Blogs

Nicky Meer, PFHEA reflects on Barriers to Fellowship

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Nicky Meer, looks back on her recent PFHEA accreditation.

Although the HEA does not define who ‘ought’ to be a fellow, many have found that colleagues outside of a narrow norm can face barriers to accreditation. Some face barriers through their own self-belief: ‘I am just a technician/learning advisor/library staff… so I wouldn’t be able to get it’.  And others may face barriers due to subconscious or unintended assumptions made by those who create schemes or resources that help people compile their submissions. This could result in specific language patterns used or narrow examples given, potentially making people outside of this feel it’s not for them.

To read the full article on the HEA Blog, click here

Turnitin Academic Integrity Summit: 19th October 2017

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The conference took place at the Crowne Plaza in Newcastle. The early start was soon forgotten when greeted with bacon and sausage sandwiches on arrival, a very promising start!

The day loosely followed, what were described as the ‘Seven Major Themes from the HE Sector’ with some topics more of a focus than others:

Reliability

Turnitin reported they were making solid progress in the UK after a £5.2m investment in Turnitin UK over the past two years with a 66% staff increase and infrastructure/application monitoring investment resulting in 12 hours less degraded service and an improvement in their First Response time from 5-6 days to 30 minutes.

Data Access

Turnitin and JISC are in Stage 1 of a partnership around data integration and Learning Analytics. Working on a data exhaust (data generated as a by-product of online actions and choices ie. cookies, log and temporary internet files).

Marking and Moderation

Unfortunately this topic was covered in a session I was unable to attend….
Assessment Workflows and Integration
Linked to ‘Data Access’ above; Learning Analytics likely to drive workflow definitions and refinements, in other words in the future institutions will be able to unlock Turnitin data to acquire information.

Customer Relations

It was identified that there was a need for better communications from Turnitin, particularly on new features and service outages (twitter isn’t the ideal comms tool for such important information). Communications on new feature changes will be farther in advance.

Turnitin now employ a team of writers who are currently updating the 4000 User Guides and creating video’s to make their offering much more current and engaging. Coming soon will be a new and improved platform and tools to enable institutions to make more use of the resources.

Ghost Writing or essay mills, contract cheating, authorship verification…

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The conference was heavily focused on Contract Cheating alternatively named Ghostwriting; there is currently some debate on favoured terminology.
Turnitin has completed the first phase of research to address the global problem of contract cheating; the act of hiring someone to complete an assignment for you, as these assignments are guaranteed to be original work the current plagiarism detections tools are ineffective.

Contract Cheating was first highlighted by an Australian scandal in late 2014 where, it was reported, that up to 1000 students from 16 universities were enlisting the MyMaster website to write assignments and sit online tests.

The cheating sites have evolved to be ‘big business’ so much so that currently 1000+ sites are reported to be active and prices and turnaround times have been driven down eg. Currently a 1500-word assignment can be bought for £154.

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Simon Bullock from the Quality Assurance Agency (QAA), presented the brand new QAA guidance ‘Contracting to Cheat in Higher Education: How to address Contract Cheating, the Use of Third-Party Services and Essay Mills’ which is an interesting read and informs how to address contract cheating in HE.

 

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There was also an interesting presentation by Professor Phil Newton is available on YouTube

The UoC ‘Assessment Briefs’ written by Dr Amanda Chapman provide some valuable tips on how to subvert contract cheating.

Future Requirements

Turnitin acknowledged future requirements in formative usage of the product.  Afternoon sessions on similarity report enhancement as well as on source code similarity

Design and development is underway on a solution to support multiple marking (currently in Beta stage) for moderation, second marking and double blind marking.  Features will include:

  • Markers will be able to leave their own layer of marks on a student’s submission.
  • Bubble comments and QuickMarks will include the marker’s initials, to allow markers a way to identify who left which mark.
  • Visibility of each marker’s feedback on the student submission may be layered on or off.
  • The overall grade field and feedback side panels are currently shared amongst markers.

The AHE conference

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Assessment in Higher Education Conference

The AHE conference

The AHE conference has grown from a half-day University of Cumbria event at the Carlisle campus to an International sector-leading two-day programme held at various locations around the UK. 2017 saw the 6th conference which was held in Manchester. The aim of the conference is to showcase research-informed practice in the areas of assessment and feedback. Each conference has attracted increasing numbers of delegates from over 25 countries. The atmosphere is one of friendliness and sharing practice. It’s an inspiring mix of people, countries and institutions and there is always something new to learn. Please make a note of June 2019 for the next one. In the meantime we have….

The one-day conference

On the ‘off’ year a one-day conference is held. Next year, 28th June 2018, the theme is Transforming Feedback: Research and Development. The keynote for this one-day event is David Carless who will be discussing Feedback for the longer term: Developing student feedback literacy.

Feedback continues to be a challenge for institutions so this is an area ripe for research and evaluation of practice. For more details, please go the website:

https://aheconference.com/transforming-feedback-research-and-development-conference-2018/

The call for contributions is now out so if you feel you have any relevant research or case studies, please send in an abstract. The deadline for submissions is Monday 15th January 2018.

For the latest information and updates on how you can contribute please follow us on twitter.

@AheConference

Applying for Principal Fellowship

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Applying for Principal Fellowship

Hi, my name is Nicky Meer and I am a Senior Lecturer in Academic Development within AQD. On September 15th 2017 I was awarded a Principal Fellowship of the Higher Education Academy (PFHEA) and this blog is written to give you a better understanding of the process of applying for PFHEA and what you need to do.

The application is not very long at 7-8000 words in total. In order to achieve a PFHEA you must be able to demonstrate and evidence: ‘a sustained record of effective strategic leadership in academic practice and academic development as a key contribution to high quality student learning’. How you do this and the examples that you use are unique to you and your work activities, no two applications are the same but you will all have to complete the process which is in three parts:

1.Record of Educational Impact (REI)

This is simply a list and timeline of all of your significant achievements, activities, responsibilities etc. that demonstrate your leadership and the strategic nature of your work within learning and teaching in Higher Education. In my application I included activities such as gaining HEA institutional accreditation, my VC awards for excellence in learning and teaching, my external examiner roles and my pedagogic publications and conferences etc. You may want to include projects that you lead on, areas of decision-making you are involved in, international and/or partnership work or similar. All of the activities listed here will form the narrative (RAP) in part two.

2.Reflective Account of Practice (RAP)

The bulk of your application is a reflective narrative of the significant activities as listed in your REI. This is split into four sections with the maximum word limit being 2000 for each section. Within this narrative you must evidence all the criteria for D4 as per the UK Professional Standards Framework (https://www.heacademy.ac.uk/ukpsf).

3.Three Advocate Statements

Your application is authenticated by the inclusion of three advocate statements from people who are familiar with your work and who have read your application and will support your claim. These statements are very important and there are detailed guidelines to help your advocates write them effectively. Your advocates must meet the following criteria between them: Be a Fellow (Senior or Principal), be able to comment on the ways in which you have directly influenced their own practice, be external to your institution and be from a Higher Education provider. Getting these statements is difficult. I asked six people and luckily got three back pretty quickly and used them, I am still waiting for one a month after I gained accreditation!

If you are interested in applying for PFHEA, please contact me for an informal chat and advice (n.meer@cumbria.ac.uk) I look forward to seeing many more PFHEA at the University of Cumbria.

ALT Annual Conference: 5-7 September 2017, University of Liverpool

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The theme of this year’s Association for Learning Technology Conference (ALT-C) was Beyond Islands of Innovation – how Learning Technology became the new norm(al) (press release).

The international conference was three days long, each day started with a keynote speaker followed by a packed programme with a  wide variety of institutional presentations.  The conference provided an opportunity for Andy White and myself to present the teams work on Developing and Maintaining Consistency in Virtual Learning Spaces.

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The presentation Keeping Nurses Uniform: Developing and Maintaining Consistency in Virtual Learning Spaces built on our presentation to the ALT Winter 2015 Conference, delivered by Sarah Ruston and myself, and focused on how the move from one single, massive, high-risk, multiple-instructor site to a much more streamline and consistent set of module sites has become the new norm for many staff at the University of Cumbria achieving the consistency between modules that is so important for the student experience.

We presented our work on:

  • How we used “parent” and “child” sites to support the inter-disciplinary “Working Together” modules that bring together students from different specialisms, such as Radiography and Midwifery, whilst maintaining the consistency of the module approach and how the assessment element can be overcome with “mark by groups” on Turnitin provided an ideal solution.
  • How a benchmarking exercise resulted in the development of a set of Blackboard Protocols which were launched in June 2016 and baselined expectations for module delivery on Blackboard, alongside additional advice for those who wanted to enhance their site further. The protocols require each programme to have their own “programme” site, which contains key content, such as External Examiner reports. Learning technologists have been working with programme teams to enhance the value of these sites to students, for example, by embedding social media feeds and LTi links to PebblePad.
  • We reported that 83% of sites surveyed during SEM1 2016/7 were using individual module sites (up from 49% in 2015), very encouraging as this was just a few months after the protocols had been announced.

All supported by examples and feedback from students and academic staff across the institution, this presentation reflects on the work to-date which has helped drive the culture-shift within the Nursing course team’s VLE delivery, and how this work has helped influence practice across the university, alongside next-steps to continue to further innovate course delivery, such as flipping the classroom, helping support an engaging and consistent student-experience within the university’s virtual learning space.

I attended multiple presentations covering topics from Developing Digital Capability: An Organisational Journey to Scaling up media training to enable alternative forms of assessment via new physical and virtual learning spaces.

The conference was an interesting experience and it was particularly rewarding to see how we, at UoC, compare favourably to other institutions.  Our digital submission and feedback practices for example are in line with the presentation by Canterbury Christ Church University discussing Engaging learners with digital feedback: how choice of digital presentation may influence how learners use feedback.

Also, the workshop Any space is a learning space: developing mobile resources for meaningful work-based activities and assessment delivered by two UK medical schools, Liverpool and Leeds universities, discussed the effectiveness of mobile resources as learning tools to doctors out on placement.  pebblePicture

Their case study reviewed how PebblePad facilitated the move from a paper logbook approach to an eportfolio model which was particularly interesting as this reflects ongoing work and interest within our own institution.

The workshop looked at how mobile resources can be used for meaningful, formative assessment for learning enabling students to develop a portfolio of evidence for their progression.

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The session also included ‘hands on’ activities, one of which was a group collaborative activity for which ours was the winner!!

 

Inclusive learning and teaching resources

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In light of the funding changes for students with disabilities we have developed a working collection of resources, ideas, support, reports and case studies about inclusive practice in Higher Education. It has been developed from a project to support academic staff following the changes to the Disabled Student Allowance. The purpose of resource is to enhance and improve the ways we design and deliver teaching, leading to accessible learning for all our students.

There are a range of practical activities for you to use in various settings such as large group teaching, assessment and giving feedback. There are links to comprehensive resources collected from other universities, reports from the HEA (Higher Education Academy) and a section containing information from recent conferences about inclusive practice.

The case studies section is a work in progress. We hope this is where academic staff will contribute research/ideas or practical activities that can be shared across all departments. Examples of case studies from Sheffield University have been included in this section as a starting point. A case study template has been emailed to departments or you can download it from the site.

The site is designed so that it can be easily updated and modified. We hope that with your support the wealth of experience here at the University of Cumbria this site will expand and develop over time.

PebblePad V5

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PebblePad logo

PebblePad has moved from v3 (used Flash) to v5 (uses html5). The main difference is to Pebble+ – the personal space within PebblePad – where assets are created, shared and stored.

ATLAS, the assessment area within PebblePad, remains unchanged.

Everything in your Pebble+ account has transferred over into the new version.

The main differences:

  • Works on all mobile devices and looks and behaves the same, no matter what device is used.
  • Drag and drop to add files to your asset store.
  • Improved text editing functions – you can use your mouse to copy and paste text.
  • All Assets and Resources are in one place – no separate tabs for shared assets any more.

Here are some guides to help you navigate your way around the new version:

PebblePad v5: click the link to see what the new interface looks like; how to create assets; upload files; share with people or for assessment and Alumni information.

Academic PPDR instructions: click the link to find out how to fill out your Academic PPDR for the first and subsequent years.

Don’t forget, you can take your PebblePad account and all its contents with you if you leave or graduate from the university and you can continue to use it FREE forever. Just register for an Alumni account before you leave or graduate.

CASE STUDY: Student led learning through conference organisation, Graham Hallet and Shelby Mercer

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Graham Hallet, Senior Lecturer, SEN/D and Inclusion, and Shelby Mercer, second year student, give their reflections on a student led conference undertaken as part of  a 2nd year Inclusion module 

An essential part of being a teacher is to reflect on practice, and to use that reflection as the basis for innovation and creativity in our teaching and learning activities. In the summer of 2010, the opportunity arose to implement a different approach in an Education Studies module in the 2nd year of our 4-year BA (Hons) with QTS. The module is on Inclusion, and this is seen to encompass the needs of all marginalized pupils, rather than only on those with special educational needs. Such a huge subject area seemed to require an approach that differed from our usual teaching pattern, to ensure a continued focus throughout the academic year on Inclusion. Accordingly, a number of changes were made to the usual pattern of seminars and occasional lectures.

Two further beliefs shaped the approach of the module. The first was a conviction that far too much emphasis is placed on summative assignments in the University, and far too little is placed on a continued rehearsal of the skills and attributes needed in producing those assignments. Accordingly, a system akin to the idea of Oxford tutorials was introduced; following a lead lecture, on, for example, gender inclusion, students were expected to prepare and submit a short essay of perhaps 750 words to their tutor. A week or so later, in groups of six plus a tutor, these essays were dissected and discussed in a tutorial lasting an hour. This cycle was repeated 5 or 6 times during the module, ensuring the continued development of writing and research skills.

The second belief was that students respond positively and productively to being given responsibility, even at such an early stage of their academic journey. It was decided to give the students the responsibility of organizing an inclusion conference. A model was provided through the provision of a tutor led conference at the end of Semester 1 but it was made clear that the organization of the student led conference rested entirely with the student body. Time had to be allocated within the structure of the day for the students to present a group paper that formed their summative assignment for the module, but otherwise the programme was entirely within their remit.

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Shelby’s last minute preparation

The first Conference took place in June 2011 and has been followed by further events in each subsequent year. Each has been very different, perhaps reflecting the personalities of the students in that year, but each has been completely successful, with invited speakers of national importance in the field, exhibitions of relevant materials, refreshments provided, webcasts organized and T-shirts produced.  Perhaps the best way to show the value of these events is to listen to the student voice; in this case, Shelby Mercer, one of our current second year organisers, gives her views of the conference that was held on the 28th March 2017.

 

The morning had gone well. My colleagues and I, looking around at one another, felt quietly confident. Our third speaker, half way through her talk, was passionately sharing her experiences with the audience. Eyes were fixed to the front until, suddenly, our speaker’s PowerPoint disappeared and the emergency lighting flickered on. There had been a power cut.

The student-led conference is one of the opportunities that makes our degree unique. I have attended them before and know others that have previously organised them, yet, the degree of autonomy involved was still surprising. Early during the module Graham explained the conference was ours; this meant we were responsible for everything from fundraising to flyers, speakers to spoons. The extent we were involved personally was also up to us; everyone wanted to participate in the planning, driven by the strong motivation of the experience rather than a grade.

I cannot stress strongly enough the importance of the lessons learnt from creating and implementing a conference, with 20 peers, at this stage in our learning journey. Here are some:

A group of people can succeed in their goals without a leader. Early on we split into small self-organising teams, each with our own aims such as publicity and fundraising. I am not going to say that it all happened smoothly; some were more active in the planning than others and communication was sometimes lacking. However, this approach allowed us to make decisions by consensus, agreeing together therefore meant everyone was committed to turning our decisions into reality.

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Group presentation to the final speaker, who had lectured through the power cut.

Some people will simply ignore your emails. Both the teams responsible for speakers and exhibitors had to quickly learn to deal with rejection or simply being ignored. However, this feeling was overshadowed by the fear that we wouldn’t have enough speakers; a needless worry as we secured four fantastic guest speakers.

Not everything will run smoothly. There is likely to be a moment, or two, or many, of stress. For us this ranged from technical difficulties, to losing an exhibitor in the carpark, and finally the power cut. Conferences are intrinsically social gatherings. It might be a cliché to say so, but, as I watched our final speaker do an impression of a Scouse lion under emergency lighting, I realised we should, after all our hard work, be enjoying ourselves. As Graham said, it’s our day.

These are just some of lessons I have learnt from planning a conference, I’m sure for my peers they may be different. However, the importance, I believe, is that we were given the opportunity to learn them – in our own way.

Victoria Barbe – Lecturer in Musical Theatre and Singing, Performing Arts & Sylvia Grainger – Student Enterprise Co-ordinator, Enterprise and Business Development

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Victoria Barbe & Sylvia Grainger reflect on this years FEST, held in Carlisle on 20th June 2017

With a continued desire to learn, we found this year’s Learning and Teaching Festival to be a hot bed of knowledge from across a wide range of courses and academics.

It was a fantastic day, and it was great to hear about all the amazing things that are happening around the University, and to be able to learn from them for the future.  Having the students attending the day to talk about their experiences and the positive ‘real life’ journey they have been on and how their time at UoC has changed their life was amazing. It just shows what can be achieved with the right support.

All the presentations we attended were extremely interesting, although of particular inspiration for us was hearing about the achievements of ‘Foundation Year’ students in the presentation delivered by Kathryn Hoyle; including an impressive amount of funding raised for the different charities.

Attending the day gave us the opportunity to share some of the work which we had undertaken with the BA (Hons) Performing Arts students during the year.  Some of the sessions pushed the students outside their comfort zone, but with support, they all found it enjoyable and beneficial. There have also been some impressive outcomes from it, with innovative business ventures in the pipeline.
Reflecting in depth upon the student feedback for this module gave us the opportunity, alongside locating areas for development, to realise just how much the confidence of the students was facilitated!  It was also very helpful to receive feedback from colleagues following our presentation. We are looking forward to doing so much more with this particular project, and Sylvia is particularly looking forward to enabling more Student Enterprise activities across the University next year.

Time now to reflect on what we have heard during the day and to consider how we can incorporate some of the ideas into our own future practices.

All in all a great day for sharing and learning. Thank you!

Reflections on Learning and Teaching Fest 2017 – John Pearson – Lecturer in Technical Theatre, Performing Arts

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John Pearson profile photoThis is the second time I’ve presented at the event; in 2015 I presented jointly with colleagues from LiSS and the BIC on an enterprise day we ran for my Technical Theatre students. This time, my presentation was rooted in research undertaken for the PG Cert in Learning and Teaching in HE, which I completed last year. 

I find the Festival to be a good place to pick up (mostly practical) techniques which colleagues are using with their students, or methods by which colleagues are using the systems and tools at our disposal in interesting ways; Tina Harvey’s presentation on Peer Feedback at level four was interesting to me for this reason, as I seek to find more effective and efficient ways to help students develop and become reflective and self-critical. 

One of the highlights of most years I have attended are the Lecturer of the Year/ Most Creative Teaching Keynotes, and Grace Hurford & Nicola Kitchen’s was no different; however, I suspect it might take quite a lot for me to contemplate dressing up as someone in a scene from Alien in order to engage my students.  

My presentation this year focussed on the delivery of feedback to students as audio recording; and the possible benefits that can bring. The presentation was focussed primarily as a guide to the benefits, practicalities and pitfalls of pursuing such methods for other staff, and I hope some attendees found it helpful in that way. I certainly was grateful to have some interesting follow-up questions and observations from attendees; albeit slightly tangential in places! You can read more about the basic premise of my talk in my previously published iLEAD post here [link to post]. 

Regrettably, the modules upon which I had primarily implemented audio feedback have been discontinued. As my teaching subsequently alters focus towards students on other modules, I am in a position to reflect upon how those modules could be delivered and supported, and I intend to implement lessons learnt from this work and the sessions I attend at LTFest within their delivery. 

John Pearson

John.Pearson@cumbria.ac.uk