Oct 30 2014

SADL project presents at European conference

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Dubrovnik's famous cave bar

Relaxing on the last night

Last week the work of LTI and the Library’s Student Ambassadors for Digital Literacy (SADL) project reached a truly international audience when I presented with Maria Bell  at the European Conference on Information Literacy (ECIL) in Dubrovnik, Croatia. The conference brought together delegates from Europe and beyond (59 countries were represented) to share research and practice in supporting information literacy was attended by teachers, lecturers, librarians and researchers in the field.

Some of you may be more familiar with the term digital literacy but essentially information literacy is helping people find, evaluate, manage and communicate information in all its forms (not just digital) and while technology plays a role in how many of us interact with information, we were urged by one of the conference keynotes, Michael B Eisenberg, not to focus on technology too much as it will change! Information literacy is recognised by UNESCO as being a foundation for lifelong learning and for democracy and they also see it as a human right. We heard about information literacy in the townships of South Africa, its role in health education (where many of us can find something online about their latest ailment!) and in the recent Scottish referendum, where people were swamped with information from both sides of the campaign but perhaps lacked the critical abilities to make sense of it.

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Posted by: Posted on by Jane Secker

Oct 29 2014

Weekly Roundup in Education Technology: The Rules of Learning Technology, Yik Yak 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!

Teaching lecturers to teach - Graham Gibbs

“Whether lecturers should be required to have formal teacher training has been a subject of much debate in recent years.”

Let’s consider how this reads if we replace the job titles with other professions:

Whether dentists should be required to have formal dental training has been a subject of much debate in recent years.”

To read this sentence in a journal of dentistry would be utterly extraordinary (and worrying for the state of our health care system). Despite all efforts, we still inhabit a strange world of work in Higher Education – a world in which not just learning technology, but learning and teaching in general deserve increased attention.

Can technology make us smarter? – David Robson

Let’s question the claim that technology is making us too lazy to think and learn. Regardless of whether the claim that even average students can reach the top 2% of a class is accurate or not, adapting to different learning styles is likely to have a positive impact on thinking and learning. If technology can help us to do so (whether now or in the future), it might not make us smarter by itself, but it offers possibilities that we should make use of.

The latest trend at US colleges  - Yik Yak

This latest app to spread across US college campuses provides users with a location-based live chat. While the idea of a “hyper-local forum” is certainly innovative, the combination of being anonymous and location-based throws up issues around bullying, trolling and institutional reputation that users, institutions and the provider itself will have to address. Initial proposals have included banning the app in schools, but it would be unfortunate if the only way to manage the service is by shutting it down altogether.

The rules of learning technology - Peter Condon

“Remember that for e-learning technology is the means to the end, not the end in itself. Unless we see technology as a tool, we will not question its effect upon our learning and our learners.”

This blog posts presents us with a good opportunity to revisit our earlier blog post on what learning technologists do (and don’t do). At the same time, it also serves as a reminder to everybody working in education not to lose sight of our most important objective: to improve teaching and learning.

Scarf vets happy - What3Words

We are not aware of LSE turning into a veterinary college, but those are the three words assigned to LSE on What3Words. What3Words divides the earth into 3x3m squares, assigning three random words to each square. The result replaces unmemorable number coordinates with, well, 3 words - maybe a useful tool for those of us teaching and studying geography?

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

Oct 28 2014

LTI NetworkED seminar series – Helen Keegan 05/11/2014

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If you couldn’t make it to Helen Keegan’s NetworkED talk, click here to watch the recording on our YouTube channel.

LTI NetworkED Seminar series Helen Keegan ‘Interactive & Social Media’ Wednesday 05 November 5:00pm – 7:00pm, CLM5.02

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Helen Keegan (@heloukee on Twitter) is a UK National Teaching Fellow and Senior Lecturer and researcher at the University of Salford, UK. 

Her expertise lies in curriculum innovation through social and participatory media, with a particular focus on creativity and interdisciplinarity.  She is known for her work on digital cultures and identities, social technologies and the interplay between formal and informal learning. As a multi-disciplinary practitioner. Helen works across sciences and media arts, developing partnerships and creative approaches to learning and collaboration.

Alongside presenting and consulting, Helen has published in journals and edited collections including the European Journal of Open and Distance Learning, Selected Papers of Internet Research, and the Handbook of Research on Social Software and Developing Community Ontologies. For more information see www.acoustics.salford.ac.uk/profiles/keegan/

Announcing our second NetworkED for the 2014/15 academic year, we are welcoming Helen Keegan to the LSE on Wednesday 5th November at 5pm.  Providing insights and examples of projects that engage students as producers, Helen will discuss a number of projects that span her practice, especially looking at examples of leading projects that link students across networks, cultures and countries.  This talk will be of great relevance to those interested in innovative pedagogies, student led learning and media education in the digital age. For a taste of what to expect have a look at our short Q&A with Helen Keegan.

The event is free to attend and places can be reserved on the staff via the training and development system or by emailing imt.admin@lse.ac.uk

All our talks are live streamed and recorded for those who can’t make it. For more information, check out our website or have a look at previous talks on our YouTube channel .

Posted by: Posted on by Geraldine Foley

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


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

StudentsAsProucers grant image

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


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.


Posted by: Posted on by Peter Bryant