging in their courses. This took various forms, from using the blog feature on Moodle as an added activity to creating individual blogs for students as part of a course summative assessment. One thing that all these projects shared is the rationale for using blogs in an educational context: encouraging student engagement, making learning more student-centred and diversifying assessment with the view to making it more relevant to the course and developing students’ transferable skills.

A good example of such initiative is Anthropology’s Dr Walker AN300 student blogs project. Dr Walker applied for a SPARK Grant last year in order to support his project to “develop the use of student blogs as one component of the summative assessment for AN300 Advanced Theory of Social Anthropology”.

Below is a summary of the project and its outcomes, with quotes form Dr Walker’s application and project report, whose full version can be found on his project page.

What was done

AN300 is an intensive reading course focusing on full-length books rather than journal articles. There are three ‘cycles’ per term, each devoted to a different book […] Each student was required to produce his/her own blog. […]Students were expected to make one post each week for the first two weeks of each book cycle (12 posts for the course overall). Every third week was dedicated to commenting on the posts of others. The final mark consisted of the average of each student’s best eight posts.[…]The posts were assessed weekly by a GTA who was also in charge of providing feedback.

Students also attended a session on writing for blog run by LTI at the beginning of their course.

Rationale

Developing students’ academic and life skills

The aim of this project was to encourage students to develop their own original ideas and critical responses to key texts in social anthropology, as well as to cultivate their capacity to respond thoughtfully and diplomatically to the ideas of others. Making regular blog entries was also meant to encourage students to keep abreast of the required readings for each week, partly in order to positively impact the overall quality of class discussions. The project was also intended to cultivate students’ digital literacy, providing them with training in an increasingly widespread form of disseminating information.

Diversifying assessment

[The course format] is sometimes described as an advanced reading group. This makes it ill suited to exams as a mode of assessment. The blogs, by contrast, allowed students to develop their own ideas about the books they were reading as they went along.

Students appreciated the opportunity the blogs provided […] to work in a medium other than an essay or exam.

Evaluation

In general, the trial can be considered a success. […] The posts that resulted were often highly original and creative. Students appreciated the opportunity the blogs provided to be more experimental with their ideas and arguments, and less formal in their writing. […] Having to write a post prior to class gave students an opportunity to critically reflect on the readings, and to bring to the class ideas they had developed in their blogs

Lessons learnt

Clarity was identified as a key area for improvement in the project, as its absence seems to have caused some frustration among students. The main aspects that were identified as critical were clear guidance and expectations, grading criteria and feedback on the blog posts.

It is also worth noting that it was the first year blogs were tried in the department. The fact that students were not (yet) familiar with this type of activity made it even more important to provide them with extra guidance.

Outcomes

You can find a detailed evaluation report on the project’s dedicated web pages. The report includes guidance given to students at the start of term along with marking criteria, and examples of student posts and comments.

If you are interested in using blogging as a teaching tool, check out our and TLC’s resources or get in touch to discuss your ideas.

This project was funded by LTI’s SPARK Grant. More info on similar teaching innovation projects and how to apply on our website.

 

SPARK Grants: results and last call!

The results are in! 

In March the SPARK! Committee reviewed applications from our  first call and approved three projects aimed at improving the student learning experience through the use of technology and innovative pedagogical approaches.

The projects include an extension of a very successful students-as-producers project to further develop students filmmaking skills, the use of specialist software to create interactive assessment in Maths and a student-owned digital platform to produce and disseminate student research.

Find out more about these and previously-funded projects on our webpages.

It’s not too late to apply!

Our second call will be closing on Friday 5th May at 12 noon. This means you still have time to talk to us about your ideas and submit your application!

Detailed guidance on the application process can be find on our website. Get in touch now!

Using Powerpoint to create engaging simulations

Last academic year, two PhD students  teaching in the Department of International Relations  embarked on a journey to make their course more engaging to students. They applied for an LTI SPARK! Grant to support the development of Powerpoint-based simulation games.

Here are the highlights of the project following its completion and evaluation. Quotes are from the two recipients of the grant, Gustav Meibauer and Andreas Aagaard Nohr.

Related outcomes and resources on our website

The rationale

                Issues addressed

Currently available IR simulations for teaching purposes are often high-cost/high-tech and especially time-intensive: even if they do not require custom-made software packages with difficult interfaces and expensive licensing fees, they are almost without exception targeted at course-long or at least day-long activities that demand extensive preparation of both teachers and students, with book-length manuals, intricate rules, integrated assessment tools, and specific secondary literature. This is irrelevant for most of the undergraduate teaching practice, especially in introductory courses that often treat specific concepts only once in a 50-minutes class. But this should not mean that undergraduate students simply never get the chance to profit from interactive gaming and simulations.

                Why simulations? The pedagogy behind the technology

The project is based in the pedagogy of experiential learning, student ownership and self-directed learning, and the use of gaming activities and simulations in the classroom.

Simulations and interactive gaming solutions have long been known to enhance understanding both of specific empirical examples as well as, more importantly, theoretical linkages because they make students experience, rather than only hear about, factors and variables involved in such different topics as foreign policy decision-making, diplomacy, great power dynamics or identity formation.

Students do not simply passively receive the PowerPoint (as in a standard presentation), but play it, change its outcome (within given options), determine what the next slide will show, and are thus actively involved in what they learn. This is thought to encourage deeper learning.

It is not the outcome of the simulation that matters, but the process of its coming-about. Just as in real-world foreign policy or diplomacy, there is not necessarily a correct path to take or a right decision to find – instead, by playing the simulation, students engage in discussion and compromise, take into account a multitude of different factors, realize own mistakes, and get a feeling for the complexity of decision-making in multiple settings.

                Why Powerpoint?

There is no need to change the course design, overhaul the entire teaching approach, or experiment wildly outside what is currently known and available. Instead, our project aims at diversifying teaching where possible to integrate student-centered, activity-based teaching and learning. It does so by bringing out the true potential of already available teacher skills and learning technologies.

We do this by employing PowerPoint, specifically in-built features such as hyperlinks, interactive pathways, or audio or video integration that can be used interactively rather than passively.

Implementation

                Integration into the course

By necessity, simulations do not stand alone: they are accompanied by a set of theoretical structures and debates in which students talk and theorize about their experiences during the gaming activity

Each of our simulation classes consisted of an introductory stage of about 5 minutes, a simulation stage with multiple discussion periods interspersed (moderated variously by the class teacher or by the students themselves, depending on class dynamics) of about 20-30 minutes, and a discussion stage to tease out theoretical insights of about 20-30 minutes.

Take Aways

“Andreas and Gustav came up with a formula that gave students ownership of their own decisions and helped them to apply their knowledge to difficult real world dilemmas. Students were able to experience the consequences of both the cautious and risk taking approach and the many nuances and customs that apply to foreign policy decisions.”

Sarah Leach, Senior Learning Technologist on the project

                Students experience

Overall, results indicate a positive impact on student learning: students on average perceived simulations were enjoyable, allowed for stimulating discussion in the classroom and an experience of expertise and immersion into the topic of the class.

Not only did the simulations add an important additional method to diversify the learning experience and complement more “traditional” instruction styles, they also led to greater overall  participation rates in class (compared to more conventional class types, as assessed by teachers,  observers, and the students themselves), allowed students to bring in own previous experience and  learn from their peers, and try out learned theoretical concepts in class.

They gave students a language to talk about new and often highly abstract concepts, and allowed for smooth and often in-depth reflection and discussion. The simulations also proved entertaining and supported positive group dynamics in class, such as self-moderated discussion and quick exchanges between students without teacher interference.

                The teacher’s views

They allowed us as teachers to transition more easily towards roles of moderator and facilitator, as students interact with the simulation and with each other without input or instruction from the teacher.

Students worry that the simulations somehow divert from the “actual” material they are supposed to learn from the course, which means additional effort has to be put into developing desired learning outcomes and appropriate theoretical teaching materials.

“Andreas and Gustav have demonstrated that engaging students with technology doesn’t have to be daunting or cutting edge, a simple tweak can dramatically change the learning experience for students. To make this step even easier, they have written a ‘how to’ guide for any teachers who want to create simulations for small class teaching. The guide covers every aspect from defining the learning objectives and creating the slides through to teaching plans and evaluation. It’s a great resource.”

Sarah Leach

If you are interested in using technology to support teaching, learning and assessment like Andreas and Gustav, then please get in touch with LTI to discuss your ideas. Take a look at LTI’s SPARK! Grants for more information.

Let us help!

lets-talk-by-ron-mader-on-flickr“Talk to us!”

Whether you have a definite idea of how you want to use learning technology and innovate your  teaching, see the potential for enhancement but need guidance and ideas, or even doubt the use of technology in education but think that things could be improved, just come and talk to us!

LTI are here to support all teaching staff at the LSE.  We work with colleagues and the wider learning technology community to ensure we understand the purpose and uses of learning technology and explore innovative approaches to teaching and learning.  We can work with you to test out new approaches to teaching in a safe and supportive environment, implementing them in your specific context to address the needs and expectations of you and your students.

 

support-by-igor-grushevskHow can we help?

We provide day-to-day guidance with LSE-supported technologies such as Moodle and Turnitin and can help you with many more.  If we don’t know it yet, we’ll learn with you!  Visit our website for self-help guidance or drop us an email. We also organise training sessions and events on specific tools and approaches, open to any level.  Have a look at what’s happening in Lent Term.

We evaluate LSE projects aimed at enhancing teaching and learning, from small to large scale, and share the results with the community. We keep an eye on what is being done in the learning technology community, what works and what doesn’t. We try it ourselves. We test it with willing staff, roll it out, evaluate it again, and promote it.  Check out our reports and papers on e-assessment, learning spaces, lecture capture and many more on our website and LSE Research Online.

We promote good practice and celebrate teachers who “lead and live innovative teaching”, namely LSE Innovators. We learn from them and disseminate their ideas.

Finally, we offer dedicated help and support from senior members of the team and funding for your innovative teaching and learning ideas, from the time you come to us with your idea to the completion of your project. We will help you evaluate and disseminate it. We do this through our SPARK! grant scheme. Visit our funding pages to learn more and find inspiration in reading about past projects.

 

 

Round the Rotunda: Celebrating Clement House’s New Learning Spaces

LTI is organising a celebration of the new learning spaces in the “rotunda” staircase of Clement House on Wednesday 7th December.

Come join us for coffee/tea, cake and other nibbles and explore the six spaces. It will also be the chance to meet or catch up with the team and what we are up to!

Interested? Book your place

What’s happening on each floor:

 

Floor 3 – New York

clm-floor-3-by-irina-zakharova

Reception & Food – 3.30pm start

Award-winning LTI

LSE innovators

Floor 2 – Rio de Janeiro

clm-floor-2-by-irina-zakharova

Learning Spaces

Flipping the Classroom

Floor 4 – London

clm-floor-4-by-irina-zakharova

Games for Learning

 

Floor 5 – Sydney

clm-floor-5-by-irina-zakharova

Copyright

 

Floor 6 – Tokyo

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Students As Producers

Assessment and Feedback

 

 

 

 

 

 

Save

Mahara, Blogging and Peer Review

Edgar Whitley from the department of Management tells us about using Mahara as a tool for blogging and peer assessment and its benefits to teaching, learning and assessment.

Michaelmas Term Training Opportunities

Now that term has started and you have (hopefully) settled down, why not take this opportunity to refresh or develop new skills?

Michaelmas Term workshops

Check out our programme of workshops around digital literacy and teaching with technology

On Demand and bespoke

Workshops listed below will run on an on-demand basis when at least three people have expressed their interest via LSE’s training system.

On-demand training

We also offer bespoke training to groups of academics and departments to meet specific requirements. Just choose which one(s) you are interested in from both scheduled and on-demand and contact s.ney@lse.ac.uk to arrange for sessions.

And much more!

Stay tuned for more information on our upcoming exciting event on gamification and playful learning in November!

LTI in the spotlight

Last week staff from LTI  attended the Association for Learning Technology’s annual conference (ALT-C 2016). It was an eventful three days at the University of Warwick for the team, with five of us presenting a total of 4 papers and one keynote. And oh, we also won the Learning Technologist of the Year Awards!

Learning experiences and virtual learning environments: It’s all about design!

A design for learning; Learning Experiences for the Post-Digital World – Peter Bryant

In the first part of his presentation, Peter described his new approach to teaching and learning whereby seven  learning experiences (found, making, identity, play, discontinuity, authenticity and community) can “shape, influence and enhance the opportunities for students to learn, to share learning and to teach others in a post-digital world”. Participants then discussed how existing learning technology tools could be used to create such learning experiences.

You can find a summary, reflections and slides from Peter’s presentation on his blog

Innovating from the Outside In: a Creative Hub to Change eLearning Practice- Sonja Grussendorf

Sonja introduced the audience to LTI’s “creative hub”, a project bringing together film makers, artists and designers, and how it  is being used  to design a VLE that can “accentuate communication between participants; support independent learning, collaboration and student creativity; facilitate peer learning and peer assessment and deliver ongoing, two-way feedback opportunities.”

Physical teaching and learning spaces

Learning Spaces: Roles and Responsibilities of the Learning Technologist – Kris Roger and Sarah Ney

While Sonja was presenting on virtual spaces, Kris and myself discussed physical teaching and learning spaces. More specifically, we reflected on a recent project to develop new active learning spaces at the LSE that made us wonder about what our roles and responsibilities as learning technologists were in the design of learning spaces.

Copyright and eLearning: who else but Jane Secker?

Jane presented a paper AND a keynote at ALT-C this year!

CopyrightBuddiesLecture Capture: Risky Business or Evolving Open Practice? co-presented with Chris Morrisson, Copyright Licensing and Compliance Officer at the University of Kent.

Jane and Chris presented the findings from a recent survey on institutional attitudes towards intellectual property issues in relation to lecture capture and contents used in lectures. They also reflected on the relation between good policy and good practice and how to support staff in implementing and encouraging it.

Keynote: Copyright and eLearning: Understanding our Privileges and Freedoms

Jane presented an entertaining, fun, moving and very interesting keynote on how a better understanding of  copyright can empower copyright users and educators.

You can view Jane’s full keynote on youtube:

Last But Not Least: We won!

LTI was presented with the prestigious Team Learning Technologist of the Year Award last Wednesday for their work around Students as Producers. The award recognises “outstanding achievements in the learning technology field and the promotion of intelligent use of Learning Technology on a national scale”.

“LSE are proud to be selected as the Learning Technology team of the year, especially in its 10th year.  This recognition by our peers is a celebration of the innovative work being done by academic and LTI staff to better the student experience and provide more opportunities for engaging, positive and transformational education with technology.” Peter Bryant, Head of LTI

Here are a few pictures from the evening: