Latest Event Updates
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.
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.
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):
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 firstname.lastname@example.org
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
Esther Jubb gives us the lowdown on the recent Blackboard World conference
In early 2016, without actually expecting to be accepted to the conference, I put in a presentation proposal to the Blackboard World 2016 Conference in Las Vegas. The presentation planned to talk about the changes and developments that we have been working on in relation to our use of Blackboard during the last 18 months. In the background, many of the changes that we have been working on is an Exemplary Course Programme and the presentation proposal was to discuss how we were using the rubric that supports this programme to identify and drive much of our work. Having been accepted to the conference and being briefed on how the panel session would run I packed my suitcase and flew 10 hours to Las Vegas.
Blackboard World is a very large conference 3000 plus delegates, large expo hall with lots of learning technology vendors keen to talk to you about your learning technology needs (and to give you free gifts; caps, charging cables, t-shirts, bottle openers…) parallel sessions that start at 8:15am and finish at 6:00pm, additional workshops and keynote sessions and lots of opportunities to indulge the geeky side of your personality.
Despite some wicked jetlag I attended a whole variety of sessions. My first session was an interesting presentation from Charles Darwin University on Developing an Integrated Student Learning Universe; putting students at the centre of all technology developments and taking a 3 layer approach:
- Learner engagement needs
- Learner facing systems
- Underlying technology architecture
I also attended a session from Johns Hopkins University on their approach to supporting staff new to teaching fully online distance learning programmes. My favourite session, in terms of making me think about my role at the university and how we better make use of learning technology, was run by staff from IBM on design thinking. Not only was this an introduction to something new….it was an interactive session where we started to engage with the approach of design thinking.
Youtube video quick overview Design Thinking:
Youtube video Tim Brown (creator of design thinking) talking about Design Thinking:
Part of the problem with such a large conference is that it is difficult to choose between 10 different sessions in any one parallel slot and not every session lives up to the description so you then feel that you’ve wasted a valuable session! My overall reflections on the conference were, that although we do have plenty of work to do in our use of learning technology, we are heading in the right direction; ensuring that the student experience is consistent and what we promise them, using the affordances of the technology to support the learning that our students need to prepare them for their future aspirations, and getting the most out of our learning technologies. Finally, how did my presentation go? There were about 60 people the room, the feedback was excellent with all those who provided feedback saying that they thought the session was useful to them, which is what you want to achieve from talking about the interesting and exciting things that you’re doing.
Dr Esther Jubb, AQD
For staff new to teaching in higher education we provide a ‘taught route’ to professional recognition through the PGCert.
This flexible programme provides you the opportunity for you to develop you knowledge and understanding of the practice of teaching and the support of student learning in HE, and advance your professional; skills within your own working context.
Details on how to apply can be found on the website.
We’re a modest bunch in the Innovation team but having a quick look at some of the feedback we received recently, we gave ourselves a pat on the back.
Click the image to view.
This year’s Learning and Teaching Fest will be held on Thursday 30th June 2016 on our Fusehill Street campus. The theme of this year’s Fest is “Engaging Students in Learning” a topic which covers a broad spectrum of practice and will allow us to showcase some the best and most original practice at UoC and our partner Institutions.
Online registration is now open.