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Category: 2021

Nominal Group Technique for Student Feedback: Preview

On the 22nd of April I will be "presenting" a short presentation at the OERxDomains conference on adapting nominal group technique for online learning, which I had to do with a cohort of students on my Digital Learning module last year as a result of the pandemic.

"Presenting" in quotation marks because with the conference being online, it was actually pre-recorded this afternoon. The version posted here was the dry run I did myself in the morning to rehearse. I did not think Panopto would pick up the ‘present’ mode of PowerPoint, that’s very amusing, so you can see all my notes and the bits I edited out and changed on the fly. This is fine, because for the live recording, the Streamyard tool they used did exactly the same thing!

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Moodle Munch: Feb. 2021


The February Moodle Munch recording. How do they get these up so fast!?

This month’s Moodle Munch had sessions on Universal Design for Learning and use of Office 365 within Moodle.

First up, Suzanne Stone and Ann Marie Farrell from DCU discussed how they went about creating a toolkit for creating Moodle course sites that were built with UDL considerations in mind. They were joined by an academic colleague who shared their reflections on using the toolkit. They had gone from using Moodle as a file store designed to meet their needs as a teacher, to one which put students’ needs first. This included, for example, redesigning content that previously would have been a PowerPoint upload, to an online interactive learning activity using the ‘Book’ tool in Moodle. That ‘using Moodle as a file store’ comment is a very familiar problem!

As an aside, and I’m not quite sure where this came from, someone posted a link in the chat to LibreTexts, an online resource for open source textbooks. It’s very American, but that’s understandable when the US has a huge problem with massively expensive textbooks students are expected to purchase on top of their already huge university fees. I’ve had a wee quick nose through their philosophy section and it seems pretty good. Bookmarked and shared.

Back on topic, the second session today was from Edel Gavan of MSLETB who talked about their Office 365 Moodle integration. Their Teams integration looks better than ours, as it can create a Team for each Moodle course which means that students get Teams meetings added to their Outlook calendars automatically, and they can easily create recurring appointments for, for example, weekly classes. To be fair, I think our systems could do that, but there are features we don’t have enabled by our IT. Edel also showed a ‘Block’ of Microsoft tools in Moodle which has been made available via a plugin to add those. One technical point of note regarding those was that each Microsoft service needs to be configured separately.

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Teaching, Learning and Assessment in a Digital World

100 years of learning theories showing the learner as the active agent
The learner must be the active agent in the learning process

This was Bob Harrison’s inaugural lecture as a Visiting Professor at the University of Wolverhampton. Bob has been in education for over 50 years, and I have known his name in Ed Tech circles for a long time.

His talk was on the dangers of over-emphasising the power of technology as a solution to the problem of online and distance education, and the need to continually relearn the lessons that successful learning, no matter whatever physical distances may be involved, needs to be driven by the learner as the active agent in the learning process, supported by well-designed content delivered by caring and competent teachers. And if I’ve mangled Bob’s thesis in this summary, you can read it more eloquently in his own words in this article, Why there is nothing remote about online learning, published last year. And for an example of how you can’t magically improve online learning just by throwing money and technology at the issue, Wired’s article on the ‘LA iPad debacle’ is a good read.

I thoroughly enjoyed Bob’s lecture, and his dismantling of technological solutionism, neoliberalism in education, and his barely checked scorn for the Department for Education and their fixation on remote teaching.

The screenshot which I grabbed to illustrate this post shows a continuation of the theme of learners as the active agents of learning in the most influential learning theories spanning the past century.

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CELT Team Away Day and Insights

Insights into CELT
Insights Into CELT: Shocker, we’re all introverts

Has there ever been such a phrase as to warm and inspire the hearts of man* as ‘virtual team away day’? Thanks Covid, the gift that keeps on giving.

In the morning we planned our plans for world domination, which all went according to plan. After lunch we had a presentation on Insights Discovery which we had all been asked to complete the week before. Last time around it was a Belbin exercise, because the boss didn’t like Insights, but we have a new boss now who doesn’t like Belbin, and who swears by Insights. So we did Insights. I find them all much of a muchness, and don’t put a lot of stock into them. But then I’m a reflective person with a strong internal locus of identity, so I feel like I know myself very well, and there was nothing in my Insights profile that was shocking, or indeed which had changed much since the last time I did one. Other people in the team did get a lot from it though, they found it interesting at least. I guess it was nice to see all the team profiles together, and though I’ve said ‘we’re all introverts’, we do have a new member of the team who came out all fiery red.

* And women. And enbies. I see you, in all your valid glory.

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Digital Equality Awareness and Impact on Practice

Seven Elements of Digital Literacy
The seven elements of digital literacies, according to Jisc

Maybe it’s the humanities background biasing me here, but all the best training I attend always seems to be deeply interdisciplinary by nature. Sure, the core of this session was about digital equality and things like the different between digital literacy and digital competence, but it really grabbed me when we got into discussion on the nature of poverty, and why and how gender and racial biases get baked into artificial intelligence algorithms.

The ‘Seven Elements of Digital Literacy’ diagram above is taken from Jisc’s Developing Digital Literacies guide, and breaks down digital literacy into media literacy, communications and collaboration, career and identity management, ICT literacy, learning skills, digital scholarship, and information literacy.

Another great resource from this session I am absolutely going to steal for my own work (by which of course I mean appropriate cite), is the Good Things Foundation, Digital Nation UK 2020 infographic which provides research findings in a striking visual format full of data points showing the digital divide.

Finally, some relevant recommended reading. From the session itself, Invisible Women by Caroline Criado Perez which I read last year and highly recommend, even if trans and non-binary people are seemingly non-existence, never mind just invisible. And one I threw into the conversation, Programmed Inequality: How Britain Discarded Women Technologists and Lost Its Edge in Computing, by Mar Hicks.

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Moodle Munch: Jan. 2021


The January Moodle Munch recording

Welcome to 2021, folks! Let’s hope it’s going to be a better year for all.

Today marked the return of Moodle Munch, with two presentations as always. Mark Glynn from Dublin City University began by discussing some tools and techniques they are using to add some gamification to online modules to improve student engagement. First, the use of formative and summative quizzes, but not just quizzes, the pedagogy around their use, emphasising the opt-in nature of the summative component and giving students the ‘freedom to fail’. Mark presented some interesting research showing both strong positive student feedback and improved pass marks on the formative assessment component with the group of students who had engaged with the summative quizzes. As it should be, but it’s nice to see such strong evidence! Mark then showed us the Level Up Plus plugin for Moodle which can be used to add gamification elements to module spaces, such as progress bars and leaderboards.

The second presentation was from Nic Earle at the University of Gloucestershire who demonstrated the custom electronic marking and assessment system they have developed for managing student assessments, and how it integrates with their Moodle and student records system. They switched over to this system in 2017 wholesale, and again Nic was able to show very positive results demonstrating increased use of the VLE (even before the pandemic), and improved NSS scores.

As always, the presentations were recorded and I have embedded the YouTube above this post.

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