ELESIG NW “Seek, Gather, Explore”. 15 March

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The ELESIG (Evaluation of Learners’ Experiences of e-learning Special Interest Group) North West group meet at Liverpool John Moores University on 15th March.


This was an afternoon event, which began with Dr Amanda Mason & Jim Turner from LJMU feeding back about a project to set-up and run a virtual Journal Club.

Dr Rod Cullen from Manchester Metropolitan University then discussed how they had used data from a student survey to gain some insight into students experience of TEL. A greater level of consistency across the student experience was a key finding – the most vocal reports were often when a student had a good experience on one course and a poor experience on another.

Other themes emerging were communications (clarity around how often & when to respond, for example), VLE content & organisation (timeliness of content, clarity of purpose, organisation, etc.), and an interactive teaching & learning experience (a desire to be involved in learning & teaching, not just passive recipients of information). Most of the issues were around learning design, rather than the technology. One idea was for better discussions with students regarding expectations with technologies, and how they can/should be used in their studies.

Daniel Roberts and Tunde Varga-Atkins from the University of Liverpool discussed a minimum standards VLE baseline. They found that the staff who were aware of the baseline, were generally positive about it, but didn’t want it to be too prescriptive, whilst 95% of students surveyed felt that a baseline was important – again, highlighting the need for consistency (students reported less provision on the VLE than staff thought they were providing).

Ashwini Datt from the University of Auckland then talked about a couple of MOOCs her university had developed and run. She discussed the idea of MOOC blending – where some of the resources for the MOOC were used in “on-campus” courses.

Professor Rhona Sharpe from Oxford Brookes University then discussed “rising to the challenge of education in the digital age”. She talked about the diverse ways that learners respond to technologically rich environments, and how it is difficult to generalise.

She felt that learner voices were important, as the student experience is a strategic priority, however internal systems can be slow to adapt to rapid technology changes.

Currently, the focus is on blended learning, digital literacy, distance learning & MOOCs. The goal is to prepare learners for the digital world; a global, networked society. Users need to be confident users of a range of technologies for personal, academic and professional use.

As with most of the speakers, consistency was again seen as vital. Curriculum redesign was happening with multi-disciplinary teams to help ensure consistency and embedding of digital skills. A mapping exercise using the Jisc NUS Benchmarking Tool was also mentioned.

A very useful session, highlighting again a number of key areas that can help support the student experience and develop vital digital skills.

CASE STUDY SERIES: Charlotte Hardacre, Lecturer, Working with Child and Family Studies.

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  Using PebblePad in PhD Research …… and much, much more.

Following attendance at a summer research workshop provided by AQD, which outlined the potential of using PebblePad for research, Charlotte decided to use the personal learning system to collate and manage the information she was gathering for her PhD research.

Early drafts, literature searches, blogs and records of meetings with her supervisor are all stored within Charlotte’s asset store and linked within a webfolio. She finds it particularly useful to be able to share this document, as it’s evolving, with her supervisor. Her supervisor makes comments on her work  and now all their comments and interaction are all in one place.
She uses the mobile app, Pebble Pocket, to upload assets such as photographs and voice recordings to her asset store without having to ‘do anything with wires’ – she simply sends the item via wifi and it is ready to incorporate into her emerging webfolio.
Video: How Charlotte uses PebblePad in her research (7:48mins):
Students using PebblePad:
Not only does Charlotte use PebblePad for her research, she also uses it within a creative module she leads within the Working with Children and Families programme.

In this module, students are tasked with creating an artifact comprising a story-sack which is designed to be used within family sessions. Students have to document the creation of their story sack – why they chose the subject theme, its evolution and a reflection on its usefulness. Students take photographs of their work as it progresses and include these in their webfolio with their reflections. Their work builds up over time.

The work is marked via PebblePad and the EE has access to the work too.
Video: How Charlotte uses PebblePad with her students (1:53mins):
Charlotte also used PebblePad as a Student:

Charlotte first used PebblePad as a student herself on the PgC in Learning and Teaching in Higher Education (PGCLTHE) and for her Fellowship of the Higher Education Academy (HEA).

So this thorough grounding gave her a good understanding of what the students need to know.
“I found it straightforward and not a challenge and so was really confident in explaining how to use it to students”.

The WCF team also use PebblePad in their Leadership and Management module and students are expected to upload their CVs into PebblePad.

“In the 21st Century, sending a weblink as your CV and personal statement makes more sense  than sending  word documents”.  

Students can register for an alumni account when they leave the university and this is FREE FOREVER. So whatever they have created and stored in their PebblePad accounts whilst they were a student, will still be accessible to them forever.

Using PebblePad as a Student (1:16mins):