Dr Elizabeth Bates shares her presentation from a recent pedagogy in practice session aimed to explore how staff motivate and encourage students to get involved in the wider university community.
The slides contain a brief overview of a study exploring the student experience using photo elicitation, before guiding attendees through a discussion of student satisfaction, extracurricular activities and employability.
Click here to view the slides in PDF format.
Pedagogy in Practice (PIP) workshop, 28.3.17
Sandie Donnelly, LiSS
Sandie Donnelly reports on the latest PIP Seminar held at Brampton Road
The staff who attended were great. Engaged, positive, thoughtful and challenging contributions; myself and my colleague, Claire Stewart, certainly got a lot out of it and I hope it was useful for the academic staff too.
Key discussion points included:
Consensus that using exemplars is good practice and surprise that malpractice concerns might make some staff reluctant to share exemplars. The lack of exemplars doesn’t prevent plagiarism. In fact, another advantage of using exemplars is the opportunity presented to talk about and promote academic integrity. Also, interesting that the area with the most malpractice cases has not been put off using exemplars and continues to do so.
Should exemplars only be used in workshops as hard copies and as part of a discussion with an adviser and/or tutor, rather than made available electronically; might that help to mitigate against potential plagiarism? But again, isn’t it more a case of exploring academic integrity with students and trusting the majority. Is there more to be lost in not being able to use exemplars to help majority of students, because of a minority of cases who misuse exemplars?
Interesting discussion around “originality” in the arts. How to help students explore their specific discipline to understand it, be inspired by it, be informed by it, understand how their art has developed, evolved and continues to be shaped and influenced, without students misappropriating materials as their own. Reality that there is so much quick and easy access to materials now, via the web etc, that just denying students access to materials like exemplars in the classroom for fear of lack of originality, won’t stop them finding sources of information elsewhere. Isn’t it better to have the exemplars in the workshops, seminars, studios, etc and then for those to be explored in constructive debates and discussions with academics and advisers to help students understand the balance between appreciation, knowledge and understanding that “educates” and inspires students, and malpractice.
There was discussion around hard copies of dissertations being available for students to access in the library. Digital-only policies for assessment in some areas have meant that whereas students could previously access a number of examples of dissertations across all campus libraries, the bank of dissertations is dwindling in some areas.
Consensus that exemplars are good practice, agreement to work with adviser at Brampton Rd to build up bank of exemplars. Seminar provided evidence of positive collaboration between academic staff and adviser at Brampton Road and desire of all to best support students to succeed.
Pedagogy in Practice (PIP) workshop, 14.2.17
This session was led by Alan Marsh, the Programme Lead and Senior Lecturer for Radiation Protection in the Department of Science, Natural Resources and Outdoor Studies.
This session looked at the NSS questions on feedback and it was clear students on the Radiation Protection programme felt the feedback they received was insufficient, and lacking detailed comments. The programme team couldn’t understand this as they devote a lot of time to providing feedback so it appeared students were not recognising it as feedback. These students tend to be mature students, returning to learning after some time so the idea of feedback and how to use it to feed-forward can require a change in approach.
The participants discussed this and their own experiences of students mis-understanding the purpose of feedback, along with what feedback is.
The Oxford English Dictionary defines feedback as (one of three, others to do with process and electrical signals):
Information about reactions to a product, a person’s performance of a task, etc. which is used as a basis for improvement.
It was agreed the main point for feedback is to provide a basis for improvement. Other suggestions for what feedback is included: to indicate to students if they are on target to pass; formative; timely; formal and informal.
Participants shared the various ways they provide feedback, including written and recorded. Alan discussed his experiences of using these different approaches and the importance of preparing students to be able to use the feedback provided.
Strategies for how to ensure students understand feedback should be used to feed-forward were explored, with a suggestion of including an area for improvement each time to focus the student to this area of development.
Alan also discussed some recent literature on this topic, which is summarised along with notes from the session.
Kolb, 1982; Brockbank, 1998; Ramsden, 2003; Irons, 2007; Norton, 2007 (to name but a few) recognize that feedback on assignments can contribute to improving the quality of the student learning experience. Ramsden, 2003, in particular for example (page 187) highlights that “It is impossible to overstate the role of effective comments on students’ progress in any discussion of effective teaching and assessment”.
Carless, 2015 talks about the three interrelated processes of :-
- Learning oriented assessment tasks for students;
- Students development of self-evaluative capacities;
- Student engagement with feedback.
Hattie, 2009 claims that learning becomes visible when teachers are also learners and helping students to become their own teachers. Providing adequate feedback is an important aspect.
Boud & Molloy (2013b) developed and analysed two models of feedback:-
- The first positions teachers as the drivers of feedback (derived from the original concept of feedback from the applied sciences – unilateral approach);
- The second draws on the idea of sustainable assessment, in which learners have a key role in driving learning and so generating their own feedback – bilateral or multilateral approach which positions students as active learners.
Parker & Winstone (2016) presented students with 10 possible feedback interventions, which seemed to indicate that students believe (or they perceive) they lack the skills required to engage with interventions; they make some recommendations as to how to frame such interventions to promote stronger student engagement.
If you have some examples of how you are helping students understand feedback and how you are linking feedback to feed-forward, do get in touch to share your practice, AQD@cumbria.ac.uk.
References / further reading
Boud, D. & Molloy, E. (2013a) Feedback in Higher and Professional Education: Understanding it and doing it well. London: Routledge
Boud, D. & Molloy, E. (2013b) ‘Rethinking models of feedback for learning: the challenge of design’ J. of Assessment & Evaluation in HE, 38(6), pp. 689-71
Carless, D (2015) ‘Exploring learning-oriented assessment process’, Higher Education: The International Journal of Higher Education Research, 69(6), pp. 963-976
Parker, M. & Winstone, N.E. (2016) ‘Students perceptions of interventions for supporting their engagement with feedback’, Practictioner Research in Higher Education, 10(1) pp. 53-64
Ramsden, P. (2003) Learning to Teach in Higher Education. 2nd edn. London: Routledge Falmer
There are a number of learning technology system changes expected to happen prior to the start of 2017/18;
- PebblePad moving to version 5
- Turnitin GradeMark moving to Turnitin Feedback Studio
- Blackboard upgrade and theme change
- Medial moving to version 5
Details and descriptions are subject to change, and more information will be circulated as necessary and as it becomes available.
- Our current version of PebblePad is being moved to the latest version (V5) over the summer
- The underlying technology moves from Flash to HTML5 – more accessible, and in-line with browsers that are phasing-out/removing Flash support
- Accessible on all devices, such as smartphones and tablets
- Redesigned, and simpler interface
- ATLAS remains unchanged
- All Assets move across
- Our current version is no longer being developed, and will be phased-out shortly
Support & communication
Workshops for staff will be delivered over the coming months. Some have already taken place. Those who attend will have access to V5 via a temporary account that will remain available to them until the upgrade.
There are many “how-to” guides directly on the new home page. We will produce a transition guide, which will be applicable to staff and students.
Most users will move across on Monday 7th August, however, any reassessment students will be left on V3 (current system) until they have resubmitted, and will be moved at the end of August.
- GradeMark interface is being updated to Feedback Studio
- Same features, but improved use of space
- Easier to add comments & Quick Marks
- Can now add clickable URLs to feedback – support pages, documents etc.
Support & communication
A transition guide will be produced to help staff move to marking via the updated interface.
Some of the features can be seen on Turnitin’s demonstration site.
We are able to switch-on this feature at any time, with a forced change to all users initially planned from Turnitin by July 2017. We are checking current timings for this forced switch; however, the current proposal is to make the move at around the same time as the Blackboard upgrade (i.e. late July / early August).
We will be looking to perform our annual upgrade of Blackboard over the summer. There is no licence-cost impact to upgrading to a newer version of the system. All upgrades bring security improvements, as well as support for newer versions of client software and systems (browsers etc.). However, an essential reason for needing to regularly upgrade is to ensure full support for the system for the up-coming academic year.
The upgrade will bring some new features and an updated colour scheme and theme change.
Regarding the theme, we are proposing to move incrementally towards the – desired – responsive web design theme as it develops. The proposal is a move towards the look-and-feel, but maintaining the course design options for a period of time (these themes need to be turned-off when we move totally onto the responsive design).
The last two upgrades have happened towards the end of July / early August, and the proposal would be to do the same again (these upgrades didn’t appear to cause any major disruption issues). Blackboard should be on Managed Hosting by the time of the upgrade; this should offer more flexibility and options for upgrade timings.
- System update to version 5
- Updated and fully responsive interface redesign
- HTML5 player by default (Flash fallback still an option)
- Multispeed playback (i.e. 2x)
- Multi-bitrate playback
- Version 5 is required for MediaLecture (if we were to consider this option)
- More customisation & branding options
- Live-stream workflow improvements
Support & communication
Much of the current interaction with Medial is via the Blackboard building block, rather than directly through the interface. The main changes via this route will be the new options on the player, and the switch to HTML5. All the web interface features will still be there, just with an enhanced interface.
Support and upgrades of Medial is included in our annual licence. The upgrade is carried out remotely and is expected to take less than an hour (updates in the past have been around 15 minutes, with actual video playback disruption less than that). We just need to book an update “slot” with the vendors. As there isn’t a test system for Medial, updates always carry a slight risk, and we only see the changes at the same time as all system users (we rely on their demo server to view some of the potential feature changes ahead of the move).
Student Success: Adding Value through ‘Learning Gain’
This year’s Learning and Teaching Fest will be held on Tuesday 20th June 2017 on our Fusehill Street campus. The theme of this year’s Fest is “Student Success” Adding Value through ‘Learning Gain’ a topic which covers a broad spectrum of practice and will allow us to showcase some of the best and most original practice at UoC and our partner institutions.
Adding Value through ‘Learning Gain’ is becoming an increasing focus as a way of measuring success in higher education and is one of the aspects the TEF (Teaching Excellence Framework) assessment framework considers as teaching excellence (Jan 2017, TEF, Higher Education Funding Council For England).
Learning Gain can be defined and understood in a number of ways. Broadly it is an attempt to measure the improvement in knowledge, skills, work-readiness and personal development made by students during their time spent in higher education (Feb 2016, Learning gain, Higher Education Funding Council for England).
The conference is looking to share learning and teaching practice from across the UoC and our partner institutions which adds value through learning gain to enhance student success. We are looking for contributions in the following key areas identified in the Learning, Teaching and Assessment Strategy review:
- The learner
- The learning environment
- Curriculum design
- The Academic role
- Partnership working
Presenters will be scheduled within 30 minutes’ slots (maximum 20 minutes presenting, with time for Q&A/discussion).
Presenters are asked to explore the evidence of the impact and or effectiveness of their practice on adding value to the student experience. They will also be encouraged to frame the work within the new Learning, Teaching and Assessment Strategy.
Presentations may be single or joint with colleagues or students. We highly encourage co-presentations with students.
Abstracts should address the following:
- What were you trying to enhance?
- How did you enhance your practice to address this?
- What is the evidence of the value added to the student experience?
- How is this underpinned by current thinking in the literature?
Successful participants will be notified by email by Thursday 27th April 2017.
Should you wish to discuss your ideas before submitting a proposal please contact:
Dr Amanda Chapman (firstname.lastname@example.org) ext: 2739
I was asked a few months ago if I would like to present at this years ALT (Association for Learning Technology) Winter Conference by means of a Webinar.
Initially I had my doubts as I am unaccustomed to presenting in my role and didn’t feel best positioned to do so. However, as I would be covering our recent WordPress projects regarding iLead and our Knowledgebase, I felt confident I could deliver an engaging and informative webinar.
My proposal was accepted and so on Tuesday 6th December 2016 I gave a 30 minute presentation (iLead by Example) including Q&A’s to around 30 candidates using Blackboard Collaborate and I talked about our journey with WordPress, why we embarked on the project, our findings and future plans.
One of the questions asked was, “Why didn’t you consider any other in house project software?” and that was one of the main drivers for taking the WordPress project on as we wanted our staff to be able to find information readily without the need to log into multiple platforms and trawl through pages of content that may not have been relevant. For example, historically we’ve had content spread across StaffNet, Pebblepad, Blackboard, the Cumbria Academy among others, the majority requiring staff to log in and also having very poor search results.
With our wordpress sites, content has been structured, classified and tagged making the process much easier and delivering the search results immediately.
Another candidate also asked if there were any concerns about the openness of iLead and our Knowledgebase? I eluded to the fact I’d taken a James Bond approach to other institutional Blogs over a period of time and found a number of them were open and accessible and we didn’t have any concerns following suite given there was nothing published which could be deemed sensitive information.
I had some very positive feedback after the presentation and felt what we’ve achieved with WordPress so far has great potential and benefit to out staff.
Overall, I found the event rewarding and encouraging to be part of the ALT community.
A recording of the Webinar is available from https://sas.elluminate.com/p.jnlp?psid=2016-12-06.0322.M.D574DD90053F8FDDD45415894225D9.vcr&sid=7565
More on our WordPress journey can be found on a Pebblepad Webfolio here.
Attendance at this years Summit, gave the opportunity to share experiences with other academic institutions on how turnitin is being used to improve academic writing.
Concerns on the availability of turnitin, particularly at peak submission times, are being addressed by adopting a much more robust “cloud based” database solution which offers greater security, speed and up-time.
There has been a significant increase in the number of support staff available to us here in the UK, many of them now based in Newcastle, an acknowledgement of the importance of the UK as the second largest market for their product.
In 2002, turnitin reported they had received 1 million submissions. By 2016 this has risen to 636 million.
As an institution, we have seen significant growth in the number of submissions to turnitin over the past six years much due to the adoption of online submission and feedback as part of the LTA Strategy and also the flexibility of the system in accepting different submission types.
Turnitin can now accept files of up to 40 Mb and where “text matching” is not relevant, of any type. An example of this might be an audio file or photograph.
It is also possible to have a “no submission” assignment, where the portal is only being used to deliver feedback to the student on a performance or artifact for example.
Turnitin has many competitors, but their database of over 160 million articles makes them very much the market leader.
The latest developments in their web crawler allows them to dig deeper and faster into some of the more regularly visited sites (Wikipedia as an example).
They have described this new development as “Walker” to indicate the improved performance. Previously it took 17 days to crawl the complete Wikipedia website – it now takes 5 Hours. They continue to work with publishers and product users to ensure their database remains current and relevant.
A new feature set is currently under development by Turnitin at the moment to improve the detection of “ghost writing”.
Last year was the first time that our University had seen a malpractice incident involving ghost writing and with the proliferation of web based companies offering these services, something that is sure to continue.
It is imperative that we remain alert to this and express a clear position to our students on malpractice and its penalties as well as providing support for academic writing.
Perhaps the most significant announcement during the summit was on Feedback Studio, the improved interface for marking student assignments. Some of you may have tried an earlier iPad only version.
Mark Ricksen, the product manager gave a demonstration of this much more friendly user interface. It follows on from the iPad version which was introduced last year and produces a much more readable text with increased functionality in terms of identifying issues within the students writing. This includes the ability to highlight text, comment using different colour pens for second marking and the ability to use hyperlinks to specific external student help resources.
Some of our lecturers are already using audio feedback which is available in the Classic version that we are currently using. Its three minute maximum length is sometimes considered inadequate as is the current 5,000 character limit imposed on the general comments area.
I was able to discuss enhancements in this area with Mark including extending these limits and providing the ability to attach files to the students submission to give additional feedback using a proforma or perhaps a working solution to a problem.
Hopefully some of these requests will be adopted before we move to this new version over Summer.
For those who might prefer the existing version, returning to Turnitin Classic is a simple click away.
A demonstration of the new Feedback Studio is available with a walk-through followed by the opportunity of trying it yourself. This demo was created earlier this year and does not show some of the latest features.
The ability to hide the side bar, when the particular tool is not being used, makes it easier to read the main text of the document. This version uses responsive web design based on the available viewing device and works very well across all screen sizes including Android based tablets.
Much greater emphasis was placed on the turnitin user community at this forum. With contributions from staff at the University of Edinburgh, Newcastle University, University of Huddersfield and the University of East London a broad range of subjects were discussed.
Many of them have already made the move to Feedback Studio and it is the University of Edinburgh’s tool of choice for electronic management of assessment (EMA).
Earle Abrahamson from the University of East London demonstrated the use of feedback to support the academic development of their students, many from under represented backgrounds. The ability to create his own set of structured comments using hyperlinks to further support materials, has been instrumental in improving student writing.
Steve Bentley showed how gamification could be utilised as a tool to reduce student anxiety around plagiarism.
Alison Graham discussed the Newcastle University project to clarify marking criteria and ensure that feedback is linked more closely to rubrics. Students were given the opportunity to mark some written examples themselves based on provided marking criteria. There was some evidence that this had boosted engagement and increased understanding of what was needed to achieve better grades.
Perhaps you would like to try rubrics in your next turnitin assignment.
Rubrics can be created directly within turnitin. If you already have an electronic version of a marking grid, it can be edited using Excel and then simply imported into turnitin. Please contact any of the learning technologists within AQD if you would like some support with this.
Andy Robb – Senior Learning Technologist
This event, held on Tuesday 25 October, hosted by the Vice Chancellor, Professor Julie Mennell, was an opportunity to celebrate colleagues involved in teaching and learning support who have been recognised as Fellows of the HEA.
HEA Fellowship is recognition of a commitment to professionalism in teaching and learning in higher education and demonstrates that your practice is aligned with the UK Professional Standards Framework (UKPSF). To date over 75,000 individuals have become Fellows of the HEA. The HEA website provides more details.
Here at the University of Cumbria we have almost 65% of our eligible staff recognised as Fellow, Senior Fellow or Principal Fellow of the HEA. This is a great achievement when compared to the national average of around 40%. Of course we want all staff involved in learning and teaching to be recognised to show our commitment to a high quality student learning experience.
If you are interested in gaining recognition for your commitment to professionalism in learning and teaching we encourage you to engage with the CPD route to UKPSF recognition, which is open to all staff who teach or support student learning.
Professor Stephanie Marshall, CEO of the HEA, attended as a guest speaker and outlined the work of the HEA and how the University of Cumbria are able to access various streams of support.
I recently attended the above Conference at the Technology Innovation Park, University of Wolverhampton. This Conference was a ‘global gathering’ and brought together established users of PebblePad from Australia and the UK with new users of the system, Canada and America for the first time. PebblePad conferences happen in the UK every 2 years and are renowned for their friendliness, collegiality and the obligatory ceilidh. The two days were brimmed full with the sharing of good practice, inspirational speakers and plenty of ideas to take away. As with any conference, it is good to get totally immersed with like-minded people and hear fresh ideas and approaches to current PebblePad usage from all over the world, by universities and professional bodies alike.
The University of Cumbria has been a user of PebblePad since its inception in 2005, and thus, we were one of the more established users at the event (along with Bradford, Edinburgh and Wolverhampton). We have seen it through its various stages from early ‘Classic’ (remember those plopping pebbles?) to Version 3 (our current version) and to looking ahead at Version 5 which most universities transferred over to this summer. (By way of explanation, we didn’t feel that the product was ‘ready enough’ for our students and staff at this moment in time, as major functions such as ‘Collaborate’ aren’t in the new version yet. They will be by the time we transfer across in the summer of 2017.)
Newer users of PebblePad have solely begun to use Version 5; so-called as it is written in HTML5 which means it will work on any PC, laptop or mobile device and will behave in exactly the same way on whichever device is used. Flash has now been written out of the operating system entirely, which proved so troublesome for Apple-based products for many years. These new users were brimming with ideas of how they currently use the system and are discovering more about it as time progresses. One clear theme that came through is, once students get to grips with using the system, the standard of creative work which emerges out of given tasks is far superior to standard written formats. Version 5 is heralded as the easiest yet to use, with items added via drag and drop.
Some of the ideas being showcased were not new to us, for example, using PebblePad for annual review processes, but others were quite unique, for example, using PebblePad to track dissertation proposals through from initial idea and meetings, through to allocation of supervisors, recording of meetings and collecting all the paperwork surrounding this complex process into one place. What did emerge is that where PebblePad has been enthusiastically adopted, students and staff were reaping good rewards out of the system.
Throughout the course of the two days, I saw demonstrations of how some institutions use PebblePad to map their NMC (Nursing and Midwifery Council) Professional Standards; others use it to track their TTA (Teacher Training Agency) Professional Standards, and many more use it for a variety of ‘soft’ employability skills – equivalent to our Career Ahead offer. Students in many institutions are ‘gifted’ (yes they speak of it as a gift they give to their students) with PebblePad and are expected to use it to chart their development through their studies. Inspiring talks demonstrated how PebblePad were used for health OSCEs (practical assessments); paramedic training, history artefact creation and website design, dentistry to name but a very few subjects. All inspiring stuff.
I particularly liked the use Plymouth make of PebblePad. All students compile a portfolio – called their Compass. There are 4 elements to their portfolio and students are tasked with collecting evidence and reflect on the following areas:
- The Critical and Creative Learner
- The Sustainable and Global Citizen
- The Confident and Competent Professional
- The Resilient and Thinking Individual
If students compile their Compass, overseen by the Employability Skills service they get acknowledgement for the work and recognition for it is added onto their final transcript upon graduation.
A clear pattern emerged, success stories come from institutions who have senior management or service buy-in to PebblePad; where managers model good behaviour; where student support in the use of the system is available and where it is just ‘the norm’. It does make me realise that, in attending an event like this, we are not using PebblePad to its full potential and that it can be used for so much more than it currently is. We will be moving onto a new version of PebblePad next summer and it would be great to get some revitalisation into its use. Showcasing, show-stopping, show-offing – that’s what it’s all about. Let’s make ourselves future ready in our use of this creative and innovative system. If you’d like to talk PebblePad to me anytime, my email is email@example.com
All the presentations and videos can be found here: http://www.pebblebash.co.uk/2016/presentations.aspx
The theme of this year’s Association for Learning Technology Conference (known as ALT-C for short) was “Connect, Collaborate, Create” (press release)
The conference was three full days of keynote speakers and presentations from individuals and groups from a host of UK and international institutions; including Dan Meer and myself from Cumbria. Our presentation was on the “12 Seasonal Tips” initiative that ran at the end of semester-one 2015. Our “slot” was right at the end of the programme on day three, so we had that at the back of our minds during the conference (best till last?!)!
I attended a wide variety of presentations, and have come away with a number of ideas and topics to follow-up.
Below is Ian Livingstone’s keynote recording. All the keynote presentations can be seen here.
Digital capabilities and digital wellbeing were amongst the areas being discussed, with presenters talking about how they were approaching designing and running their CPD offer, acknowledging that “creativity takes courage” when it comes to updating or challenging practice.
The question of Open Badges was raised in a couple of sessions, including one run by City & Guilds who highlighted some of the challenges and opportunities of badges.
The use of analytics was a key theme of the conference, and I saw a number of presentations where speakers were talking about their proposed and actual use of data to help support learning, saying that institutions tend to be “data rich, intelligence poor”. One argument was that students are already used to sharing data outside of the institution, and therefore an electronic footprint of student use of institutional systems would be useful to help monitor engagement and support the student. However, it was acknowledged that data ownership and use was something that should be transparent through clear policies / codes of practice.
The shear amount of online activity (as highlighted by the internet minute), was the inspiration to presentations about the use of media to support learning. This included the use of lecture capture and of systems to help “create / publish / share / discover” media within the institution; one institution even providing a “’DIY film school” workshop for simple tips & tricks to capture video content using the user’s own smartphone or tablet. Copyright, together with OER policies and open licences were also under discussion.
Flipped classrooms, webinars and the blend between physical and virtual spaces were also discussed, with the challenge of providing active learning spaces regardless of the environment being a key theme.
There are some other conference blog posts here.
Overall, a very enjoyable, tiring, challenging and informative conference – and the food and accommodation was good too!
Andy White, AQD