Module design on the Catalyst project

Background

2½ years ago the RAU, in collaboration with UCEM and CCRI, started on the development of four new postgraduate and undergraduate programmes in what’s called the “Catalyst project”. The new programmes are designed to stimulate and support enhanced leadership in the land management and agri-food sectors, especially suited to the post-Brexit era that meets the unprecedented combination of challenges posed by the rapidly changing political, economic and natural environments.

The first stage of the Catalyst project was to write the programme and module specifications. The programmes have been created in conjunction with CCRI and RAU’s industry partners, including the National Trust, Waitrose and National Farmers’ Union, to carefully tailor the programmes to meet skills gaps and respond to changes in industry trends.

Once the specifications were in place, the Learning technology team worked on developing processes for the pedagogical and technical design and development of the programmes and modules.

 

Development of processes

Prior to starting module development we worked with UCEM, who specialise in online education, to develop processes for the design of our modules, taking best practices in pedagogy and online learning into account. Extensive research and conversations with other education organisations has gone into the development of module templates, design processes and academic training.

 

Postgraduate programmes development process

During the second stage of the Catalyst project, we developed two online postgraduate programmes: MBA Innovation in Sustainable Food and Agriculture and MSc Sustainable Food and Agriculture Policy.

We designed a 12-week module design process, with “on-time” training sessions to support the academics in their design and development. This process has been adapted from UCEM’s module development processes and works in stages.

This process uses UCEM’s model named “Student Outcome Led Design (SOLD)”; meaning that the final assessment is designed first, focusing on assessing the module learning outcomes, and the module is designed to develop the skills the students need to complete the assessment.

To kick off the design and development of the modules, the Learning technology team hosts a “Start-up day”, a day-long workshop consisting of multiple stages:

  1. Introductory training in module design, accessibility, design processes, online learning tools.
  2. Module conversations based on question cards designed to stimulate the thought process and familiarisation with the module
  3. Assessment design based on the module’s learning outcomes
  4. Planning “themes” based on the learning outcomes and final assessment
  5. Planning formative assessments – working towards the final assessment
  6. Planning weekly “learning points” i.e. what will the students learn this week?

The Start-up day is hosted with around 6-7 module leads and two Learning technologists in a room to allow for easy sharing of ideas and experiences.

startup day

After the start-up day, the academics go and speak to colleagues, library etc. to gather ideas and resources for their module, prior to a 1-1 design & planning session with a Learning technologist to flesh out the content further into learning activities and to write an action plan for development. This module design is written out into a templated sheet for a Quality review meeting with the programme lead, an additional academic with an interest in the subject and where possible one of our external partners. This meeting is an open discussion to discuss the module design prior to its development.

Once the module design has gone through the Quality review, the module lead, contributors and the Learning technologists develop the online learning activities over the next 10 weeks. The Learning technology team provides academics with templated sheets to write their content in, so it’s ready to be turned into online learning activities and consistent with other modules on the programme. These templates have clear instructions for the academics and links to short training pages. During the whole process, each module has a lead Learning technologist the academics are able to contact when they get stuck, need guidance or would like to brainstorm ideas for an activity. The learning technologists will also create the activities on the VLE.

The full design templates document consists of five steps:

  1. Learning outcomes and questions to think about
  2. Summative assessment(s)
  3. Themes: plan topics and put them in a logical order
  4. Learning points and activities: what will the students learn each week? What activities can be created for the students to learn that and how can they check their learning?
  5. Full activities: write out the content and gather resources and media, to be provided to a Learning technologist using a templated sheet.

During week 7 of the development stage, the Learning technology team hosts an informal “Show & Tell session”, where the module leads get to show off what they’ve done so far and share ideas with other academics going through the process.

Show and tell

In the final week of development, the Quality review team for the module comes together again to discuss the final result.

This process has been repeated twice to develop all modules on the post-graduate Catalyst programmes within an academic year. These programmes have now successfully run for their first year and the programme team has received great feedback from the students.

 

Adapting the process to development of new Undergraduate Catalyst programmes

The third stage of the Catalyst project consists of developing two Undergraduate programmes: BSc Rural Entrepreneurship and Enterprise and BSc Environment, Food and Society. These programmes are more campus-based and focus on innovative teaching methods as well as a proportion of online learning.

For this stage, we used the previous processes and adapted them based on lessons learned, as well as redesigning the templates to work for campus-based teaching. Additionally, we combined our previous processes with UCL’s ABC Learning design methods.

To adapt to the Covid-19 situation, we’ve had to scrap our Start-up days and are now using an online version of UCEM’s Design jam model on a module-by-module basis. For each module, we schedule in an initial three-hour Design jam with two Learning technologists, the module lead and one or two academics with an interest in the subject. As we are all currently working from home, we are using MS Teams and Sharepoint to facilitate the Design Jams: we use a Teams call to be able to discuss and share ideas as a group, while we all have a synchronously updated Word template opened up on Sharepoint to write out the ideas we have for the module design.

The Design Jam consists of a few stages:

  1. Introduction to the process by a Learning technologist
  2. Module basics: Learning outcomes and questions to think about before designing your module
    Module basics
  3. Writing the summative assessment task(s)
  4. Learning overview: weekly topics, learning points (what will the students learn this week) and opportunities to check student learning. Academics are asked to highlight the relevant learning outcomes for each week.
  5. Learning design: the activities, media and resources to be used or created for each week. Activities are designed within four to five weekly stages: Online introduction, Online lecture, Online activities, Face-to-face seminar and Online knowledge check (optional). UCL’s ABC learning design method is used at this stage to provide an even balance of activity types: Acquisition, Collaboration, Discussion, Investigation, Practice and Production.
    ABC
  6. Action planning: an action register is created for the development of the module.

After the Design jam, the academics have some time to discuss their ideas with colleagues, library etc. The module lead, collaborators and Learning technologists work according to the action plan to develop their content. The programme team regularly comes together to check progress and quality of each module.

These programmes will run starting from September ’20.

 

The future

Over the last two years, academics and Learning technologists have learned a lot about online teaching & learning and learning design. A lot of the lessons we have learned during the project have been heavily used during the pivot to online for all RAU programmes when the Covid lockdown started.

Academics who have taken part in the Catalyst project are already using what they’ve learned and the design processes for the modules they run on other programmes. We plan on further expanding the use of the processes to all new and old RAU programmes.

Bigging up communities

The other day Jisc posted a little video taken at Digifest 2020. The video featured Steven Hope, Head of Independent Learning at Leeds City College, Esam Baboukhan, Microsoft Learning Consultant and I chatting about communities. It was the result of a 20 minute session that we took part in as part of the Jisc community champions 2020 activities. You can watch the video here or from the tweet below.

Today I was interviewed by Hannah Tennant from Jisc for an article they are writing on communities. I waffled a lot (as I do) but I think one thing that crystallised for me was how communities have helped us during the Coronavirus period.

The main ways are:

  • Filtering out the noise – there was so much information flying around as we pivoted our courses online but communities helped separate the wheat from the chaff.
  • Collating and organising resources – communities and individuals took all this information and organised it. I saw lots of collated lists with explanations on why these resources were useful.
  • Training – the countless webinars and training events have been a huge help, especially on areas and tools we are relatively new to – like MS Teams. My favourite so far has been the Jisc event on Planning for the end of lockdown online.
  • Sharing best practice – communities have helped us share best practice and come up with consensus as to how we, as the online learning/learning tech sector, should act.
  • Sanity check – for those working in smaller organisations it is often difficult to know if you are on the right track. Communities offer reassurance and allow you to have confidence in your actions.
  • Advocating – communities are a little like mission groups in that they advocate on your behalf to senior management. Being able to cite suggested approaches from an established community makes your case.
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Image from the Planning for the end of lockdown online webinar. Attendees were asked to indicate where on the line they were in starting to prepare for September delivery. How reassuring to see others were also far from ready.

So thanks to some of the communities that have helped so much during this busy time:

  • Jisc – They’ve put on lots of events and surgery sessions, created a Coronavirus page, set up a useful Coronavirus Team site and the Jiscmail groups keep us all going.
  • ALT – They have produced some great reports and their weekly newsletter is essential.
  • AdvanceHE – Lots of very well though out guidance and support.
  • DigiLearn – A great Teams based community with lots of fantastic practical webinars.
  • HELF – Discussions on the Heads of eLearning Forum (HeLF) list are incredibly useful at a strategy level.
  • UCISA –  In particular the Digital Capabilities Group and the Digital Education Group.
  • Twitter – Always useful.
  • OER communities – too many to mention but sharing is most definitely caring.

Digifest 2020: Bears, Holograms and Gen Z

This year’s Digifest transformed the Birmingham ICC into a futuristic looking Blade runner set with Holograms and VR at every corner. I’m not sure we are quite there yet at the RAU but it was still interesting to see. I was there as a community champion but still had time to browse the programme. The opening video was amazing.

AI Hologram presenter

Hearing from Gen Z

Two of this year’s plenaries were delivered by representatives from the Gen Z generation.

Jonah Stillman (co-author of Gen Z Work: How the Next Generation Is Transforming the Workplace) shared some thoughts on the differences between Gen Z (born between 1995 and 2012) and Millenials (born between 1980 and 1994). While the talk didn’t go down too well with the audience (Generational talks rarely do, too much generalisation) I found many of Jonah’s observations rang true. Gen Z are realistic, driven, and exist in a state of survival mode (given the state of our environment and economy). They are also the first generation to grow up with digital, making it nearly impossible to dazzle them with technology. Some have begun to refer to them as the ‘phigital’ generation because they don’t differentiate between the physical and digital worlds and are comfortable in both. These traits have significant implications for how we deliver learning and teaching and the boomers in the audience should listen up!

Jonah Stillman presents

Jonah Stillman presents

In her talk entitled ‘The hidden filter’ Hayley Mulenda shared the inspiring story of her struggle with mental health issues: “I found my degree but I lost myself“. Hayley spoke honestly about her, and her friends’ difficulties in navigating the modern world and student life. Her advice was that we be aware of other peoples hidden filters and don’t aim for perfection, aim for progression. She also appealed to educators to be honest and open with their students: “We don’t need more role models we need more real models“. As institutions we need to be directing people to professional help and support and the sector needs to explore how we can ensure early intervention and engage parents and guardians (when possible).

Here’s one I made earlier

I’m always looking out for ideas I can take back to the RAU. This year my favourites were:

  • Catriona Matthews and the team at the University Warwick have been experimenting with delivering academic skills (those important skills you need students to learn that don’t relate directly to their discipline) in innovative ways. They’ve begun to refer to an ongoing induction and have found 20 minute lecture interventions to work really well, especially when the interventions are practical and contextualised. Also the students attend the session because it is tagged on to a core lecture.
  • Worcestershire council shared their SCULPT framework to help staff create accessible resources. An incredibly useful resource and I’ve already linked to it from our VLE.
  • In his talk on Climate Control on the journey to zero waste Jamie E. Smith, executive chairman, C-Learning talked about how we should making sure the right procurement (and other) policies are in place to make sure we make the best environmental choices in our organisations. Jamie’s suggestions included a move to cloud technology, recruitment processes that included assessment of digital skills, strategic workforce development and flexible working. I enjoyed his story on how he removed all the printers from a previous place of employment! Sometimes radical is the only way!
  • The main coffee break conversation topic was (unsurprisingly) Coronavirus. We compared business continuity plans and shared tales of internal Covid-19 committees. The Microsoft stand was busy with people asking how they could rollout Teams in under a week. The Teams webinar series and the Enable Remote Learning Community could prove useful.
  • The AbilityNet session on accessibility came up with some useful tools including Call Scotlandmy computer my way and my study my way. I also love the idea of microkindness (the opposite of microaggression), it’s really just another name for inclusive design
The accessibility panel

The accessibility panel

The closing plenary on day one was delivered by Lindsay Herbert, Author of Digital Transformation. Lindsay introduced us to the idea of the bear in the room – those problem that drain all your time and will rip your organisation apart. This is contrast to the elephant in the room which of course people chose to ignore. You need to get to the heart of these problems and progress and the rub is that you can’t adapt to major change without technology.

Lindsay presents

Lindsay Herbert presents

Lindsay’s key thoughts and examples were:

  • Real transformation starts with a problem worth solving (that aligns to a mission)
    • Danish oil and natural gas applied their experience to wind energy after asking themselves what was their core mission? Selling oil or providing energy for Denmark?
    • Rijksmuseum decided to go down the no tech in galleries route, but images of all their collections are released as highres on their website, copyright free.
  • Real transformation needs lots of people from lots of sources – it will be too big to solve alone
    • Netflix’s mission is entertaining the world, hence original content. They work with independents, they don’t decide on next big thing by analysing past behaviour, they need expertise from a lot of sources.
    • The Guardian don’t put their content behind a paywall, online is their priority and they have a two tier sponsorship model
    • The United nations refugee agency website wouldn’t display on a mobile phone despite most of their clients using a mobile.
  • Real transformation is learned and earned and not purchased – We tend to outsource when there could be a better way.
    • Ecolab made water purification systems but ended up merging the company rather contracting out work.
    • Harvard had a new tool but university policy dictated a minimum of 5 years experience and it might have been easier to hire freelancers. Instead they c changed the hiring policy.

There was a lot of valuable stuff in Lindsay’s talk and I’ve actually ordered her book. My plan is to get the highlighter out, mark it up and leave it on random senior leaders’ desks! She left us inspired by encouraging us to build wide support for the change want:  “You might not have the seniority to go right up the ladder, but you definitely have the influence to go right across.”

IMG_3883

Integrated Systems Europe 2020

I have just returned from a busy 2 days in Amsterdam for Integrated Systems Europe. ISE is the world’s biggest pro Audio Visual show and boasts 15 halls packed with technology. It really is huge!

Lights!

Lights!

The RAU AV team were invited to attend by GV Multimedia, who are our AV solutions provider. Unfortunately our main AV expert couldn’t make it so I had to visit alone, luckily GV are a very friendly bunch and took good care of me.

I spent my time at the show focused on a couple of key areas:

  • Digital classrooms – I really liked the Wolf Vision visualizer (which allows small objects to be projected on to a display screen for in depth visualization by students) and their Cynap advanced collaboration and wireless projection. These type of systems could offer lots of opportunities for joint working by our students. I now know that there are three main mirroring protocols: Airplay for Apple devices, Miracast for Windows devices and Chrome cast for Android devices. We also looked at the Barco Weconnect set up.
  • Furniture – Lots of tables and room set ups that promote collaborative  working – the most relevant ones were by Top Tec and Team Mate. Some of the huddle spaces would work great in smaller spaces and corridors.
  • Video conferencing cameras and solutions – We spent time looking at Logitech Meetup which is designed for small conference rooms.
  • Portable projectors – Who’d have known how many different types of portable projectors are out in the market! You need to consider throw ratio (the ratio of the distance from the lens to the screen to the screen width), shift range (the ability to move the projector lens), lumens (how bright it is), zoom, size, connectivity, and more. We looked at Casio, Optoma, Epson, Panasonic and others.
  • Room booking – We took a trip out of Amsterdam to visit Extron offices and were introduced to their room booking  tools including wall mounted TouchLink scheduling panels.
Robots

Robots!

There was a lot to take in and lots to learn, but it proved to be a really interesting experience. I mean it’s not every day that you get to see a pole dancing robot – the ethics of this are discussed further in this article.

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Creating 360˚ virtual tours

Using H5P, one of the tools available on Gateway (Moodle, our VLE), you can easily create 360˚ virtual tours: a collection of 360˚ photos, which you can add texts, videos, pictures, links and multiple choice questions to. A 360˚ photo is a photograph which allows you to look in each direction.


Virtual soil, air and water tour

virtual tour

An example 360˚ virtual tour, developed by Dr. Felicity Crotty and Chantal Schipper for Catalyst module “4410 Making a positive impact on the natural environment and rural economy”, can be tried out via the link below:

Creating a virtual tour is surprisingly easy to do. All you need is:

  • A smartphone with the free Google Streetview app installed
  • A tripod with smartphone grip (can be borrowed from ITS if needed)
  • The H5P virtual tour content builder, which is already available on Gateway (our Moodle Virtual Learning Environment – VLE)

Check out the steps below to learn how to create a virtual tour.


Step 1: Planning your virtual tour

Before you go out and take photos, take a moment to think about:

  • What do you want the students to learn from this?
  • What 360˚ photos will you need to take?
  • What information (text, images, videos or links) will you need to give students to be able to achieve the learning outcomes?
  • What questions could you ask to allow students to check their learning?

Check your diary to select a time when you want to take the photo(s) and ask a Learning Technologist if the kit is available. A Learning Technologist may also be able to take the photo(s) for you. If you’re taking photographs outside, check the weather beforehand so it’s not raining.


Step 2: Taking the photographs

streetview

Once you are on location to take your photo(s), set up the tripod with the smartphone rig and insert your smartphone. Note that your smartphone must be kept in portrait mode (upright) for it to work in H5P.

Open up the Google Streetview app and click on the Camera icon on the bottom-right. Follow the instructions on the screen – you will be asked to point the camera at a collection of dots on the screen. Make sure you do not move the tripod until the 360˚ photo is complete, as this may cause odd seams in your 360˚ view.

Once the icon at the bottom turns green, click on it to save your 360˚ photo to your smartphone. You will be able to check your 360˚ photo once it has finished processing. There is no need to upload the photo to Google Maps – just save it on your smartphone.

You are able to combine multiple 360˚ photos together to create a tour of an area.

A video tutorial on using Google Streetview to create 360˚ photos can be viewed below:


Step 3: Creating your tour with information and questions

Before opening up Gateway, hook up your phone to your computer to copy the 360˚ photo(s) from your phone’s photo album (most modern phones have a USB plug in the charger). Alternatively, you could email the photo(s) to yourself from the phone’s photo album, then save them on your computer.

Then, log in to Gateway and go to the module you want to add your virtual tour to. Click on “Turn editing on”, then “Add an Activity or Resource”. Select “Interactive content” (black H5P icon) and click “Add”.

From this step, you will be able to follow the instructions on the H5P Virtual tour tutorial available here:

Once you have finished creating your virtual tour, scroll down to the bottom of the page and select “Save and display”. Do a run-through of your virtual tour to check for any mistakes. If you need to edit your virtual tour, go to the Administration block on the right and select “H5P > Edit settings”,

For any support, please don’t hesitate to contact one of the RAU Learning Technologists (Chantal Schipper, Aurelie Soulier or Marieke Guy).

Summer refresh

This summer we are having a refresh of many of our teaching rooms. Quite a few will be getting new projectors, display screens, white boards and lecterns. In addition some rooms will  receive new sound systems with wall-mounted speakers. In our labs the existing projectors and screens will be replaced by two new projectors and screens and we will be improving interconnectivity between the projectors, screens and other devices.

However from a Learning Technology point of view our most exciting purchase is of five new CleverTouch Plus screens (a mix of 55″ and 65″ screens). CleverTouch are digital touch screens that allow the teacher to deliver more interactive and engaging lessons using a variety of different tools. The CleverTouch Plus LUX screen incorporates an android module and uses android apps alongside annotation tools.

Our academics were very impressed with the screen when it was demoed back in March.

IMG_1426

Over the next few weeks the Learning Technologists will be getting familiar with the screens and delivering basic and advanced training to our academics.

clever

Mahara: Improving the RAU ePortfolio system

Sam Taylor, eLearning Specialist at Catalyst IT, visited the Learning Technologists at the RAU on Thursday. Sam is known worldwide for her knowledge of Mahara and her positive pedagogical approaches to e-portfolios.

Mahara will play a large part of the reflective work on the newly-developed Catalyst programmes: some of the formative and summative assessment will be undertaken on Mahara. We therefore want the platform to be setup in an optimal way for all users.

The aim of the day was to get professional advice on how what is best for our Mahara platform, in terms of both technical specifications and regarding how to best structure our help and support for staff and student users.

 

Sam Taylor from Catalyst IT and the RAU Learning Technologists

Sam Taylor from Catalyst IT and the RAU Learning Technologists

Mahara Features

Thanks to Sam, we established that we might not be making full use of our current Mahara platform (18.04) due to not being familiar with the variety of features available.

As a summary, our current Mahara platform has functions such as:

  • Automatically sending notifications for changes in Terms & Conditions
  • Copying a page from other portfolio
  • Linking to another page from the user’s portfolios
  • Rotating images within Mahara
  • Linking to ‘Help’ (user manual for current version) in context (for each page)
  • Customising assessment status for Smart Evidence (competency framework)

As we discussed the options and technical support, we agreed that we would move to the latest version (19.04) of Mahara this summer, ready for the new Catalyst courses starting in October, which require Mahara for reflective activities and assessment.

This means we will benefit form a plethora of very useful new functionalities that will help us better support and manage groups and templates in Mahara. Here are some of the key improvements:

  • Timeline feature to see progress in portfolio development
  • Improved navigation
  • Improved editor for Smart Evidence (competency framework)
  • Pushing templates to groups and institutions
  • Adding a navigation block to all pages in a collection
  • Opening links in a new tab or window
  • Instructions block in pages
  • Locking blocks and stopping accidental page deletion
  • Copying blocks in context (e.g.: Journal)
  • Peer assessment (block for peers to review external activity)
  • Revoking access to page(s) in case the page is reported
  • Setting up institutional tags
  • Populating pages automatically with tag content
  • Updating a Plan directly in a page
  • Open badges

Using Templates

All templates are found under your ‘Pages and Collections’ with other portfolio pages. There are three types of templates in Mahara:

  • A page made copy-able from a user
  • Group templates – pushed to students or copied from a user
  • Institution templates that can be pushed to all users in an institution

Deep links

During the session, we found out how to create links between Gateway and Mahara so that students and staff are not forced to re-login or navigate via their dashboard to a page, from a link in Gateway.

Rubrics

We also discussed the benefits of e-portfolio rubrics for assessment and we will build a set of resources in Gateway to support our staff using rubrics.

What next?

We will carry on running workshops for staff and we will upgrade to Mahara version 19.04 this summer.

We are also planning to re-design the Mahara Support page in Gateway to include user support, academic guidance, workshops summary and notes and a series of portfolios to demonstrate good practice and the variety of uses of e-portfolios.

We would love to hear about any ideas you have for improving e-portfolio usage.

 

Mahara: designing activities and using groups

A couple of months ago, we posted about Mahara as we were launching a new series of workshops for anyone interested in e-portfolios at the RAU.

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Since then, we have run a practical session about editing portfolio pages. Our six participants ran through on online induction, building their own pages and sharing them. Once completed, they were allocated a digital badge that will now appear in their Gateway profile.

This session will be repeated on the 23rd July for those who missed it.

Last week we were focusing on designing authentic activities for portfolios in Mahara. One of the main advantages of e-portfolios, compared to a Word document for example, is that it can log evidence in a variety of media and reflections whilst showing progress. This means e-portfolios are conducive to students producing authentic original work that can be submitted for assessment.

The sessions produced a lot of questions on alignment to regulations for summative assessment, questions about groups and peer reviewing as well as questions using a portfolio rubric.

It was very energising to see learning design and creativity in action from our academic colleagues!

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Valuable lessons from our visitors

This week we had some visitors to campus to help us with our digital plans.

ABL, ABW and sensemaking

Professor Ale Armellini, Dean of Learning and Teaching at the University of Northampton, came to talk to members of the IT Services team about the recent activities at Northampton. Northampton have consolidated a number of their campuses and moved the vast majority of staff and students to their new Waterside campus. This process has not just about rethinking physical space, it has involved a rethinking of the way they work and teach (‘Waterside ready‘). Academic staff have redesigned their courses using a new Active Blended Learning approach and staff are now working in an Activity-based working way.

Ale talks to the ITS team about developments at Northampton

Ale talks to the ITS team about developments at Northampton

Ale explained that a course follows an ABL methodology if it:​

  • Is taught through student-centred activities to develop knowledge and understanding, independent learning & digital fluency. ​
  • Has a core, collaborative face-to-face component, explicitly linked to learning activity outside the classroom. ​
  • Helps to develop autonomy, Changemaker attributes and employability skills.

The approach offers a new way of looking at dimensions in ‘the blend’ in blended learning. The most important aspects are pre-session exposure to content and sense-making activities.

Ale’s insights were incredibly helpful for our plans for our Catalyst blended learning courses and at the Cultural Heritage Initiative. We spent some time talking about working with Barco and the classroom set up they have at Northampton.

You can see a version of Ale’s slides from last year’s Digifest.

Video, assessment and feedback

Later on in the week Jennie White gave an excellent presentation to our academics on ‘Using video to improve student learning and support assessment and feedback’.

Jennie is a Senior Lecturer and Marketing Programme Coordinator for the BA Marketing, BSc Digital Marketing, MSc Digital Marketing at the University of Chichester. She is a passionate advocate of the use of video to facilitate the learning experience and an award-winning lecturer. She gained 4 awards whilst at Bournemouth University for making an outstanding contribution to student learning, with online seminar delivery, online lectures via video and MP3, interactive discussion boards and research support. Jennie was awarded Lecturer of the Year by the UCSU, 2017, and the Innovation in Teaching award 2018. Jennie shared her experience of using Panopto in teaching and gave some really great tips:

  • Create micro-lectures – bite sized (10 minute) chunks of content
  • Explain the rubric – videos on how you will be assessing
  • Dissertation support – videoing dissertation supervision meetings
  • Flipped classroom – sharing a prerecorded version of the lecture and checking which students have watched it, those that haven’t can’t attend!
  • Pencasts – videoing chalk and talk using paint or other tools, or even just drawing on paper
  • Marking – videoing yourself marking

Our academics were genuinely excited by the session and there are already signs of increased Panopto use.

Jennie presents to our academics. The session was recorded and will be available through Panopto.

Jennie presents to our academics. The session was recorded and will be available through Panopto.

Huge thanks to both our visitors, it is always great to catch up with people just as excited about learning technology as us!

Cracking on with the Catalyst Project

Last week was an incredibly busy one for the Catalyst project.

On Tuesday we had our Catalyst Startup and Staff Development workshop for all academic staff who will be involved in development and delivery of the four new programmes.  Professor David Main, Director of Educational Enhancement at the RAU, led the morning sessions which looked at a review of future skills requirements, draft competency statements and assessment methods for competencies. In some very interactive sessions David had us thinking about the type of students we hope to create through our programmes.

Post it notes and discussions

Post it notes and discussions

In the afternoon we got more digital.

The sessions were led by Madeline Paterson from UCEM, the Catalyst project’s Digital Project Manager. Fiona Harvey, Head of Digital Education at UCEM talked to the academics about their web life so far and how they are already more digital than they realise.

Madeline Paterson and Fiona Harvey ask us about our digital life

Madeline Paterson and Fiona Harvey ask us about our digital life

I presented on the RAU’s digital transformation and reflected on the evidence we have so far (Jisc tracker survey, our VLE review, NSS, LEO, SSS, module feedback) and the current digital landscape. A few stats that provide food for thought:

  • More than a quarter of higher education students are enrolled in least one online course (Babson survey)
  • Today you need to plan for five careers in a lifetime (LinkedIn and Ivestec surveys)
  • Students in England now graduate with average debts of £50,800 (IFS)
  • Only 32% of students in England thought their courses were good value for money (Student Academic Experience Survey)
  • Over the last two years 90% existing data in the world was generated (Science daily)
  • Cheating at UK universities has increased by a third in the last three years (Guardian)

Lynne Downey, VP Online Education at UCEM followed on with an introduction to student experience and student success in the digital arena.

ucem - 9

Her slides covered the three agendas for Technology Enhanced Learning (TEL) and how they can all be achieved through intelligent design:

  • Evangelical: Efficiency and flexibility, as determined by administrators/managers
  • Academic: Expression and freedom, as an extension of the traditional teacher role
  • Designed: Effectiveness and focus, as instruments of student achievement

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Harmonising these approaches is one of the foundations of the UCEM online pedagogical approach. RAU will be using these as part of the Student Outcome Led Design (SOLD) methodology that we plan to adopt for the design of the four courses.

We started to think in a more concrete way about the potential for the courses in activity that had us considering that ‘Teaching online is not the same as teaching face to face, but blended learning is the best of both worlds’. I felt like this activity was a crunch point for the day, the moment when the academics stopped worrying about online and learned to love blended learning. There is so much potential for our courses, it really is very exciting.

After this Fiona Harvey and Peter Stone, Technology Innovation Manager at UCEM gave us a taste of the tools that will form the Learning technology toolset here at RAU. Madeline concluded the day with an overview of guidelines, process, plan and partnership working.

I think our academics were left a little dazed, slightly confused but definitely inspired and enthused about what is to come.

The later part of the week involved interviewing our potential new Learning Technologist. We had a very high caliber of applicants and some difficult decisions had to be made, but luckily the interview team were unanimous on choices. You will be hearing more from our new LTs when they are in post.