Dan Axson and Kitty Horne caught up with Dr Maren Deepwell, CEO of ALT, Mary Agnes Krell, Senior Lecturer in Media and Film Studies and Dr Tamsin Hinton-Smith, Senior Lecturer in Higher Education. We talk about all things technology, learning technology, favorite shortcuts and apps we couldn’t live without. We also discuss their formative technology experiences, how technology and equality are an embedded aspect of the PGCertHE and how the learning technology landscape has changed over the last 12 years.
A note on audio (again…). I couldn’t mic everyone, so I thought I had enough coverage with the two table top mics and a Blue Snowball, however I forgot to press record on the iPad (for the Snowball) so apologies to Kitty, who has a very quiet audio as a result.
How it was made.
Two standard table top mics into Zoom H4n
Blue Snowball into iPad
Forgot to press go on iPad for the Snowball (Sorry Kitty)
Salvage audio in Adobe Audition
Record Intro and Outro with Table top mics into Zoom H4n
When you hit your bed at night do you sometimes feel that you haven’t achieved what you hoped to? If so, you may be helped by using online organisational tools. When many of us start a project, big or small, we often start by writing lists, but writing and lists are linear and our thoughts aren’t. Consequently using alternatives to text and lists can increase our productivity. The common feature of my favourite organisational tools is that they are non-linear and visual and this helps us formulate our thinking and plan our time. That is why in the TEL team we use organizational tools to help us run our day and to be more productive.
Let me start with an example. Writing this blog post was not the only thing I needed to do today. There were a number of other competing tasks. However with the help of a project management board I am able to timetable and prioritise this task. Today, writing this blog post was at the top of the agenda.
Having prioritised this blog post as my top task for the day, the first thing I did was to draw a mind map of the things I wanted to say in the post. I had a host of ideas but how could they be organised? I used a second organisational tool that helps me organise my day-to-day work life – a mind map. Mind maps can be a paper exercise but there are several n big advantages to using computer-based tools.
It is important at this point for me to note that the tools this post introduces will be of interest to you but the same organisational tools will be of use to students. It is a good idea to introduce tools like this to your students because they can help them organise lecture notes, organise their thinking and they are a great way of getting started on an essay. Furthermore there are some important accessibility barriers that these tools help students overcome, making your teaching more inclusive to all students whatever their background or circumstances.
Trello is project management software that we have mentioned before. I have a number of boards on Trello including the high stakes projects I am working on and the day-to-day management of tasks including email responses and so on. Depending on the type of project on which I am working the board may be collaborative with other team members or private to me.
In my opinion thes greatest strengths of Trello are its usability and its flexibility. Trello is highly featured but it is also simple to use. It allows you to easily and quickly visualise the tasks you and others in your team are engaged with and their current status.
You have a row of column titles that can be whatever what. In my day-to-day planner, they include stalled tasks, pending tasks, active tasks, awaiting review and ongoing tasks. The cards can have:
labels indicating the type of task they represent
a checklist of things that need to be met before completing the task
a due date
You can create a Trello card from an email just by forwarding the email to the special email address provided for each board.
Cards can easily be moved from column to column – for example in my day-to-day planner I can move a task from pending to active by simply dragging the card to the new column.
Mind mapping is a useful activity to me because I can throw down ideas as they come, in whatever order. An important element of the mind map is that I can easily move these ideas about because once I have included everything I can think of I start to categorize and structure them into an intelligible plan or argument.That is where using post-it notes or software is better than using pen and paper where the representation of ideas can become fixed.
MindView is great because it is easy to drag and drop items and make a hierarchy of connected ideas. It is easy to make MindView visual as you you can easily add pictures from its own stock of images, from the web or from your own collections. It is easy to grab text from different sources and pull them into your mindmap. Furthermore, it’s easy to order your ideas and give an estimation of how long they will take.
All these features make it an extremely useful tool, but its real strength over other mind mapping software is its ability to convert the thinking that has gone into creating the mindmap and ordering the ideas into the next stage of the project. For example you can switch your view of your ideas into a Gantt chart. Perhaps the most useful thing you can do though is convert your mind map into a Word document or Powerpoint so your ideas can easily become the start of an essay or report., and you don’t need to throw away or rewrite your thinking.
The beauty of organisational tools is that they help us plan our time, keep track of our ideas and structure our thinking into clear plans and documents. These management tools help all of us and are particularly helpful to those among us who struggle to assimilate concepts and make clear arguments.here are a number of tools available that can make us more productive in our working days. I use the two the above but there are many alternative organisational tools. The university has a site license for MindView and it is compatible with Windows or Mac, but not mobile devices. Other mind mapping tools, such as Mindmeister and bubbl.us can be used on mobile devices but do not have the advantage of converting to Word or PowerPoint.
You can find more useful digital tools in our A-Z of apps.
Daniel Hajas is a PHD Student at the University of Sussex, working multisensory experiences, with special emphasis on the topic of using mid-air haptic interfaces for science communication in the Sussex Human Computer Interaction lab.
As part of our Digital Accessibility series I caught up with Daniel about his experience of losing his sight at age 17. A crucial time in education and just as he was planning his university journey. Daniel talks about his experience of this, the challenges and how he was supported, along with some tools he uses. Daniel finishes by giving some great advice. Check it out on Spotify below. Or subscribe and listen on Apple Podcasts or Anchor.FM
Each time i record a podcast, I do something different. Still trying to find the right tools or the easiest tools for the job. It’s also quite fun playing around with different combinations of tech. So from here on in, until I settle on a preferred set up I will list (in brief) the tools and workflow I used.
For this show:
Twin lapel mic and iPad for interview
Record into Otter.ai app for iOS
Export audio to GarageBand to try and fix audio
Record host intro and outro with Blue Snowball and MacBook Pro into GarageBand
Twitter is a great companion for academic conferences – before, during and after the event, the micro-blogging platform can expand and deepen the experience. This post offers some ideas for making the most of Twitter at your next conference.
Building a conference community with a hashtag #
If you are organising a conference, make sure you have a good hashtag and share it widely. Here are some things to think about when choosing a hashtag:
Search Twitter to see that your preferred hashtag is not already in use.
Keep it short and simple – for example, we used #SussexDDW for Digital Discovery Week.
If yours is an annual event think about adding the year to the hashtag – such as the British Educational Research Association’s #BERA19.
Use ‘CamelCase’ to capitalise words in your hashtag to make it accessible – like this #EachWordCaps
Add the hashtag to the conference programme and any promotional materials.
Tweet early and often, from the call for papers through to registration and the programme. This will raise awareness of the hashtag and encourage its use.
If you are attending a conference, check out the hashtag in advance so you can join in the conversation.
On the day there are likely to be some people ‘live-tweeting’, that is, reporting on the conference as it happens by tweeting. You might want to join in, so here is the etiquette around conference tweeting:
Ask permission – unless organisers or presenters have explicitly said it is okay to tweet about what is being presented.
Only tweet photos of people if you have explicit permission from them.
Always attribute quotes – preferably using the speaker’s Twitter name (handle).
Always include the conference hashtag.
Remember tweets are completely public – so be polite and professional.
Live tweeting from a conference can be an engrossing activity and you may be wondering how to find time to tweet whilst listening and making notes. I use Twitter as my note-making system at conferences. I tweet the key messages I want to take away and if others make good points or ask interesting questions I want to think about later I ‘like’ or retweet them. At the end of the event I have a collection of tweets that sums up the event for me.
For those attending an event, Twitter provides an additional space for interaction and networking. Delegates can compare notes about parallel sessions, continue discussions and develop the conversation by linking to related resources.
If you cannot be at the event, following a conference hashtag is a great way of participating remotely. It is also good to bring other voices into conference conversations (see ‘Being there – or not?’). As this visualization of the tweets using a particular conference hashtag shows, there can be varying degrees of interaction. This conference had 150 delegates attending, but the visualisation shows nearly 3 times that many nodes – each representing a unique user using the hashtag on the day of the conference.
If you are speaking at a conference, you might want to consider sharing your slides on Twitter at the start of your session to engage this wider audience. Free tools such as Hootsuite and Buffer will let you schedule your tweets in advance.
Curating and sharing conference tweets
After the event you may want to gather tweets (yours and other people’s) together and present them in a more structured way. If you have been using Twitter as your note-making tool then this will be particularly important. It can also be a great way to build a resource that can be saved and shared.
Twitter has its Moments tool which allows you to do this (only available on twitter.com, not mobile apps). When creating a Moment you can include tweets:
The fourth annual Poll Everywhere UK User Group Event was held on Thursday 11th April 2019 at the University of Liverpool. This year’s User Group focused on the theme of ‘Increasing student engagement’ and was attended by around 60 delegates from higher education institutions across the UK.
The morning featured four presentations from academics using Poll Everywhere at different universities around the UK. Speakers’ presentations addressed a variety of different themes including gamification, engagement and feedback. This year’s presenters were:
Dr. Rosamond Watling, Regent’s University – Enabling and empowering students using open-ended questions.
Gustavo Espinoza-Ramos, University of Westminster – From the transmission to the connectivism module of learning: The use of Poll Everywhere to promote student engagement in the digital age.
Agnes Grondin, Middlesex University London – Revision Lectures revamped with Poll Everywhere Competitions.
Dr. Pete Smith, University of Liverpool – Closing the Loop.
These presentations were then followed by a question and answer session with all of the speakers, giving them time to answer audience questions and discuss their experiences. During this session audience questions were collected using (of course!) a Poll Everywhere Q&A question which was left running in the background during the presentations. This enabled questions to be captured throughout the presentations and then addressed at the end, allowing for all speakers to contribute to each question, whilst also allowing attendees to view each other’s questions.
After lunch, the afternoon kicked off with a presentation from Brain Goodman, Poll Everywhere Product Manager, who told us all about the newest Poll Everywhere features. As well as ongoing accessibility improvements, Poll Everywhere updates include:
Competition updates e.g. remove question time limits to improve inclusivity
QR codes – students scan QR code as an alternative to typing out the response URL
Student can now export their response history
This was followed by a Poll Everywhere ‘World Cafe’, during which participants were invited to visit different tables and discuss various topics with colleagues. Areas of interest were collected via Poll Everywhere before the event and each table was then assigned a theme based on the responses:
Getting started, implementation and engagement
Practical tips on teaching with Poll Everywhere
The student experience
Delegates then moved between these tables, selecting which table they would visit based on their interests and experience using Poll Everywhere.
To finish off the day we were treated to a tour of the University of Liverpool campus during which we met the resident dab fish, were shown some replica cave paintings and flint weapons, given a walking tour of the nearby university buildings and visited the local pub!
If you would like to learn more about the Poll Everywhere UK User Group or would like to attend a future event visit pollevusergroup.wordpress.com. If you’re a member of University of Sussex staff and you would like to start using Poll Everywhere in your teaching please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
The latest in the TEL seminar series will be on Friday 17th May, 12.00 – 13.30 in the Attenborough Centre for the Creative Arts. Staff and students are invited to join us to hear some exciting speakers and discuss ways in which the intersections of education and technology impact on equality.
We are thrilled to bring together three women who each have a particular perspective to share their ideas and experiences and discuss the topic.
Dr. Maren Deepwell is the chief executive of the Association for Learning Technology (ALT) and an Open Practitioner with a special interest in leadership, equality and open education. Maren believes strongly that the intelligent use of Learning Technology can best be developed by working across schools, further and higher Education. Her vision is for Learning Technology to become an effective way for all to learn, teach and assess – informed by open practice, innovative research and global policy. Building on this vision Maren works closely with teachers, leaders, learning technology practitioners and researchers to support ALT’ s members and contribute to the wider community. Maren is on Twitter at @MarenDeepwell and blogs at marendeepwell.com as well as contributing to #FemEdTech.
Mary Krell (Senior Lecturer in Media & Film Studies at the University of Sussex) is a digital artist whose work spans performance, interactivity and narrative. Her work has been shown on multiple continents and she regularly collaborates with artists and thinkers from around the world. Originally from the USA, she has been based in the UK at the University of Sussex since 2002. Prior to coming to Sussex, she was the Head of the Design Department at Cornish College of the Arts in Seattle. Before entering higher education, Mary worked as a digital designer at Seattle’s Saltmine Creative during the initial dot.com boom of the 1990s. While at Saltmine she worked on projects for Wizards of the Coast, Microsoft and the Pokemon franchise.
Dr. Tamsin Hinton-Smith (Senior Lecturer In Higher Education) will chair the seminar and join Maren and Mary for a panel discussion of the ideas raised and audience questions. Tamsin first came to Sussex as a single teenage parent undergraduate student in sociology many years ago. This led to the development of some of her primary research interests around ‘non-traditional’ students in higher education, and experiences of (un)belonging and marginalisations. After developing an academic career in Sociology, including as Co-Director of the Centre for Gender Studies; Tamsin moved to the Education department at the University of Sussex in 2014 where she has continued to develop and expand her interests around people’s experiences of accessing and participating in compulsory, further, higher and informal educational contexts; and the organisational cultures that support or inhibit this.
The Flipped Classroom Model has been around Higher Education for a number of years. It has many loyal followers but has not yet been widely adopted at the University of Sussex. In this post we’ll look at what Flipped Learning is and why it has garnered such interest from the education community. We’ll also look at strategies to make it work in practice.
What is Flipped Learning?
Flipped learning is usually defined in contrast to the ‘traditional’ model of teaching, where you introduce your students to new material in class through didactic lectures and the students then complete practice exercises independently. In the Flipped model you present your students with new concepts prior to class, often through videos, then use class time for more active approaches, setting practical tasks and supporting students to consolidate and build-upon the prior learning (Bishop & Verleger 2013).
The Flipped Model brings with it a number of benefits:
Active, practical sessions. The traditional lecture format tends towards a passive experience for students. Studies such as that by Prince (2004) suggest that using ‘active learning’ techniques in-class improves outcomes.
Student paced. Providing pre-class activities allows students to work at their own pace and reduce cognitive load (Hamdan, et al 2013). This can be of particular benefit to students with specific learning difficulties.
Independence. O’Flaherty and Phillips (2015) point to the ‘potential to enable teachers to cultivate critical and independent thought in their students’. Activities which provide students with feedback help them to identify their own strengths and weaknesses.
Tailoring teaching. Using online activities prior to class has the additional advantage of giving you feedback about your students. You can find out about misconceptions prior to class and adjust your in-class teaching accordingly.
How to Flip your classroom.
Planning how to Flip your class is important. Bloom’s Taxonomy, provides a handy framework for helping to choose what to do prior to class and what to do in-class, ensuring a logical progression (Gilboy, et al 2015). Pre-class objectives may correspond to the lower tiers of the taxonomy with a focus on memorising and understanding, recalling the relevant vocabulary and how it relates to the basic concepts, while the higher levels may be better tackled in class with the support of the teacher.
Set clear expectations from the start. Make sure your students know what you expect them to do ahead of class and how this will benefit them.
Once you’ve decided what to present pre-class, you can save time by reusing existing online resources. There are a number of places to look, from YouTube to more local or specifically HE content on Canvas Commons.
The challenge that teaching staff often bring up first with the Flipped model is: ‘How can I be sure my students will do the pre-class activities?’ Motivating the students is key.
There is some evidence that students perform better with video as opposed to reading activities (Lee & Choi, 2019). Keep activities short and focused and be up front about how long each activity will take, for example ‘Watch this 10 minute video on X’. Pairing or grouping students in-class can also help to reduce the impact of any who have not prepared.
If you’re finding your students just don’t respond to the pre-class activities you could try a variation on the model such as the in-class flip.
We collected some tips from University of Sussex Flipped Learning practitioners, Dr Wendy Garnham, Susan Smith, Professor Andy Field and Dr Jennifer Mankin.
Keep activities short. Susan Smith, from the University of Sussex Business School has refined her pre-class videos down to around 3-4 minutes.
Plan how your pre-class activities lead into the in-class activities. Susan also stresses the need for the class time to build upon what has been learnt pre-class.
Vary the types of activity. Wendy Garnham from the School of Psychology raises the importance of variety (not just videos) to keep students interest.
Keep resources in an easily editable format. Creating resources can take time. Wendy recommends using online services such as Google docs because they are easy to update.
Use quizzes to motivate students. Andy Field and Jennifer Mankin from the School of Psychology use quizzes at the beginning of their class sessions to ensure that students complete the pre-class activities. Since the move to Flipped Learning they’ve also seen an improvement in attendance.
Even if you choose not to apply the Flipped Model to all of your teaching, there are some useful elements that you can employ to engage your students prior to class and make the best use of precious class time.
Do get in touch with your School Learning Technologist via email@example.com for further ideas and support.
Gilboy, M.B., Heinerichs S., Pazzaglia, G. (2015), ‘Enhancing Student Engagement Using the Flipped Classroom’, Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior, Volume 47, Issue 1, January–February 2015, Pages 109-114, Available at: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jneb.2014.08.008 (Accessed:09 April 2019)
Lee, J. and Choi, H. (2019), ‘Rethinking the flipped learning pre‐class: Its influence on the success of flipped learning and related factors’. Br J Educ Technol, 50: 934-945. Available at: https://doi.org/10.1111/bjet.12618 (Accessed: 11 March 2019)
O’Flaherty, Jacqueline, Phillips, Craig (2015), ‘The use of flipped classrooms in higher education: A scoping review’, The Internet and Higher Education, 04/2015, Vol.25, C, pp.85-95 Available at: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.iheduc.2015.02.002 (Accessed:09 April 2019)
Canvas includes several tools for communication between teachers and students within a module. In this post I will give an overview of Announcements, Discussions, Chat and Conversations, looking at when each would be a good choice.
The icon for Announcements gives a very good idea of the sort of communication it provides – it is designed as a one-to-many form of communication just like the megaphone.
Announcements in Canvas are a great way of making students aware of important news. For example, if there is a change to the venue for a seminar or you want to remind students to bring something to a session, an announcement can bring this to students’ attention.
Tips for using Announcements
This form of communication lends itself to short messages that share information. Your message does not have to just be text-based; you can add images, video, files and weblinks to announcements if required.
There are 3 possible places that your announcements can be seen:
In the Announcements section of the Canvas Module.
As a number on the module ‘card’ in Dashboard view.
Discussions in Canvas are designed for more than a single message, allowing members of a module to discuss a topic in more depth.
Discussions are great for extending the sharing of ideas and understanding beyond lectures and seminars. The Rich Content Editor that is used throughout Canvas allows Discussion posts and replies to include a range of content such as images, videos, weblinks and files, so there are many options for students to express and share their ideas.
Students can create Discussions, either in the module (if enabled in Settings) or in their own groups. If required, discussion posts can be graded or students can ‘like’ replies so they could be used as a formative and/or peer assessment.
The Module Chat feature facilitates real-time, informal conversations between members of a module (staff and students). Chat does not have the functionality of Discussions, but allows quick messages like you might see on social media platforms, including emojis.
When Chat is enabled, a Module chat box is visible at the bottom right of all module screens. When you click on the arrow the window pops up and you can see comments that have been posted, or add your own. You can also see the whole chat by clicking on Chat in the module navigation menu.
Tips for using Module Chat
As a ‘live’ form of communication, chat messages do not produce notifications through other channels such as email or SMS (see Notifications below).. You can choose to have ‘new message alerts’ within Canvas which will sound a ‘ping’ when a new message is posted, so it is best used at a time that you are logged into Canvas and ready to respond to messages.
Chat can be enabled or disabled by editing the Navigation menu.
This is the mode of communication closest to email, with messages sent, received and managed through the Inbox on the global navigation menu.
Tutors can send messages to people attached to any of their modules, either individually or as a group, including a media message (audio or video) and attaching files if required.
These messages are handled at the user account level, so you can see all your incoming messages in one place or filter them by module.
Tips for using Conversations
The default notification for Conversations is the counter which appears on the Inbox icon in the global navigation menu. Users may also have set their Notifications to create an email or SMS text when a message is received, but this is optional. If you are not receiving notifications for Conversations, be sure to check your Canvas Inbox regularly.
If you are using Discussions or Conversations in your modules you can adjust your Notification settings so that you are alerted about new discussions, replies and messages. You can also get notifications about announcements.
You can add alternative email addresses or a mobile phone number if you prefer SMS notifications. For each ‘event’ on Canvas you can receive email notifications immediately, as a daily summary, a weekly summary, or not at all. For example, I might want a daily summary of replies to discussions, but immediate notifications of new announcements and messages in my Canvas Inbox.
Notifications preferences apply across a user’s account, not per module, but if you find you are receiving too many or too few notifications you can adjust your options. All Canvas users can set their own notification preferences, so students can also control what notifications they receive.