LTI Grants

Successfully implementing Ed Tech

Reflections from an EDx course

I recently undertook a Mooc (Massive Open Online Course) hosted by EDx and accredited by MIT on the Implementation and Evaluation of Educational Technology.  Although I was very much a lurker rather than an active participant on the course (one of the main criticisms of Mooc’s), I did find some of the resources useful, particularly the video interviews with individuals mentioned in this blog post.  More importantly it made me reflect on the processes that we carry out here in LTI when evaluating and piloting the use of educational technology.

As learning technologists we constantly test out, explore and critically evaluate educational technology but perhaps we don’t always communicate the specifics of this activity to colleagues.  Different tools have various benefits and constraints which must be taken into consideration including; the scalability, accessibility, associated pedagogy and use, data privacy and storage issues, costs and potential training or support required.  The same tool will have different considerations in different contexts and as technology is always changing and updating this is an ongoing process.  It is also vital to remember that Educational technology does not operate in a vacuum see Tim Monreal’s article which calls for critical digital pedagogical approach.

Pedagogy is always fundamental to the process, (hence the Learning in LTI).  When LTI are contacted by a department or individual with a request for a new technology or tool the question we always ask is ‘what are you trying to do with this tool?’.  What are your learning goals and then we can look into the possible technology and pedagogy to support them.Tools by Yamanaka Tamaki on Flickr_z
One of the key readings on the implementation of ed technology section of the MOOC was Jennifer Groff’s (Groff, 2008) work on developing a framework to identify different barriers to using technology or innovation in the classroom.  Groff points out you can’t just pick a technology and expect the learning environment to change.  Work has to be put into ensuring that staff and students are supported in the use of technology and the teaching and assessment methods suit the learning outcomes.  This resonated with me as I have experienced projects where time poor academics have added the technology but not changed their teaching leading to disappointing results.

Groff identified that lack of innovation (introducing new curricula, new types of assessment or new pedagogy) in education can be due to multiple factors including the structural policies and practices of learning environments, school culture, personal beliefs and attitudes, students expectations and beliefs about learning and teaching and lack of research or the suitability of technology.  Although these barriers can be extremely frustrating being aware of them is half the battle.  LTI are currently working on various projects to listen to the various stakeholders involved in education in order explore possibilities for the future including:

2020Vision; involved speaking to LSE students about their current experience of technology in education and what they would like to see going forward.

SADL; project to work with students to better understand their existing digital and information literacies, share good practice and develop peer support.

NetworkED; seminar series invites speakers from education, computing and related fields to discuss how technology is shaping the world of education.

SparkGrants: provide an opportunity for Academic departments to gain funding and work in collaboration with LTI on projects that innovate teaching and learning.

In a short video interview as part of the course the Executive Director of MIT Justin Reich pointed out that often professional development is just as important as the technology itself and this is something that everyone here in LTI is very much aware of.  Although we have always provided research and training around using educational technology we are now investigating ways to further embed training into projects and how to better communicate the necessity of devoting time not only to learn the practicalities of how to use particular technology but how to use it well in an educational context.  This usually requires taking time to change teaching and learning practices so they embed the technology.  As a team we work with small scale projects to try out new approaches to teaching, learning, assessment and feedback.  Taking part in and evaluating each project allows us to find the tools and teaching methods that can be scaled up and applied to other areas.

Those colleagues that work with us here in LTI are often innovators who should be celebrated and praised for leading the way for others. Integrating change to enhance the student experience, involves renewing your teaching practice, requires dedication and is courageous.  The very nature of technology is that it is constantly changing and it does fail.  As learning technologists we do not know how to use all the tools that are out there and can’t be expected to, what we can do and what we can try and teach others (staff and students), is to learn and adapt as you go.  To realise that it is about developing your own digital literacy so that you have the confidence to give things a go, to try things out and not be afraid to fail.  Innovation and change gets messy (loud and chaotic) and can be hard work (technology may need adapting and usually requires more planning particularly when trialling new things) but the reward is that everyone involved is learning from the process, even more so if you involve your students and enable them to be part of the dialogue.

Successful implementation of educational technology is not only down to the personal development of staff but also students Dr Halverson, Professor of Educational Leadership and Policy Analysis at the University of Wisconsin Madison was a talking head on the Mooc who raised the issue of the ‘digital divide’.  Dr Halverson argued that rather than discouraging the use of technology in classes we should be educating students to take advantage of the technology they have and use it to amplify their academic experience, to explore and use tools to create their own shared learning environments.

Finally course contributor Jeff Mao, (currently at Common sense Media, previously Policy Director of the Maine Learning Technology Initiative) pointed out that when you are considering implementing technology there is no point reinventing the wheel.  If you are going to use technology it should do more than substitute your current practice, while it is often useful to digitise processes, technology allows you to redefine and do things you couldn’t do before.  This is an important point and I think that staff and students are only just starting to explore the new possibilities for teaching and learning.  Technology enables students to connect with each other but to connect with their community.  It provides the opportunity to build things and make things within your institution but also with collaborators around the world providing the social context of learning. While the beauty of creating online resources is that they can be built on year on year and shared with the wider world.   For example asking students to write a 1,500 word private blog post that is only read and marked by the teacher is not that far removed from asking students to write an essay.  But if students are asked to publish a 500 word blog post which includes; linking to and commenting on a relevant news article or resource, reading two other students blog posts and adding comments and feedback to their peers work then the assessment and learning that is taking place is significantly different.

As my first experience of participating in a MOOC my overall impressions were mixed.  Although I did engage with the material and ideas presented in the course I did not carry out the assessments as I felt that the activities were aimed more at those working in schools rather than higher education.  I also found that there was a US bias to the discussions.  However both these factors highlighted that despite the differences some of the big issues surrounding the implementation and evaluation of educational technology are common throughout the education sector.

References
Course content from EDx MITx: 11.133x_2 Implementation and Evaluation of Educational Technology including video interviews with Jennifer Groff, Justin Reich, Jess Mao and Dr Halverson.

Groff, Jennifer, and Chrystalla Mouza. 2008. “A Framework for Addressing Challenges to Classroom Technology Use.” AACE Journal 16 (1): 21-46.

Monreal, Tim 2016, ‘Beyond Surface-Level Digital Pedagogy’ published on Hybrid Pedagogy 23 August 216

Beyond Surface-Level Digital Pedagogy

 

October 18th, 2016|Digital Literacy, LTI Grants, Projects, Reports & Papers, Teaching & Learning, Tools & Technologies|Comments Off on Successfully implementing Ed Tech|

Tablets in Teaching and Learning: Marking and Feedback

In 2014, teachers from LSE’s Language Centre started exploring the use of technology to mark and provide feedback on students’ written work. After trying out three tools (Moodle, iPads and annotation apps, Snagit) with her colleague Catherine (see blog post), Lourdes Hernandez-Martin decided to focus on the use of iPads and worked on the project with Mercedes Coca.

Embedding Student-Produced Videos in Courses: Why and How?

This academic year, LTI funded two projects to integrate student-produced videos in courses through their LTI Grant scheme. Outcomes and findings from their evaluation provide some interesting reflections on  how they can be used to bring added value to the learning – and teaching!- experience.

The Projects

Using Film in Urban Planning Analysis – Nancy Holman, Geography and Environment

The PlanneramanAs part of the Urban Policy and Planning course, students produce written work alongside a group presentation and a short interpretive film of neighbourhood fieldwork. Film-making started two years ago with students using their own devices. Last year they were helped by an LSE alumnus who is now a filmmaker to better understand the process of storytelling and how to use the equipment. This year, Nancy applied for DSLR kits to improve the quality of the work produced. An evening screening of the 8 short films produced by the project groups was also organised at the LSE, at the end of which a panel of ethnographers and filmmakers judged the films and awarded three prizes: Best Overall Film, Best Cinematography and Judges Choice.

Narrating the Death (and Life?) of Multiculturalism – Jennifer Jackson-Preece, European Institute

Jennifer wanted to “enliven the end of term debate on multiculturalism” in her Identity, Community and the ‘Problem’ of Minorities course by replacing group presentations with short films narrating the students’ take on the theme.  Instructor videos were made and presented during seminars and resources on making short documentaries were made available on the course’s Moodle page. Students then worked in groups for three weeks to produce their short films. The videos were screened during the last session of the course and were followed by a debate.

Reflections

Why videos?

In the Geography project, the combination of written work and film allowed students to think about spaces both on paper and visually, which according to Nancy is ” a core transferable skill our students need to develop”. She also believes that the video exercise had a “knock on benefit” on students’ summative essays, which she observed were clearer and more thoughtful.

This is what she highlighted in the description of the project for students:

Nancy

 

In the European Institute project, the resulting videos were used as a starter for a class debate. Videos were favoured in place of the usual presentations as Jennifer wanted students to approach the end of term presentations “from a fresh perspective that facilitates greater creativity and ownership of ideas

In both cases video production have been a good way of engaging student with the course and material and resulted in a final product that can be used as a basis for discussion or examples and inspiration for the future cohorts.

“It would also enable student cohorts on EU 458 to ‘speak’ to each other across time through the creation of a permanent film archive on the EU 458  Moodle page” – Jennifer Jackson-Preece

They are also easy to be shared and presented to the wider institution and community. Students from the Urban Planning group attended the JustSpace conference on opportunity areas where they showed their films.

Students also got to develop useful transferable skills in the process: managing a group project, collecting/gathering/presenting information, video production and editing to name a few.

Embedding video-production into the course

Nancy’s project was seen as a way to “further embed […] practical experiences [walks, fieldtrips] within the programme” while it would “enable students to gain a different/complementary perspective on the concept of narrative” for Jennifer. It was thus important for both to integrate video production as (part of) a final task towards which students worked during the course instead of as a stand alone activity.

JenniferAs highlighted in the description of the project, video production was gradually introduced in the Geography course. Students received the help from a professional filmmaker and were able to familiarise themselves with the equipment during a trip to Manchester in the first part of the year.

In Jennifer’s project, students received training in video-making face to face during seminars and through resources made available on Moodle.

Students were also made aware of the various ethical, safety and copyright considerations when filming, interviewing and using material other than theirs.

<= Resources on video production made available to EU458 students on Moodle

 

In terms of assessment, even though the video production exercise was formative for both projects, students received feedback on their work. Geography students received feedback on their overall presentation that included comments on the style and overall message of their video. Students from the European Institute course were given a template of the feedback form to be aware of the assessment criteria when producing their videos. They included design (style and organisation, creativity) and message (content, quality, overall impression).

Next year group videos will count as 50% of the EU458 summative assessment and adjustments will be made to the course to support this.

Interested in using student-produced content in your teaching?

Have a look at the past Students as Producers projects in our LTIG Grant Winners section or get in touch with us!

Read about LSE Innovator William Callahan‘s successful implementation of student-produced videos in his IR318 Visual International Politics Course.

 

 

Game-based learning: teaching how to conduct a research project using a board game

In January, Dr Kay Inckle was awarded an LTI Grant for her “Game of Research” project. She received funding and help from staff at LTI to design and create a board game to help social science students understand the “essential components for a successful qualitative research project”. Findings from her evaluation of the first stage of this project give us some interesting pointers as to how games can be used to support teaching and learning.

June 14th, 2016|games, innovation, LTI Grant Winners, LTI Grants, Projects, Teaching & Learning, TEL Trends, Uncategorized|Comments Off on Game-based learning: teaching how to conduct a research project using a board game|

Creating a Smart Writing Environment with Academic Markdown

In January, Tobias Pester, postgraduate students in the department of International History at the LSE, was awarded an LTI Grant for his project to “develop, document, and teach a Workshop for Sustainable Authorship for students of the LSE that familiarizes and equips them with the writing environment of Academic Markdown”. The workshop will take place on Tuesday, 7th June and a recording will be made available afterwards. Read about his experience of this handy tool.

PESTER-profilepicIn the spring of 2015 I finished my first year of American grad school. Coming from the German university system I knew it was going to be a Protestant re-education camp in terms of work load and ethic. By the end of that spring I had to write three sizeable papers in short succession and ‘time is of the essence’ took on a new meaning. Lucky for me some of my friends had just started using this writing set-up that streamlines all the things that take no brain but lots of time: citations, the bibliography, and worrying about the different format of citations when in footnotes vs. when in the bibliography.

Enter Academic Markdown and Pandoc. So-called markup languages like LaTeX have long been used by authors in the sciences. They’re great to handle formulas, diagrams and other sciences-specific requirements. For humanist writers, however, the upside to learning a markup language had been comparatively small. All we really need are basic formatting options, block quotes, and citations.

That’s where Markdown comes in handy. It’s designed to satisfy those requirements and be easy to pick up at the same time. It only takes five minutes to learn how to mark a header or a footnote as such and the text remains visually intact and perfectly readable in its raw form. And because formatting, citation management, and bibliography are almost entirely automated it affords an utterly distraction-free work flow. I work on crafting my text and crafting my text only. The last line in my manuscript is the header ‘Bibliography’. When I’m done pouring my blood, sweat, and tears onto the screen, I run it through a simple program called Pandoc once and, voilà, I get a ready-made ´pdf´ or ´docx´ with citations and bibliography according to whichever citation style language I specified.

AcademicMarkdown

The text in Academic Markdown and after formatting

Using that particular set-up last spring I became a writing machine. And the many hours freed from formatting could go into refining my argument or polishing my prose. I am since doing all my writing this way, from response papers to my dissertation, from personal letters to invoices. American grad school, however, still kicked my ass.

To share the benefits of this work flow I am developing and teaching a class with the generous help of an LSE Learning Technology and Innovation Grant. The workshop will take place on Tuesday, 7th June, 2-5 p.m. in 32L.LG.18 alongside the Teaching and Learning Centre’s Dissertation Week. Spread the word and join us!

Click on the picture for more information and to book

Click on the picture for more information and to book

Hit me up on Twitter at @philomonk. I’d love to hear your thoughts! #SmartWriting16

 

Do games improve learning? Jane tells us more…..

Jane-Secker-photo-for-blogEveryday people rely on Google for answers to their most personal, important and most trivial questions. How do you know if the information is reliable? A good place to start is with an information expert. This post, from LTI’s Copyright and Digital Literacy Advisor Dr Jane Secker to investigate “Do games improve learning?” was originally posted by CILIP as part of their Ask a librarian series. It’s been re-posted here as LTI are currently funding a number of projects to investigate the value of games in learning as part of their IGNITE and LTIG funding streams.

I’ve been reflecting a lot on whether games improve learning, partly in the run up to LILAC 2016, where I’d rashly agreed to take part in the games competition Lagadothan, organized for the first time by the conference committee.

My interest in games and learning goes back several years but really started in earnest when I worked with Chris Morrison from the University of Kent, to help develop a game to teach librarians about copyright and the new exceptions to UK copyright law in 2014. It was a card game, you might have heard of it? You might have played Copyright the Card Game?  I use this in the Introduction to Copyright workshop at LSE that I run each term and it’s changed the way I think about teaching people about copyright, for the better!

The game been downloaded over 2500 times, and the general consensus seems to be it’s a fun and engaging way to learn about copyright. But has it led to people retaining more knowledge about copyright and can they transform what they have learnt into practice? These are important questions to consider on the real value of games in learning.

There has been a lot of interest in the last few years in games-based learning in two of my fields of professional interest: learning technology and information literacy. I started off thinking that games were all about livening up your teaching, and finding a way of engaging students in what could otherwise be a rather dry subject. However, following the keynote at this year’s LILAC from Alex Moseley and Nic Whitton, I felt the time had come to do some serious research into whether games improve learning and why that might be.

I’d been intrigued to hear about the idea of a ‘magic circle’ where new rules can apply and failure is acceptable. I’ve also learnt that designing good educational games is really hard work, and takes a lot of time and effort. So are the rewards really worth it? I decided to turn my attention to what Google can find for us on this topic:

Screenshot of Google search for \"Do games improve learning\". Results include articles from telegraph.co.uk, rochester.edu and neuronethlearning.com

May 26th, 2016|Ed-Tech news and issues, games, LTI Grants, Projects, Tools & Technologies|Comments Off on Do games improve learning? Jane tells us more…..|

Announcing the IGNITE! Grant Winners!

Successful projects funded through the IGNITE scheme are now underway. We had over 20 project applications put to the committee and after much deliberation projects were chosen for their innovation, scalability and alignment to the School’s Education Strategy. Here are the winners:

Enhancing Your Moodle 

  • Jennifer Jackson-Preece, European Institute
    • (Re)designing  Moodle courses EU450, EU457 and Eu458 to maximise their pedagogical aims and deliver with a more distinct look and feel with clear links to Mahara for professional skills development.

Online Blended Learning

  • Lourdes Hernandez-Martin, Language Centre
    • A multilingual platform of audio and audio-visual materials to develop students’ interactive aural skills and increase their language exposure.
  • Nancy Holman, Geography and Environment
    • Developing professional skills the use of Participatory Action Research to deliver a practice-based learning project which provides engagement, consultation and Research in Urban Geography and Planning, especially when partnering with organisations such as a local authority.
Innovation, by Boegh on Flickr

Innovation, by Boegh on Flickr (CC)

 Feedback and Assessment with Technology 

  • Edgar Whitley, Management
    • Developing a scalable feedback system that integrates with Moodle and works effectively for the three constituencies affected by feedback: students, faculty and professional service staff.

Gamification 

  • Jose Javier Olivas and Jessica Templeton, LSE100
    • Experiencing the Dynamics and Limitations of Market and Regulation through Gaming by incorporating game design mechanics and techniques aimed at encouraging knowledge, skills development, collaboration and discussions in reference to the academic literature.
  • Andrea Pia, Anthropology
    • The Long Day of Young Peng is a point and click serious game exploring key themes in the study of contemporary China through the eyes of a young Chinese Migrant.

SADL and Statistics: an interview with Professor Pauline Barrieu

Dr Jane Secker, Programme Manager for SADL caught up with Professor Pauline Barrieu, Deputy Head of Department in Statistics at LSE. Statistics students have always made up an important part of the student ambassador cohort and this year seven of the nine Senior Ambassadors, providing support for the programme, were from this department. Jane was interested to know why digital literacy might be so important to Statistics students, what this programme might also be offering the group and the impact it might have had on the department more widely.

Jane: Why do you think Statistics students are so engaged with SADL?

PaulineBarrieu

Professor Pauline Barrieu

Pauline: I think there are some clear reasons why the programme appeals to our students, many of whom are actually taking the Actuarial Science programme or the Business Mathematics and Statistics (BMS) programme. Understanding data and information is a fundamental part of statistics. Being about to manipulate data, to work with data is a really important skill, so I think digital literacy is something that our students also recognize as an important part of their curriculum. I also think our undergraduate students are very focused young people. They know what they want to do at 18 and they recognize the importance of issues such as data confidentiality. They know this is going to be very important in their future careers so I think they see the benefit of this programme.

Jane: Do you think your students from the Actuarial Science programme are different from other undergraduates at LSE then?

Pauline: This programme has fewer optional courses, the students are very focused, they have a clear idea of what they would like to do as a career, which I personally find very impressive for people of that age! During our ASC review last year, Paul Kelly mentioned how mature and articulated our students were – they seem to be very focused and know what they want.

Coming back to SADL, I think the flatter structure of the progamme, how they are taught as your peers also appeals to them as it’s different to what they experience in our classes. Some of the experiences they have, for example, acting as a Senior Ambassador and providing peer support to others helps to develop their confidence. It’s also great to give students experience of giving presentations and attending conferences with the SADL staff.

Jane: Do you think SADL has had a wider impact on your department?

Pauline: I know many of our lecturers are very keen to be more innovative in their teaching. Statistics do a lot of general courses open to students across LSE who need to learn about statistical analysis. Almost every social scientist needs to understand some form of stats, so we do a lot of teaching of students from a qualitative background where maths and stats is quite alien or difficult for them. It’s really important to try and engage those students and find creative ways of teaching them. One of our lecturers, Sara Geneletti recently applied for a Learning Technology grant from LTI to look to improve assessment on her course. Our in-coming Deputy Head of Department, Irini Moustaki is also very interested in innovations in teaching and working more closely with LTI to use technology effectively. And of course we have James Abdey in Statistics who has won a number of prizes for his teaching and was highlighted as an Innovator in your recent series. This is not an exhaustive list of people and innovation is something really important to lecturers in my department as a way of engaging students with the subject.

Jane: What more could LTI do to help support your department?

Pauline: I think every department across LSE is doing some fantastic things in terms of their teaching. However we don’t always know about these innovations so I think it’s important that LTI share these experiences across the school. One of the biggest problems that gets in the way of this is how busy we all are with so many emails, meetings, reviews, teaching and research. We need some really short guides to give us ideas of what others are doing. Your Innovators series looks great for doing this, to give us ideas for our own teaching in a short digestible form, ideally I would like a version I can read off line too though.

Jane: Is there anything else you can tell me about SADL, digital literacy or learning technologies?

Pauline: I’m interested in why you just focus on undergraduates? I think masters students also need to develop these skills, although of course they spend less time at LSE, so the peer support aspect would work less well. But I think PhD students in quantitative subjects need more help and support around digital literacy. I know the Library offer a course on how to do a literature review, but it would be great to focus a course for our students who publish their thesis by papers, so have quite a different experience. In addition some of our PhD students are sponsored by a private company so there are differences in issues such as ownership of the data in the thesis. We have a standard agreement with the sponsors, but it’s quite different to other departments.

Jane: That’s a really interesting point, and we do try to offer workshops and support for PhD students in LTI with colleagues in the library. But it sounds like we could do more?

Pauline: I also think it’s really important to teach PhD students about this because many of them work as Graduate Teaching Assistants (GTAs), so teach our undergraduates. In Statistics we have developed a dedicated training for our GTAs, so we will certainly make sure they know about SADL, so they can encourage students to get involved in the programme. Overall, I’m really pleased with this programme, which I think is of great benefit to our undergraduate students, and I am proud so many of them have got involved in SADL.

Jane: It’s been great talking to you Pauline, good luck next year when you take over as Head of Department and I’d just like to thank your department and your wonderful students, who have been an inspiration to me and the SADL teaching team.

Original post taken from the SADL blog

April 21st, 2016|Digital Literacy, innovation, LSE Innovator, LTI Grants, Teaching & Learning|Comments Off on SADL and Statistics: an interview with Professor Pauline Barrieu|

Technology in Teaching and Learning: Newest Projects from LSE Staff

Games, revision podcasts and electronic feedback are the main themes of the latest projects funded by an LTI Grant. You can find more information about our funding schemes and other projects in our dedicated pages.

Strand 1: Innovation in Teaching and Learning

InteractivityGustav Meibauer and Andreas Aagaard Nohr, Department of International Relations – Development of PowerPoint-Based Simulation Games for Use in Undergraduate Teaching

“This project will design and implement three PowerPoint-based interactive simulations for use in introductory undergraduate classes. Currently available solutions are targeted at course-long activities, at a high cost of time and preparation effort for both teachers and students. Instead, this project explicitly aims at providing a low-cost, easily accessible and class-long interactive experience to students to encourage theoretical linkage with own in-class experience in such issue areas as foreign policy, diplomacy, or great power dynamics. “

Kay Inckle, Department of Sociology – The Game of ResearchGamification

“The Game of Research is designed for social science students undertaking a final-year qualitative primary research dissertation. In stage one it is a board game similar to Snakes and Ladders but adapted with additional features to make it research-focused and dependent on skill and discernment rather than luck. Through the game students learn the six essential components for a successful qualitative research project: research question, design/proposal, ethical approval, methods/fieldwork, analysis, writing and referencing. The second stage of the game mimics the board game, but takes place in a virtual platform using students’ actual research projects.”

ПечатьOlga Sobolev, Language Centre – Language Immersion in a Self-Study Mode: Revision e-Course

“A new self-study revision e-course, promoting students’ proficiency in spoken and aural Russian through autonomous learning […]  This is very much a student-centred initiative:

  • The course is geared specifically to the syllabus covered in the Russian Language and Society Course throughout the year.
  • It will offer a valuable alternative to teaching contact hours that are not available to students throughout the Easter break, to back up and enhance their revision/preparation for the exams in the ST.”

machine-writingTobias Pester, Department of International History – Sustainable Autorship with Academic Markdown

“I am proposing to develop, document, and teach a Workshop for Sustainable Authorship for students of the LSE that familiarizes and equips them with the writing environment of Academic Markdown. […] One, it provides the automatic generation of references and bibliographies. Two, it relies on the single most sustainable file format since the invention of computers: human-readable plain text. Three, it is platform independent: the most basic text editor available on any operating system will do. Four, it does not rely on proprietary software.”

Read Tobias’ post on his experience with Academic Markdown

DigitalArchiveSusan Scott, Department of Management – Using Digital Innovation to Curate a Living History of Uber and Uberisation

“This project will explore the usefulness of establishing and curating an open access digital ‘living’ archive to support problem-based learning about contemporary topics in global business management particularly (but not only) reconfiguring business models and service innovation. With help from LTI we will create an open access archive populated with a selection of material to date about the American international transportation network company Uber and the phenomenon known as “Uberization” “

Strand 2: e-Assessment

Edgar Whitley, Department of Management – Using Mahara: Blogging, Peer Review and PeerReview
Feedback

“The aim of the project is to assess the suitability of the Mahara platform as a means of student assessment, feedback and peer review for courses within the School.”

Strand 3: Students as Producers 

Filming2Jennifer Jackson-Preece, European Institute – Narrating the Death (and Life?) of Multiculturalism

“EU 458 Identity, Community & the ‘Problem’ of Minorities ends with a student debate on the ‘Death of Multiculturalism’. Instead of group presentations, the initiative would ask students to work in small groups (3-4) over a 2-3 week period to produce a short (5 minute) film narrating their take on this theme. The films would be screened in LT week 11, and a general debate / discussion would follow on from them.”

February 22nd, 2016|Announcements, Assessment, Ed-Tech news and issues, innovation, LTI Grant Winners, LTI Grants, Teaching & Learning, Tools & Technologies, Uncategorized|Comments Off on Technology in Teaching and Learning: Newest Projects from LSE Staff|

Collaborative Long-distance Online Course: Reflections

Tony Spanakos

Tony Spanakos

Francisco Panizza

Francisco Panizza

Last Michaelmas Term, Dr Francisco Panizza from LSE’s Department of Government and Tony Spanakos, associate professor in the Department of Political Science and Law at Montclair State University (US) co-taught a synchronous online course on BRICS  open to LSE and MSU students. The project was funded by an LTI Grant. Below are their reflections on the project.

The project

Francisco Panizza: There are many courses running at LSE each term, but this Michaelmas Term I was able to co-teach a course with a difference, alongside Professor Anthony Spanakos from Montclair State University in New Jersey. The course on the politics and policies of the BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) brought together around 30 students from both universities in a ‘virtual classroom’. The LSE students, second and third year undergraduates from the departments of Government and International Relations, were all volunteers. Whilst they didn’t gain any credits for joining the course, it was a really interesting experience and I think everyone who took part learned a lot.

Tony Spanakos: This was the third time a faculty member from the Political Science and Law department at MSU conducted what we call an eDiplomacy course. These courses use technology to allow to faculty members to lead a virtual classroom composed of students from two schools in different countries. […]

The goal of the eDiplomacy class is not simply to make students aware of other perspectives but to interact and to realize the challenges and opportunities that diplomacy presents. The students selected which of the five countries they wanted to ‘join’ and then each delegation selected officers (head of state/government, finance minister, defence minister, foreign affairs minister). Prior to our last meeting, each country and each office (defence ministers, finance ministers, etc) submitted documents representing their goals, interests, and concerns, and the entire class submitted a single Summit document. In class, they presented the achievements to the ‘Western Powers,’ Dr. Panizza, me, and Professor Jack Baldwin-LeClair, my department chair whose expertise in international law added richness to our discussion (and who was fundamental in getting the course off the ground on the MSU end).

LSE-virtual-classroom

Challenges

FP: Although we now live in a ‘global village’ and there are many commonalities between the US and British university systems, there were practical differences that needed to be ironed out. For instance, the US academic year runs on semesters and classes at Montclair State University started four weeks earlier than at LSE. As a result, the US students gained and extra holiday during LSE reading week and in exchange our students got a day off on the Friday after Thanksgiving Thursday, a de facto holiday in America.

On the technical side there were also challenges to overcome. The LSE does not currently have a dedicated classroom with the communications equipment we required for the course. This meant carrying the equipment from the Learning Teaching and Innovation (LTI) office in Aldwych to our classroom in Lincoln’s Inn Fields each week to set it up, with the help of two highly professional LTI Learning Technologists. Another lesson we learned was that all technology is only as good as its weakest link. The LTI grant funding enabled the course organiser to buy a high quality camera, but without professional lighting or high tech projectors images of both classrooms weren’t as clear as we would’ve liked and it was sometimes difficult to identify and listen to students sat at the back of the classroom (students seem to gravitate towards the back of any classroom, virtual or not)

TP: Although this was the third time a faculty member in the MSU Department of Political Science and Law taught such a course, it was my first time and there was quite a bit of learning to do. The greatest challenge that, I believe, we faced was getting our technology to enable our classrooms to be truly discussion spaces. Ironically, because we had a room with multiple microphones and speakers and a state of the art videoconferencing system, it was difficult to conduct a proper discussion between the two classrooms. Whenever Dr. Panizza or his students spoke, we needed to mute our microphones, and vice versa. This made back and forth discussion more difficult and forced us to speak for longer periods at a time and to collect a number of questions from each classroom before allowing someone on the other side of the pond to respond.

Another challenge was in establishing effective discussion boards outside of the classroom. Given the difference of time-zones and schedules, getting synchronous discussions was not likely. We thought that the students would be better identifying the app which would be most conducive for group discussions (between members of the same country, students with the same office) but we did not coordinate this enough and only found effective discussions once we required students to use canvas discussion pages that we set up.

Achievements and Potential

TS: The idea is to diversify and deepen the learning experience by allowing students the opportunity to hear and engage with multiple perspectives on a common theme. The course allowed us and our students a chance to discuss politics in Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa in a far more diverse context than would have been possible otherwise. The participation of guest scholars from our and other universities, in the US, UK, Brazil, and South Africa further contributed to that experience.

After the summit, my students submitted written reflections on the summit which demonstrated a genuine awareness of the challenges, opportunities, work, and pleasure of diplomatic work.

Our students were very generous in giving feedback and helping us see where we could have improved the course and encouraging us by showing where the course was most effective. On balance, responses from our students, and us, were very positive and we look forward to being able to repeat the experimental course. We know diplomacy is not easy but is very necessary. We also know that it is on-going and we hope that we get a chance to repeat and improve on the 2015 MSU-LSE BRICS seminar.

FP: In spite of the inevitable teething problems, there were many, many, positives. Guest lectures from other universities were able to join the course. One of them was Professor Lucius Botes, from the University of the Free State in South Africa, which meant that our virtual classroom extended across three different continents and three different time zones. Perhaps the peak of the course was the last week, when students ran a ‘BRICS summit’, in which they assumed the representation of the different countries and drafted documents on foreign affairs, the economy, defence and a joint BRICS declaration. If only they ran the real summit, the world would be a better place.

Ultimately, I think we only scratched the surface of a teaching experience full of possibilities. Imagine being able to run a course together with the best specialists in the world, in a virtual classroom with images of HD quality! There is undoubtedly a need to develop new teaching methods and forms of student participation that take full advantage of new communication technologies. There are several new buildings being constructed at the LSE, and hopefully these should include state of the art technology and teaching spaces that will make ‘virtual classrooms’ a permanent fixture in University teaching.

Francisco’s comments were originally posted in his blog post on the Department of Government’s website

February 8th, 2016|innovation, LTI Grant Winners, LTI Grants, Teaching & Learning, Tools & Technologies, Uncategorized|Comments Off on Collaborative Long-distance Online Course: Reflections|