LTI Grants

LTI Grants – SPARK! & IGNITE! – Extended Deadline

CALL FOR APPLICATIONS! If you have a project in mind to use technology to enhance your teaching practices and improve the students’ experience, this is your second chance to get your project funded. LTI has extended the deadline for applications to Tuesday 30 April 2019.

For further information visit our website: http://lti.lse.ac.uk/lti-grants/

Check the SPARK! or IGNITE! winners of previous years on our website to get some inspiration. If you need more details about the schemes, or how to apply contact LTI.

March 15th, 2019|LTI Grants|0 Comments|

Playful and Creative Learning in HE

Next Tuesday LTI will be hosting a presentation by Chrissi Nerantzi (Principal Lecturer in Academic CPD, expert in creative, innovative learning, teaching and assessment from Manchester Metropolitan University) on Playful and Creative Learning. A good opportunity to reflect on what playfulness and creativity mean in an educational context and explore ways in which we can promote it in our practice.

Definition: What is playful learning?

 In a blog post by JISC titled Learning to play, playing to learn: the rise of playful learning in higher education, Chrissi gives an explanation of what playful leraning means to her:

“Playful learning is using play activities to immerse ourselves and learn, either on our own or with others in a space we feel safe.  In playful learning it’s ok to make mistakes when experimenting with new ideas, when challenging ourselves and others and doing things we normally wouldn’t do – which can lead us to surprising discoveries.

Playful learning can happen anywhere.”

Play and Its Connection to Creativity

The “Creativity for Learning in Higher Education” open course, based on the Manchester Metropolitan University’s PgCert and MA in Higher Education in which Chrissi is involved, offers colleagues with an interest in creative teaching and learning to explore three areas that foster more creativity in their practice and their students’ learning experience. One of which is play and games.

As Resnick (2017) puts it,

“Creativity doesn’t come from laughter and fun: It comes from experimenting, taking risks, and testing the boundaries.”

When it comes to experimenting, games are a very powerful learning tool. Games are by definition a space where the rule of the real world do not apply, thus providing a safe space to take risks and experiment with various choices, strategies and outcomes.

Moseley and Whitton (2015) define games as“a safe space in which participants have freedom to make mistakes, learn from failure, play with fantasy and identity, have control over decisions and outcomes”

Interested in finding out more?

Check out Chrissi’s various projects around playful and creative learning:

At LSE

References

Resnick, M. (2017). Lifelong Kindergarten: Cultivating Creativity through Projects, Passions, Peers, and Play. MIT Press.

Moseley, A. and Whitton, N. (2015). Using Games to Enhance the Student Experience. Higher Education Academy

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.

Playful learning

In February I was lucky enough to attend the ‘RemixPlay’ event at Coventry University.  Hosted in the amazing ‘Disruptive Media Lab’ the day featured some really interesting speakers (Ian Livingstone (CBE), Bernie DeKoven, Professor Nicola Whitton and Dr Sebastian Deterding).  There are already some great write-ups about the event which I won’t replicate here, instead see the blog post by Daryl Peel from University of Southampton and The Flying Raccon’s write up of Remix Play.

For me the conference highlighted the positive aspects of play and I left thinking that we should do more to invite ‘Playfulness’ in Higher Education.  Creating a playful environment/community encourages exploration, collaboration, creativity and gives people agency to try things out and have the freedom to fail, all key conditions for learning.  There is an abundance of literature on learning through play and it’s importance see ‘Play, Playfulness, Creativity and Innovation’ by Patrick Bateson, Bernard Suits book ‘The Grasshopper – Games, life and Utopia’ and the ‘How We Get To Next’ reading list on the Power of Play especially the video’s at the end.

Some nice examples of a playful environment given by speakers at the event:

http://www.musicalswings.com/about/

http://www.thefuntheory.com/piano-staircase

As Jordan Shapiro et. al. note in Mind/Shift Guide to Digital Games + Learning  (Joan Ganz Cooney Center/KQED, 2014)

Play is exploration. It involves imagination. It means investigating the world of the game and feeling the frustration, flow, and excitement that goes along with playing it.”

Games designed to enable learning are becoming more popular in Higher Education.  Games are a more structured version of ‘play’ and allow players to problem-solve and often involve collaboration and peer learning.  Although they often involve rules and winners, games give autonomy to the players and provide a safe environment to fail and to try and test things out.  They are often about making decisions and then seeing the consequences and receiving feedback on your actions.  As Professor Nicola Whitton stressed, students need low-impact opportunities to experience failure (micro failures); it’s how they get feedback, learn and improve.

Games at LSE

As part of an LTI grant, I have been working with colleagues in LTI on the LSE100 course to create a board game which was played in classes this term.  One of the key difficulties when designing the game was to get the balance between play and content right.  Too much content, and it’s not a game anymore, it’s a lecture and it’s not fun.  Too much concentration on the game, and the learning outcomes are not as obvious and it’s harder for students to make the links between the concepts that you are trying to illustrate.  We are now evaluating the game collecting and collating feedback from students and staff, so look out for updates on this shortly.

LTI has awarded several grants to projects involving games, including ‘Capture the Market’ board game mentioned above and an Ethnographic point and click video game, more info and resources can be found on our website.

Game workshop

If you are interested in exploring the use of games in education, we are running a workshop on ‘Designing quick and effective games for learning’ with Alex Moseley on Wednesday 26 April.  Alex has been involved with games in education for 8 years and has lots of experience with designing games for learning. You can read an interview with Alex on this blog and you can book a place on the workshop on Eventbrite.

Spark grants

Applications for LTI spark grants are now open http://lti.lse.ac.uk/lti-grants/ with the deadline of Friday 5 May.  If you are interested in finding out more, check out the LTI website and contact us to discuss your idea.

Long distance collaborative teaching – evaluation and recommendations

LTI Grants aim to test new forms of teaching, learning, and assessment at LSE through the use of technology, with the aim of diversifying student experience.  Last year LTI worked with the department of Government to run a multi-institution collaborative teaching project.  The project evaluation provided recommendations for future implementation and is summarised below.

The project

2015/16 LTI grant winner, Dr Francisco Panizza from the Department of Government worked with LTI to set up a collaborative long distance course on the politics and political economics of the BRICS* countries.  The transAtlantic course ran weekly as an elective pilot for students in the Michaelmas term 2015.

Francisco Panizza

Francisco Panizza

brics-tech-set-up-cropped
Tony Spanakos

Tony Spanakos

Using video conferencing technology, Dr Panizza delivered joint lectures with Tony Spanakos, Associate Professor in Department of Political science and Law at Montclair State University, USA.

Despite a 5 hour time difference LSE students were able to view their American counterparts in real time and contribute to discussions in the joint classroom, allowing them to benefit from a variety of viewpoints and experiences. The  technology also enabled additional speakers to guest lecture including Professor Lucius Botes, from the University of the Free State in South Africa.

Each two-hour session was based on a case study of a BRICS country.  Students were asked to work in cross University groups on a summit presentation and used the VLE (Virtual Learning Environment) Canvas to plan and discuss presentations.  Despite being a voluntary course double the number of LSE students applied to take part than were spaces available.

Course evaluation surveys indicated that students were very interested in the course content, non-Western accounts of the global South are not usually part of the undergraduate curriculum.  The interdisciplinary approach of the course and opportunity to work with students from another university were also stated as reasons for applying to take part.

brics-classroomThe lecturers aimed to ‘diversify and deepen the learning experience by allowing students the opportunity to hear and engage with multiple perspectives on a common theme’, and engage with the politics of the BRICS in a ‘far more diverse context than would have been possible otherwise’.  The students reported that the opportunity to have two professorial voices in one classroom was appreciated and the Q&As were very stimulating.  The lecturers noted that several students developed meaningful interactions with them and were able to broaden their advice for essays.  However careful preparation is required to allow for a seamless experience with technology.  Classes are easily delayed if video conferencing technology is not set up in advance and there are any technical problems.  The time difference is another factor that has to be taken into account.

 

Adapting the pedagogical approach

The evaluation of the BRICS project highlighted the need to develop new teaching methods and forms of student participation that take full advantage of new communication technologies.

As Senior Learning Technologist Kris Roger notes:

“As soon as you introduce the element of distance to a course, then you need to fundamentally rethink how you go about your teaching. […].  Not replicate exactly what we do as a face to face class. It’s like really embedding the distance, the technology, into practice rather than just focusing on preparing the class and the content and switching on the video and getting started”

The evaluation highlighted that the traditional LSE format of a lecture followed by a seminar did not translate well into this pilot, as lectures took over the collaboration time between LSE and MSU students.  Not only did more class time need to be devoted to enabling student collaboration but students needed more support with the initial forming and communicating in groups.  Lecturers reported assuming that students would be more comfortable choosing their own technology to communicate with each other; however, students found the multiplicity of platforms and lack of guidance confusing.  Once the platform Canvas had been selected for collaboration, students’ began effective discussions online and often reverted to using their own tools such as Whatsapp, Skype and Google Docs. This supports findings by LSE SADL that although students may be comfortable with using technology in their personal lives they are not familiar with applying these tools to their academic work.

Recommendations and next steps

Collaborative teaching and learning is a new area for LSE and as Dr Panizza noted “we only scratched the surface of a teaching experience full of possibilities”.  You can read the reflections of the course lecturers on the LTI blog.

One of the issues that was raised in the evaluation of this project was the role of LTI and how to better communicate our expertise as learning technologists.  Our aim is to ensure that where technology is used it extends teaching opportunities, enriches the student learning experience.  We now plan to embed training for collaborative teaching within future projects to support lecturers to adapt a more student centred approach.  Some of the recommendations for future collaborative projects are listed below:

  • Adopt a student-centred approach with emphasis on collaboration.
  • Clear information from the start: centralised platform or communication channel with information on the course; project goals, choice of technology and links between students’ contributions and evaluation need to be communicated.
  • Form and introduce the groups and the collaboration platform to be used at the start of the project. Students may still choose their own platform if they wish.
  • Clear instructions including roles and responsibilities along with a discussion on role norms and social etiquette for students working on collaborative projects.
  • Use of a structured grading rubric to enable monitoring and encourage participation and collaboration.
  • Sustain Learning Activities such as writing, reviewing and revising throughout the learning process.

It is hoped that more collaborations can take place and we can develop our experience of working with other institutions.  If you would be interested in working on a collaborative project or have another idea for innovation with technology for the pedagogic benefit of students then contact LTI.  LTI grants applications are now open for 2017 for more details see the LTI website.


*BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa)

Designing quick and effective games for learning

Workshop on game based learning in HE
Wednesday 26 April 14:15-16:15
Led by Alex Moseley, National Teaching Fellow, University of Leicester
This workshop is open to LSE academics, students and external participants: Book a place

learning-together-by-london-public-library-on-flickr
Simulations and complex digital games need time, money and design/technical expertise to develop. Many educators have great ideas for games yet lack the resources to put them into practice (either technically or in game design terms).

Alex Moseley and Nicola Whitton have therefore created a fast, fun, ten-step workshop for educators, built around the same design process that games designers use, to allow small teams to quickly develop games for learning: either as fully-fledged traditional games, or as prototypes for simple digital games.

Workshop participants will leave with a skill set for identifying, applying and designing games for learning; and with ideas to apply to their own subject areas.

Book a place 

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Ahead of the workshop we interviewed Alex to find out more information about his experience with games

1.How/why did you first become interested/involved in games based learning?

It all started when a card dropped out of my Sunday newspaper. On it was a slightly cryptic, but interesting puzzle – that led me into the centre of an alternate reality game (ARG) called Perplex City. A few months later, I found myself fully immersed (spending hours researching naval signalling flags, and other odd behaviour) and also noticed that many others were as immersed in the game as me, many even more so. Comparing this to the interest shown by my students in my History 101 class, I decided it was worth finding out what engaged the Perplex City players so completely in learning-related tasks. I interviewed the 50 most engaged players, and from that developed a set of key features that I thought could work in education to increase engagement with learning.

2. What type of games have you used in your own teaching?

My first games-based teaching flowed directly from this. I applied the key features from ARGs to my History module, developing an online problem solving game that kept students fed with a constant supply of new challenges, was wrapped in a ‘mystery’ narrative, and saw students battling with each other on a public leader board to win one of a number of prizes. Eight years on, the game still runs each year, and sees students work far more than they need to, pass with an average 2:1 mark, and develop key skills and make key friendship groups to last them for their whole programme.

I have since developed versions of the game for Archaeology and English, and also regularly run workshops with Museum Studies Masters students who develop games for museum education contexts. My latest work is in medical education: working with the Wellcome Collection and healthcare departments internationally to develop simple card games to help medical students to apply knowledge and develop narrative skills in a fun, creative way.

In staff training contexts, I have developed a board game to help programme teams test curriculum designs, and for many years now have been developing play- and game-based approaches to engage conference attendees with the themes or aims of events (running increasingly more encompassing activities for up to 600 participants at ALT-C, Museums and the Web, FOTE, etc.).

3. Gamification and game based learning seems to becoming more popular in higher education, why do you think this is?  What do games do that is different to traditional teaching formats?

Games appear to offer a solution to two of the most recurring themes in higher education: student engagement and teaching innovation. Sadly, this often leads to an assumption that any game-like activity will be both engaging and innovative – whereas of course games are just like an academic course: if they’ve been designed well for that context, there’s a chance that students will engage with them. In recent years, it’s been great to see an increase in simple, traditional or low-fi web games for learning; or playful activities that promote creativity and exploration. It’s much easier for a lecturer to see someone use Playdoh in their teaching and think “I could do that!”; or play a card game and then have a go at creating their own.

4. What advice would you give to teachers thinking about introducing games into their teaching?

Think small, cheap, and fun. The most difficult part is deciding what you’d like your game or playful activity to cover: is it a key concept, or a set of ‘knowledge’? Then draw on your own experience of games/sports etc. to see if there are elements that work particularly well with this chosen theme: simple examples might be to use a dice roll to represent randomness in genetics; or top trumps to compare characteristics of chemical compounds, or representing creative writing through a piece of folded paper (write one line, and the starting word on the next, then fold and pass on to the next student)…

Then try it. It probably won’t work too well the first time, but you’ll get ideas of how to improve it (often from the students themselves). Add depth or complexity as needed over time, but keep that core simplicity at its heart.

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Those interested in gaming may also be interested to know about two other events

17-18 November  Playful learning Special Interest Group meeting – This group is Chaired by Alex and hosts meetings around the country with the upcoming event being hosted in London.  It’s free to attend, whether a member of the group or not, simply apply on the event page.

30 November Copyright Community of Practice – The monthly meeting for November will be a chance to play several copyright games.  The Copyright Community of Practice group is an informal forum for LSE staff interested in discussing copyright matters for more information go to the Staff training and development system.

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.