MEd Academic Practice – TELT 2

On with more teaching and learning and education and technology chatter…the second session of the Technology Enhanced Learning and Teaching (TELT) module as part of the MED in Academic Practice, this time on ‘Curriculum Design – Learning Activity Design’ covering…

  • Reviewing current design options – moving on from scope of flexible learning, looking and defining you learning and teaching philosophy
  • BCU ecosystem and its relationships – technology they provide and support with, a mapping exercise
  • Moodle and alternative tools
  • Principles of Activity Design – develop a principle check list
  • Developing a critiquing toolkit – that links to the Learning Action Design (LAD) diagram
  • Enhancing own practice
  • Discovering BCU best practice
  • Developing your rationale – second patch to embed in your Mahara portfolio (I’m actually quite enjoying this process…it’s another blog basically so quite easy for me! In fact, I get a little obsessed with it)

We started by having a group discussion to reflect on how things have been since session one. Thoughts from the group included reflections on developing a social presence to a cognitive presence…how you develop socially as a group. Dependency on Moodle versus not utilising Moodle to its fullest, and the use of other technologies such as WeChat and Yammer to communicate with students. It was questioned as to whether you should go down the route of social media to communicate with students where I said how instant app communication (such as WeChat) doesn’t necessarily mean that you will get a response…even when you know they have read it! I have to share with you this photo manaXi took of me as I was working on TELT homework the night before (yes the night before, not best practice)…this is my triple-screened technological den at the moment…and I’m not very good at sitting still. Note all of manaXi’s maps in the background, neither of us are good at sitting still.

wordgirl Rachel Marsden
Image © Rachel Marsden

Mark stated it was important to develop a contract of communication with students – how would you like to be contacted? Email? Social media? It’s not just about the mode but the content you share. I mentioned working in partnership with a new Student Academic Partner for the CCVA and the development of a student-led forum/platform where, through group student consultation, they will propose, guide and help to create a platform that they will take ownerships for. Ownership is key. So much communication is based on us as tutors as teachers. Having the ownership value to switch from yourself to them, potentially provides another way to communicate. It goes back to negotiating…what methods do you use? What are other methods? Involve and observe what the students are doing.

MEd Academic Practice - TELT session 2

In our Action Learning Sets (ALS) we were asked to reflect on patch one (an online/accessible text reflecting on the first TELT session uploaded to our online portfolio that I also put into the end of a blog post on the session)…

  • Teaching teachers how to use the technology for them to go away and use it…being the first step in the process. Need first points of call for staff…landing page or information such as Moodle Basics?
  • Challenge of working with postgraduate students who are from a range of different backgrounds and the difficulties that come with this – can follow-up sessions be organised such as drop-in surgeries?
  • Open forum and social engagement with students – how appropriate or useful is a social media (closed) group?
  • Issue of content having to be created by the institution not by the individual also limitation of using technology due to institutional limitations (confidentiality) and anxiety from them – create a community that sits outside the NHS Moodle system then bringing content back into the face-to-face learning environment? Creation of an e-learning specific module? Repurpose, remould, adapt and update existing content? Create learning packages from a learning asset? As working with smaller groups it is easier to facilitate;
  • With already a large focus on technology for teaching, virtual environments used and only accessible in lab exercises (configure and testing) means there is limited flexibility – highlight problems with the module or the session? Is it reflection? More needs recapping? Demonstrate something that can be taken away? More media knowledge to help with technology?
  • Heavy focus on creating communities of practice, connected communities through social media yet a lack of technology as part of teaching

It was noted that each person has a different set of restrictions and parameters to their learning and teaching practice, the departments and institutions they are working in, and the student cohorts.

What is your learning and teaching philosophy? – Do you have one? Can you write it down? What principles, values do you adhere to? What pedagogies, approaches do apply to your practice? How does technology fit in with this? Here’s my very wordy first attempt!

  • Use a blended learning approach referencing CHAT theory, thus a flexible and accessible approach to learning and teaching, reflecting and responding to real world and global change as it happens
  • Foster and support an international community of shared practice – connecting communities – to nurture cultural assimilation through learning and teaching – global citizens
  • Through dynamic offline, face-to face and online, digital sessions, acting as a catalyst for further enquiry, self-directed learning and learning ownership, where technology is used to reflect, support and mark professional development

Do you practice your own philosophy? – Do you apply this to your teaching? Always, sometimes, never?

We were then asked to fill in a mapping questionnaire to establish how we use Moodle (Course Management System (CMS)) if we were At, T or S…I scored mostly A’s as I barely use Moodle at the moment…

  • Automation – using Moodle to automate the status quo – document storage
  • Tutor-led – providing structure and guidance through the use of activities, directing and providing structure of students’ independent learning. Teaching takes place, but do you know if learning is happening
  • Student Autonomy – students take ownership and develop their learning. Designed integration between face-to-face and independent study. Teaching is minimal but is the learning being applied?

Moodle BCU

MEd Academic Practice - TELT session 2-2

We were then asked in our groups to look at the pros and cons of tutor-led and student autonomy

  • Pros tutor-led: Students like being told what to do “spoon-feeding”; easy to show existing and prospective students what they are paying for; structure/guidance; directed goal; information imparted in alignment with Learning Outcomes
  • Cons tutor-led: Rigid learning; lack of freedom; no flexibility; minimal peer-to-peer learning; does this approach develop intrapersonal and interpersonal skills that employers value?; little focus on learning to learn skills and the skill set for life-long learning
  • Pros student autonomy: Ownership; deep learning; flexibility; motivation; independence/life-long learning; personalised learning journey; application; learning styles; improved employability; learning and teaching transformed into an engaged experience
  • Cons student autonomy: Distracted; do they learn what you want them to learn?; lack of motivation; unsupported and lack of direction; learning styles, not all like autonomy; depth of learning?; not easy to demonstrate “value for money” (I pay fees, you want me to teach myself?)

After a short biscuit break, we went on to talk about the BCU Ecosystem, starting with the visual mapping tool called ‘Popplet. These can be created online then shared and edited collaboratively, used on tablets and phones.


Mark asked us to map by categorising the three areas:

  • Technology categories
  • System/tools/services/software
  • Descriptions

Here are some of the pathways (the majority of which I have NEVER heard of…technophobe wordgirl is back!):

  • Social Media – Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, Flickr, Slideshare, YouTube, Mahara
  • Live lecture capture – Mediasite
  • Text comparison – Turnitin
  • Immersive environment – Shareville, Virtual Case Creator
  • Virtual Learning Environment – Moodle,
  • Student records system – SITS
  • Library Systems – Rebus, Summon, Box of Broadcasts, Athens, LibGuides
  • e-Portfolio – Mahara
  • Screen capturing software – Screencast-o-matic
  • Video streaming service – Kaltura
  • Content Authoring tools – Xerte, MyCat (LAD), Screencast-o-matic, Powerpoint
  • External repositories – Merlot 2, Jorum, Thinkstock

Plagiarism is now called “originality checking”.

To experiment within the BCU Ecosystem, Mark set up a ‘Moodle Staff Learn Zone’ through Moodle so that we can all have a space to test, experiment and learn…to learn how to use activities for future learning and teaching…I AM SO OVERWHELMED RIGHT NOW with the possibility!

Moodle Staff Learn Zone

We then moved on to question What is learning?

  • Never-ending, life-long
  • A process of discovery
  • Catalyst for change
  • Biochemical
  • Meaning-making
  • Remembering and recalling
  • Conceptual change
  • Awakening
  • Social negotiation
  • Information processing
  • Changing perception
  • Critical thinking

what is learning

These are descriptions of learning. What is learning? An Activity(ies)…

“Activities create the unity of learning – the application and the cognitive processes. Learning, especially meaningful learning, engages activity” – Jonassen and Churchill (2004)

We were then asked to list 8 Principles for Activity Learning Design (values) (individual):

  • Peer/student-led, reflective, social, dynamic, multi-perspective, digestible (time), tangible (learning outcome), individual knowledge generating

Then in our Action Learning Sets, 8 Principles for Activity Learning Design (ALS group):

  1. Establish current knowledge
  2. Facilitate new knowledge
  3. Establishing tangibility, relevancy (sits in the learning journey) and purpose – why the students needs to learn
  4. Variety of dynamic activities
  5. Student-led
  6. Assessable outcome (how does it reflect this)
  7. Feedback
  8. Digestible content

8 Principles for Activity Learning Design (full group):

  1. Establish current knowledge
  2. Facilitation
  3. What’s in it for the students?
  4. Variety
  5. Student-led elements
  6. Demonstrate/capture progression
  7. Feedback
  8. Digestible content

How do they compare to TELT’s 8 Principles for Activity Learning Design? 

  1. Variety to the activities – Individuals differ in their cognitive learning styles, approaches to learning, learning preferences and forms of intelligence
  2. Start summative assessment as early as possible – Assessment is the significant driver of student learning – it’s their currency!
  3. Ensure feedback is both regular and timely – Good feedback should influence the final mark (feedforward)
  4. Output showcased in an e-portfolio – consider employability in your learning activity design
  5. Two-way connection between activities that take place in classes and between classes – students need clear instructions about what they are expected to do in between classes and what they need to bring with them and share with tutors and/or peers when they next meet, contributing to ‘feedforward’
  6. Study time needs to be evenly distributed over the module – good designs do not overload students, stimulate students early on – links to starting summative assessment early
  7. Consider the ALD for your module alongside other modules –
  8. Resources should have associated learning activities connected to them – This avoids students being overwhelmed with resources that have no real purpose and reduce the likelihood of Moodle being used as a ‘Content Dump’.

Developing a critiquing toolkit (How do we know we are adhering to the values?)

  • Looking for Deficits – Negative questioning, what’s wrong with it? How do we change it? What do we get rid of? – EXPERIENCES?
  • Looking for Successes – Positive Question. What’s right with it? How do we build on it? What do we include? – EVIDENCE?
  • SWOT – Strength, Weakness, Opportunities, Threats – REFLECTION/RESEARCH

Critiquing Toolkit (my ALS group)

  • Does the self-directed study motivate and enhance the learning?
  • Does the technology used require prior skills and knowledge? To a higher level?
  • Does it discriminate against technophobes?
  • Are there any skills transferable to employment/real world?
  • Are the peer-activities related to the sessions?
  • Are timings realistic?
  • Student LED opportunity?
  • Volume of pre-session work realistic and appropriate? Does it provide choice?

Critiquing Toolkit (other ALS group)

  • Does it match up to your Teaching and Learning philosophy?
  • Does it relate directly to summative assessment?
  • Does it promote employability?
  • Does it provide a variety of approaches?
  • Is there an opportunity to capture progression?
  • Is the activity predominantly student-led?
  • Is the activity supported by appropriate resources?

This exercise was linked to Mark’s ‘Learning Action Design diagrams (LAD diagrams)’ he’d created for the TELT module…so we basically critiqued his work using the critiquing toolkit, which we then had to apply to the LAD diagrams we had completed prior to the session. LAD is an online webpage-based platform that allows you to visualise your teaching sessions, and something I get lost in (in a good way) very quickly. Here’s a short video Mark suggested to us…a great animation to visual the process of creating a LAD…

We are developing and tweaking our LAD diagrams as the module progresses gaining peer feedback along the way. The image below only shows two sessions, where I realised I’d read and used the format of the page wrong, putting pre-session activities in resources column on the right hand side, therefore making no visual sense and providing confusion through the adjoining session connector lines. I tried to use a blended learning/flipped classroom approach throughout with a dedication to practice-led learning and employability/Personal Development Planning (PDP), where my afterthoughts were:

  • Does my learning and teaching philosophy match my LAD? (as we were asked to question by Mark)
  • Can I add or change the activities I have stated? Can I add or remove parts?
  • Do the sessions link?
  • Are there enough different types of activities being implemented?
  • Do you feel the arrows and lines help to understand how each part of the session link or does it provide confusion?
  • Any other thoughts?

LAD diagram - Rachel Marsden

After this group session, we had the opportunity to pick the brain of people from CELT at BCU whose current world (of research) is technology, education, learning and teaching with Kerry Gough, Beverly Cole, Nic Bartholomew, Dario Faniglione and Graham Lowe. I was particularly interested in gaining insight into technologies used for shared/connected international teaching…as I want to make this happen more and more through my own teaching.

TELT session 2 panel discussion

An informal Q&A…here’s what was asked, said and discussed…an inspiring conclusion to another tech-packed day…

Q: Tips to engage groups in technology?
A: Do you offer workshops to use the interface of Moodle? Take time within the curriculum…initially hand-hold them. What is the face-to-face time packed with? Can the flipped classroom model be used. Use of Xoodle as a pre-induction space…it is a self-registering site. Use as a stepping-stone into Moodle. Building an initial community. Use former students/alumni to bring them back as mentors. Enables new students to get their solutions in different ways. Is it related to time to use technology? Or to fear of technology?

Q: Success with flip learning. Can you talk us through an example of a flip?
A: Film teaching had been traditionally lecture theatre with over 100 students, frustrated by the timings of the workshop…liked the hands on sessions. They wanted to spend more time in the classroom. I recorded the dry lecture component and put it into the digital environment (30 minute recorded lecture), which was their ticket to a session. The sessions then became 2-hour hands on workshops…there was a huge difference in the students where they were seen to remember content from the sessions. Benefit is that students can go back and watch the lecture whenever they want. To mark the student’s understanding of the pre-recorded lecture, an example, is every face-to-face session begins with an activity based on the pre-session task. Be consistent and stick by your principles.

Q: How long did it take you to make that transformation? The NSS results I’ve looked at showed so many of the comments weren’t about the learning or content of learning, it was more customer service…both positive and negative comments. To me, it seems the change is hinged on someone like you (Kerry Gough), could it result in even worse NSS scores?
A: A phased introduction with one lecture in one module – try before you buy – then it was requested by the students for the whole module, however it took a semester to plan and implement the pre-recorded lectures. The message we have is that if you want to try new things, you don’t have to do it all at once and ask your students what they think. There is a fundamental fear within academics…of stealing content, using other people’s content…read ‘Displaced by not replaced: the impact of e-learning on academic identities in higher education by Janet Hanson’. Without the academic it just becomes a YouTube channel…what we know from students is that they always want more time, they want more of YOU! One response from a student to the flipped classroom – “its like having one long 15 week tutorial”. When people throw themselves into it, it usually always works. We need to be much braver tell our students from the beginning, from the prospectus…tell them what we will be doing and what there experience will be. If we’re going to do something different, we are going to tackle the expectation before they come. We need to get better at evaluating and disseminating our practice.

Q: I’d be interested to hear from your experience, a single example of something out of the blue, successful examples of practice…which technology paid off?
A: Xoodle for transition mentoring getting the students to do most of the work. WordPress site. Online blog space created module 2 PGCert design experience with now over 1000 hits on the site, including “student experience”. Twitter. It is important to find something that works for you. Also, an international virtual exchange project in Australia…an exchange of nursing students…focussed forum discussions over so many weeks.  Another was the use of the Moodle questionnaire to help build the marking scheme for certain module. Look at something you do already and see if you can pour it into a digital technology. Use of Poll Everywhere to bring together answers on screen…making teaching more efficient. I’m not convinced there are new pedagogies, technology helps the Pedagogies…

Q: It sounds like the fundamental difference is one-to-one versus group…people being able to access the communal experience.
A: That’s the point of the flipped classroom…do the thing on your own that you need to do on your own, then bring everyone together…the social constructivist approach, students don’t learn passively, they’ve got to actively construct it.

Q: Are we just jumping on another bandwagon? How strong or robust is the flipped classroom? As a construct what does it really mean?
A: Some things will stick, somethings won’t stick. We know in ten years time, the classroom will be completely different. Just make sure what sticks, sticks for you. What do we know? We know that it is assimilation and accommodation, and social constructivism…you go back to first principles. Some of it might be problems with terminology. I see it as an opening out of opportunities for learning and teaching. It gives you the flexibility to make choices. Flipped learning is saying choose the right tools for the right job. There are constraints but within those constraints there is a lot of freedom. Ask the students at the beginning what works for them. Mid-module evaluations are now taking place as students need a medical not a post-mortem.

(A question from me) Q: I wondered if you had any good example of taking learning and teaching international through technology?
A: Recorded simulcast lectures…watch the lecture live. Not yet done at BCU, and Blue dot – virtual classroom, hosted service, tested with groups up to 20. There is also a screen sharing facility. Can also use as a lecture capture option.

Q: Do you think peers learn better from each other through forums?
A: I think they definitely learn better from talking to each other.

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