I’ve attended InstructureCon, or CanvasCon as it once was, pretty much every year since Sunderland went over to Canvas in 2017, and I’ve always wanted to present but didn’t feel like I had a good enough topic. This year I’m proud to announce that I will be presenting on our experience of implementing Studiosity through Canvas over the past year, supported by my spiritual other half at our London Campus, Evi.
Our presentation is attached below, and I’m sure our actual presentation will be available online after the conference. Alas, it is a recorded one, much as I would have liked the University to send me off to Barcelona to present in person. (Damn you, Dan!)
This was a good session, a workshop facilitated by ALT’s Anti-Racism and Learning Technology special interest group in which the theory of intersectionality was first introduced, utilising Kimberlé Crenshaw’s TED talk, and then we had an open discussion about the issues particular to learning technology and education, and what we can do about it. Our thoughts were collected and curated in a Google Jamboard and I am sharing captured versions of those here – click to embiggen (officially a real word now, according to Merriam-Webster).
Supporting these endeavours, the latest version of ALT’s Framework for Ethical Learning Technology is available here.
My first in-person conference in two years at the University of Roehampton’s gorgeous campus was a chance to learn about Studiosity’s plans for the future, to network with colleagues at other UK HEIs using Studiosity and compare notes, and pretty randomly, I was able to get a tour of Roehampton’s new library building during lunchtime (it’s lovely).
On those future plans, we’re going to see an enhanced version of the student feedback view in the next couple of months which is going to allow their subject specialists to insert short videos and infographics explaining particular grammatical concepts, issues with spelling, and so on. They are also introducing a new ‘Student Connect’ tool which will help to facilitate peer-to-peer student support. This is currently in beta testing, and two UK universities are part of this evaluation.
The keynote address was by Sir Eric Thomas, who sits on Studiosity’s Academic Advisory Board, and he made a great point that, looking at historical precedents from past plagues, people at the time always think, “this is going to change everything, we can’t go back to how things used to be”, but invariably things do go back to exactly how they were once the threat is over. He speculated that this was because plagues and pandemics leave physical infrastructure unchanged, in contrast to wars, where the physical act of rebuilding allows for societal changes to be literally built in. However, what may be different as we ‘re-build’ after Covid, is that new communication technologies such as Teams and Zoom have come into their own and already effected change in how we live and work. The permanence of these changes is something that lingers in my mind as I contemplate my future.
Good opportunities for informal chats with colleagues at more advanced stages of Studiosity use, and no easy answers to be had in terms of managing use and expectations, and showing causal links between use of the service and student retention and attainment, something I’m in the midst of grappling with now as we approach the end of our pilot.
I wrote a thing, and someone else published it. Get me.
This specific thing was in response to a Jisc call for contributions to a collection of case studies on how teaching and working online has changed as a result of the pandemic, and I wrote up our experience at Sunderland of the rapid adoption of reVIEW (Panopto) and Microsoft Teams.
Good chart showing the overlap of neurodiversities
The final Moodle Munch of this batch (I missed February’s!), began with James Brunton, Chloe Beatty, and Sophie Pallaro at DCU talking about their experience of conducting an accessibility review of a fully online open educational resource and the lessons learned. Good practice was achieved by using a standard template with a consistent layout and colour scheme and sharing that and other resources with staff via a central Moodle module dedicated to accessibility and inclusivity.
Some interesting points came out of this in the discussion. On the use of forums, there was a debate about the pros and cons of these for neurodiverse students, with some students reporting that the influx of messages are overwhelming, while others may prefer having more space to process a discussion and form their own responses. A reality check for the technological solutionists among us was a comment from a colleague that “some research on VLE content […] found that technical issues [were] less of a concern with the students they spoke to. […] It was the non-technical that needed addressing – clear writing style, plain English, clear sign-posting, clear headings (no not technical h1, h2)”.
The second presentation was from Andrew Field of Cambridge Assessment International Education, who talked about their experience of using H5P to develop rich, interactive content to enhance Moodle sites. They noted that while the available templates are good, they are rarely an exact fit and teaching needs to come before technology, and also to be aware of the potential danger of over-enthusiastic staff getting carried away with complex items which students can get lost in, and which may not be better than the VLE’s built-in tools – quizzes being cited as an example.
As always, recording and presentations are available on the Moodle Munch website.
Attended this ALSIG webinar on ‘Transforming a website of resources to a learning suite (lessons learned!)’, a case study from Ian Miller on converting a website which had become home to a collection of static learning resources into an online learning platform using Canvas and a number of open source and freemium online learning tools, many of which are shown in the screenshot above.
iSpring is a package I’ve never used but know well as a colleague was an advocate for it. Swivl Cloud was new to me, a video hosting service similar to Panopto, as was Jitsi Meet, a Teams / Zoom alternative. Nearpod, Google Slides and Proctorio are all known quantities.
This project was for a non-profit organisation called IACLE, the International Association of Contact Lens Educators, and one of the hard lessons learned was on how Canvas counts active students which forms the basis of their pricing. Other challenges included how to convert large, static PowerPoints into interactive learning objects (a pain I suspect we all know), and sourcing high quality, free to use tools to complement Canvas, though Ian reflected on the joy and satisfaction of being given a very free hand in this project.
The webinar recording is available now on YouTube.
Yeaaahhh… Not my management inspiration, I promise!
… same as the old boss!
I’m pleased to be able to officially announce that following a successful little shuffle and a re-grading, as of January 1st I am now the new Learning Design Manager in CELT.
This is very good, I am very happy. I’ve been at the top of my grade for a couple of years now, but I like CELT, I’m surrounded by a great team, and the new gaffer has been working out very well, so this is going to keep me settled at Sunderland for the foreseeable future.
Not a lot is going to change for me as a result. Back in 2014 (yikes) I was originally hired to be a team supervisor, but over the years I’ve ended up with more and more line and project management responsibilities, so this is a recognition of the situation as is more than anything else. And while I may have been a little reluctant to go down the more ‘management’ route of my career as I think I’ve written about before, it is logical, and I will still get carry on with teaching on the PG Cert, and with having a degree of freedom to do my own engagement work with external communities of practice.
Learning activities aligned to ABC learning design framework
First talk of today’s Moodle Munch was on the ABC framework for Learning Design and how it has helped academics at DCU improve their Moodle modules, transforming them from content repositories (the age old problem) to rich, interactive sites with multiple different activities for students to engage with. The screenshot I’ve captured above shows some of the different activities in Moodle aligned with categories in ABC.
There was a nice quip from someone saying “other learning deign frameworks are available!” which is very true. In CELT we used to use the ABC model until switching to UDL a few years ago. They are all good. Much overlap. All lead to improved experiences for students which is what it’s all about.
The second presentation was from Roger Emery at Solent University who talked about the comprehensive electronic marking and assessment system they have developed in-house. This started life as a project to have grades entered in the VLE automatically sent through to the student information system, Quercus in this case, and has expanded to a deep integration with all assignments created in Moodle automatically from data held in the SIS. This has led to a massive reduction in administrative workload, but does come at the expense of what some would argue is a loss of autonomy for academics.
Feeding marks from the VLE to the SIS is indisputably a goal of many universities, and a stated aim of every team I have ever worked with throughout my entire career in higher education. And if it ever happens, I will eat my hat. The limitation at both Sunderland and Northumbria has been the SIS in use, which I won’t name and shame, but as long as it remains, I’m confident in the safety of both my hat and digestive system.
An overview of the various data sources going into DCUs learner analytics system
They’re experimenting with the format a little, as this week saw three 5 minute talks from different departments on the subject of peer assessment. One theme that came out of all the sessions was the need to use anonymised marking for student confidence in the fairness of the process. I was particularly interested in Robert Gillanders experience of using negative marking as a motivator – for every 3% that students deviated from the mean in their peer marking, their own grade was reduced by 1%. I’m very curious about how this worked in practice and how ethical considerations were handled, and Gillanders has published a paper on this which I’m going to have to read.
The second session was on learner analytics from Cormac Quigley who talked about how they have taken data from multiple sources, only one of which was Moodle, and combined in Microsoft Power BI to produce a comprehensive learning analytics system, with the data and reports made available to staff via Teams. However, they also talked about the basic reporting functionality of Moodle, how you can combine grade book functionality with progress bars to create effective results for staff and students.
The full Moodle Munch archive is available online here.