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Author: sonya

Investing in Student Success: Studiosity Meta Analysis

Slide showing various success measures for Studiosity
Various success measures for Studiosity

Today I attended this presentation on research conducted by the Nous Group with Studiosity, on a meta analysis of the effectiveness of Studiosity and a methodology of converting that data into a return on investment figure in cold, hard cash. I’m not sure how confidential this is, so I won’t go into any great detail here, but I expect the report will be on Studiosity’s website in time. I believe this study looked at data from the whole of the one million students who have now used Studiosity.

The screenshot above shows some headline performance measures, including that students who used Studiosity had a 6-16% higher rate of programme retention, got grades that were 15% higher, and 88% reported increased confidence in completing their assignments. I am hoping I will soon be able to put a slide of this nature together showing the performance impact at Sunderland.

The second part of the presentation was on converting this data to a return on investment measure. Assuming that you can show improvements in retention, progression and attainment after adopting Studiosity, there is a big open question on how much weight you can attribute this improvement to Studiosity, and how much is attributable to other factors. Nous presented their ROI calculations based on a number of assumed percentages to address this.

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InstructureCon 2022

It’s that time of year again, Panda spotting day in the midst of new student chaos at the busiest time of year: InstructureCon! I didn’t spot the panda until late on, during one of the final corporate keynotes which all seemed to have an Indiana Jones / wilderness theme, because education is a journey I believe.

After the corporate shenanigans, Simone Giertz delivered the opening guest keynote which I enjoyed and had been looking forward to as an existing fan of her YouTube. She talked about the value of problem solving and searching for unique or different solutions to problems, such as her unique rollable jigsaw table. Simone also talked about how important it is, in STEM specifically but it applies in all areas, of visibility of people that children can project themselves onto as part of their development.

This was followed by Sidharth Oberoi, Instructure’s VP of International Strategy, giving the more hands-on business keynote on Instructure’s vision of the future of education. Very heavy on alternative teaching methods and hybrid learning, so he’s definitely going to be on the Office for Students’s naughty list. He also talked a lot about the need and value of micro-credentials, something that would be a bit of a theme of the conference, and I’ll share my thoughts on that at the end.

After the morning keynotes we had time to build our own experience by sampling a range of pre-recorded on-demand sessions from the community, of which clearly the greatest and best of all time was yours truly on Sunderland’s experience of integrating Studiosity into Canvas.

The sessions which I actually attended were I’ll Have to Say ‘I Love You’ in a Survey” by Ben McGrae and Will Moindrot at the University of Liverpool which covered their experience of developing and analysing a survey after transitioning to Canvas.

Blackpool and The Fylde College’s Canvas EASL (Educational Analytics for Student Lifecycle) by Stephen Taylor and Kerry Steeden stood out to me as I used to live there. They shared their experience in moving from using a module template to the Blueprint tool.

Product Spotlight: Canvas Credentials by John Boyle of Arizona State was a case-study of use of Canvas Credentials, the newly re-branded Badgr tool, following Instructure’s purchase of Concentric Sky, the main developer of Badgr.

Impact by Instructure Updates was another update on an Instructure purchase, this time Eesysoft. This is another one I feel close to as I spent a lot of time at Northumbria cosying up to Eesysoft as they were very interested in its possibilities, just not enough to actually spent money on it. Impact looks very much like I remember, giving administrators the ability to provide context-aware help throughout the VLE. The big difference now of course is that it’s a Canvas exclusive product, whereas Eesysoft had integrations available for all the major VLEs.

The final on-demand session I attended was Canvas LMS Updates for Higher Education by Jewel Pearson and Whitney Pesek which was very useful for seeing the features and enhancements which are around the corner. I’m particularly looking forward to the Comment Library in SpeedGrader, which offers similar functionality to Turnitin’s QuickMarks and which our academics have been after since day one with Canvas. I’m not entirely sure that integrating emojis in submission comments is necessary, but if you’re going to do it, at least having a feature to set your preferred skin tone universally is a nice touch. The fancy touches to assignment submission, such as a progress tracker, also look nice.

The closing keynote by Matin Bean was another I was looking forward to, as Martin was the vice-chancellor of the OU during my time with them. His talk focused on predictions for the future of education – the growth of micro-credentials, the increasing involvement of business and competition from non-traditional learning providers, and the use of different types of teaching methods, e.g. more hybrid learning (someone else with no fans at the OfS then.) Martin also talked about what, in his experience, employers are looking for in graduates – namely, ‘grit’, or determination.

Finally, Adam Grant in the closing keynote talked about how Instructure can help educators to avoid burning out, and the growth of people learning from non-traditional means such as YouTube and podcasts. This is very true; only the day before I taught myself how to re-silicone seal my bathroom on YouTube (outcome: it looks fantastic!).

As I mentioned above, a theme of the conference was micro-credentials, something which came up over and over again in the corporate talk, and was echoed in Martin Bean’s keynote. I first wrote about badges in 2014, and while I think the concept is grand, in the 8 years since I haven’t seen any significant real-world demand, it still feels like a solution in search of a problem. This is perhaps evident in the re-branding from ‘open badges’ to ‘micro-credentials’. I also remain concerned about long term viability, having lost half my badges in the migration from Mozilla’s Backpack to Badgr. And what is going to happen to Badgr now that Instructure have purchased the lead developer of the standard? They are already offering certain functionality – pathways – as something additional to the base standard, only available in Canvas. Sidharth talked about decentralisation, student control, and learner’s owning their educational journey and results, but who controls the “wallets?” Canvas Credentials, the purchase of Eesysoft, and the corporate talk from today don’t point towards student control and decentralisation to me, but rather to Instucture’s increasing control and consolidation of the educational vertical stack.

At least one thing which is open is the conference itself, with all sessions now available on demand.

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I’m ICONic

My Studiosity presentation title slide
Title slide of my most excellent presentation

I’m also a “Top Pick”, for InstructureCon 2022 (ICON22) – according to the email announcement about the agenda being published.

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!)

Studiosity: A New Student Support Service in Canvas (PPT, 5.5 Mb)

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An Intersectional Approach to Learning Technology

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.

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Studiosity Partner Forum 2022

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.

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Jisc Digital Culture Forum

Headpats
Good Sonya ^_^

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.

The full collection is available now at Jisc Digital Culture, and my contribution (including squished profile pic, grr): How a Pandemic Enabled a Culture Shift Towards Lecture Capture.

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Moodle Munch: Mar. 2022

Screenshot of a chart showing types of neurodiversity
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.

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Transforming a Website of Resources

Selection of software used in the project
A selection of the software used for the project

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.

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Meet the New Boss…


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.

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