We have now advertised for a Learning Technologist to help us develop a wide range of new digital learning experiences drawing on a both online and blended approaches in our friendly team. The Learning Technologist will support the development of innovative digital resources to transform pedagogy for both students and staff.
You can find out more about the Royal Agricultural University (RAU) here.
The Irish Learning Technology Association (ILTA) organised the EdTech Winter Online Conference 2021 Paradigm Shift: Reflection, Resilience and Renewal in Digital Education that took place on 14th-15th January 2021 on Zoom.
Having experimented with using both comics and graphic novels in education boefore which was presented at the Association of Learning Technologists (ALT) Winter Conference entitled ‘It’s Beginning to look a lot like learning. Using Sanako technology to support the language learning process’, in 2016, I was familiar with the potential of the pedagogic value of comics. Having worked in a University Language Centre, I discovered we had Frankenstein The Graphic Novel: Original Text (British English) in the collection. The teacher resource pack had a CD ROM with supplementary audio material. A free sample of the comic is available to download here. What if students continued the story by creating blank comic frames for them to fill in? I used comic templates from Presenter Media and Slides Carnival. Perhaps comics and graphic novels are an important part of visual literacy which can be defined as “…decribing the complex act of meaning making using still or moving images” (Fisher & Frey, 2008: p1). It has been argued that comics “…are on the cutting edge of pop culture” (Fisher & Frey, 2008: p29) Using a popular cultural artifact as a frame can help to engage students. The idea to comibine audio and the comic came from the Star Wars Audio Comics on YouTube available here. Combining two modalities could be argued to have a positive pedagogic impact as a committment to multimodal learning using “semiotic resources” (Bezemer & Kress, 2016: p3).
The’ brave new digital world’ idea in the title of the blog draws on the novel Brave New World by Aldous Huxley in 1932. Perhaps Learning Technologists will support the creation of digital environments by being a “World Controller” (Huxkey, 1932: p38). In the same way that I finished writing this blog post, let us embrace “Brave New Digital Classroom” (Blake, 2013). It’s not all Zoom, Doom & Gloom, but rather Zoom, Boom & Bloom!
Catalina, J (2021) Colorful Comic. Free PowerPoint Template & Google Slides in Slides Carnival (Online) Available at: Themehttps://www.slidescarnival.com/jachimo-free-presentation-template/1393 [Accessed: 14th January 2021]
Bezemer, J & Kress, G (2016) Multimodality, Learning and Communication: A social semiotic frame (Oxon: Routledge)
Blake, R, J, Guillén, G & Thorne, S, L (2020) Brave New Digital Classroom: Technology and Foreign Language Learning (Washington DC: Georgetown University Press)
Classical Comics Ltd (n.d.) Frankenstein The Graphic Novel: Original Text (British English) [pdf] Sample pdf Available at: FrankensteinOriginalTextSamplerOpt.pdf (classicalcomics.com) [Accessed: 14th January 2021]
Fisher, D & Frew, N (eds) (2008) Teaching Visual Literacy: Using Comic Books, Graphic Novels, Anime, Cartoons, and More to Develop Comprehension and Thinking Skills (California, New Delhi, London & Singapore: Corwin Press)
Huxley, A (1932) Brave New World (Great Britain: Penguin Randon House)
McDonald, P (2016), ‘It’s Beginning to look a lot like learning. Using Sanako technology to support the language learning process’ In: Association of Learning Technologists (ALT) Winter Conference, 6th-8th December 2016. Online.
Shelley, M, Bryant, C, Shalvey, D, Wiley, T, Cobley, J, Wenborn, K, Haward, J, Cardy, J, Nicholson, K, Placentino, J & Wheeler, J (2008) Frankenstein The Graphic Novel: Original Text (British English) (United Kingdom: Classical Comics Ltd)
In previous blog posts in the China series, content was created by the Learning Technology team and Bonnie and Lola from SDAU. Therefore, we actively welcome a contribution from a Lecturer who taught on the SDAU project. It is with great pleasure to both work with and interview William Leschallas, Head of School of Real Estate and Land Management. William was able to provide a unique pedagogical insight into the experience of teaching in China in both a face-to-face and online capacity. When I first met with William, he showed me pictures of his China trip and the work students had produced in a group in the form of a poster. We then worked together to adapt a face-to-face assessment task to an online activity.
William was asked a series of questions exploring the theme of the transnational online pivot.
PM: Describe your ‘techautobiography’ in a couple of sentences. A techno-autobiography is the history of your relationship with learning technology in the past.
WL: 2.5 years ago I had no idea about learning technology and I amnow teaching 140 Chinese in Tai’An from my home. It has been so rewarding and great to see the student engagement.
PM: How do you compare the being in China in a F2F capacity to teaching online?
WL: ? I did miss not being in front of the students. Whilst student engagement on my module was good, I think both the students and myself missed out on that face to face interaction. However the quality of the work they produced was still very good.
PM:How did you find adapting your lectures for online learning?
WL: Adapting the lectures was not that difficult as I had to be well organised before going to China.
PM:How did you adapt delivery and content for the interactive sessions?
WL: Building on the answers above this was the most challenging part of the teaching. My subject benefits from seeing how the students react to what is being said and requires team work. The latter is much better placed when done face to face. Therefore I had to deliver in a way that I thought would be interesting and spur them on in the practical activities that were given to them.
PM: How can we improve support for Lecturers for the move to online learning?
WL: I thought the support I was given was excellent. More training on using the technology would be brilliant so that we can be more creative. This applies whether delivering remotely and in the room.
PM: If you could tell the story of the move to online learning in three words, what would your (micro) story be?
WL: Challenging, time consuming, rewarding (apologies 4 words!!)
PM: How did you adapt the poster assessment for online learning?
WL: The poster assessment that I set just needed a clear explanation in the record lectures. Judging by the results this seemed to work. However the students have to take a lot of credit for engaging so well and enthusiastically. Poorang (Poorang Piroozfar also taught on the SDAU project with William for the Y3 Business Practice & Project Management module) managed to achieve the same result with his recorded presentations. Poorang’s presentations also were assessed for 10% of the module so there was an added incentive in our absence.
PM: What was the hardest part of online teaching?
WL: Not knowing how the students were reacting to each lecture. Not knowing how engaged the students were in the online seminar sessions. Not seeing the students in person. See comments below about language
PM: What was the most enjoyable part of online teaching?
WL: Seeing the work the students churned out and the fact that on request, they sent through photographs of themselves working in teams on their projects. We could therefore see them at work, which made such a difference.
PM: What advice would you give to a Lecturer who has not taught on the SDAU project before?
WL: Do not under-estimate the time and care that is needed to prepare and record the lectures and assessments.
PM: How do you think the SDAU project will be in future given the impact of the global impact of the pandemic?
WL: Provided the students like our style and the results are good and we at the RAU learn from our experiences and improve our delivery then no problem. However being face to face makes all the difference especially with the language barrier. This latter point applies to some of my answers above as well.
Reflection: A Pivot with a Pivot. A Digital Wheel within a Digital Wheel. Exploring Hope, Tropes & Pivot Folklore.
From the perspective of a Learning Technologist, I was able to ‘drop into’ the interactive sessions taking place on Zoom. The online classroom can be a challenging online environment to get used to, particularly in light of the “Zoom Gaze” (Caines, 2020) ontology, transparency and “(in)visibility” (Gallagher, Breines & Blaney, 2020). It was fascinating to see how different Lecturers approached planning and delivery of their interactive sessions. The variety of pedagogical approaches really added value to the digital student experience. Whilst training was provided to prepare Lecturers for teaching on Zoom that covered the ways that it is possible to engage students such as sharing scree, using chat, whiteboard and polling, teacher autonomy and Lecturer’s bringing putting their own ‘pedagogical stamp’ on the sessions can be acknowledged. Meeting the Lecturers before the sessions went ‘live’ was a unique opportunity to find out about them, their subject specialism and ideas about online teaching. Drumm (2019) identified the idea of “folk pedagogies” as a way to describe how Lecturers explore their ideas about online pedagogy. It is also the case that Learning Technologists have ideas about how they perceive pedagogical reflections and how to support Lecturers with the online pivot. The critical question is always how can we work together effectively and explore our ideas together? Whatever “folk pedagogies” we have or have not, I would like to thank the Lecturers involved with the SDAU project for their willingness to embrace the challenges that teaching online can bring to make a success of the opportunity (Drumm, 2019). In future, given that it can be argued that teaching online is different from teaching in a tradition face-to-face setting, it may be possible to explore peer review of online teaching in a supportive capacity. The positive student feedback was acknowledged at the RAU & SDAU annual general meeting. I reflected on the AGM in a blog post here.
The term techno-autobiography was discovered in a presentation here (Zheng, 2015). When educators ask themselves what about what their relationship with learning technology has been in the past, it is a powerful process which opens how we can overcome challenges in speculative futures. For me, my techno-autobiography was realised with the awareness that it is possible to be enthusiastic about learning technology, yet critical at the same time. The critical lens through which it is possible to view learning technology is a helpful way to embrace complexity and navigate uncertain pedagogic worlds.
Group 1 of William Leschallas’ student group in the interactive sessions created a poster using the visual structure of an octopus.
In this blog post, tropes were identified as a way to make sense of the transnational online pivot. It has been argued that “…pervasive in everyday life, not just in language but in thought action. Our conceptual system…is fundamentally metaphorical in nature” (Lakoff & Johnson, 2003: p3). After having been award a Global OER Graduate Network (GOGN) fellowship, a picture book about open education was co-created where a question in the survey was asked about animal came to mind when reflecting on open education (Nerantzi, 2020). If it was possible to choose an animal that the project could ‘be’ in a metaphorical sense, perhaps it could be an octopus in terms of seamlessly gliding through the ocean of challenges both technological and pedagogical, perhaps this what Learning Technologists strive to do. The #creativeHE group is a helpful community of practice to support what they call “pedagogical rebels and free-thinking innovators in experimenting with, developing, sharing and getting support for novel learning and teaching ideas” (#creativeHE, n.d.). Perhaps a case can be made for creative approaches to learning technology and further research can be carried into the extent to which creative approaches can cross disciplinary and transnational boundaries to improve the digital student experience. Here’s to the “Brave New Digital Classroom” (Blake, 2013). Here;s to the “Brave New Digital Classroom” (Blake, 2013).
Blake, R, J, Guillén, G & Thorne, S, L (2020) Brave New Digital Classroom: Technology and Foreign Language Learning (Washington DC: Georgetown University Press)
Gallagher, M, Breines, M & Blaney, M (2020) Ontological Transparency, (In)visibility, and Hidden Curricula: Critical Pedagogy Amidst Contentious Edtech in Postdigital Science and Education (2020) [e-journal] (Online) Available at: https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s42438-020-00198-1 [Accessed: 10th January 2021]
Lakoff, G & Johnson, M (2003) Metaphors We Live By with a new afterward (Chicago & London: University of Chicago Press)
Nerantz, C (2020) GOGN Fellowship Project: Co-creating an open picture about open education. http//go-gn.net/research Global OER Graduate Network Blog [blog] 22 October (Online) Available at: http://go-gn.net/research/fellowship-open-picture-book/ [Accessed: 12th January 2021]
Nerantz, C (2020) Open invitation to seed ideas for a collaborative open picture book story about open education, a GOGN Fellowship (Online) Available at: projecthttps://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSemyGWWm4orA72VlEnZ1Gzk8lAkvG_GFWWn8rKOV-_ezapH2g/viewform [Accessed: 12th January 2021]
The RAU & SDAU annual general meeting took place on Thursday 7th January 2021. It was a privilege to be invited to contribute to the meeting and share a summary of the research Marieke Guy, RAU’s former Digital Learning Manager (@digitalrau) and I carried out on the transnational online pivot in 2020. The presentation can be accessed here. The China blog series can be accessed here.
The RAU & SDAU annual general meeting was an opportunity to hear from a range of individuals from both institutions deliver their annual reports and reflections. SDAU staff attended the meeting in a face-to-face capacity on campus, RAU staff attended the meeting in a virtual capacity using Zoom, the popular videoconferencing tool.
A Road Less Translated
We heard from Prof. Ran Zhang Vice President of SDAU in the opening speech with translated version in English.
It was possible to relate to a great deal of what Prof. Ran Zhang was saying particularly the trope, concerning how the “…road ahead is long and striving is the only way forward” and how both staff and students have been “…striving hand in hand, together at heart to overcome challenges posed by the Covid-19 pandemic” (Zhang, 2020). This felt like an incredibly positive narrative, almost poetic, to both in order set the tone of the AGM itself and to share the transnational partnership narrative with SDAU. The translation intrigued me and led me down a path of exploring how we can make sense of translated text in a meaningful way.
Translation has been argued to be a “…a travelling concept” (Kaindl, 2014: p2). a “master metaphor epitomizing our present condition humaine in a globalised and centreless context, evoking the human search for a sense of self and belonging in a puzzling world full of change and difference” (Delabastita, 2009: p111 in Kaindl, 2014: p2). Having worked in a University Language Centre in a technical capacity working with translation and interpreting software called Sanako and having taught English for Academic Purposes (EAP), I was keen to explore translated texts of presentations and the verbal contributions of both institutions. A trope “…can refer to any type of figure of speech, theme, image, character, or plot element that is used many times. Any kind of literary device or any specific example can be a trope” (Literary Terms, n.d.). What tropes have we used and can we use to make sense of transnational learning realities? Transfiction can be defined as “…the introduction and (increased) use of translation-related phenomena in fiction” (Kaindl, 2014: p4). It felt like the stories were telling and the way that language was used in the meeting in a translated capacity and other contexts was compelling and opened up new ways of framing transnational projects. Drawing on fiction as a tool helps us to frame the transnational narrative as an opportunity to tell stories in a collaborative capacity. How can we use the translated realities to create new transnational imaginaries? Whilst it may seem odd to draw on translation as a lens through which to reflect on the AGM itself, it has been argued that translation can be applied in an interdisciplinary capacity in virtue of its “chameleonlike changeability” (D’hulst. 2010: p54 in Kaindl, 2014: p1).
A really positive message from Prof. Ran Zhang was that the “…epidemic did not stop the pace of cooperation. Our cooperation was more profound, more extensive and more fruitful” (Zhang, 2020). The use of the word “pace” invoked the idea of acceleration and speed.
The part of the speech exploring the idea of building “…a community with a shared future for mankind in higher education” reminded me of the question of the purpose of education. This question has a long genealogy. For example, in the Robbins Report in 1963, it is acknowledged that “The question is not a new one” and the goes on to ask “…what purposes, what general social ends should be served by higher education?” (London. The Robbins Report. 1963, p6).
I was required to submit my presentation a few days before the meeting itself for the purposes of translation. It would have been interesting to see the translated version.Whilst it is important to “…to acknowledge a plurality of aims”, it is identified that “There are controversial issues here concerning the balance between teaching and research in the various institutions of higher education…” (London. The Robbins Report. 1963, pp6-7). The tension between teaching and research is an issue I discussed in the presentation I delivered. It was argued that research-informed practice was an important professional value.
The final message about friendship and fruitful cooperation was also positive. Ultimately, learning is about relationships and I hope this transnational partnership will also continue to be “fruitful” in a cooperative capacity (Zhang, 2020).
Prof. Neil Ravenscroft, Pro Vice Chancellor at RAU then delivered a speech. I am very grateful to both Prof. Neil RavenscroftandDr Xianmin Chang, Associate Pro Vice Chancellor for the opportunity to be involved with the AGM. Steve Finch, Director of China Programmes, who taught on the cohorts during both summer and winter in 2020, Tiger Wang, Director of RAU China Office & Daniel Wang, Deputy Director of RAU China Office were also present.
Lola Huo, who supported the SDAU project, contributed to a blog post about the SDAU project previously with Bonnie Wang here, delivered a presentation. We are very grateful for the contribution of both Lula Huo and Bonnie Wang to the SDAU project.
It was helpful to see how staff and students from SDAU experienced what I had been curating from RAU in both synchronous (interactive sessions) and asynchronous (pre-recorded lecturers in Panopto) capacities.
Lola’s thoroughly presentation included key points from the digital learning evaluation which was positive.
Imaginaries have a rich genealogy and application and can be argued to be “…a jargon term that has been gaining currency in a number of social sciences” (Nerlich & Morris, 2015). A history of the term imaginaries and the different types including sociotechnical imaginaries can be found here (Nerlich & Morris, 2015). Castoriadis explored the imaginary and the “institution” in the book The Imaginary Institution of Society (Castoriadis, 1987: p115). Having studied Philosophy at Durham University, I discovered discussions about imagination in The Imaginary: A Phenomenological Psychology of the Imagination by Sartre. The critical question is how can we collectively re-imagine the transnational partnership?
It could be argued that the AGM itself was a multimodal experience in that visual, audio, and video modalities were present simultaneously. Multimodality can be defined as “…representations in many modes…” (Kress, 2010: p22). One of the core findings from the poster presentation delivered at the University of East London Learning & Teaching Symposium and the and the presentation delivered at the University of Manchester #ChinaHE2020 China and Higher Education: Navigating Uncertain Futures conference was that multimodal learning was identified as a significant type of learning that was taking place. I have explored multimodality in the context of technology enhanced language learning (TELL) in a blog post for the Association of Learning Technologists (ALT), in the Twitter conference, PressEd Conference in 2019 and at the MFL Twitterati conference in 2019 oragnised by the Association for Language Learning (ALL). Perhaps the presentations containing both text and image were more powerful than those containing text alone. Potentially, the case for the multimodal imaginary is compelling.
There is a sense that the transnational online pivot has enabled us to travel “…through sociocultural space” (Kaindl & Spitzl, 2014). I concluded the presentation I delivered with a tweet from Virna Rossi, an Education Developer (@VirnaRossi) which I also discussed in the presentation co-delivered with @MariekeGuy at the University of Manchester #ChinaHE2020 conference in December 2020. The slides are available here, blog post here, and recording is here. The idea of of the university operating in a “…translocal…[and] transtemporal form…” is compelling (Ross, 2020). This echoes the idea of translation as acting as a ‘deterritorialisator’, perhaps “virtual space” creates “non-places” (Rapport & Dawson, 1998: p6 in Kaindl, 2014: p3).
It felt like what was discussed in the SDAU AGM helped us reflect on what the university is and what it could be in the context of adaptive, resilient, and hopeful transnational partnership. Lost in Translation was a film in released 2003 exploring how strangers meet in Tokyo (IMDB, n.d.). The title of this blog draws on the notion of being ‘lost’ but then also stresses being ‘found’, a critical transformational process. This blog is entitled the ‘RAU Digital Trasformation’ blog. Supporting the SDAU project through the lens of learning technology has truly been a transformational opportunity.
Guy, M (2020) The Certainty of Uncertainty: Transnational Online Pivot in China Digitalrau.wordpress.com, Digital Transformation Blog [blog] 11 Dec (Online) Available at: https://digitalrau.wordpress.com/category/china/ [Accessed: 10th January 2021]
Exploring the Association of Learning Technologists (ALT) Online Winter Conference.
2020 has undoubtedly a dynamic year for the learning technology community. The Association of Learning Technologists (ALT) Online Winter Conference is the “…longest established online conference” (Association of Learning Technologists, 2020). The event took place on Monday 16th-Wednesday 16th December 2020 on the Blackboard Collaborate platform. The conference sessions were divided into four main types: plenary, parallel, webinar and social and reflected both the opportunities and challenges facing Learning Technologists.
I am grateful to Martin Hawksey (@mhawksey), the Chief Innovation, Community and Technology Officer for the Association of Learning Technologists (ALT) who provided pre-conference support sessions in Blackboard Collaborate to ensure presenters could make use of break out rooms, use the chat function, and share screen or content. He set up a sandbox session for us to practice using the features.
On Monday 16th December, the Association of Learning Technologists (ALT) Radio Show took place on The Thursday Night Show internet radio station. The first ALT Radio show took place Association of Learning Technologists (ALT) Online Summer Summit in August 2020 here. I blogged about my experience of being a Learning Technologist DJ here. Learning Technologists produced their own radio shows with music for 30 minutes. The first set was from Alex Spiers, Senior Learning Technologist at London School of Economics Eden Centre for Education Enhancement (@alexgspiers). Alex played some tracks from Scottish artists. Sarah Honeychurch, Teaching Fellow at University of Glasgow, (@NomadWarMachine) & Niall Bar, Software Developer at University of Glasgow (@niall_barr) were up next and played an eclectic mix of songs including tracks from Belle & Sebastian and the classic ‘Jump’ by Van Halen. Richard Price, EdTech Advisor to the NHS (@RichardPriceUK) and Lyshi Rodrigo, Training Manager at Nord Anglia Education (@lyshendri) co-hosted their show and interviewed each other about their journey into learning technology. A recording of their show is available here. Dominic Pates (@dompates), Senior Learning Technologist (Relationship Lead) from City, University of London organised all the Learning Technology DJs in terms of the support technical setup and checking connection. He also played two sets. His first set was a track from each of the cities in which the annual conference was held in the past from Liverpool to Edinburgh which was a really good idea. Keynotes from previous conferences are available here. His second set was entitled ‘Jungle Bells’ which involved a mash up between jungle beats and traditional Christmas songs.It was truly inspired!
After Dominic, in the capacity of Notorious P.I.P as a DJ name, I played a set of technology themed songs including ‘Home Computer’ from Kraftwerk. My aim was to include an aspect on learning technology with each song. For example, ‘More Data’ by Negativland and ‘Computer Says No’ by DJ-Kicks (Mount Kimbie) [DJ Mix]. One of the highlights could be argued to be ‘Error Chord (Intro)’ by Windows95Man. I am sure we can all relate to ‘Computer Says No’. Hardy Milts, who supported me with technical set up using Mixxx, free DJ software, and is Thursday Night Show star, played the last set of the night. Check out his previous sets here. I am grateful to Hardy, Dom and The Thursday Night Show or ‘TTNS’ radio family.
Be Techy, Merry & Bright
I have presented at the Online Winter Conference three times. In 2016, I presented ‘It’s Beginning to look a lot like learning. Using Sanako technology to support the language learning process’. In 2019, I co-presented, ‘Live Participatory Collaborative Fiction’. In 2020, . I was lucky to have an opportunity to present at the conference having successfully submitted a proposal. I adapted, created and presented Cards Against Learning Technology game for a 50 minute session on Tuesday 15th December. Gamification has been a popular approach to enhance pedagogy. I developed a professional interest in games-based approaches and presented at the Association of Learning Technologists (ALT) East England group event at University of East Anglia (UEA) entitled Now I’ve Seen Everything: Opening & Closing the Pedagogical Eye to Gamification & VR-enhanced Language Learning‘.
All I Want for Christmas is a Game
Learning Technologists create a range learning experiences to engage students including escape rooms. Perhaps it could be argued that it is time Learning Technologist to have the opportunity to play a game themselves? A playful, creative and safe space to explore what we do, our evolving professional identities, to have fun, laugh, and play in a collaborative capacity is important for our community. The original Cards Against Humanity game was designed to be played in a face-to-face capacity with physical cards. It is also possible to play the game in an online capacity (TechRadar, 2020).
Like teaching and learning in institutions all over the world, the Cards Against Humanity game has had to make the ‘pivot’ to an online game reflecting the impact of the pandemic. How was it possible to adapt the card game for Learning Technologists? I created multimodal cards with animations with different rounds. Given that the game itself and the company who created the game can be argued to be controversial, it was fundamental to create relating to learning technology in a non-offensive capacity reflecting the professional interests of the community (Brooks, 2016). I wanted to concentrate on the positive aspects of the game and how the structure could be used to engage players. There are numerous expansion packs for the game. The cards I created were like a Learning Technology expansion pack. The game provided a simple ‘fill in the blank’ structure to help engage conference participants with specific frames and prompts. Using a simple structure was really helpful – “The biggest enemy of thinking is complexity” (De Bono, 2009: p176).
Having observed the range of new features that emerged such as using video waiting rooms in Zoom creative and engaging ways, I was keen to set the tone of the ‘playful’ and almost ‘un-conference’ session by playing music such as Perhaps, Perhaps, Perhaps by Enoch Light to set the tone of the session (Zoom, 2020). This was consciious curatorial effort to create a fun, free, participatory and exploratory game space to create the right online environment for a post digital online game experience. Having previously carried out research on the use of multimodal learning, I attended the talk by Dr. Carl Hayden-Smith hosted by the UCL Centre for Multimodal Research entitled ‘The Multimodality of Contextology, Double Consciousness and Holotechnica‘ on on 17th December. Carl talked about the importance of building in agency to experiences. I felt hat in the game I created, I was also designing it to to actively encourage the agency of the players.
In the original game, the white card set provide prompts to fill in the blanks on the back cards. In the adapted Cards Against Learning Technology game, the white cards were contributions encouraged from players either in the chat or by speaking on the microphone, almost like activating the ‘cards in our minds’. The white card round encouraged players to create and share a longer and more challenging yet fun narrative.
In terms of preparing for the session. I carried out research into the genealogy of the game. I discovered that creating your own game is actively encouraged and it is possible to download a template for free . It is also possible to ‘suggest a card’. The company who makes the game also offer scholarships in science and support women in STEM (Cards Against Humanity, 2020) It felt like a card game could actually teach us a lot about post digital pedagogical possibilities particularly in relation to an open approach.
Post Digital Comfort & Joy
It has been argued that “postdigital living” can be “unsettling” (Selwyn & Jandrić, 2020: p989). Playing a game during the pandemic could be argued to be a ‘rebellious post digital act’ in a collaborative way and can help our learning technology community support each other. The session was not an academic presentation so it did not feel important to explore what post digital pedagogy might mean. “The definitions used do not hold “…critical value but…[they have] utility in exposing issues within the contemporary digital landscape” (Taffel, 2016 in Fawns, 2018: p142). Whilst the pursuit of academic definitions is not as crucial as the context, the use of ‘post digital’ is used to highlight the human element of being a Learning Technologist. As a ‘post digital player’ or ‘post digital actor’, Learning Technologists are provided with an opportunity to articulate their ideas in real time as a response to the prompts on the black cards, sharing stories, challenges, identities, and success. Games can be argued to activate ‘post digital agency’.
“Last Christmas, I gave you a game. The very next day, we played it again…with the new Expansion Deck”
In addition to the cards, I also created different rounds for example a picture round where popular memes from 2020 were used as a visual prompt relating to Learning Technology. What advice would Baby Yoda from The Mandalorian give to a Learning Technologist?
Having been involved with the @FemEdTech shared Twitter account in 2019, it felt important to include a #FemEdTech card. I was inspired by Dr. Sue Black’s (@Dr_Black) journey into technology and contribution to Bletchley Park where I visited in 2017.
I used Presenter Media to create the animated videos and create the different rounds in the game. For example, a virtual fruit machine.
After responses to the stimulus card were shared, in some cases, this promoted a further discussion on the ideas such as a response about auto captioning raised a further comment on digital accessibility. One of the cards explored the theme of surveillance capitalism which prompted a post-card comment about issues around proctoring that the Learning Technology community have been concerned about (Chin, 2020). Another card invited players to reflect on what makes Learning Technologists’happy’ which prompted a further comment about the impact of screen time and the suggestion of glasses with BlueGuard technology as a wellbeing idea. Another card led to a commenr from the Chair, Carrie Ann Walton, a Learning Technologist from the NHS and educational researcher (@CarrieAWalton) about what she had been studing at the Open University. It was also possible to create alternative and creative scenario based cards such as a ‘bingo ball’ round where a machine selected a ball from a ball pool which revealed a card.
One of the ‘player participants’, Robert Falmer, responded in the chat with this response – “Technology is an agnostic pedagogy”. At the end of the session, the Chair, Carrie Anne Walton and I discussed who we felt the winner of the Cards Against Learning Technology could be and we felt his response was incredible and in virtue of this he was our winner. The winner receives a Cards Against Learning Technology mask.
When I completed teacher training, I came across the head, heart, bin & bag tool (Hunter, 2020). This tool was used in the previous presentation at the Association of Learning Technologists (ALT) Online WInter Conference in 2019. It felt like an appropriate tool to provide the structure for a collaborative reflection task about the game at the end of the session. Head corresponds to something you will remember from the session, heart refers to how you felt during the sessions, bin means something to forget and finally bag provides an opportunity to identify a ‘takeaway’ for example into your own context.
Feedback & Feedforward
Cards Against Learning Technology received some positive feedback on Twitter.
In future, I would like to improve the game for example by using a tabletop simulator to make the game experience more authentic. Cards Against Learning Technology was played in a synchronous capacity during the live conferecne session. Therefore, a future potential development could include an asynchronous component. I had been reflecting on the fundamental sociomaterial shift of how we carry out daily activities and wondered to about the extent to which the game will “…continue what is emerging as a productive speculation on future relationships between technology and the project of education” (Knox, 2019: pp357-358). Digital can be understood as capital (Knox, 2019: p361). Pehaps online games could be argued to have ‘post digital capital’.
Carrie Ann Walton, a Learning Technologist from the NHS and educational researcher (@CarrieAWalton) chaired the session. She contacted me prior to the presentation and supported me with monitoring the chat and shouting out responses. I really would not have been able to run the session without her support. She hopes to use a game in her own context ‘Cards Against Learning & Development’. I was grateful that she got involved in the discussion around the topics and themes emering from the cards which really helped to engage with players such as when we discussed Second Life and her recent work at the Open University.
One of the conference highlights was the idea of “hauntology” and the “spectral presence” to understand the ontology of online presence with a “haunted subject” (Henriksen, 2016: p37) in the session delivered on Wednesday 16th December entitled ‘To Be And Not To Be: Physical Absence and Virtual Presence in Online Learning’ delivered by Dr. Stuart Taylor, University Tutor at University of Glasgow (@SJamesTaylor), and Dr. Ingeborg van Knippenberg, Lecturer at Edinburgh Napier University (@icvk).
Other significant highlights of the conference include the Opening Plenary exploring a new ethical framework for Learning Technology with Sharon Flynn, Project Manager of the Enhancing Digital Capacity in Teaching and Learning project at the Irish Universities Association (@sharonlflynn), Natalie Lafferty, Head of the Centre for Technology and Innovation in Learning at the University of Dundee (@nlafferty), John Traxler, Professor of Digital Learning in the Education Observatory at the University of Wolverhampton, Bella Adams, Director of Information Technology at University of Sheffield (@bellaabramsIT), and Lyshi Rodrigo, Training Manager at Nord Anglia Education (@lyshendri). Another significant highlight was the ‘Telling Data Stories: a tool for thinking about higher education, surveillance & ethics’ session delivered by Jen Ross, Senior Lecturer and co-director of the Centre for Research in Digital Education at the University of Edinburgh (@jar) and Anna Wilson, Lecturer in Lifelong Learning at the University of Stirling (@anwstirling) exploring co-designing with Speculative Data Stories The can be accessed here.
God Rest Ye Merry Learning Technologists – A ‘Joyful & Triumphant‘ Community
The Learning Technologist of the Year Awards Ceremony and presentation of the Community Awards took place at the end of the last day of the conference on Wednesday 16th December. A wonderful moment was when the #altc community won the Community Award:
The recording of the Cards Against Learning Technology session is available here.
Follow the #altc hashtag on Twitter to explore tweets about the conference.
Association of Learning Technologists (ALT) (n.d.) (Online) Available at: ALT Conference https://www.alt.ac.uk/altc [Accessed: 17th December 2020]
Association of Learning Technologists (ALT) 2020 ALT’s Online Winter Conference 2020 Celebrating Learning Technology practice, research and policy Online Winter Conference Speakers 2020 [Online]. [Accessed: 14th December 2020] Available from: https://altc.alt.ac.uk/online2020/
Association of Learning Technologists (ALT) 2020 ALT’s Summer Summit 2020 Learning Technology in the time of crisis, care and complexity (Online) Available from: https://altc.alt.ac.uk/summit2020/#gref [Accessed: 14th December 2020]
Fawns, T (2018), ‘Postdigital education in design and practice’, [pdf] Postdigital Science and Education, pp. 135-143 (Online) Available at: file:///C:/Users/pipso/AppData/Local/Temp/Fawns2019_Article_PostdigitalEducationInDesignAn-2.pdf [Accessed 14th December 2020]
Taylor, S & Van Knippenberg, I (2020) ‘To Be And Not To Be: Physical Absence and Virtual Presence in Online Learning. Association of Learning Technologists (ALT) Online Winter Conference. 15-16th December 2020, Online
While the RAU has had Mahara for sometime we have unfortunately not been using it effectively as an assessment tool. Hopefully this will change soon and there are plans to use e-portfolios extensively on the new Catalyst blended-learning courses.
In order to get our academics up to speed we have launched a series of group workshops aimed at anyone interested in using an e-portfolio for student assessment. The sessions are led by Aurelie Soulier with additional support from the Learning Technology team.
Yesterday was our first session entitled e-portfolios: What are they and what’s in it for me and my students? There was some useful discussion on people’s previous experiences of using e-portfolios (not always good!) and possible uses of the tool.
Aurelie introducing ePortfolios
The next sessions will be more hands on and start looking at our own e-portfolio tool in more detail.
Introducing Mahara: a basic introduction to editing
Wednesday 29th May, 3-4:30pm, Glass room, EJ
Using Mahara: Designing learning activities and assessment, and using groups
Wednesday 3rd July, 3-4:30pm, Glass room, EJ
Advanced Mahara: Using competency frameworks
Wednesday 24th July, 3-4pm, Glass room, EJ
You will have had to attend previous workshops, or be familiar with Mahara, to attend this session
Mahara for Dissertation management
Wednesday 4th September, 3-4pm, Glass room, EJ
Mahara as a CV builder
Wednesday 18th September, 3-4pm, Glass room, EJ